Ephesians – Wayne Barber/Part 9
By: Dr. Wayne Barber
|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©1999|
|Dr. Barber draws a parallel between our redemption and the Old Testament story of the year of Jubilee.|
Redeemed, How I Love to Proclaim it!
Turn with me to Ephesians 1:7. I want to entitle this, “Redeemed, how I love to proclaim it!” We sing a hymn by that same title.
- Redeemed, how I love to proclaim it!
- Redeemed by the blood of the lamb;
- Redeemed through His infinite mercy,
- His child, and forever, I am.
- Redeemed, redeemed, redeemed by the blood of the lamb;
- Redeemed, redeemed, His child, and forever, I am.
Paul, in chapter one, wants the Ephesian believers to understand the blessings that they have through the Godhead. Now when I say the Godhead, I mean God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. There’s one God who is embodied in three persons. He begins in verse 3 with God the Father. He says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,…” That term “blessed” means worthy to be praised. Why is the Father worthy to be praised? Well, Paul tells us in verse three: “who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.” Now think with me for a second. He said every spiritual blessing, not every material blessing. Spiritual blessings are things which we need desperately and which last eternally. God has given us every spiritual blessing in Christ Jesus.
I remember years ago when I had the opportunity to buy Steven, my son, a car. I had wanted to for a long time. He had gotten his license; I wanted to get him a car. God enabled me to get Steven a nicer car than I thought I would be able to get him. This was one of the few times that I had the opportunity to surprise Steven; he usually figured it all out. That particular morning we were suppose to go somewhere. I said to Steven, “Here you drive.” I handed him a key. I had gotten him a little Honda. The Honda key looked a little different compared to the keys that we had for our other cars. I remember Steven’s face as he took that key. He knew something was up. He said, “Dad, what have you done?” We walked out of the garage, and there sat that little car. I remember the expression on his face. He said, “Dad, I don’t deserve this. It’s better than anything that I could ever ask for. Dad, it’s even nicer than Mother’s.” I said, “Steven, I want you to understand, this is characteristic not just of your earthly father. Oh no! It’s the characteristic of your heavenly Father.”
What God gives, He gives lavishly and abundantly. Paul wants these Ephesian believers to understand that. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing…” Oh, not just a few. He has lavished upon us His grace in Christ Jesus.
Also in verse 4 it says, “just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world that we should be holy and blameless before Him.” He didn’t pick you over someone else. No! He chose that we might be a part of what He has in store for us. The moment a man, whosoever, will receive Him by abandoning himself to Him, that choice becomes active in his life. Then in the last part of verse 4 he says, “In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will,…”
Do you want to know what the Father is like? He’s a Father who loves His creation.
The word “adoption” there is not a word that means He brings us in by right. Why would God ever have to adopt His own creation? You see, creation forfeited its right relationship when Adam sinned. So adoption is an act of grace, it’s not an act of right. He wants His creation to understand, as the Ephesians understand, how blessed it is by God the Father. Well, verse 6 says all of this is “to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.” He’s saying that God is blessing us. God is choosing us. God is predestining us in the Lord Jesus Christ. This should fill everybody’s heart with wonder, and it should fill every man’s lips with praise.
It’s to the glory of His grace. The word “glory” means recognition. Do you want to see God’s grace? Study the Scripture. In Ephesians 1 He blessed us, He chose us and He predestined each one of us. The grace of the Father is recognized. Paul leads the Ephesian believers into praising the Father.
But in verses 7 through 12 he sort of turns a little bit. He moves away from God the Father, although God the Father’s still involved. There’s only one God. He begins to point now to God the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the blessings that we have in Him. I want us to look at the glory of our redemption. Look at verse 7. “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace.” I don’t know what this will do to you. I only know what it’s already done to me. I’m going to ask the Lord to keep my mind fixed on what He wants to say. This has so blessed me just to be able to share the glory of our redemption. Let’s look at the glory of our redemption. “In Him we have redemption through His blood,…” What does it mean to be redeemed? It comes from two Greek words. The first word, apo, means away from. The second word, lutroo, means to redeem. So the word used here means to redeem away from. It refers to paying a ransom in order to purchase someone back from someone else’s ownership. The idea is to purchase a slave off the slave block by paying a ransom.
