"You must redeem every firstborn son." Exodus
If there is a theme which claims incessant thought, it is
Redemption. Job's sweetest word is, 'I know that my Redeemer lives.' Heaven
is a pyramid of redeemed souls. The melody of eternal harps is, 'You were
slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood.'
Reader! study, then, I beg you, Redemption more and more.
Explore its need, its plan, its worth, its end. Without this knowledge your
soul is dark, your heart is cold, faith has no sure resting-place, hope has
no anchor, love has no kindling flame, service has no constraining motive.
Except this stream flow in a deep channel, the Bible is the mocking course
of a summer brook.
It is the Spirit's will that we should clearly see and
tightly grasp this subject. He announces it in plainest terms. He
embodies it in distinct images. He paints it in vivid types.
He predicts it in prophetic song. He exhibits it in holy rites.
Thus in the earliest pages of Israel's story an ordinance stands forward,
which surely is designed to cast a flood of revealing rays on the main
features of redeeming work.
The first-born of every family throughout Egypt's empire
are cut down by one fell swoop. But in the blood-marked dwellings no parent
weeps, no offspring bleeds. A child is spared. But He who spares it claims
it as His own. The Lord speaks unto Moses, saying, 'Sanctify unto me all the
firstborn.' They are doubly His. He created; He preserved.
But tender mercy here finds an opening to show a smiling
face. Ransom is decreed. If a fit sum, according to the balance of the
sanctuary, be paid, the claim shall be remitted, the forfeited progeny shall
be free—'collect five pieces of silver for each person, each piece weighing
the same as the standard sanctuary shekel.'
Such is the rite. It has especial value, because it gives
a clue to the grand lesson of the Gospel-school. We here are taught the
meaning of Redemption. It is recovery on account of payment made. A
Redeemer receives again, only because He fills the scales with satisfying
Reader! now lift aloft this torch. It helps you to
discern the realities and immensities of the Redemption which is effected by
the Lord. Sinners are the lost property. Souls are the captive heritage.
Christ regains them at the price of His most precious blood. Ponder the
breadth and length of this great fact. Mark the vile thraldom into which sin
brought our race. It spoiled us all of spiritual liberty. It dragged us into
the lowest cell of a dark prison-house. It placed Satan as the stern jailer
of a guilt-enfettered world. From the day in which Adam touched the
forbidden fruit, each child is born a captive, because he is born in sin.
External circumstance may differ. But it changes not internal state. The
high, the low, the rich, the poor, lie in one base level of sin-grasped,
sin-sold misery. The whole family breathe their first breath, as common
slaves in common slavery. Not only spiritual liberty is lost, but spiritual
life is slain. No slave of sin is conscious of his abject state. There is no
loathing of the loathsome jail. There is no longing to reach holier ground.
There is no panting for a purer climate.
But try to suppose a case which cannot be. Let the heart
wish against the heart's desire. Let corruption sigh to burst corruption's
bond. Where can one gleam of hope be found? Will tears or cries induce the
jailer to relent? Can his hatred cease to hate? Can his malice melt to love?
Can rocks dissolve to softness? Such things might be. But Satan must be
Satan still. His being is to revel in our woe. But can no striving strength
beat down the subjugating? Alas! Feebleness is a feeble word to paint our
power when compared with his. Self cannot rescue self; nor man deliver man.
But cannot angels render aid? We may conceive that they look down in tender
pity. But pity is not power. A yearning heart is not an arm of might. Let
all the hosts of heaven fly forward to your help. How can they force open
the prison walls which sin has raised? Captivity must remain, except
Omnipotence arise to help!
Reader! now look to Jesus. All hope centers in Him. His
gracious eye surveys a captive world. Within sin's walls He sees the bride,
from all eternity beloved—the portion which the Heavenly Father gave Him—the
jewels which are to be His crown forever—the sheep whom He is pledged to
tend—the children whose names are written on His heart—the heritage which
was His delight before the worlds were made. He beholds them vile, in
iniquity's vile rags—wretched to the last length of wretchedness—dark in the
blackest night of hopelessness—trembling on the brink of uttermost
perdition. He beholds them in this mire. He beholds them such, and yet He
loves them. Can He love and not seek their rescue? Can He live if they die?
Can He rejoice if they wail? Can He reign if they perish? Can He shine in
glory if they burn in hell? It cannot be. They are His property by His
Father's gift. They are the fullness of His mystic body.
He must redeem them. But how? Suppose Him suppliant at
the dungeon-gate. Can He by word of strong entreaty gain their freedom? No!
the Holy attributes of God forbid. A book appears against them, written
throughout with countless charges, and exhibiting countless debts. Each debt
is a catalogue of infinite extent. Can He pay all? He knows that in the
boundlessness of His Deity He has strength to endure the penalty, and
resources to wipe out the debt. Will He hesitate? Oh no! love constrains
Him, pity moves Him; mercy urges Him; the eternal covenant compels Him. To
the extent of infinity He will suffer, if only by the infinity of His
sufferings His people can be free. So He takes Redemption into His hands.
