As we enter a new book of Torah, the book of Numbers, there is always some preliminaries to deal with so that we can approach things in proper perspective.
Its about 1350 B.C. as Israel prepares to leave Mt. Sinai. After spending 400 years in Egypt, the last 2 centuries of that time as Egypt’s slave labor force, God has finally rescued them from their plight; the Bible word used for this rescue is redemption; and this is because what occurred in their exodus from Egypt entailed much more than just a massive jailbreak.
Redemption is at its core a spiritual issue, and therefore redemption is an important theme for the remainder of Torah. It also establishes a key God-principle for our understanding of the New Testament: first comes redemption and then comes understanding and relationship.
Tom Bradford reiterates this somewhat controversial statement that he has alluded to at other times: the laws and commands of Torah, and of all the Bible for that matter (OT or New), is NOT for nonbelievers to follow…. it is ONLY for the already redeemed.
Once we are redeemed, then we can BEGIN to develop our relationship with God, which involves not only trust in Him, but obedience to His commands. The error comes when we think we can follow the laws of God like a recipe or a check-off list in order to become a child of God. In fact perhaps the greatest untold lesson of the Word of God is that the laws of God are only FOR those who trust Him.
Don’t let the word redeem or redemption throw you; it means essentially the same as the church-word “salvation”. So when we study the Torah and other books of the Bible you can freely interchange the words redemption and salvation to a great degree.
The only real difference is that salvation has taken on a meaning of including the belief that it is Yeshua the Messiah who has redeemed us from our sins; but from a generic and purely literary standpoint, redemption and salvation mean basically the same thing.
And notice, the Law did NOT redeem Israel; God redeemed them and then sometime AFTERWARD He gave them the Law.
Let’s follow this God-pattern that is established in the Torah. Recall that upon Israel being rescued, redeemed, the very first thing God did was to remove them from all that they had been familiar with; Egypt.Slavery to a cruel and evil taskmaster was over, but that doesn’t mean difficulty and challenge was ended.
Already in the earliest stages of their exodus the fears and insecurities of the unknown had caused some of the Hebrews to want to turn back; to discard their newly found freedom and reconnect themselves to the awful slavery they knew but were at some level comfortable with rather than to fully submit themselves to God to be remolded and remade into HIS image (which, in itself is a long and sometimes fearful process under the best of circumstances).
Once the Lord put some distance in between the Israelites and their past, the next thing He did was to teach them about holiness, HIS holiness. And this was accomplished by means of the very Torah we are now studying.
Upon the summit of Mt. Sinai God gave Moses many ordinances and rules, laws and commands, to give to the people of Israel; how else would a people who didn’t know God LEARN about who He is and what He expects of His worshippers?
Though modern Christians tend to think about those 613 laws of the Torah as being about US…things we’re to do and NOT to do…in reality they inform us all about HIM.
- They tell us how immeasurably holy and just is the God of the Bible.
- They tell us what holiness amounts to and what it looks like;
- They tell us WHO God is and that He fully expects those who He has bought and paid for to strive throughout the duration of their lives towards HIS definition of holiness and justice.
My dear friends this exact pattern established 3300 years ago is still what the Believers’ walk is supposed to look like today. Israel wasn’t redeemed by knowledge of God; they were redeemed by a work of God.
We also can’t be intellectually persuaded to turn to Messiah; it is a work of the Holy Spirit upon us. Yet once that work of the Spirit of God has occurred, and once the Ruach HaKodesh has indwelled us, what comes next…at least that is what it is intended… is our quest for knowledge.
Too much the Church has implied that upon our Salvation experience whatever knowledge of God we are to have will come by some mystical means. That we can just sit in our armchairs, watching TV, and somehow in our subconscious the Holy Spirit will implant in us an understanding of God’s holiness and what that entails.
That as Christians nothing outside our Salvation experience matters one whit; that striving to learn God’s ways, and to experience them by our deeds and works, is even something to be avoided. Yet that is in no way the example we are given in Scripture, Old or New Testaments.
The fact remains that we can no more intellectualize our way to a relationship with Christ, than we can sleep our way to knowledge of holiness. The Israelites didn’t learn about God’s righteousness and His laws and then as a result strategize and organize and rise up against Pharaoh, and free themselves…the Lord did it all.
Yet AFTER their redemption it was expected they would learn about holiness and the ways of light; first by knowledge and then by the acting out of what they’d learned in every facet of their lives.