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There Is A Redeemer - Jehovah-moshiekh
"Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the LORD rises upon you and his glory appears over you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn. "Lift up your eyes and look about you: All assemble and come to you; your sons come from afar, and your daughters are carried on the arm. Then you will look and be radiant, your heart will throb and swell with joy; the wealth on the seas will be brought to you, to you the riches of the nations will come. Herds of camels will cover your land, young camels of Midian and Ephah. And all from Sheba will come, bearing gold and incense and proclaiming the praise of the LORD. All Kedar's flocks will be gathered to you, the rams of Nebaioth will serve you; they will be accepted as offerings on my altar, and I will adorn my glorious temple. "Who are these that fly along like clouds, like doves to their nests? Surely the islands look to me; in the lead are the ships of Tarshish, bringing your sons from afar, with their silver and gold, to the honor of the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has endowed you with splendor. "Foreigners will rebuild your walls, and their kings will serve you. Though in anger I struck you, in favor I will show you compassion. Your gates will always stand open, they will never be shut, day or night, so that men may bring you the wealth of the nations -- their kings led in triumphal procession. For the nation or kingdom that will not serve you will perish; it will be utterly ruined. "The glory of Lebanon will come to you, the pine, the fir and the cypress together, to adorn the place of my sanctuary; and I will glorify the place of my feet. The sons of your oppressors will come bowing before you; all who despise you will bow down at your feet and will call you the City of the LORD, Zion of the Holy One of Israel. "Although you have been forsaken and hated, with no one traveling through, I will make you the everlasting pride and the joy of all generations. You will drink the milk of nations and be nursed at royal breasts. Then you will know that I, the LORD, am your Savior, your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.
During World War II, a U.S. marine became separated from his unit on a Pacific island. The fighting had been intense and in the confusion of battle, he had lost touch with his comrades. Alone in the jungle, he could hear enemy soldiers coming in his direction. Scrambling for cover, he found his way up a high ridge to several small caves. Quickly, the marine crawled inside one of the caves. Although safe for the moment, he realized that once the enemy soldiers looking for him swept up the ridge, they would quickly search all the caves and he would be found. As he waited, the marine prayed for deliverance, but soon became discouraged as he saw the enemy beginning to comb the hillside. Then he saw a spider begin to build a web over the front of his cave. As he watched, listening to the enemy searching for him all the while, the spider layered strand after strand of web across the opening of the cave. “Hah,” he thought. "What I need is a brick wall and what does the Lord sent me but a spider web. God sure has a strange sense of humor." As the enemy drew closer he watched from the darkness of his hideout and could see them searching one cave after another. As they came to his cave, he got ready to make his last stand. To his amazement, however, after glancing in the direction of his cave, they moved on. It was then that he realized that with the spider web over the entrance, his cave looked as if no one had entered it for quite a while. The marine then realized that in a unique way, God had indeed delivered him. Soon after evading the enemy, the marine was able to rejoin his unit.
God delights in being the deliverer of God’s people. What’s more, we all need a deliverer. Most of us will not find ourselves hiding out in a cave trying to evade enemies on the hunt for us, but we all need to be delivered from the troubles that beset us every day. And most of all, we need to be delivered from the sins that keep us in bondage.
Names Of God Series
This Hub is a part of a series about the compound names of God. The names of God are helpful to understand because they reveal important truths about who God is and how God will act. In this series, we’ve looked at how God is our Creator, Provider, Healer, Banner, Sanctifier, and at how God is our Peace. This series has also address how God is Jealous for us, and how God is the God of those who were faithful in our past. In all of these cases, we have seen that by discovering things about God, we also begin to understand how we are to live our lives as God’s people. Knowing God’s name helps us understand more about ourselves. In a way, it helps us understand our own name.
A substitute teacher at an elementary school called out a boy, “Young man, are you chewing gum?” The boy replied, “No ma’am, I’m Bobby Jones!” [Michael E. Hodgin. 1002 Humorous Illustrations For The Public Speaking, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2004, p. 253.]
Well in any case, with this passage in Isaiah we now have another compound name for God: God’s proper name of Jehovah linked with a word that describes a characteristic that is true of God. The characteristic we see today is: “Savior.” Our name of God for today is: Jehovah-moshiekh – The LORD (Your) Savior.
