The Lord, Our Redeemer | Exodus 6:2-8
Brian Hedges | September 16, 2018
Good morning! It’s good to see each one of you here today, and I just want to say a special welcome to all of our guests this morning. I’m really thrilled you’re here. If you’re looking for a church, if you’re wanting to know more about Redeemer church, I want to invite you to Discover Redeemer next Sunday. We have a luncheon right after the morning service, and this is really the primary connecting point if you want to know more about our church. So if you want to know more about what we believe and what we do and what we’re about, come to Discover Redeemer. If you want to connect to a small group or in the ministry, come to Discover Redeemer.
And if you’re looking for something deeper in your spiritual life - maybe you were raised in the church but you’ve kind of drifted and been away from God, but you’re searching right now - let me encourage you not only to come back next week but to come worship with us, be with us for the next four weeks, okay? For the next four weeks, give Redeemer Church a shot to speak into your life from God’s Word. Next week I’m going to begin a new series, a segment in the Gospel of John; we’re going to be in John chapter 6. The gospel of John is just one of those places in Scripture that God has used very powerfully to draw people to himself. So if you’re seeking, let me encourage you to be with us these next few weeks.
I’m thrilled to have Wes and Carrie Ward and their family with us this morning, and I loved everything that Wes said in his prayer, except for one thing. He said 40 minutes? So, that would mean I only have 20 minutes preach! He probably didn’t intend that! So, it’s going to be a little longer than 40 minutes before the end of the service — we should be out by 12 o’ clock, though.
I want you to turn in your Bibles to Exodus chapter 6, and while you’re turning there let me kind of orient you to where I want to go this morning.
We are officially now Redeemer Church, and today is the Sunday we set aside as our launch Sunday as Redeemer Church. Some of you were here, perhaps, for that reason, you were invited by a family member or a friend. You might wonder, why did we change the name of our church, and why did we choose Redeemer Church as the name? Well, there are a lot of reasons, a lot of discussions that went into that decision, but at the heart of it, we want to be Redeemer Church because we wanted to more closely identify our church with the Redeemer himself, Jesus Christ.
As our elder team, earlier this year, was talking through possible names of a church, one of the things we just talked about was how the name Redeemer captures something of what Christ has done, and at the same time that word Redeemer, or at least the word “redemption,” it’s still one of those theological words that has a little bit of substance and has some meaning even in our culture.
So, we still value, in our culture, redemption stories. Redemption stories are regular themes that show up in our music, our songs, our stories, our films. You might have heard the original Star Wars trilogy, for example, described as the redemption of Anakin Skywalker.
My favorite musician of the 20th century was Johnny Cash, Johnny Cash was a man whose whole life was marked by failure and faith and by brokenness and recovery, by addiction, by redemption. In fact, there are at least three Johnny Cash songs that have the theme of redemption in it. There’s a song that’s called “Redemption Day.” There’s a cover of a Bob Marley song, “Redemption Song.” And then my favorite of all is his song that’s just called “Redemption.” So, in our songs, in our stories —you might think of literature, Jean Valjean, Les Misérables — it’s a story of one man’s redemption, right?
If you think about what redemption means in our world, I think it’s an important theme, and it’s something that most of us are looking for, and our conviction is that every redemption story needs a redeemer, and that Jesus is that Redeemer. So it’s good for us to identify ourselves as a church that belongs to and proclaims the Redeemer.
So, this morning, really, the whole service and the whole message is about the Redeemer, and I want to take us back to the origin of redemption in the Old Testament. So we’re going to be in the story of the exodus, in Exodus chapter 6. Over and over again throughout the Bible God is called our Redeemer, and of course we get into the New Testament, we read about how we have redemption through the blood of Jesus; that was in our assurance of pardon this morning from Colossians chapter 1.
But apart from just one reference to the word “redeemed” in Genesis chapter 48, the origin of all of this language is found in the story of the Exodus. If you had asked any Old Testament believer, “Were you redeemed?” every one of them would have said, “Yes, we’re redeemed,” and then he would have told you the story of how they were slaves in Egypt and God had set them free and God had delivered them, had overthrown their enemies, had set them free from captivity and from slavery, and he would have told you about the Passover. He would have told you that whole story, and that was the redemption story that every Old Testament believer understood.
