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Christ Our Kinsman Redeemer
The Old Testament is full of pictures of the gospel, of grace and salvation in Christ. One of the most instructive, delightful, and thrilling pictures of our Savior in the Old Testament is that of the kinsman redeemer.
Given at Sinai
The law of the kinsman redeemer is found in Leviticus 25:25-55. Remember, this law was given on Mt. Sinai (v. 1) at the very time that God gave the law by which sin is condemned, he gave this law by which he shows how he saves his people from their sins. Remember, too, that the context is describing the year of jubilee. May God the Holy Spirit teach us something of what this chapter teaches us about our all-glorious Christ, our Kinsman Redeemer.
The Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, became our Kinsman, our next of kin, our nearest Kinsman. He became one of us so that he might redeem us and set us free from bondage. Read the verses in this passage that specifically talk about the kinsman redeemer and his work.
“If thy brother be waxen poor, and hath sold away some of his possession, and if any of his kin come to redeem it, then shall he redeem that which his brother sold. And if the man have none to redeem it, and himself be able to redeem it; Then let him count the years of the sale thereof, and restore the overplus unto the man to whom he sold it; that he may return unto his possession. But if he be not able to restore it to him, then that which is sold shall remain in the hand of him that hath bought it until the year of jubile: and in the jubile it shall go out, and he shall return unto his possession.” (Leviticus 25:25-28)
“And if a sojourner or stranger wax rich by thee, and thy brother that dwelleth by him wax poor, and sell himself unto the stranger or sojourner by thee, or to the stock of the stranger’s family: After that he is sold he may be redeemed again; one of his brethren may redeem him: Either his uncle, or his uncle’s son, may redeem him, or any that is nigh of kin unto him of his family may redeem him; or if he be able, he may redeem himself.” (Leviticus 25:47-49)
The first thing we see in this passage is the redeemed. If one of the Jews had fallen into deep poverty by neglect, carelessness, foolishness, or any other means, and sold his land to another, and at last sold himself to a stranger, the Lord God here made a way for him to be redeemed.
This is a powerful picture of Adam selling himself and all his race into sin and bondage. When this happened, God made provision for his redemption. Verse 48 says, “After that he is sold he may be redeemed again.” This is “after” the fact. This verse also states a possibility in the words, “he may be redeemed.” Just as our God gave this law in Israel before anyone needed it, our great God found a way to redeem his lost ones long before we fell in our father Adam. Redemption was not an after-thought with God, but the eternal purpose of his grace (Romans 8:28-30). The words “redeemed again” speak of getting something back that has been lost. We were his before we fell. We belonged to him from eternity!
Second, this chapter speaks about the redeemer. The nearest kinsman had the responsibility of redeeming his brother and his brother’s lost property. If a person was forced into slavery, his redeemer purchased his freedom. When debt threatened to overwhelm him, the kinsman stepped in to redeem his homestead and preserve the family. If a family member died without an heir, the kinsman gave his name by marrying the widow and raising a son unto his brother (Genesis 38:8; Deuteronomy 25:5; Ruth 3 - 4). When death came at the hands of another man, the redeemer acted as the avenger of blood and pursued the killer (Numbers 35:12-34; Deuteronomy 19:1-3).
The word translated “redeemer” is the same word translated “avenger” in Numbers 35:12, where God gave the law concerning the avenger of blood and the cities of refuge. This word is used throughout the Old Testament by the Lord God to describe himself as our Redeemer (Exodus 6:6; Job 19:25; Psalm 103:4; Isaiah 41:14; 43:1; 44:6, 22; 48:20). The implication is clear. He who is our Kinsman Redeemer, the true Kinsman Redeemer, is himself God.
But even God himself could not be our Redeemer except he become our Kinsman; and that is exactly what he did when Christ came into the world. Jesus Christ is God our Kinsman (Hebrews 2:16-17).