When you study the New Testament sometimes it is hard to understand. I want us to look at the Old Testament for an illustration of redemption that I pray will really bless you. Will you turn with me to Leviticus 25? There are many pictures of redemption in the Old Testament, but I chose this one because it’s such a precious passage. It’s meant so much to me over the years. I want to give you the setting. The children of Israel had finally crossed the Jordan into Canaan, the promised land. Of course, you know they had taken a vote over in the wilderness forty years earlier, and the majority had ruled. They didn’t go into Canaan. They walked around for forty years and died in the wilderness. I have to chuckle at people who still think congregational rule is the best way to go. Every time you find the majority ruling in Scripture it’s not good. They chose not to go into the promised land, so they walked around in the wilderness for forty years. The majority won, and they all died. Finally, there’s a brand new generation, and they’ve crossed the Jordan and gone over into Canaan.
Now remember this, this is God’s land. Look at Leviticus 25:23. They are tenants of His property. He says in verse 23, “The land, moreover, shall not be sold permanently, for the land is Mine; for you are but aliens and sojourners with Me.” In other words, “I own the land.” When God brought the children of Israel into Canaan He wanted this family to live here, He wanted that tribe to live there. He had it all placed out according to His plan. He owned it. They were tenants on His property. Therefore, to protect the original ownership of the land, God set up what we’re going to be studying in Leviticus 25. He wanted to make sure that the original owners of the land, the original tenants of the land, could continue with the land that was, basically, deeded to them.
So, let’s begin looking at what we find in Leviticus 25. In verse 1 it says, “The Lord then spoke to Moses at Mount Sinai, saying, ‘Speak to the sons of Israel, and say to them, “When you come into the land which I shall give you, then the land shall have a sabbath to the Lord. Six years you shall sow your field, and six years you shall prune your vineyard and gather in its crop, but during the seventh year the land shall have a sabbath rest, a sabbath to the Lord; you shall not sow your field nor prune your vineyard. Your harvest’s aftergrowth you shall not reap, and your grapes of untrimmed vines you shall not gather; the land shall have a sabbatical year. And all of you shall have the sabbath products of the land for food; yourself, and your male and female slaves, and your hired man and your foreign resident, those who live as aliens with you. Even your cattle and the animals that are in your land shall have all of its crops to eat.”’”
Every seventh year they were not to plant or do anything to the land. The land was to rest. It was a sabbatical year, a time that God was saying, “Let the land rest.” The question that came up was, “Well, if we let the land rest, how are we going to eat that seventh year? And if we can’t plant, how are we going to eat the eighth year when we do plant?” God said, “Don’t worry about it. If you obey me, I’ll take of you.” Look in verse 18. “You shall thus observe My statutes, and keep My judgments, so as to carry them out, that you may live securely on the land. Then the land will yield its produce, so that you can eat your fill and live securely on it. But if you say, ‘What are we going to eat on the seventh year if we do not sow or gather in our crops?’ then I will so order My blessing for you in the sixth year that it will bring forth the crop for three years. When you are sowing the eighth year, you can still eat old things from the crop, eating the old until the ninth year when its crop comes in.”
God says, “You obey me, I’ll give you a crop on the sixth year that will feed you not only the sixth year, but the seventh year and the eighth year, while you sow. And then the ninth year you can eat of the crops that have been sown.”
