Saturday, January 23, 2010

Redemption - Exodus, Ruth, Israel (Part I)

By Odon Bulamba (28 March 2003)

Redemption means to be redeemed. For example someone can be arrested because he was speeding. This person is required to pay some money so that he doesn’t have any further problems with the police. If this person doesn’t pay, he risks to go to jail.

Sometimes someone can do evil, and someone else will say that I will pay for this person. There was a man aged 85 who had a son who was arrested for armed robbery. The penalty in this certain country was death. However, his father said, “since I am already 85 yrs old and my son is only 30 it would be better that I give him the chance to carry on with his life and I can die, I will pay the price for his life, because if he’s killed today maybe after two weeks I will also die from worry, it’s better for my son to be set free and I die”. This old man was shot and his life was gone, he accepted to pay the price; this is what we call redemption.

When we pay the price for someone’s life there is no room for fear and selfishness will not find any room. If you consider redemption carefully you’ll see that it works together with love because when you love you are not selfish, when you love you are not afraid, when you love you are ready to sacrifice yourself for someone else.

The redemption that we’re going to talk about tonight is a word that God created; in God’s eyes this word has great value. I know that in some churches there are sometimes preachings about redemption, this is about when Jesus died for us. But tonight we’re going to add something a bit higher to this redemption that Christians know; we’re going to go into the Old Testament.

In the Old Testament there are three kinds of redemption; these three types help us to know how to find redemption; the first redemption is found in the book of Exodus, secondly in the book of Ruth and thirdly in the book of Isaiah.

The first redemption in the book of Exodus is about the children of Israel, these children of Israel were loved by God, they were the people of God and God loved them very much, but they were slaves in Egypt for four hundred years. God had promised that the Israelites would become slaves. Who did God promise that to? God had promised this to Abraham since a long time ago that His people would be slaves for centuries, but these people were redeemed by God from the beginning and God loved these people very much. These people lived all this time in Egypt, and eventually the time to leave Egypt was there. First of all they were redeemed, they were the people of God, but they went through a situation as slaves and God came back a second time to set them free.

This means that we as Christians are really the people of God and sometimes we might enter the kingdom of darkness and go through difficult situations in sin but in the end God will set us free again. This doesn’t mean, however, that we have to live in sin thinking that God will set us free later.

These people were the people of Israel, they had in their minds that they would be there for four hundred years and after that they would be set free. When this freedom came nobody could stop it, nobody could tell the Israelites not to leave the country, nobody could tell them to stay because the price for the redemption had been paid, the price had been paid and nobody could say no.

This is the first step; these people left Egypt and took the direction toward the country that God had promised them. So meditate on that and you’ll understand the rest.

The second redemption is in the book of Ruth; as you know Ruth was a woman who lived in the country of Moab. There was a man named Elimelech who was Jewish, he was born and raised in Bethlehem and he married a lady called Naomi. Naomi also lived in Bethlehem and they had two sons.

Bethlehem means “the house of the bread of God”. These people lived in Bethlehem in the house of the bread of God. Elimelech means “my God is king”, so Elimelech acknowledged that God is his king and he lived in the house of the bread of God. Elimelech fell in love with a woman called Naomi and Naomi means “love”. “God is my king” got married to “love” and both of them lived in “the house of the bread of God”. Does this make sense?

Someone who acknowledges that God is my king will always marry love. This is the first principle of redemption, if you acknowledge that God is your king you must first try to find love, this is why Jesus said that love is the first command. If God is my king (me Odon) I will get married to love, and me and love together will live in the house of the bread of God.

John tells us that the Word is the bread of God and Jesus Christ is the bread of life. If I acknowledge God as my king, I will live in the Word and live in it with love and I will have love for the Word of God, love for people, and love for everything that God gives me. There maybe enemies but I must love them.

This couple lived together in Bethlehem but one day Elimelech said that famine is here so we must leave, we must leave Bethlehem to go to Moab. Moab was the son of Lot. Lot married a woman who gave birth to two daughters after the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and they hid somewhere. Lot’s daughters saw that their father was getting old and so were they so they asked themselves, “who will we get married to?” According to the Israelite law they couldn’t marry foreigners. An idea came into the eldest daughter’s mind and she said, “we will give our father wine so he can get drunk and when he’s drunk I will sleep with him and have a child”. Wow, what a solution! Was it good or not?

She slept with her father and got pregnant. She told her sister to do the same thing, which she did and she got pregnant also. Their father did not realise what he had done to his daughters, he was completely drunk. If it was the right thing to do then these daughters wouldn’t have had to make their father drunk in order for their father to accept to sleep with them. This means that it wasn’t a good thing. I don’t know what was wrong with the father because he accepted to drink so much wine that day. So us as Christians we must learn something about that; the devil organises strategies so that something is born in his kingdom. We must be careful with the wine we drink; the Bible says be drunk in the Spirit, but don’t get drunk with wine.