When the Lord Jesus was born, his birth was different from that of any other man. When you begin reading in Matthew chapter one, you read that so and so begat so and so until you come to verse 18, and there is a definite change. There the Book of God says, — “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.” He became a man to qualify himself as God the eternal Son to be our Kinsman Redeemer.
Five things were required of the kinsman redeemer.
1. He must be near of kin (Leviticus 25:25; 48; Ruth 3:12-13).
2. He must be able to redeem (Ruth 4:4-6). He must be free of any calamity or need of redemption himself.
3. He must be willing to redeem (Ruth 4:6)
4. Redemption was completed when the price was completely paid (Leviticus 25:27; Ruth 4:7-11).
5. He was required to redeem. If he, for any reason, failed to do so, he was put to open shame (Ruth’s Nearer Kinsman-Ruth 4).
The Lord Jesus Christ is our Kinsman Redeemer.
1. Christ had the right to redeem us because he is our nearest Kinsman through the incarnation. — “For what the Law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh” (Romans 8:3). He was like us in every way except that he knew no sin. In order to identify himself with us he “made himself of no reputation, and took on him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:7).
2. The Lord Jesus has the power to redeem us because he is God. That gives infinite merit and efficacy to all his work (2 Corinthians 8:9; Hebrews 1:1-3).
3. Blessed be his name, our nearest Kinsman was willing to redeem us, too (Titus 2:14; 1 Peter 2:24; Hebrews 10:5-15; John 10:16-18)
4. The Son of God has paid the price for our redemption.
Jesus paid it all,
All the debt I owed!
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow!
5. Not only is he qualified, willing, and able to redeem, not only has he paid the price of redemption, he has effectually redeemed us by his blood Galatians 3:13; Hebrews 9:12; Ephesians 1:7. Job understood this (Job 19:23-27). He knew that Christ was his Kinsman Redeemer.
Come to Christ, poor, needy sinner, like Ruth came to Boaz. Lay down at his feet and bid him spread his shirt over you and take you (Ruth 3:9). I promise you he will do it.
Christ, our Kinsman Redeemer is also our Avenger of blood (Isaiah 62:1-2). He has avenged the justice of God for us. He is the Avenger who chased us into the City of Refuge. And he is our City of Refuge.
But there is one more thing revealed in Leviticus 25 about our Lord Jesus Christ as our Kinsman Redeemer. Verses 26 and 49 speak of the possibility of one being sold into bondage being able to redeem himself. But that cannot possibly have reference to any of us (Psalm 49:7).
What, then, does this refer to? It refers to our great Savior. For our sakes, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, sold himself into bondage, took our sin and our debt to be his own, and was made to be sin for us. And when he died, he redeemed himself from all the debt he had incurred as our Substitute.
Commenting on Psalm 40:12 John Trapp wrote that our Lord Jesus Christ was “maximus peccatorum, the greatest of sinners by imputation (2 Corinthians 5:21; Isaiah 53:6), for our sins (which here he calleth his) he suffered. And here his bitter agony in the garden is graphically described. Neither is it absurd to say, that as he bore our sins in his own body upon the tree, he was first redeemed by himself, and afterwards we.”
Go back to ancient Israel in the time of the Judges. Can you see Naomi holding her grandson in her arms? Her neighbors said, “A son has been born to Naomi!” They named him Obed, the father of Jesse, the father of King David (4:17), of the lineage of the Messiah, Jesus Christ (Matthew 1:5). God had redeemed her.
The words of Naomi’s friends are a fitting reminder of God’s grace in our lives. — “And the women said unto Naomi, Blessed be the LORD, which hath not left thee this day without a kinsman, that his name may be famous in Israel” (Ruth 4:14). We who had lost everything are the redeemed. Christ is our Redeemer. Now, third, I want to send you home rejoicing in the redemption our great Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, our Kinsman Redeemer has obtained for us. He has paid our debt. He has redeemed us from poverty. He has redeemed us from bondage. He has redeemed us from death. He has recovered all that we had lost. He did it all that his name may be famous in Israel.