When we get to the New Testament, the New Testament writers are taking that story and they are redrawing the lines of that story around Jesus, so that Jesus is the Redeemer and we are redeemed through his blood from our captivity and our slavery to sin and darkness.
So I want us to just look at the origin of this, in Exodus, the sixth chapter, and we’re going to be in 6:2-8, okay? So let me read the text, and then let me show you where we’re going to go. I’ll give you a road map with three legs to the journey.
Exodus 6:2-8: “God spoke to Moses and said to him, ‘I am the Lord. I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as God Almighty, but by my name the Lord I did not make myself known to them. I also established my covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, the land in which they lived as sojourners. Moreover, I have heard the groaning of the people of Israel whom the Egyptians hold as slaves, and I have remembered my covenant. Say therefore to the people of Israel, “I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment. I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the Lord your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. I will bring you into the land that I swore to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. I will give it to you for a possession. I am the Lord.”’”
This is God’s word.
So I want you to note three things about this passage and about the whole redemption story.
I. The Slavery We Were In
II. The Lord Who Redeems
III. The Redemption He Brings
I. The Slavery We Were In
You see it in verse 4 and again in verse 6, “Moreover, I have heard the groaning of the people of Israel whom the Egyptians hold as slaves…” Verse 6, “...I will deliver you from slavery to them…”
Here’s the basic context: you remember that God had made promises to the patriarchs, Abraham and to his descendants, in the book of Genesis, right? Those promises are not realized, they’re not fulfilled. Abraham begins to have a family, and these descendants multiply and they’re Israel, but by the end of the book of Genesis Israel is in Egypt, and several hundred years pass, and then you get into Exodus, and they’re slaves in Egypt. That’s their condition. They are slaves. They are under this hard taskmaster, Pharaoh. And then God calls a man to be their deliverer, to be their leader; that man is Moses.
God calls him in Exodus chapter 3, and he goes and he tells the children of Israel that God’s going to deliver them, he goes to Pharaoh and says, “Let my people go.” Pharaoh won’t do it, Israel won’t believe it, and Moses is at a point of real discouragement. That’s where this passage falls, in Exodus chapter 6; it’s God reaffirming his promise that he is going to deliver the children of Israel.
Now, I want us to think about the spiritual meaning and application of this, okay, but let’s not forget that this was a real, historical event, where people really were oppressed, they were suffering in justice; they were slaves, and God delivered them. Don’t ever let anybody tell you that the God who sets us free from the slavery of sin does not care about issues of injustice in the world. He does. He cares about injustice, he cares about slavery, he cares about human trafficking that is happening today in unprecedented numbers. God is a God who cares about the oppressed.
And you think about what it must have been like for those Israelites, enslaved for years and years. They knew these promises, they knew that this God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, had said that he would do certain things; but they’re waiting, and God hasn’t moved yet.
As I was preparing this I just remembered the cartoon version of this, The Prince of Egypt. Any of ever see that film? It is my favorite cartoon of all time, and even though they take a few artistic liberties with the story, they get the essence of it right. Do you remember, the opening song in The Prince of Egypt is that song, “Deliver Us.” They’re singing, these slaves; you know, they’re bearing these loads and the taskmasters are there, and they’re singing,
“With the sting of the whip on my shoulder,
With the salt of my sweat on my brow,
Elohim, God on high,
Can you hear your people cry?
Help us now at this dark hour;
That’s what they felt. It was a cry for God to set free those who were oppressed.
So, this was a historical reality, but it’s also a very vivid picture of the spiritual reality of every single human being and the slavery that we are in.
