The Kinsman Redeemer

“The Seed” promise first made by God to Eve is further expanded under the motif of the Kinsman-Redeemer.

Oh, that my words were recorded, that they were written on a scroll, that they were inscribed with an iron tool on lead, or engraved in rock forever! I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me! (Job 19:23-27).

The central affirmation here is My Redeemer lives! Job was confident that he had a personal Redeemer, who is alive and who will raise him from the dead; he was confident that he would see God with his own eyes because his Redeemer lives.

God shows that man needs a Redeemer in many ways in the OT. The Law of the Kinsman-Redeemer (lag goel or ga’al) is part of God’s progressive revelation of formulating the incarnation for the purpose of human redemption.

The Kinsman-Redeemer had a four-fold duty:

1. He redeemed a person sold into servitude (Leviticus 25:47-49).
2. He redeemed the land, which his brother had wasted away (Leviticus 25:25).
3. He became the avenger of the blood of his brother who was wrongly slain (Numbers 35:27).
4. He was to marry his brother’s widow to fulfill the duty of a brother-in law (Deuteronomy 25:5-6).

In order for Christ, to redeem us, He had to become our brother and that took the incarnation. After His resurrection, Jesus calls the apostles His brothers (Matthew 28:10).

The following illustrates that the Messiah’s work as Kinsman-Redeemer is only one-forth completed.

KINSMAN-REDEEMER

1. SERVANT (Leviticus 25:47-55)
2. WIDOW-BRIDE (Deuteronomy 25:5-6)
3. LAND (Leviticus 25:25; Jeremiah 32)
4. AVENGER OF BLOOD (Numbers 35:13)

JESUS CHRIST

1. FIRST ADVENT (Luke 4:16-19: Revelation 1:5-6)
2. RAPTURE (Eph. 5:25-27; 1 Thess. 4:13-18; Rev. 4:1)
3. SECOND ADVENT (Revelation 6-19)
4. SECOND ADVENT (2 Thessalonians 1:5-10; Rev. 6-19)

The Land

Man longs to know why he is here and where he is going. In other words, what is his destiny? Scripture answers this important question through multi-themes that conjugate to form its structure and organization. Intertwined are three themes, Relational Experience, Quest for Place and Glorifying God, when combined these form a matrix within the primary structure of the Bible: Kingdom—Messiah—Land—Covenants.

Land is at the heart of quest for place and is the yardstick by which man measures his relational experience with Yahweh and standing under God’s covenants. Land is one of the most significant words of Scripture. The Septuagint (Greek OT) translates three Hebrew words with the term gh over 2,600 times. It also appears 248 times in the Greek NT. Land, earth, ground and country are the common English translations for gh.

If you were reading the entire Bible in Greek, you would be saturated with the word gh from the opening chapter of Genesis to the closing chapter of Revelation. You would find that man’s destiny begins with the creation of the gh and finds its resting place in the new gh. This word occurs 25 times in the creation narrative.

The theological importance of man’s relationship to the land is evident from the fact that God created mda (adam = man) by forming him out of the dust of the hmda (adamah = ground, land, earth). Even etymologically, man belongs to the soil from which he comes. The land is the source of man’s life, and when his life is over, he returns to the land. His livelihood and well-being are dependent upon the land.

In the broadest sense, the land is man’s home; it is all he needs. Because of sin, man has been banished from his real home, the Garden of Eden, to work the land from which he has been taken. He is denied access to the tree of life in the garden (Genesis 4:23-24); he has forfeited his relational experience with the LORD God (Genesis 3:8); and his ability to rule over the earth under the Adamic Covenant has been greatly diminished.

Because of disobedience, the good ground, which God created to provide for man, is made the source of man’s anguish. God curses the ground from which man is made and declares that man will return to it (Genesis 3:17-19). Clearly, from the beginning man is to understand that his well-being is related to obedience to God’s Word or the land to which he is inherently tied will be cursed. This principle will be repeated over and over in the history of Israel and climaxes in the Tribulation.

The focal point of Israel’s history predicted by God is wrapped up in one verse.

The whole land of Canaan, where you are now an alien, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God (Genesis 17:8).

This verse announces a remarkable inversion of facts. The land is referred to as the “land of sojourning”—it is “the place” they are to live, but do not belong, and do not have roots. It is called the “land of Canaan,” possessed by another and not by them. Nevertheless, the land of rootlessness (possessed by others) is Israel’s future. The land that Abraham’s descendants are to possess is given to them by Divine authority.

It is a gifted land as seen in the phrase, “I will give.” The gifted land theme is crucial to understanding the fulfillment of God’s promise when Abraham’s descendants enter Canaan after 400 years of bondage in Egypt. With the Abrahamic Covenant, God turns hopeless history into land expectation. A sojourner will receive an eternal possession. His heirs will be brought out of slavery, life out of death. This promise of land rests on the power and veracity of Yahweh. God will give a new place in which to exercise trusteeship.