Well, in verses 8 through 12, he moves to another dimension. They had the sabbatical year. It’s a time to let the land rest. However, notice this in verses 8-12. “You are also to count off seven sabbaths of years for yourself, seven times seven years, so that you have the time of the seven sabbaths of years, namely, forty-nine years. You shall then sound a ram’s horn abroad on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the day of atonement you shall sound a horn all through your land. You shall thus consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim a release through the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you, and each of you shall return to his own property, and each of you shall return to his family. You shall have the fiftieth year as a jubilee; you shall not sow, nor reap its aftergrowth, nor gather in from its untrimmed vines. For it is a jubilee; it shall be holy to you. You shall eat its crops out of the field.” Oh, this is when it begins to get exciting, the Jubilee year, seven periods of seven years. Every seventh year there was a sabbatical year. However, on the fiftieth year it was consecrated as a year of Jubilee.
Now let me explain. There were two basic things that Jubilee dealt with. First of all, it was a time when land was returned to its original owners. This is very important. You see, during the fifty years, men could buy or sell their land. If they sold their land, they would get it back at Jubilee. Therefore, they had to negotiate the price. If you were three years into a fifty year period and you sold your property, you would sell it for a whole lot more than if you had gone forty years into that fifty year period and were selling. You knew in that fortieth year that in ten years your property would be returned. So, there was a time of buying and selling during the fifty years. But on the fiftieth year they were to receive all their land back.
Secondly, all the Hebrews who were slaves were to be set free to go back home. Their debt had been paid in full. Now you may ask the question, “Why would a Hebrew be a slave to begin with?” Verse 55 of chapter 25 says they are not to be slaves. “For the sons of Israel are My servants; they are My servants whom I brought out from the land of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.” But they made a provision in case some Hebrew got into debt during the fifty year period of time. If he did, he could sell himself into slavery and, therefore, ransom his debt or redeem his debt. He would have to pay it back. Sometimes a near kinsman could come and redeem that particular person from his debt. If he didn’t have anyone to redeem him and the debt could not be paid, then on the fiftieth year, the year of Jubilee, he was already marked free. He could go back home. His debt was paid. He could return to his land. Jubilee was a wonderful thing. Jubilee was, obviously, something that was in the mindset of the Hebrews. They looked forward to it because it was the year in which all captives were set free and every family possession which had departed was returned to each family.
Leviticus 25:9 says on the day which they inaugurated that fiftieth year, “You shall then sound a ram’s horn abroad on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the day of atonement you shall sound a horn all through your land.” In other words, sound the horn loud enough that everybody can hear it. Something special has happened on that day. There’s been a ransom paid, a sacrifice made, and because of that people have been redeemed. They can go back to their land. They can have their debts paid in full, and they can be set free from captivity.
Now what was the day of atonement? It would be very helpful for us to go back over that because we’ve got to see the ransom that’s built into this. The day of atonement, on the tenth day of the seventh month, was when Israel would have the High Priest go into the holy of holies. He would have to offer a sacrifice for the sins, not only of himself and his family, but also for the sins of the people. The Priest would take off his priestly garb and would put on plain white linen. He would kill a bullock for himself and for his family. Of course, you can see the parallel of what our Lord Jesus did for us. The difference is Jesus didn’t go in and have to pay for His own sin. Jesus was sinless, and, not only was He the offerer, He was the offering when He went in. He was the sacrifice that was slain for all of us. The beautiful picture begins to unfold. The High Priest would take coals from the altar into the holy of holies along with the blood from the slain bullock. He would burn incense so that the smoke would cover the mercy seat, and then he would sprinkle the blood on the mercy seat and on the floor of the holy of holies in order to cleanse himself, atone for his sin, and all the sins of his family. He would then go outside and take two goats. He would cast lots over the goats to see which one of them was to be slain and which one of them was to be a scapegoat. He took the one to be slain, killed it and took the blood of that goat inside. He would cleanse the holy place by sprinkling the blood of that goat. Then he would go into the holy of holies. He would cleanse it, come back out and cleanse the area of the altar. Then he would take that second goat. The second goat was a scapegoat. This is a precious picture here. He would walk over to that scapegoat, and put his hands on the head of that goat. He would confess out loud the sins of Israel. Then he would send that goat off into the wilderness never to return.