(1) It’s a slavery, first of all, to sin. We are slaves to sin. You see that in multiple places in Scripture; let me give you just a couple. John 8:34, Jesus says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is enslaved to sin.” Now, right there you have the reality of being in slavery to sin and you have the evidence of it. Here’s how you know if you’re a slave to sin: if you sin. If you sin, if you practice sin, if your life is characterized by sin, if you are bound by habitual sin, Jesus says you’re a slave to sin! That’s part of our slavery.
The apostle Paul in Titus chapter 3 talks about how at one time we were “foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.” This is every single person’s condition outside of the freedom that Christ came to bring; slavery to our passions and pleasures, slavery to sin.
One of my favorite films —in fact, I would say this is my all-time favorite film, even more than Star Wars— my favorite film of all time is The Tree of Life. Now, not everybody would like this film, it’s very artistic, it has a non-linear storyline, so lots of people don’t like it. But I love it. The extended version of this just came out this week, three hours long, and I just basked in this for three hours Thursday night, loving every minute of it — can’t wait to watch it again.
It’s a story, and I think this is one reason it resonates with me, it’s a story about a family, the O’Briens, and they have three boys. They’re in Texas, and in 1950s, in Texas. Now, I grew up, not in the 1950s, but the 1980s; but it felt like the 1950s, because Texas is really behind, you know, the rest of the country! And especially where I lived, because were out in the middle of nowhere. So, it felt like a 1950s upbringing with a 1950s kind of dad, and me and my two brothers. So, there’s a lot of memory that is stirred when I watch this film.
There’s a part in the story where the protagonist in the film is this little boy named Jack, and he begins to go down a dark path. He begins to make bad choices. He’s defiant towards his mother, he is brooding this hatred of his father, he’s just doing bad things that boys do. He’s breaking windows, he’s sneaking into the neighbor’s house, he steals something; he’s getting himself into trouble. He’s really becoming cruel to his younger brother.
All this is going on, brilliantly portrayed by the young actor in that film, and then there comes a moment where there’s a voiceover, and this is what he says. He says, “What I want to do I can’t do. I do what I hate.” Of course, it’s a clear echo of Romans chapter 7, and it’s something that every single one of us have experienced, the slavery to sin, where we’re doing the thing that we don’t want to do, the thing that we hate, that’s what we do.
In fact, Romans chapter 6 describes this for us as well. Romans 6:16, “Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?” We know that. We know what it is to be slaves to sin.
You might think of St. Augustine in that wonderful spiritual autobiography, The Confessions. He talks about how he became a slave to his desires, and he says that he forged a chain for himself, and it was forged by his desires and then by his desires, by his perverted will, and he says, this "hardened into a compulsion,” so that he found himself absolutely in bondage to his desires.
Now, I wonder if you have experienced that. You may be there right now. You may be secretly fighting some addiction, some dark desire that maybe only you and God know, but a substance or a habit or something that you’re doing that absolutely enslaves you. You may be a slave to people’s opinions, living in constant fear of what people think of you, always trying to get people’s approval. That’s a terrible kind of slavery.
You may be enslaved to anxiety and to worry, where you lay awake at night with all kinds of worries, obsessive compulsive, fixated on all kinds of things. It’s slavery. It’s absolute misery. It’s the bondage to sin, and it’s what Jesus came to free us from.
Remember those words of Wesley:
“He breaks the power of cancelled sin,
He sets the prisoner free;
His blood can make the foulest clean,
His blood avails for me.”
We are slaves to sin.
(2) Not only that, we’re also slaves to death. We’re slaves to death. If you don’t feel like you’re a sinner, you will at least know this, that you’re mortal. You’re mortal, and you’re going to die. One hundred per cent mortality rate in the human race. We’re all slaves to death.
Again, this is something that Christ came to set us free from. Hebrews 2:14-15, “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.”
Enslaved to the fear of death. The reason that death is a reality is because of sin. The Bible says, “The wages of sin is death.” The soul that sins, it shall die. The slavery to sin ends in death. If you don’t believe in sin and you don’t believe in Christ, you at least have to believe in death, and you have to have some explanation for that. Why do people die? The answer of the Bible is, because of sin in the world. This is something every single one of us will face.