And will He verily accomplish it? O my soul, draw near
and see. In the fullness of time, He comes flying on the wings of redeeming
grace, striding in the might of redeeming power, clad in the armor of
redeeming prowess, wearing on His brow Redemption's helmet, bearing in His
hands Redemption's price. Proceed with Him to the work of redemption. Enter
with Him into the garden. Take your station beside His cross.
He presents Himself to redeem. He draws near to endure His people's pains,
to pay their wretched owings. The penalty of each sin is everlasting curse.
Must this descend upon the sinless Surety? It must! It does. Holy wrath
cannot spare. Holy Truth cannot unsay its word. The sinner's soul must die.
All the agonies of never-ending dying must be borne. Jesus sustains all,
until justice can inflict no more. So, also, each debt is fully cancelled.
The scales of heaven are brought forth. In the one there is the weight of
iniquities, which would weigh worlds upon worlds into the lowest dust. Into
the other Jesus casts His blood as counter-payment. The value infinitely
exceeds. Justice exclaims, Release those souls, the debt has been paid to
the last mite! Jehovah issues His mighty mandate concerning each, 'Deliver
him from going down to the pit; I have found a ransom!'
What now can Satan do? His rage, his malice, and his
hate, are impotent to harm. The blood of Jesus has satisfied all claims.
That death has slain all foes. That cross has silenced each accusing voice.
The portals of heaven can no more be barred. The chains of bondage are
shattered. The prisoners are free. The captives are redeemed. Who now
presents a charge? Who now can urge a claim? Christ's death is
O my soul, live reading those letters of love, which
brightly shine around the cross. It is written, 'In whom we have Redemption
through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His
grace.' Believer, you are purchased by this inestimable price. Know,
then, what blessedness is yours. You are forever free from all hell-misery.
Multitudes must reap the harvest which sin sows, in anguish never-ending.
But avenging wrath cannot touch you. The gnawing worm cannot prey on you.
The Redeemer has ransomed you. Rejoice, and give Him praise.
The wicked will soon be bound, body and soul, in bundles
for the endless burning! Oh! the woe to be forever linked with foul
fiends—to be forever hearing from their parched lips the execrating wail of
hatred and despair! But you are safe. The Redeemer has ransomed you.
Rejoice, and give Him praise!
How many pass their pilgrim-days in the vile service of
this world's prince! He drives them at his will to every godless word and
work. They drink the gall of disappointment, vexation, discontent, and
terrible foreboding. But He who redeemed your life from destruction
crowns you with loving-kindness and tender mercies. You have peace which
passes all understanding—joys which are the pledge of Paradise—and hope
which enters now within the veil of heaven. Rejoice, and give Him praise!
Many tremble at the approach of death. They know
that it will snap the thread of earthly being, and plunge them into agony's
abyss. They hate life, because it ends in dying. They hate dying, because it
ends their hopeless hopes. But death's features have no frown for the
Redeemed. It comes as a welcome friend to open the cage-door of the flesh,
that the rejoicing spirit may fly swift to the Redeemer's breast. The slaves
of Satan dread the grave. They are conscious that it cannot detain the body
long. Their dust must live again. The tabernacle in which they sinned must
be the tabernacle in which they receive sin's wages. But your ears of faith
have heard the Conqueror's shout, 'I will ransom them from the power of the
grave. I will redeem them from death.' The archangel's voice will soon awake
the slumbering clay, and then it will put on the glorious robes of
immortality, and shine forth in beauty, bright as His beauty, and in
perfections fitted for the Eternal's throne.
Believer, hell only can draw up the murky veil, and fully
show the miseries from which you are snatched by Christ. The resurrection
morn, the nightless day alone can manifest your blood-bought blessing.
But listen! the Spirit speaks a word of wholesome
warning. Redeemed ones are no more their own. 'You are bought with a
price—therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are
God's.' Your time is redeemed; use it as a consecrated talent in His
cause. Your minds are redeemed; employ them to learn His truth and,
to meditate on His ways. Thus make them armories of holy weapons. Your
eyes are redeemed; let them not look on vanity; close them on all sights
and books of folly. Your feet are redeemed; let them trample on the
world, and climb the upward hill of Zion, and bear you onward in the march
of Christian zeal. Your tongues are redeemed; let them only sound His
praise, and testify to His love, and call sinners to His cross. Your
hearts are redeemed; let them love Him wholly, and have no seat for
A redeemed flock should live in Redemption's pastures.
The Redeemer's freedmen should evidence that they are called to holy
liberty, and that their holy liberty is holy service. The chain of sin is
broken. The chain of love now holds them!