It had been two years now since he had sold himself into bondage to one of the Jebusites near Jerusalem. Though an Israelite, he had not prospered as a son of Israel should and there was no other recourse for paying his debts. The Jebusite was not a wicked master but he definitely treated his slaves as slaves. But now, redemption was near. His goel, his near kin redeemer, had amassed enough money to pay the proportion of his purchase price needed to ransom him from the Jebusite. He could not help but feel relief and gratitude to Yahweh for making such a gracious provision in the Law He gave through Moses.
The situation was undoubtedly repeated many times in Israel’s history. The provision in the Law for personal or kinsman redemption applied to slavery (Leviticus 25:47-55), sale of property (Leviticus 25:23-28) and even in certain cases, to freeing oneself from a death penalty (Exodus 21:28-31).
In relationship to slavery, the concept was that even though an Israelite should sell himself as a slave to a foreigner, he still belonged, ultimately, to Yahweh his God (Leviticus 25:55). So God made it possible to pay a ransom or redemption price to free him. If he could not buy his own freedom, his nearest kinsman or relative could. This relative was called, in Hebrew, the goel, the kinsman-redeemer.
It is this imagery that lies behind the references to Christ as our Redeemer. We sold ourselves into bondage under sin. We gave up slavery to God to choose our own way. But we have found that the price of slavery to sin and Satan is death. Yet there is a Kinsman-Redeemer. Christ became a man, a sharer in our flesh and blood, “that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death – that is, the devil – and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death” (Hebrews 2:14,15).
The redemption price is death. “It was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect” (1 Peter 1:18,19). The analogy is not strictly followed in that no ransom is paid to Satan. Rather, it is God Himself who demands the death penalty for sin and who has accepted Christ’s death in our place.
It is God who has justified us “freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:24). And it is Christ who gave himself as a ransom for all men” (1 Timothy 2:6), who came not “to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45), “who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good” (Titus 2:14).