Isaiah 43:1 | Claim the Prize

In contemporary English when I think of “redeem” I think of a transaction where a coupon or voucher is used in place of money to purchase something. Specifically, I think of tickets that I have redeemed at the fair in an attempt to win a prize. Years ago, I purchased a ticket to throw a baseball at what looked like aluminum jars. There were two jars on the bottom and one on top if I remember correctly. The vendor gave me the ball and then turned his back to walk off to the side when I threw at the jars. It must have been a perfect shot because all the jars went down. I was young and thought I could do anything so I was not surprised. But what I remember most was the shock on the vendor’s face when he turned around and saw my accomplishment. He was stunned almost like he had no idea what to do next. Upon reflection I realized that the game must be rigged in such a way that all of those jars should not have fallen. The satisfying part of my success was that the vendor pulled down the largest and the plushest of all the stuffed animals as my reward. The crew I was with shared carrying around this gigantic toy the rest of the day at the fair drawing attention from everyone we passed. When I redeemed that voucher to play the game of skill I got everything I could have wanted.

The voucher I redeemed at the fair was practically worthless. There was no reasonable expectation that my throw should have accomplished what it did. If it was that easy the vendor would be out of business on the first day. In the Biblical language redeem is used to identify a person who is acting on behalf of someone else. If a husband died then the next of kin would step in and be a kinsman-redeemer to provide children or financial support as needed. The redeemer would take on the burden for someone who was not able to carry out their responsibilities. Redeemer is a concept that God wants us to understand and so he built the model into the culture of Israel.

Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. Isaiah 43:1b ESV

He wants us to know that we are the prize. He has the ticket and he is exchanging that voucher in order to win our hearts. The game that must be won is overriding the curse of our sin and rebellion. God’s standards, his perfection, and his laws are broken by our selfish desires. So God created a voucher that he could use to exchange our sin nature with a life lived perfectly.

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us Galatians 3:13a ESV

When it comes to God’s laws I can’t win. There is no way I can live without falling short. Perfection is non-existent for me. Some people think they are perfect but their mother knows they are not. Even in America is it impossible to live life without breaking laws. Speeding laws are broken every time I drive. Attorney Harvey Silvergate wrote a book with the catchy title Three Felonies A Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent. It is impossible to win.

4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. 6 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. Galatians 4:4-7 ESV

God “Abba! Father!” has redeemed me. He has exchanged his perfect life lived out in Christ for my sin filled wrongdoing. My sins were punished on the Cross of Christ fulfilling the requirements of the law to set me free. He only needed to redeem one voucher to turn the tables on the carnival and win me forever.

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