Progression Through Israel's History
If you have been reading these Hubs in the order that they have been posted, you might have noticed that as we have been looking at these compound names of God, we’ve been not only looking at Scripture passages in order that they appear in the Bible, but we’ve also been taking a tour through the progression of Israel’s history. But it should be noted that as we are now looking in the book of Isaiah, we’ve skipped a large number of compound names that appear earlier in the Old Testament. The largest concentration of these compound names is in the book of Psalms (this could be a series all by itself).
This Hub looks at the latter part of Isaiah in which the prophet is addressing Israel after they had returned from captivity (the previous Hub that looked at Isaiah 6 takes place before Israel’s captivity).
The Hub that looked at the name Jehovah-shalom examined a passage in the book of Judges when Israel was occupying the Promised Land, but had not yet consolidated into a nation. The history that is recorded in the books of I & II Samuel, I & II Kings and I & II Chronicles give us the history of Israel through a succession of kings and events that eventually led to Israel becoming a nation with a monarchy, splitting into a northern and southern kingdom and then the conquest of Israel – first the northern part by Assyria, and then Judah, the southern part by the Babylonians.
When Judah was conquered by Babylon a large portion of the citizenry was taken into captivity. A generation later, the situation changed because Babylon themselves were taken over by the Persian Empire. The Persians enjoyed the rule of an enlightened emperor by the name of Cyrus. Cyrus believed that all of his subjects (including the Jews) should be able to worship their own gods in the way that they felt was right to them.
Under this situation, Cyrus made it possible for the captives to return to Palestine, rebuild the temple, and to rebuild the city of Jerusalem. Though the return was a joyful one, there was a lot of hardship. The condition of the land was ruined from the old conflict, and it had never been repaired. There were no crops to feed those who had returned, and the land was unprepared for farming. There was no longer the necessary infrastructure to maintain a healthy society. Much of what Israel enjoyed as an established nation was gone, and needed to be reestablished and rebuilt. So, you can guess, the people who had returned from captivity were very discouraged.
The last chapters of Isaiah address the people who have returned to give them encouragement to continue as God’s faithful people. The situation may be grim, the prophet tells them, but God is faithful. God has acted in power in the past, in fact God acted in power to bring you back from captivity. So God can be trusted to get you through this situation. God is Jehovah-meshiakh – the LORD (your) Savior.
This compound name of God is used twice in Isaiah: 49:26 & 60:16. In both of these verses, God is shown to be the Savior (or Deliverer) Redeemer, and the Mighty One.
There Is A Redeemer
There are some interesting Hebrew words used in the two verses that reveal this compound name of God. Along with the word “savior,” the words for “redeemer” and “mighty one” are also used. To understand what this name of God means for us as God’s people, we need to unpack these words a bit.
The first thing we need to understand is that the ancient Hebrew concept of a savior and deliverer, or being saved or being delivered is in the context of being saved from one’s enemies or the circumstances that impair a proper response to God and God’s way.
Readers of this text need to be careful not to project a New Testament concept of being saved from sin too quickly onto this OT passage that was talking about being saved from enemies and oppressors. Our Scripture reading in Isaiah was talking about how God had miraculously and powerfully rescued Israel from her enemies. Also, the three descriptive terms applied to God as Savior, Redeemer and Mighty One describe how God acts so that “all humanity” may come to know God.
From this point we can better get the intended meaning of the words used – let’s look at each one:
1) Savior – The word savior in Hebrew is “moshia” which means deliverer. Salvation, similarly, is the state of being delivered, or freed from distress. Some of you might have noticed that the Hebrew word for savior sounds similar to the name of Moses; actually the two don’t actually come from the same root word, but interestingly, Moses’ name comes from the Hebrew word that means “he who draws out,” which is what Moses did – he drew God’s people out of bondage in Egypt. Similarly, God was Israel’s “savior” or deliverer” when God delivered God’s people from Egyptian bondage. So, whether it’s “delivered” or “draw out,” the meaning is similar.
