Leviticus 25:23–28

“If your brother becomes poor and sells part of his property, then his nearest redeemer shall come and redeem what his brother has sold” (v. 25).

Thus far, we have seen that the atonement of Jesus accomplished many things. First and foremost, the atonement satisfied God’s justice. In Christ, the Father punished the sin of His people, revealing Him as just and the justifier of those who trust Jesus (Rom. 3:21–26). The cross also represents our Savior’s victory over the power of sin and Satan (Col. 2:15; Heb. 2:14). We have also been introduced to the atonement as a ransom paid to God that fulfills our obligations and forgives our debt (Mark 10:45). But more can be said about the ransom view of the atonement, especially in light of its Old Testament background.

Exodus 21:1–16 is one of many passages that regulated slavery under the old covenant. Typically, one Israelite could not enslave another. However, Israelites who incurred debts that they were unable to pay could enslave themselves to their Israelite creditors and work off the debt. Such slavery was temporary indentured servitude, not the harsh chattel slavery the Israelites suffered in Egypt.

Verse 4 says a freed Israelite slave could not take his wife with him if he had become a slave as a single man and received a wife from his master. Keeping the wife in bondage seems cruel, but in ancient Israel a husband had to pay a sum to his wife’s father in order to marry her. The slave could not take the wife with him when he was freed if he had not paid the bridal price, even if the debt he incurred as a single man had been paid off. To keep his wife, the slave could earn enough money elsewhere to pay his father-in-law (or master) or remain enslaved (vv. 5–6).

Leviticus 25:23–28 is also pertinent to the concept of paying a ransom. This law of the kinsman redeemer was put in place to protect families in Israel. Families were supposed to retain the property allotted to them under Joshua, but sometimes people became poor and had to sell their land. The kinsman redeemer was a close relative who bought the property back for the family in such cases. This protected the inheritance and made sure the poor relative would not be absolutely destitute.

Jesus is our Kinsman Redeemer, who paid the bridal price for us and also satisfied our debt so that we would not lose our inheritance. The debt He paid was a moral one, and such payment was possible only through God’s amazing grace.

Coram Deo

We are accustomed to thinking of a sibling or a parent as our closest relative. For those who are in Christ, however, Jesus is our closest relative, our closest kinsman who paid our debt when we could by no means pay it ourselves. This willingness to pay the price for our salvation is evidence of His great love for us, love that He showed when we were unlovely. We must therefore love Him more than our spouses, siblings, parents, or children.

For Further Study