We’ve heard “Christ the Redeemer” and “our sins have been redeemed” so frequently in Church and in praise songs that I think we’ve lost sight of the depth of emotion and love behind that one title. What does God as Redeemer mean, and how should that impact our view of Him? Let’s look at it.
God as Redeemer: What It Means for Our View of God the Father
Before we begin, please let me give a little bit of a background. Hi, my name is Lauren C. Moye and I’m launching a course to help Christian Moms with their faith next month. Part of this course involves what I call “Spiritual Self-Care Challenges”. Since I don’t want to be a total hypocrite when it launches, I’ve been trying to complete some of the challenges as I finish writing and editing the course material.
Which is how I ended up reading this little gem five times in a row:
10 Don’t move an ancient boundary marker, and don’t encroach on the fields of the fatherless, 11 for their Redeemer is strong, and He will take up their case against you.
Proverbs 23:10-11 (HCSB)
If people today can still get into property line disputes today with our complicated systems, then imagine how easy it must have been to swindle the defenseless out of their proper inheritance during this time-period. The background of this Proverb is easy to understand.
But what about the word redeemer? The fatherless haven’t committed any sins in this scenario; it’s the thief who stole the land who should need the redeemer, right?
Turns out that the Hebrew word for Redeemer can be translated many ways, including these:
- Next of kin
- The act of taking back what was once owned
No matter which of those options you read into this verse, there are some powerful implications for our faith.
The Care of the Redeemer
…and He will take up their case against you.
Proverbs 23:11b (HCSB)
This Proverb brings to mind another story of that involved next-of-kin: Ruth’s story. Before Boaz could take Ruth as his wife, he had to confront another family member – the man who was supposed to be the Redeemer for Ruth – to see if that man would honor his position. When that man surrendered his position to Boaz, there was a formal ceremony that they underwent in front of the elders. The point of all of this is that the Redeemer in this story chose not to take up Ruth’s hardships and burdens as his own.
That’s not what happens in this Proverb. It literally says that God Himself will take up the case of the fatherless who are oppressed by others. Why?
Because God cares about us as individuals and about the injustices that we experience. God is not our next-of-kin trying to preserve a family legacy. He has no ulterior motives.
God picks up the case – the burdens – that do not belong to Him for no other reason than He cares.
God the Father
I have a picture of Hailey and my husband from when she was four months old stashed on one of my older phones. He has his hands braced underneath her, holding her up. Meanwhile, her back is braced against his chest. His chin is only a few inches from the top of her head. She looks so tiny compared to him, but what really draws me in about the photo is how strong and content she looks.
Daddy gave her the strength to look at the world. At the same time, he sheltered her. He was both her support and her protector all wrapped up in one body.
When I think about what a father should be like, I think about that picture. A father is security, warmth, support, and shelter. He is a leader.
For those who do not have strong fathers to guide and shelter them, it can hard to understand the great depth behind the phrase “God the Father.” Julie Loos shared some on this in her guest contribution, The Importance of Dads.
10 Don’t move an ancient boundary marker, and don’t encroach on the fields of the fatherless, 11 for their Redeemer is strong…
Proverbs 23:10-11a (HCSB)
If you don’t have a father, it’s especially important that you understand this Proverb. By giving Himself the title of Redeemer – or next of kin – God Himself is saying that He will take up that part that the earthly father should have fulfilled.
Even for those of us who grew up with strong Christian men as Dads, there is something very important conveyed here. After all, Paul speaks about how we were adopted into God’s family in the New Testament. So if God willingly takes up the role of Redeemer for the fatherless who have been wronged, shouldn’t we have faith that he will also act as our avenger for when we are wronged as well?
God the Redeemer
You can count this as a bonus thought. You see, when I did the research into the Hebrew word translated here as Redeemer, the definition of “taking back what was once owned” stood out to me. When I hear “redeemer” in relation to my faith, I tend to think about the process of atonement.
However, that’s not entirely right. You see, a Redeemer is one who makes everything else right. And when something is either stolen or pawned when it should have been kept, the Redeemer is the one who goes to take that item back.
God takes us back. He redeems us because we were originally His. When we surrender our lives to Him, He retakes possession of what is rightfully His.
- Ask: “How have I been redeemed?”
- Do: Remember to be fair in your treatment of others, because we will all have to give an account of our actions to the Redeemer.
- Pray: “Dear God, please be with me today as I go throughout my actions. Help me to live my life as one who has been redeemed by the blood of Your son. Amen.”