REDEMPTION: OLD AND NEW:
Numbers 3: 39-51
39 The total number of Levites counted at the LORD’s command by Moses and Aaron according to their clans, including every male a month old or more was 22,000.
40 The LORD said to Moses, “Count all the firstborn Israelite males who are a month old or more and make a list of their names. 41 Take the Levites for me in place of all the firstborn of the Israelites, and the livestock of the Levites in place of all the firstborn of the livestock of the Israelites. I am the LORD.”
42 So Moses counted all the firstborn of the Israelites, as the LORD commanded him. 43 The total number of firstborn males a month old or more, listed by name, was 22,273.
44 The LORD also said to Moses, 45 “Take the Levites in place of all the firstborn of Israel, and the livestock of the Levites in place of their livestock. The Levites are to be mine. I am the LORD. 46 To redeem the 273 firstborn Israelites, who exceed the number of the Levites, 47 collect five shekels (weighing 2 ounces/55 grams) for each one, according to the sanctuary shekel, which weighs twenty gerahs. 48 Give the money for the redemption of the additional Israelites to Aaron and his sons.”
49 So Moses collected the redemption money from those who exceeded the number redeemed by the Levites. 50 From the firstborn of the Israelites he collected silver weighing 1,365 shekels (35 lb) according to the sanctuary shekel. 51 Moses gave the redemption money to Aaron and his sons, as he was commanded by the word of the LORD.
How is your mathematics?
When do numbers have to precise and when doesn’t it matter?
Precise numbers are required when… drawing up a Will… measuring a carpet to fit the room …counting the number of children… paying wages
Precision is not really important when… estimating numbers on a march… getting a rough percentage of people in favour of/opposed to an idea
Generally speaking, numbers DO matter… if we want to be approximate, we tend to use descriptive words instead
Note the following precise use of numbers in the Book of Numbers…
There were precisely 22,000 Levites… not 22,001 or 21,999
Each Levite would be ‘sacrificed’ to the LORD for each of the firstborn males in the rest of the tribes… but there were 22,273
- What would happen to the 273, who had not been ‘redeemed’ (bought back) to God by the ‘enslavement’ of the Levites?
So God ordained that five shekels for each of the 273 firstborn be given to Aaron to “pay the price” of redemption
Paying the price for freedom relates to the slave markets that were common years ago… It goes beyond being “released on bail” in which the defendant’s innocence has to be established
In the New Testament, we read that we are all “slaves to sin” but subject to redemption by the “purchase price”, which is the blood of the Redeemer…I Corinthians 7:22-23… For he who was a slave when he was called by the Lord is the Lord’s freedman; similarly, he who was a free man when he was called is Christ’s slave. You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men.
So we are ALL slaves… either to “men” or to God… Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death or to obedience, which leads to righteousness
Through Christ, redemption and freedom from slavery from sin is available to everyone… there isn’t a ‘rump’ of 273 (or whatever number) who aren’t covered!
- No one is expected to pay the price for his or her own sin… the job has been done! “It is finished!” (‘Man of Sorrows, what a name!’)
So Christ redeemed us by becoming a ‘curse for us’… Galatians 3:13… Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree”.
And we gain freedom through Christ Jesus by the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives… In Romans 7:24-8:4 we read: What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.
And then in Chapter 8, those familiar and well-loved words…
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.
Someone has written…
“It was this concept of slaves in a slave market, which was uppermost in the minds of the Apostles as they spoke of the great work of the Lord Jesus Christ as a Redeemer and the work of redemption, which He has provided for sinners. The Word of God looks upon men who are in sin as bond-slaves. It looks upon them as being under a master who has conquered and subdued them, and who can deliver them over to even greater bondage. The Scripture views the sinner as without any will of his own, indentured to serve sin and to be a bond-slave of Satan, to do whatsoever Satan demands.
Jesus Christ has come into that slave market in order that He might purchase those who are in sin’s chains, so that He might set them free. “Redeemed, how I love to proclaim it” is a song we delight to sing. We lift our voices to extol not only the Redeemer but also the redemption, which He has provided. But we will never be able to praise our Redeemer for His redemption until we understand our condition in sin, our need of redemption, the cost of redemption and the deliverance, which has been afforded by the Redeemer.”