C.H. Spurgeon, that great 19th-century pastor, preached a wonderful sermon. I just read this a couple of weeks ago. It was called “Thoughts on the Last Battle,” and it was a sermon on 1 Corinthians 15:56-57. “The sting of death is sin and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!”
It was a perfect sermon, three points: “The Sting of Death,” “The Strength of Sin,” and “The Victory of Faith.” Under that first point, “The Sting of Death,” he portrays death as this dragon, this monster that every single person will face, and there’s no defeating the monster unless the sting is pulled! The only one who can pull the sting is Jesus. We’re slaves to sin, we’re slaves to death.
I mean, this is the reality. There’s nothing more urgent. What will happen to you when you die? There’s nothing more urgent. Will your sins be forgiven? Nothing more pressing. Can you be set free from the things that enslave you? The message of the gospel is yes, because we have a Lord who is a Redeemer.
II. The Lord Who Redeems
That leads us to the second point, the Lord who redeems. I want you to see three things about him, briefly.
(1) Verses 2 and 3, first of all, he is the Lord who reveals his name. In fact, this passage is bracketed by the Lord stating his names. Look at verses 2 and 3. “God spoke to Moses and said to him, ‘I am the Lord. I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as God Almighty [as El-Shaddai], but by my name the Lord [Yahweh] I did not make myself known to them.” And then in verse 8, at the very end of the passage, “I am the Lord.” “I am Yahweh.”
Here is God revealing himself to Moses, and through Moses to the people of Israel. What we know about the name of God in Scripture is that God’s name is always a revelation not just of his title, but it’s a revelation of his character, and it’s showing something about who he is and what he does. Because this is an inclusio, beginning with, “I am the Lord,” and ending with, “I am the Lord,” everything in between is a revelation of what it means to be Yahweh. God’s identity as Yahweh is Yahweh the Redeemer, Yahweh the one who comes to set the captives free, the Savior, the Deliverer of Israel. So he reveals himself as Savior to Israel.
(2) But he’s not only the God who reveals his name; he is the Lord who hears our cries. Look at verses 4 and 5: “I also established my covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land in which they lived as sojourners. Moreover, I have heard the groaning of the people of Israel whom the Egyptians hold as slaves, and I have remembered my covenant.” God heard their groaning.
This is a very clear echo of Exodus 2:23-25, so just four chapters back. This is right at the beginning of the Exodus story, and just listen to what it says. “During those many days the king of Egypt died, and the people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help. Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God. And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. God saw the people of Israel - and God knew.”
I just love those four verbs: God heard, God remembered, God saw, God knew. I want you to know, that’s true today. God sees you, he remembers you, he knows you, and he hears your cries.
If you have been crying, if you have been groaning under the burden of sin, God hears you. If you have been groaning with a troubled conscience, God hears you. If you are groaning under the burden of anxiety and fear, God hears you. If you’re groaning this morning with concern for a family member who does not know Christ, God hears. Keep praying.
You know, the children of Israel here, they had been crying for a long time. They didn’t feel like God heard them. They didn’t believe that God heard them. Even when Moses comes and gives them this message, in verse 9 they reject it! And you know what? God delivers them, in spite of their unbelief. God is a faithful God, and he hears the cries of his people. So keep crying out, keep praying, keep groaning, don’t give up, believe that God is a God who hears our cries.
(3) And then thirdly, God is also the Lord who keeps his promises. Here’s that great theological word, a very important word: covenant, in verse 4: “I established my covenant with them,” and then at the end of verse 5, “and I have remembered my covenant.”
This is such an important word; it deserves a whole sermon or a whole series of sermons. At its heart, it has to do with the promise of God, but it’s a very serious promise, a promise sealed by a blood oath.
Maybe one of the best biblical examples of this is one of the very first covenants in Scripture, God’s covenant with Abraham. This is the covenant that God is remembering. You have it in Genesis chapter 15. God has made these promises to Abraham, and Abraham is wanting assurance that God is going to keep his promise, and God tells Abraham to do something that to us just seems really weird. It’s really weird when you read this, really strange. God tells him to take all these animals; he’s to take a heifer, and a ram, and a turtledove, and pigeons, and he’s to cut them up, divide them. This is kind of creepy, really. You just think about all these divided pieces of animals, right?
