Family was everything in ancient Judean society. Cultural norms as well as laws or policies were inaugurated by God through Moses to safeguard a family’s inheritance from abject and austere poverty where a family had to sell the homestead and their land or even, become another’s servant to pay off debt.
A most noteworthy example of this arrangement is the story of Ruth (Ruth 2:20) in which Boaz, a kinsman of Naomi, Ruth’s mother-in-law, fulfilled the law in marrying Ruth (Ruth 4:4-5, 9-10). The idea behind this legal provision was to restore a family’s wealth, rescue a family member from poverty or slavery, or to repurchase their possessions to maintain the inheritance and preserve the legacy of another family member. An interesting example is Jeremiah purchasing his uncle’s field, knowing that in 70 years, they will be able to re-own it (Jeremiah 32:6-8).
The language of the Bible had a special word for this arrangement not found in other cultures of the time. The word is redeemer. Clearly, this right of a kinsman [a blood relative], who had the resources, the money, to repurchase the homestead of a family member who has fallen on hard times is peculiarly Scriptural. One could argue that God had another redemption in mind in giving us such a culturally outspoken and unique Old Testament covenantal idea. “I, the LORD, am your Savior and Redeemer” (Isaiah 60:16).
Every Sunday morning, in the church I attended as a lad, we closed the AM service with Psalm 19:14 (it was KJV back then): “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.” At the time, I had no idea how sacred, how special, how very biblical, were these words, ”Lord, my kinsman redeemer.” It is not enough to say, as we have been, Jesus’ death and resurrection redeemed, freed, us from the slavery of sin. He did this as our elder brother (Romans 8:29). He did this as family (Matthew 12:50).
“In Israel, family members were redeemed from a variety of social situations such as debt, captivity, slavery, exile and liability to execution. In the New Covenant, the new arrangement that was validated in Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, Jesus is not called our redeemer but our redemption because reference is being made to the method by which He purchased our salvation. “He (Jesus) entered the most holy place once for all time, not by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption.” (Hebrews 9:12) He purchased us with Himself for God! Again, we are family, which explains why through the writings of the apostles we are repeatedly called His brethren, brothers and sisters. [Evangelicals have carried this theme to the present day.]
He is our redemption. He has freed us from a spiritual bondage to sin. “that we may no longer be enslaved to sin” (Romans 6:6). Paul called us, God’s family (Romans 8:15). Peter called us, collectively, a special race of people, a special nation of saints, the kids of the King of kings. We are His possession, His family! “But you are a chosen race [of people], a royal priesthood [saints all, members of the Royal family of heaven], a holy nation, [citizen’s of heaven], [God’s] people, belonging to Him, so that you may spread far and wide how glorious a redemption He gave, [of Him] who called you out of [spiritual] darkness into the incomprehensible light of His glory” (1 Peter 2:9).