Keith Green has always been one of my favorite Christian artists. I clearly remember hearing him sing at Jesus Festivals my family attended back in the late 70's and early 80's. Even at the age of 8-9 years, I knew that Green had something special about him. The guy inspired me. I think he was so inspiring because he was so inspired. He "got" something that I am just now starting to wrap my brain around. Keith Green understood that we have an amazing God. He understood that one of the things that makes God amazing is that he is near to us. He understands us. He wants us to know Him. He is personal. He is so personally involved in our lives that he was willing to give up the one thing that was most valuable to Him. His very own, only Son. The Father sent Him to live on this earth so that He could take our place, trading our ugliness, our sin in for His righteousness. His whole purpose in becoming one of us was to redeem us.
Today, the words to Keith's most popular song, There is a Redeemer, hold so much more meaning to me. As I dive into the Word and hear others explain it to me, I am beginning to get a taste of just why Keith was so inspired. I am beginning to understand the lengths to which Jesus went for me. He is my redeemer! Recently I heard a sermon by David Platt, which led me to study chapters 3 and 4 in the Book of Ruth. This sermon and the scripture reading put me once again face-to-face with the whole concept of redemption. Ruth's true story is a beautiful parallel of the redemption we are offered by the work of Christ.
Ruth had experienced great loss in her life. She lost her husband, her father-in-law, and the place she called her home. She was alone, sad, hungry, and uncertain of her future. Her only hope was to be chosen by a close relative who would marry her and act as a kinsman-redeemer for her.
She knew her great need for redemption. Not only was she poor and alone, but she also carried the negative reputation that comes along with being a Moabite. In Ruth Chapter 3, she went to Boaz, asking him to redeem her, even though she knew that she was not guaranteed anything from him.
She trusted the love of her redeemer. Boaz had previously proven himself trustworthy by taking personal responsibility for protecting and feeding her. He, the lord of the manor, had served her at his own table. She knew that he would deal kindly with her. This, however wasn't enough. She needed him to be her redeemer.
Ruth needed a redeemer, but was Boaz the right man for the job? According to Old Testament Jewish law, there were three qualifications for one to be a kinsman-redeemer:
1. He must have the right to redeem (he must be a close relative).
2. He must have the resources to be able to follow through with the redemption (must have capital).
3. He must have the resolve (the strong desire) to redeem her.
After some negotiations with another prospective kinsman, Boaz agreed to marry Ruth, thus becoming what she needed - her kinsman-redeemer. Not only was Ruth redeemed and given a good standing, but she was also blessed with the birth of a son, whom they named Obed. Obed would later become the father of Jesse, who would become the father of King David. This is the line from which our Lord and Savior, Jesus came!
Today, all of us have a spotted, stained, and sinful past. We are suffering under the effects of sin. We are rightfully separated from God. Left to our own, we have a very uncertain future. We have absolutely no right to be reconciled to a Holy God. This is where the work of Jesus comes in. This is where Jesus sets himself apart from the leaders of every other religion.
- He alone has the right to redeem us. -He is a close relative to us, as he walked on this planet, breathed our air, and word our flesh. No other "god" claims to be able to identify with us in such a familiar way.
- He has the resources to redeem us. -He is sinless, completely holy. He has authority over sin and death. Who else claims to have died for his people and then rose from the dead? No one.
- He has the resolve to redeem us. -He wants us for his own. He seeks after us, not requiring us to do this or that, trying to find our own way. He is infinite in His goodness. His judgement reaches out against all that is sinful and hurtful to us.
He alone has taken the punishment for our sins upon himself. He took the full torment of the infinite wrath of Holy God on Himself. His mercy knows no end! We are the ones who deserve the punishment, but He has invited us to feast at His table. He wants to serve us a feast at his eternal table.
He is the only redeemer!
His only requirement for us is that we respond as Ruth did. We need to realize our need for redemption -that we have been separated from God by our sins and that we have nowhere else to turn. Then we need to put the full weight of our trust on Him for our complete redemption.
The question is....Will you accept the loving sacrifice of your amazing redeemer?
Ephesians 1:13-14 (NIV)
13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession—to the praise of his glory.