2) Redeemer – The Hebrew word is ha yigal. The word means to return to its original state. This word refers to the instruction in the Moseic Law that specified how property was to be passed on from one family member to another. The word “redeemer” referred to the person initiating the contract. A redeemer must be a near relative (e.g. term: “kinsman-redeemer”). The near relative was required to buy back the property of a kinsman who had lost his inheritance. In ancient Jewish culture, one’s inheritance was highly valued and must be kept in one’s family at all cost. If someone was to lose their inheritance through some personal calamity such as indebtedness, then it was the responsibility of the next of kin to buy back the lost property. The act of purchasing the property by a kinsman kept the property in the family. If in the event that the poor family member had been forced to sell himself into slavery to pay his debt, then the kinsman-redeemer was also required to pay a price to a master to set his family member free again. A third responsibility of the kinsman-redeemer was to avenge his kinsman’s death. If his family member was murdered, then it was his duty to slay the murderer, and, as it were, “redeem his brother’s blood”
We see one of the roles of the kinsman-redeemer in the story of Ruth. The book of Ruth is a short story about a woman named Naomi who had become widowed during a famine, and became dispossessed of her land and family inheritance because both her husband and two sons had died. Naomi’s daughter-in-law, Ruth stuck with her during her troubles and shared in her mother-in-law’s fate. The women’s fortunes were restored by a next of kin, by the name of Boaz, who offered to purchase the inheritance of Naomi’s deceased husband and agreed to marry Ruth.
The story of Ruth is significant because not only is Ruth and Boaz King David’s great-grandparents, the action by Boaz of being the kinsman-redeemer, provides us with a metaphor of the work of Christ who is a kind of “kinsman-redeemer” for us.
3) Mighty One – The Hebrew word gabbar refers to a warrior, hero or champion. This name is reminiscent of the stirring stories of the judges who God raised up to save the people. Last week we looked at Gideon who was called a “mighty man of valor.” This name also recalls young David who became the man of valor and champion of Israel when he defeated Goliath, and also the mighty men that David surrounded himself with. These men fought valiantly and inspired a culture of hero stories. Here we see that God Himself is the ultimate Mighty One – the ultimate Champion of God’s people.
Reference To The Messiah
So God, through Isaiah, is telling Israel to not fear: Jehovah, your deliverer, rescuer and champion is with you, has redeemed you from bondage, and has rescued from your distress.
You may be living in difficult times, but God is on your side, and delights in restoring you, desires a genuine relationship with you and will help you in your time of need. So here is where we see the multi-layered nature of our text: this passage can be counted as part of the Scripture that pointed to the Messiah. Israel saw this passage in Isaiah as pointing to something more than providing encouragement for those who had returned from captivity.
The passage was originally meant to encourage those who had returned from captivity that God would protect and provide for them; ‘do not be dismayed, all will be well.’ The problem is that all was not well in the long-term. If you follow the fortunes of history for the people of Israel, they did live well under the Persians and in this situation they lived in peace and contentment. With the Persian government’s blessing and help, they rebuild Jerusalem and other cities and they rebuilt the temple and resumed the temple worship of God. But this time of stability was not to last.
A few generations after the return and restoration, Persia was invaded by the army of Alexander the Great, and the Persian Empire was dismantled. In the 4th, century, B.C. the land of Israel came under the rule of the Greeks – and the Greek rulers were not as accommodating for the Jews and their worship of God as the Persians had been. If God is His people’s Savior, Redeemer and Champion, then why are God’s people experiencing trouble and distress again?
The answer for the Jews was to see that Isaiah’s message from an earlier time as pointing to another Savior – a Messiah who would come in the future. Though the Jews are still waiting for their Messiah, Christians recognize that the Messiah has come in the person of Jesus Christ.
The early Christians recognized then, another level of meaning in Isaiah’s prophecy: It was a prophecy pointing to Jesus Christ, the Messiah – God’s Savior, Redeemer and Mighty One.
August 22, 1741, was a sweltering day in the city of London. An elderly stooped-shouldered man wandered through the streets. His nightly aimless wandering through the streets of the city had become a familiar ritual. His angry mind raced back to the memories of great adulation and then looked at a future of seemingly hopeless despair. For forty years the bachelor had written operatic music which was the rave of royalty in both England and the Continent. Honors had fallen at his feet. He had been in demand everywhere. Then things changed quickly and drastically. Fellow musicians became jealous and bitter. Members of the royal court reacted strongly to his abrasive manner. A rival gained great success, and envy began to grow. As though that were not enough, a cerebral hemorrhage paralyzed his right side so that he could no longer compose. Doctors gave little hope for recovery. But the composer did recover, and he began to write again. But his fortunes collapsed again when he lost his patron. So now, having twice been reduced to a pauper, he found himself wandering aimlessly through the streets once.