But what God is doing is he condescending to Abraham, the pagan Chaldean who has been called out of paganism to worship the true God, and the Chaldeans did what were called blood covenants. They would make an agreement, a binding contract, with one another - Chaldeans would do this with one another - and they would take these animals, they would divide them, and then the parties who were making this contract together would walk between the pieces of the animals. They were basically saying, “If I don’t keep my end of the bargain, if I don’t keep my end of the agreement, may what happened to the animals happen to me.” That’s how serious — I mean, this is a blood oath.
So God tells Abraham, “Take the animals and divide them,” and then an amazing thing happens. God puts Abraham to sleep, and this smoking torch passes through the pieces of the animals, and it’s, of course, representative here of the presence of God. It’s showing us that God is the one who takes the obligations of the covenant onto himself. He’s not leaving it up to Abraham to keep up his end of the bargain. Salvation is not a 50/50 enterprise. It’s not something that you contribute, something that God contributes; it is 100 percent grace, it’s what God does, and he takes the oath upon himself to keep his promises to Abraham.
He is a covenant-keeping God, he is the Lord who keeps promises. You look at this passage here in Exodus chapter 6; in what I’ve read, there are seven promises made, seven “I wills” in this passage. This would have been a good outline for the sermon; it’s not the outline this morning, but just notice the seven “I wills.”
- Verse 6a, “I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.”
- Verse 6b, “I will deliver you from slavery.”
- Verse 6c, “I will redeem you.”
- 7a, “I will take you to be my people.”
- 7b, “I will be your God.”
- 8a, “I will bring you into the land that I swore to give Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.”
- 8b, “I will give it to you for a possession.”
He’s a covenant-keeping God. He’s the Lord who keeps his promises, and at the heart of those promises is this promise, “I will redeem you.”
III. The Redemption He Brings
So let’s look, thirdly, finally, at the redemption that he brings. This redemption is a rescue operation. That’s what it is. Here are the slaves, and God is going to rescue them from slavery. It’s amazing! I mean, it’s all here. This is the seed out of which the biblical theology of salvation grows. It’s right here in this passage. It’s just beautiful to me, and I just want to take it a line at a time and show you five things about this redemption, okay? So we have 15 minutes; let’s see if I can do this, three minutes on each sub-point. Five things about this redemption or this rescue.
(1) Number one, it is a rescue through a display of power. Look at verse 6, “I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm.”
An outstretched arm; this is what we call an anthropomorphism. Now that’s one of those ten-million dollar words that no one’s going to know how to pronounce that, much less what it means. But it essentially means this: it means that God speaks to us, describing himself in the terms of a man. God doesn’t have arms, alright. Jesus has arms, because he’s incarnate, but God, the being of God, is not physical, he’s spiritual; he doesn’t have arms. So he says, “I will redeem you with an outstretched arm.”
Why does he say that? Well, here are a couple of reasons. One reason is because this is a battle of the gods; it’s Yahweh coming up against the gods of Egypt. One commentary suggests that this may have Egyptians overtones, because the kings and the gods of Egypt are portrayed, often, as having outstretched arms. The outstretched arm was a symbol of power. So God here is describing how he’s going to redeem Israel through this mighty, powerful work. He’s going to come as their warrior, as their champion, the one who will fight their battle for them, and he will do it with an outstretched arm.
Exodus 3:20, “I will stretch out my hand and strike Egypt with all the wonders that I will do in it, and after that he will let you go.” All the plagues that follow, it’s God’s outstretched arm. It’s God’s power on display.
Then when you get to Exodus 15 you have the song of Moses. The whole song of Moses is about redemption - you have that word “redeem,” it appears two times again in Exodus 15 - but it’s about redemption at the hands of the mighty warrior. So Exodus 15:3 says, “The Lord is a warrior, the Lord is his name.” Here’s Yahweh; this is his character. He’s the champion for his people, and he rescues them through a display of his power.
