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What does redemption mean?

August 24, 2011



The classic Bible example of redemption is the Exodus, when God set the people of Israel free from Egypt. In Egypt they were slaves—oppressed, suffering and in misery. But God acted to redeem them by sending them a man, Moses, through whom he brought them out of slavery and eventually into the land he had prepared for them. God so delights in redeeming people and is so expert in it that he does not only provide one illustration of his redeeming work, he provides many, including the story of Ruth. His redeeming work in the lives of Naomi and Ruth comes to its climax in Ruth 4.

The Vincent Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam displays many of the well-known masterpieces of the famous Dutch painter of the nineteenth century. In the basement of the museum there is a display of sketches Van Gogh did in advance of particular parts of his final masterpieces. So, for example, on the first page of one sketchpad, there is a pencil sketch of a human finger. On the next page there is a sketch of the same human finger, and on the next another, and on the next another, and so on. If we were able then to take that sketch and put it next to a finger of a character in one of Van Gogh’s masterpieces, we would find it was an exact match. Van Gogh, the master expert painter, produced these sketches—brilliant in themselves—all sketched in preparation for the final full colour masterpieces.

Every story of redemption in the Old Testament is similar. While stories like the Exodus are brilliant acts of redemption in themselves, they are actually only (as it were) illustrative sketches in advance of, and in preparation for, the ultimate masterpiece of redemption, when God provided for the redemption of rebellious sinners through the Redeemer, Jesus, to set them free from the chaos and disaster caused by sin.



Prime, J. (2007). Opening up Ruth (78–79). Leominster: Day One Publications.


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