The fulfillment of the Land Promise started in motion with Moses at the burning bush. God was now ready to fulfill His promise by rescuing and bringing Abraham’s descendants into Canaan, a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey (Exodus 3:8). He had remembered His covenant. Their redemption would be the result of His mighty works in judgment. Not only would He give the land to them as a possession, but also He would take them as His people (Exodus 6:2-8). The nation of Israel, the Promised Land, and God would share a unique relationship.

In the Song of Moses, the writer grappled with the reality of the land and the presence of God. In the first portion of this song, the expected was proclaimed; God is leading His people (Exodus 15:1-12). However, the second portion added a new perspective, a destination not spoken of before. God is not just leading them to the Promised Land, but to His holy dwelling, the mountain of His inheritance, the place where Yahweh will dwell, the sanctuary He will establish (Exodus 15:13-18). God will be making His place with Israel in the land.

Moses’ imagery pointed to Jerusalem. David identified this imagery centuries later. In a processional liturgy celebrating the glorious and triumphant rule of Israel’s God, David recounted Israel’s march from Mount Sinai to Mount Zion (Psalm 68). In this psalm, Moses’ imagery finds its fulfillment in the Temple at Jerusalem. Thus, from the Red Sea crossing, Israel’s quest for place was to be much more than Canaan. It was to be present with the LORD.

Once in the land, Israel’s trust was to be measured by its obedience to the legislation laid down in the desert. Three key legislative passages, which amplify the Ten Commandments, were given through Moses:

1. The Book of the Covenant (Exodus 21-23)
2. The Law of Holiness (Leviticus 17-27)
3. The Deuteronomic Code (Deuteronomy 12-24)

God’s blessings for obedience and His curses for disobedience were added to the above legislation (Deuteronomy 28). The land and Israel’s occupation of it would reflect their administration of it.

Clearly, the Davidic Covenant (2 Samuel 7:8-16) promises the establishment of an eternal throne for David’s seed for the purpose of providing a place and a home for God’s people. Here the unconditional promise of an eternal Promised Land and kingdom for Israel is merged. The future of the land is tied to Israel’s king. Thus, Israel quest for place will find fulfillment only in the promised king—Christ.

Israel’s rest in the Land is at the very heart of the Davidic Covenant.

And I will provide a place for my people Israel and will plant them so that they can have a home of their own and no longer be disturbed. Wicked people shall not oppress them any more, as they did at the beginning and have done ever since the time I appointed leaders over my people Israel. I will also give you rest from all your enemies (2 Samuel 7:10-11).

Though the Jews are presently scattered throughout the earth, there is hope. Deuteronomy 30:4-10 predicts the regathering of Israel, even from the most distant land under the heavens. After the LORD brings the dispersed back to take possession of the land and make them more prosperous and numerous than their fathers, the Scripture forecasts:

The LORD your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live (Deuteronomy 30:6).

Here the promise of the New Covenant is first revealed and later explained (Isaiah 59:20-21; Jeremiah 31:31-34; Ezekiel 36:24-27). The promises of the Abrahamic and Davidic Covenants are maintained. Not all the descendants of Israel will be rejected; their covenant relationship with the LORD is firm.

The context of the New Covenant in Jeremiah’s prophecy is important. Israel’s restoration to the Land is historically spoken of by the LORD before and after the New Covenant. He promises to give them rest (Jeremiah 31:2) and to gather His people back into the Land (31:3-24). It is predicted that they will go up to Zion to Him (31:6). Jeremiah 31:17 is one of the great eschatological statements of the Bible:

“So there is hope for your future,” declares the LORD. “Your children will return to their own land.”

A day is spoken of when Jerusalem will be rebuilt and never uprooted or demolished (31:38-40). Jerusalem has been destroyed some nineteen times. Clearly, this day is yet future. This promise has not been fulfilled. Zechariah records the same promise in the context of Christ’s Second Advent (Zechariah 14:10-11). Jeremiah not only speaks of restoration to the Land, but also of the Davidic king and His kingdom:

In those days and at that time I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David’s line; he will do what is just and right in the land. In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. This is the name by which it will be called: The LORD Our Righteousness (Jeremiah 33:15-16).

In these chapters, the promises of the Abrahamic, Mosaic, Davidic and New Covenants are as certain as day and night (Jeremiah 31:35; 33:20-26). Israel will enjoy the Promised Land in the future. Why? Two reasons are apparent in light of the New Covenant and the promised fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant.

1. The LORD will graciously enable Israel to meet the condition of obedience for rest in the Promised Land.
2. Every king who reigned in the Promised Land was just like the kings of other nations. They did not do what was just and right. The theocratic and Mediatorial Kingdom of Israel as divinely intended to be different, not like the other political systems of the world. Christ’s reign will fulfill this intent.

As king, Jesus Christ will fulfill the conditional stipulations of the Mosaic Covenant. The inhabitants of the Millennium will enter into the Kingdom with a new-circumcised heart, wholeheartedly loving the LORD.

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