Note this: it is a real rescue. He says, “I will bring you out. I will deliver you. I will redeem you.” I want you to know that when Jesus rescues someone, he sets them free. It’s a real rescue. It’s not rescue in name only. It’s not “saved so I have fire insurance,” but no change; he delivers you! He delivers you from sin and darkness. That doesn’t mean there’s never a struggle, and that doesn’t mean that Christians never fail, but it means that there is a definitive change where you move out of darkness, into light, out of service to the powers of darkness into service to the power and the kingdom of God. Real deliverance, because God exercises his power. When he saves someone, he brings him to himself.
(2) Number two, it is a rescue through an act of judgment. Again, verse 6, at the very end, “I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment.” Again, those great acts of judgment, that’s a way of describing the plagues.
You remember the plagues, I won’t go through them all, but the frogs and the flies and the darkness on the face of the earth, hail and locusts, and so on. Biblical scholars point out that those plagues were actually natural disasters laden with theological overtones, okay? This is Old Testament scholar Stephen Dempster. He says, “It is as if all creation was becoming unhinged.” It’s de-creation! It’s like the world is falling apart; it’s like the worst disaster movie you can ever imagine, and it was happening in Egypt, because God was unleashing his judgment on Egypt.
One of the reasons God was doing it is because Egypt was a polytheistic religion where they worshipped the elements of creation, right? They were polytheistic, pantheistic. They were worshipping elements of creation. They worshipped the sun, the sun god, who rises every morning, and so God says, “Okay, your god’s not going to rise today,” and there’s darkness. It’s as if their god has died.
One reason we know this is what’s happening is because Exodus 12:12 says (this is about the last of the plagues, the death of the firstborn, and God says), “I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the Lord.” It’s a war, as God goes to war against the Gods of Egypt and judges them.
He’s judging the Egyptians, but get this: the judgment would also fall on the Israelites, because that death of the firstborn, that was going to happen to every person, or every household. Every firstborn beast and every firstborn son in all the land of Egypt is going to die with this plague, because the judgment is falling on all of them, Egyptians and Israelites, unless somehow the Israelites are covered.
(3) How are they covered? They are covered through the payment of a ransom, and that’s the third aspect of this redemption. It’s what this word “redeem” means, when God says, “I will redeem you.”
The word “redeem,” when you read it in its full biblical context, the word “redeem” means to deliver something or set someone or something free through the payment of a ransom. So, you might think of prisoners of war who are set free when their home nation pays a ransom price for them. Or you might think of slaves who are bought out of their slavery, off the auction block, because a new master pays the price and then sets them free.
That’s the word “redeem,” and it’s right at the heart of this word, that to be redeemed is to be delivered, to be rescued through the payment of a ransom. And God was paying a ransom for Israel, and he did it in the Passover. So, Exodus 12:13, here was the provision. This is what saved the Israelites so that the firstborn would not die. Exodus 12:13, “The blood shall be a sign for you, on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt.” They were to slay this lamb, and they were to rub the blood of the Lamb on the doors, the lintel and the doorposts of their doors. When God saw the blood, he would pass over.
That is exactly the language that is used in the New Testament to describe the redemption we have in Jesus. Mark 10:45, Jesus says, “The Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” 1 Peter 1:18-19 tells us that we are redeemed, or ransomed, from our futile ways, “not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.” Paul goes all the way, 1 Corinthians 5, when he says that “Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.” He is the Passover lamb. He is the one who redeems us. And how does he do it? He does it by paying a ransom.
My favorite illustration of this (I can’t resist, those of you who have heard it before, forgive the repeated illustration) but it’s The Chronicles of Narnia, the first one you should read, not the second, in spite of the way publishers number them today, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. You remember Edmund? I mean, Edmund is a slave. Edmund, enslaved to his desires, choosing Turkish Delight over the good of his brother and sisters and over the good of the whole land of Narnia, which is enslaved by this White Witch.
