The Redeemer and the Invitation
One of the most important ideas found in the promises brought to us by Isaiah is that God is our Redeemer. This word is used many times in the writings of the prophet. It had a special meaning in the laws and customs of the time in which he lived.
According to those laws, when a person was unable to pay a debt or was in some serious trouble, a relative should be his redeemer. The redeemer was responsible to pay debts or penalties on behalf of his kinsman. For example, if a person were sold into slavery, then the redeemer should buy him out of bondage. If a person were forced, because of poverty, to sell his ancestral land, then his redeemer was supposed to purchase it back in order to keep it in the family. The redeemer was a person with close family ties and the person responsible for bringing release and deliverance.
When Isaiah spoke of God as the Redeemer, he meant that God will keep his promises to man and that God is as closely tied to man as any family obligations could bind kinsmen together. Also, he meant that God is willing to pay any price in order to rescue His people from their debts of sin. He will pay the penalties they owe. He will deliver them out of bondage.
In order to make plain to mankind the need to he redeemed, God used the ceremony of animal sacrifice. As we have found in our lessons, sin must he punished by death. God in holiness and justice cannot allow sin. But, in love and mercy, He offered a plan of redemption. When His people repented of their sins and asked forgiveness, God accepted an animal sacrifice as a sign that the debt was paid. Most often the animal was a lamb, perfectly formed and without blemish. It took the punishment, and the shedding of its blood was a symbolic cleansing from sin. When the animal took the place of the person in this symbolic way, the horror of sin was illustrated. The ceremony helped people to understand that they could not save themselves from sin. They needed a redeemer.
Then God began to teach His people, through the messages of the prophets, that the animal sacrifice was a temporary symbol. Remember how God Himself provided the sacrifice to redeem Abraham’s son from the plunge of the knife? Surely it was a tremendous sacrifice! It was a beautiful picture of the truly great sacrifice that would be provided to redeem all of humanity. That perfect sacrifice, that Redeemer, would one day appear among men as a revelation of God to mankind.
Of course, God knew from the beginning of time that He would reveal Himself as the true Redeemer of His people. This is the good news which came through the lips of Isaiah. Isaiah did not understand the details of this awesome mystery, but he cried out faithfully the messages of promise and comfort, saying, “Burst into songs of joy together, for the Lord has comforted His people. He has redeemed them. And all the ends of the earth will see the salvation of God.” Isaiah prophesied that God would make the Redeemer known by sending another messenger. This person would he the announcer, or conformer. He would he the voice of one calling in the desert, “Make straight the way of the Lord.” He would prepare the hearts of the people for the coming of the Messiah.
For You To Do
Circle the letter of the best ending for each of the following statements:
A person needs a redeemer when he
A. owes many debts.
B. owes a debt he is unable to pay.
A redeemer is one who
A. excuses people from paying their debts.
B. pays the debts which are owed by others.
The purpose of an animal sacrifice is to
A. illustrate redemption from sin.
B. provide a religious ceremony.