That’s the picture of the forgiveness of our sins. Then the High Priest would put his raiment back on and would offer his burnt offerings and those of the people and the fat of the sin offering. Then the flesh of the bullock and the goat were carried outside the camp and burned.
By the way, the book of Hebrews draws a beautiful parallel of what our Lord Jesus Christ did for you and me. But let’s stop right here. I want you to picture the ransom that has been paid. There was a sacrifice. There was an atonement. There was blood shed so the people might hear the proclamation that Jubilee now had begun. That was the key. It was on the day of atonement. It was a very sacred day. It was the only day on which a fast was required. So, on that day the trumpets would blow, and people would hear the noise of those trumpets and know that the day of atonement had taken place and also know that Jubilee had come about. Their debts had been paid. They were set free from captivity, and they could go back and repossess the possession that they had once possessed.
I want you to imagine that you’re a Hebrew family living back in the times that this Scripture was written in Leviticus chapter 25. I want you to imagine that you knew that you had fifty years until the next Jubilee. You’ve got two children and a wife, and you go into debt. Automatically you begin selling off some of your land, because that’s the only way that you can repay your debt. However, the debt is too big. You’ve sold off a portion of your land already. Five years later you sell off another portion of your land. Ten years later you sell another portion of your land, and before twenty-five years have gone by in that fifty-year period of time, you’ve sold off all of your land. This was allowed under the law.
Well, what’s the next step? The debt still has not been paid. In order to pay your debt you sell off one of your children. Of course, most men would sell their children and wife before themselves. So, you sell off a child. Maybe it is the oldest child, and that child had never heard about Jubilee. That child had never experienced Jubilee. He goes off into captivity. You sell off your youngest child to slavery. What you’re doing is trying to work off a debt that you cannot pay. Finally, you sell your wife into slavery and finally yourself. You are now a disjointed family. You’re all in captivity. You’re in bondage to a slave-master now. The law said a slave-master had to treat his slave as he would his own son, but not everyone obeyed the law.
Let’s make the picture a little more vivid. Let’s say your slave-master paid no attention to the Hebrew law, and he was a cruel slave master. You couldn’t see your children. You couldn’t see your wife, and here you are in bondage trying to pay a debt that you can not pay. Everyday the cruel slave master takes a whip and makes you work all day long. You work long hours for hardly any wages. It seems that debt will never, ever be paid.
Everyday you wish your family was with you. Everyday you wish you had never been in the situation that you were in.
One day you’re out working with a shovel or something. You’re sweating, working hard, disappointed, in bondage and in captivity. You have lost everything which your family had willed to you. You hear a noise off in the distance. As a matter of fact, it is so persistent that you continue to listen to it. When it says “to sound the trumpet abroad” it means so that everybody can hear that trumpet. The music begins to hit your ears, and you begin to wonder. You’ve lost track of time. Could it possibly be that this is the Jubilee that you have heard about all of your life? You don’t know for sure.
The old slave-master cracks his whip one more time, and you go right on back to work. You’re thinking, “I’ll never pay off this debt. I’ll never be able to work long enough and make enough money to pay off the debt that I owe. I’m in bondage for the rest of my life.”
About that time somebody comes down the road singing and shouting, and you wonder, how can anybody be so joyful? How can anybody be so happy? Perhaps it’s the evangelist. Evangelists always come with good news. He comes down the road, and he sees you working under the master who has been so cruel to you through the years. When he comes to where you are he says, “Listen man, what are you doing? What are you doing?” You reply, “Man, I’m working. I’ve got to work. I owe a debt that I cannot pay.”
He says, “Oh no! Don’t you understand? This is the year of Jubilee. Didn’t you hear the trumpet?” You tell him, “Oh I heard it, but I didn’t understand what it meant.” The man says, “Listen friend, your debts have been paid.” Shocked, you say, “Nobody would do that.” He answers, “Yes! By grace, today, God has said your debt has been paid. By the way, did you know you are no longer a captive?” You say, “What do you mean?” He tells you, “You don’t have to work anymore.” You look over at the cruel slave-master with the whip, smile at him, throw the shovel at him, and you begin to run down the road. The man yells at you as you run down the road, “Not only that, you can go back and reclaim what has been taken away from you that you thought you would never see again.”