You remember that his life is forfeit to the White Witch because of his treachery, until Aslan agrees to take his place and to die on the Stone Table; Aslan the lion, this Christ figure. He dies in the place of Edmund in order to redeem him, and when Aslan rises from the dead the next day, Lucy and Susan are hugging him and covering him with kisses. They’re asking about this, what’s happened.
This is what Aslan says. He says, “The White Witch did not realize that when a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor’s stead, death itself would start working backwards.” It’s freedom from the slavery! Why? Because a ransom has been paid, the redemption price. That’s what Christ has done for us.
(4) But not only that, this rescue, this redemption begins a new relationship with God. Look at verse 7: “I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God…” That’s the heart of the covenant promise, repeated again and again and again in the Old Testament and in the New. “I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the Lord your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.”
He purchases them, redeems them, and he makes them his own! He makes them his own. He brings them into a new relationship with God. They are his people, they are his family, and he is their God. When God redeems us through Christ, he brings us into the family, he makes us his own, he adopts us as sons and daughters, he purchases us, he buys us, so that Paul can say in regard to sexual immorality, “Don’t do it, flee from it, for you are not your own; you are bought with a price.” The reason that Paul says to be holy is because Christ bought you, he owns you, he redeemed you.
I love the story (I heard this from preachers when I was kid) it was a story about a little boy who made a boat, and he loved to just sail his little toy boat, made of wood, he loved to sail it in the river. But one day it got away from him, floated on down the river, and he had lost. I don’t remember how long goes by, weeks, months go by, and then one day he’s in a little shop in the town and there it is, it’s his boat, it’s on a shelf. Somebody has found, they’ve restored, they’ve put it on the shelf, it’s for sale. So he scrapes up as much money as he can, he earns his money, uses all of his allowance, and he buys the boat that he created, that he made with his own hands, and as he’s walking home he says, “I made you, and now I bought you; you’re doubly mine.”
That’s what God has done. He’s made you and he has bought you, and he owns you with a double bond, a double purchase. You are doubly his, and therefore we should live holy lives, because we are his people.
(5) And here’s the final thing about this redemption, this rescue: it brings us all the way home. It brings us all the way home. Look at verse 8. “I will bring you into the land that I swore to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. I will give it to you for a possession. I am the Lord.” The promised land, the land of Canaan. God promised it to Abraham, and now he’s giving it to the children of Israel.
This, of course, is a picture for us of what God has promised us. We’re looking for a city. As the old spiritual says, the old hymn, “I am bound for the promised land, / Who will rise and go with me? / I am bound for the promised land.” What is the promised land? It’s not just life after death, it’s not just heaven; it is the new heavens and the new earth. It is the new creation. It is the restoration of the whole created order, which comes as the direct result of the redemptive work of Jesus Christ, because he came not only to redeem us, he came to redeem the world, to renew the world! It’s an act of renewal.
That’s what we’re waiting for; that’s what we’re looking for. The promise of the gospel is that God will take us all the way there. He takes us all the way home. He takes us to the point where, as Revelation describes it, we come to “river of life,” we come to that fountain to drink, we come to that place where the Lamb on the throne, the Shepherd of our souls, will wipe every tear away from our eyes, and sorrow and sighing and crying will be no more! It’s all done! Complete redemption. Paul describes the redemption of our bodies, because we’re resurrected out of death.
I mean, this is the solution to slavery in every sense of the word. It’s freedom from sin, it’s forgiveness from sin, but it’s also freedom from death itself when Jesus returns.
If I could return to Narnia for just a minute as we draw this to a close. At the end of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, after Aslan rises from the dead, he storms the castle of the White Witch. Now you remember the White Witch; she’s the villain, and she’s enslaved all of Narnia in winter. It’s this long, perpetual winter. It’s always winter, it’s never Christmas, remember? And anyone who defies the Witch, she turns him into a statue. So all of these talking animals have been turned into statues.