As he wandered back home, the old maestro wondered where in the world God was. When he arrived home, he found a wealthy gentleman waiting for him. The man was Charles Gibbon, who had startled England by rewriting Shakespeare. Gibbon explained that he had just finished writing a libretto for a musical work that covered the entire Old and New Testament. He believed that the gifted musician was the man to set it to music. He gave the manuscript to the composer and challenged him to write. As he walked out the door, Gibbon turned long enough to say, ‘The Lord gave me those words.’ The great maestro scoffed at the audacity of the young man. No one had ever challenged George Frederick Handel to write something he had not thought of first. Handel’s temper was violent and he was a dominating presence among his contemporaries. Why had Gibbon not brought an opera that was more to the composer’s liking and expertise?
But with nothing else to do, Handel indifferently began to read. Suddenly portions of the libretto leaped from the page. His eyes fell on such words as ‘He was despised, rejected of men…he looked for someone to have pity on him, but there was no man; neither found he any to comfort him.’ His eyes raced ahead to ‘He trusted in God…God did not leave his soul in hell…He will give you rest.’ Finally the words stopped at ‘I know that my redeemer liveth…rejoice… hallelujah.’ He picked up his pen and began to write. Music seemed to flow through his mind as though it had been penned up for years waiting to be written down. Putting music to the script, he finished the first part in seven days. The second section was completed in six days and two days were given to fine-tuning the instrumentation. Thus, at the age of fifty seven, Handel completed the operetta “Messiah” in a mere twenty-four days. [As quoted in Robert E. Reccord. When Life is the Pits, (Old Tappan, NJ: Fleming H. Revell Co., 1987.) pp.44-46; adapted.]
Many people over the last 200+ years since Handel composed “Messiah,” have been blessed and inspired by the music and words of the piece. Much of the reason for the popularity must be due to the use of such immortal words drawn from Scripture. Our own reading in Isaiah was incorporated into “Messiah;” in v.1 appear the words: “Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee.” Verse 2 is also used in the work…as is v. 3: “And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.”
Did you catch that? ‘Gentiles will come to the light of God.’ That’s us, folks! Because of the work of Jehovah-meshiakh, not only are the captives from Babylon are restored, so are we! The composition of Handel’s “Messiah” is a grand example of how an OT test speaks in multiple ways: it spoke to a people in ancient Palestine, and spoke to another group of people about a coming Savior of God, which in turn was understood to be Jesus Christ, when He was born, lived, died and rose again. The same text continues to inspire believers of another age in multiple ways, to instruct even to our day today.
Another piece of Scripture that was written into Handel’s “Messiah” is the text from Job. “I know that my Redeemer liveth.” But this idea of a Redeemer is in our Isaiah text as well, isn’t it? There is a Redeemer, for us!
And that is what God does: God takes a prophetic statement meant to encourage one group of people, uses it to mean a prophetic anticipation of a Savior to come for another time. A piece of Scripture that spoke of political and social restoration became a predecessor for a spiritual Deliverer and Savior.
Prophecies like those in Isaiah, and others that were understood as anticipating a Messiah, set the stage for yet another generation to expect God’s Savior – Jesus Christ. The name of God as Jehovah-meshiakh, the LORD your Savior, anticipates Jesus the Messiah and Savior of humankind; all of those who lived in generations past, those who live in generations since, and those of us who live now.
As I was writing this Hub, I kept thinking of the words of the Keith Green song, “There Is A Redeemer.” The words go like this (follow the link to watch a video of Keith Green sing the song):
There is a redeemer,
Jesus, God's own Son,
Precious lamb of God, messiah,
Jesus my redeemer,
Name above all names,
Precious lamb of God, messiah,
Oh, for sinners slain.
Thank you oh my Father,
For giving us your Son,
And leaving your spirit, ‘til
the work on earth is done.
When I stand in glory,
I will see his face,
And there I'll serve my king forever,
In that holy place.
Thank you oh my Father,
For giving us your Son,
And leaving your spirit, 'til
the work on earth is done.
There is a redeemer,
Jesus, God's own Son,
Precious Lamb of God, messiah,
Thank you oh my father,
For giving us your son,
And leaving your spirit,
'til the work on earth is done.
And leaving your spirit, ‘til
the work on earth is done.