You don’t know where your family is. You don’t know what family they were sold into or where that family may have moved. So, you begin to ask everyone, “Could you tell me where my children are?” And someone says, “You go down the road about a mile and take a left. Go about a hundred feet down the road, and you’re going to find your boy. He’s down there, and he’s working. I guarantee you one thing, he doesn’t know what the Jubilee is. Go tell him what it’s all about.” You run down the road shouting at the top of your lungs, “Jubilee has come! Jubilee has come!” You find your boy, and you say, “Son, did you hear that trumpet?” Your son says, “Yea, dad, but I didn’t know what it meant.” You say, “Oh son, that’s Jubilee. You’re free. We can go home. The land that we lost has been returned to us.” You find your daughter. You find your wife, and your family is reunited. Your debt has been paid. You’re no longer under captivity, and all your possessions you lost have been fully returned in Jubilee. That is redemption.
Now with that in mind, friend, go back to Ephesians 1. What is Paul trying to say? Oh folks, look in verse 7 again. “In Him we have redemption through His blood.” What is redemption? It’s having a ransom paid. It’s being redeemed. It’s being bought back. It’s what the Lord Jesus Christ did for us on the cross. He is that act of atonement. He is that sacrifice. He paid for our sins. We have been heralding the message of the gospel down through the years, and people don’t seem to understand what it means to them. They don’t realize what He’s saying. Jesus came to pay a debt that we owed and could never pay. It was a debt that He didn’t owe. That news is the good news of the gospel.
The year of Jubilee became known to Old Testament scholars as the year of our Lord, the favorable year or the acceptable year of our Lord. Even Keil Delitzsch talks about how in the Old Testament that was always a parallel term. The acceptable year of our Lord is Jubilee. You had to wait for it, but God had it set up. In that year and only in that year, were all the provisions made.
Would you look with me at Luke 4:17-21, just for a second? The Lord Jesus had gone to the synagogue. In this verse He’s just gotten there. The people don’t really understand who He is. In verse 17 it says, “And the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. And He opened the book, and found the place where it was written, ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are downtrodden, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.’ And He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant, and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed upon Him. And He begin to say to them, ‘Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.’”
That’s the message. Jesus came to be the ransom upon the cross so that we might be purchased back and be adopted as sons again into the family of God with what He has paid for you and I.
Folks, that’s the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. That’s the good news. Look back at Ephesians 1:7. It says, “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace.” Remember the High Priest taking that goat and putting the sins on him and sending that goat off into the wilderness? Did you know the word “forgiveness” means exactly the same thing? Aphesis means to release, to cause to stand away, to send away from, to release one’s sins from the sinner.
We need to be praising the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He’s blessed us with every spiritual blessing. He chose us before the foundation of the world. He made it possible that we might be adopted again as sons through Jesus Christ. Now look here. In Christ we have redemption, our redemption, through His blood. The blood that He shed upon the cross was not innocent blood of a goat or of a bull. It was divine-human blood that He shed upon that cross. As a result of that, the ransom has been paid, folks. Jubilee is here. You can make your own choice. Do you want to receive it or do you want to walk away from it? Man has that choice to make. God has made the provision. God has done everything, but if a man does not receive it, it’s not God’s fault. It’s man refusing to receive the grace that God offers unto him.
Jubilee, folks. Oh, redeemed, how I love to proclaim it! Redeemed by the blood of the lamb. We’ve been redeemed. Are you living redeemed? Are you living free from the captivity that you once lived under or have you somehow walked back into it?
We live as if this world has actually something to offer us. The sound of the trumpet has come from Calvary. It’s Jubilee. You’ve been set free. Paul didn’t say pursue the things of the world. He said pursue righteousness, the things that bring the joy back into your heart.
Redeemed, how I love to proclaim it!