Thursday, July 7, 2016

The Purpose, Significance and Scope of Redemption

UV 2005/10000 The Purpose, Significance and Scope of Redemption
Therefore thus saith the LORD, who redeemed Abraham, concerning the house of Jacob, Jacob shall not now be ashamed, neither shall his face now wax pale
Isaiah 29 v 22

We cannot redeem ourselves, from our sins and from our sinful nature. The Lord redeemed Abraham on account of the latter’s faithfulness. Abraham proved his faithfulness in keeping his part of the covenant with the Lord. As a blessing, the Lord promised to bless Abraham with descendants and to similarly bless his descendants. As in marriage where a wife leaves her father’s house to where her husband takes her, Abraham too had to leave his father’s house in Ur or modern Iraq for Canaan where the Lord asked him to go. He had to now cleave to His Father in heaven. Abram’s first name which meant “High” or “Mighty” father was a misnomer for he had not till then sired a child. God changed his name and identity to Abraham which meant “father of a multitude.” His son Isaac was blessed by the Lord but it was through his grandson Jacob that the Lord revealed His mercy. Jacob had much reproach and shame in his life. His sin of deceiving his brother Esau and his father Isaac haunted him with shame. He became a fugitive from his own home and his own kith and kin. But the Lord did not forsake or leave him. The Lord did not condemn or excuse him for his cunning and deceit. He helped him deal with his sinful nature. Jacob became an overcomer. While Isaac reserved his blessings for only his elder son, Jacob was so blessed that he could bless each of his twelve sons who became in time the head of their respective tribes.

In Shakespearean tragedy as in Greek tragedies, the hero has a fatal flaw from which he cannot escape. It drags them down to defeat, despondency and death. There is no redemption for him or her and the flaw destroys them. But in the kingdom of God, the Lord redeems our nature from lying, cheating, violence, dead habits, debts, losses, mishaps, shame and reproach. There is nothing in us or in our past, present or future that the Lord cannot redeem us from. Jesus is the Redeemer of our souls but the Holy Spirit is the redeemer of our nature. The Holy Spirit asks the Jacob in each of us not to run away from our guilt and shame but to be still and know that He is God, the Redeemer, the One who is patient with us and will help us overcome our own inner weaknesses.

Matching our redeemed souls with redeemed nature is the challenge of faith. There are things we could say or think or do before with ease that we can no longer say, think or do. We can no longer be selfish, proud, arrogant, bitter, unforgiving, greedy or insecure. These behaviour traits and patterns put us to shame in the past and grieved the Holy Spirit. Our bodies are no longer the house of Jacob but the house or temple of Jesus. The love for the pure and the sacred replaces the passion for the profane and vulgar. The ignoble and baser aspects of our nature are transformed into the noble and beautiful. We are no longer running away from our past shame and guilt but we are running towards honour and glory of the Lord.

Prateep V Philip

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