The first daughter gave birth to Moab; Moab means, “I found him through my father”. The second daughter gave birth to Ben-Ammi, which means “son of my descendants”. Moabites were well known for their seduction, it was their role. Because seduction goes against God’s will, I would say that all the Moabite people were impure, although Ruth called them the people of God later.

So Elimelech decided to live in the land of the Moabites; he left the house of God, he left the bread of God’s house and went out of this house to live in the house of seduction and he wasted so much there.

Mahlon was the name of the first child born to Elimelech which means “weakness”. What was the? The second sons’ name was Kilion which means “fallen”. The first name given to the one who called God his king was weakness. As Christians you acknowledge God as your father and king but it happens at times that you might give birth to weakness. The first thing that attacks the Christian life is weakness, weakness in decisions you’ve made, weakness in your life and in everything; such as in prayer, reading the Bible and visiting people. God never gives the gift of weakness to people; it’s us who creates this so we can walk the way that we like.

Next, there was birth to the son who fell and when you are weak you will find yourself falling sometimes. When you are weak in prayer it’s very easy to fall into temptation, when you are weak in the word of God it’s very easy to fall into confusion. For example, I can ask who was Abraham’s third son? And you will see what people will do, some will scratch their head, some will look down, some will pretend to open their Bibles and read just to deviate; the lack of knowledge leads us to confusion. When we used to have Bible studies, people would preach and teach and I was always the one to disturb. I would ask challenging questions to the point that those who were teaching didn’t have an answer. It wasn’t to tempt them but I wanted all the Christians to think together and find a good answer.

I was asked one day what Jesus’ race was and what was Satan’s colour, ‘of course it was black’, and Angels, ‘they were also white’. For me, as an African, because I’m black I would say that Satan belongs to my race and the white people would say God belongs to us, Jesus is our race. Following this many people started creating God according to their tribe. When the missionaries came to our country to preach the Gospel a few years ago they would help us understand it by using pictures, and the devil was always black. The people who were taught by missionaries were black, everybody would look at themselves and say is this man mocking us, is this the Gospel of love or did he come to abuse us? As for us black people where is our place in all of that? This means that all these kinds of things can create confusion because people don’t have the knowledge.

What gave birth to weakness in your life? What gave birth to the death that you have in your life? If you are weak today are you waiting to give birth to ‘fallen’? If you have Mahlon (weakness) why would you carry on and give birth to Kilion (fallen). Because Elimelech gave birth to these two sons, his life did not last long. He died. He didn’t die in Bethlehem but he died in the city of Moab. The one who called God my king was gone and love (Naomi) stayed alone. Love said, “Although weakness is here and fallen is there, I will still carry on to look after them”. Although we die in our actions or our spiritual activities, the love of God is always with us, whatever our weaknesses the love of God is always with us.

Even though Naomi’s sons were like that, she made them grow up and they even got married. After getting married, weakness continued to be weak and fallen continued to be fallen. Whatever keeps being weak will break, and whatever is fallen, if it doesn’t get up the sand will cover it. So these two sons also died.

But love was still there, it was Naomi. Naomi was still alive, weakness passed away, temptation passed away and pretension passed away but love remained. Who were the two daughters in law of Naomi whom married her sons? They were Ruth and Orpah. Naomi told these two women to go back to their own families “as my sons have passed away, go back to your own families, I am already old therefore I can not conceive anymore sons for you that you could marry them, furthermore I don’t have a husband anymore”.

Naomi was a bit tough with her daughters-in-law but they said to Naomi, “we love one another so we’re going to go with you”. Although our actions and our attitudes are not good, if we’ve got love people will like living with us. Although Naomi was harsh with these two daughters they still said that it’s better for us to go with you. Naomi said, “where am I going to go, I’ve lost my husband, I’ve lost my sons, I have to go back to the place I came from, I don’t want to live in this situation, I don’t want to live in this area of seduction, I will go and live in the house of God”.

The daughter’s insisted and said it’s an opportunity to go and see the country of this lady, maybe we’ll have love like her or joy if we go back with her. How many times do people follow you? How many times do people say, “we’re going to go with you where you pray, we’ve discovered love in you so we’re going to live in the church where you pray, teach us the message so that we might know the love of God”. At times we might be tough like Naomi was and say to the drunk people, “no stay where you are, I don’t have time to think about drunk people, I don’t have time to think about people who are not believers, stay in your world, I will only think about those who are Christians”. Where is love? Where is love? Love teaches us that we even have to love our enemies, love teaches us that we have to love everybody, despite one’s race or whatever, so do we love or not?

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