When Aslan storms the castle of the White Witch, he goes through the castle breathing on the statues, until something mysterious happens. I want to read you an actual passage from Lewis. He breathes on a stone lion, and this is what Lewis says:
“For a second after Aslan had breathed upon him, the stone lion looked just the same. Then a tiny streak of gold began to run along the white marble back. Then it spread. Then the color seemed to lick all over him as a flame licks all over a bit of paper. Then, while his hindquarters were still obviously stone, the lion shook his mane, and all the heavy stone folds rippled into living hair. Then he opened a great red mouth, warm and living, and gave a prodigious yawn. And now his hind legs had come to life. He lifted one of them and scratched himself. Then, having caught sight of Aslan, he went bounding after him, frisking around him, whimpering with delight, and jumping up to lick his face.”
I think that’s such a beautiful picture of what the final resurrection will be. One of the things so moving about this film that I love so much, The Tree of Life, is the end of this film. There is something of a resurrection scene, where all of these family relationships that have been broken and alienated by hurt and by grief and by loss and by shame, there’s reuniting at the end as they walk on this beach together in something of a resurrection. That’s what we’re hoping for, it’s what we’re longing for. We’re longing for our true home, a world where the sad things are untrue and where all wrongs are made right. God promises to bring us there.
The only way we get there is through Christ. “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through me,” Jesus said. So the great question for us this morning, whether you’re a believer or whether you’ve never believed the gospel, the question for you this morning is, are you living in the freedom that Christ came to bring you, or are you still enslaved? If you’re still enslaved, will you look not to yourself, but will you look to the God who ransoms you from slavery through Jesus Christ?
Let me tie up one more loose thread. Johnny Cash. I’m getting all my favorites in this morning; Narnia, Tree of Life, and Johnny Cash. Johnny Cash’s song “Redemption,” it’s just a beautiful song to me. You should go home and watch it on YouTube. I just want to end with a few lines from this song. View this as something of an invitation this morning of where you look in order to be redeemed. Johnny Cash said,
“From the hands it came down,
From the side it came down,
From the feet it came down,
And ran to the ground.
Between heaven and hell
A teardrop fell.
In the deep crimson dew
The tree of life grew.
And the blood gave life
To the branches of the tree,
And the blood was the price
That set the captives free.
And the numbers that came
Through the fire and the flood
Clung to the tree
And were redeemed by the blood.”
That’s how you’re redeemed. It’s not what you do, it’s what he has done. You don’t redeem yourself, he redeems you. You have nothing to pay, no price to bring; he’s already paid it. He’s paid the debt, he’s paid it in full. He redeems us through his own blood. Will you trust in Christ this morning? Will you look to him? Look to him for freedom, look to him for redemption, look to him for resurrection in the age to come. Place your faith and your trust in Jesus Christ this morning.
Lord Jesus, we thank you so much that you shed your blood for us, and this morning we take our place right alongside Johnny Cash and we cling to the tree, believing that we are redeemed by the blood of Christ. We trust the promise that this work is finished, there’s nothing for us to do to redeem ourselves. Ours is simply to live for your glory as a response of gratitude, because we now belong to you.
Lord, I pray that for every Christian this morning, that you would seal these truths in our hearts, burn them into our minds, that we would feel and know that we belong to the triune God who has redeemed us. For anyone who does not know Christ this morning, whether it’s someone, perhaps, this morning who’s just not a Christian and is maybe for the first time considering these things, or maybe someone who has been in the shadows of the church for many years but has never embraced the gospel for themselves. Lord, I pray right now for the life look, the look to Christ, the look to the cross, the look of faith, that you would bring these friends out of darkness into your marvelous light.
Father, as we come to the table this morning, this table is something like the Passover meal. Just as the children of Israel took the Passover and remembered how they were redeemed out of Egypt, so we take the Lord’s table and we remember that Christ is the Lamb of God who shed his blood for us, and he is the Bread of Life who nourishes us through his own broken body. May we receive these elements today with faith, with faith not in the elements themselves, but with faith in our living Savior, Jesus Christ, and all that he has done for us. Meet with us now in these moments, we pray in Jesus’s name, Amen.