Tag Archives: Ransom

Rejoice! He Ransomed Captive Israel!

I’ve been listening to the new Jeremy Camp Christmas Album, Christmas: God with Us, in my car this past week. He does one of my all time favorite Christmas songs: O Come O Come Emmanuel. Of course he does an awesome rendition. My son was with me in the car the other day when it was playing and he said, “I love the way he sings ‘Israel.’”

On a side note, my son and I were on our way to a Winter Orchestra Concert at his high school when he said this. I wasn’t thrilled about going because I didn’t expect any Christmas music at all. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I enjoyed the whole show and they played some good old traditional Christmas songs, like Silent Night and God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, as well as two songs from my favorite Charlie Brown Christmas (which I still need to watch this year). The reason was that the orchestra students were told to form small ensembles and to choose whatever they wanted to play. It was such a blessing to see so many of the kids choose some of my favorite Christmas songs.

Anyway, I thought I would share with you Jeremy Camp’s rendition of O Come O Come Emmanuel to get you in the Christmas spirit if you aren’t already. Enjoy, and Merry Christmas!

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I’m a Half Shekel Short

How much money a person has can make a big difference in many things in life. It can mean the difference between shopping for groceries as Whole Foods or WinCo, or not being able to shop at all but having to go to a food bank instead. Money can mean the difference between driving a BMW or a 30-year-old beater car, or not being able to have a car at all. Money can mean the difference between having designer clothes and a nice house or wearing hand-me-down clothes and living in a one-room shack, or not having but the clothes on your back and a cardboard box to keep you warm at night.

But there is one thing that is available to all regardless of financial circumstances. The rich have no more claim to it than the poor. And that is the gift of salvation offered through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.

Once when I was reading through Luke, I came to the story of when Jesus, after His resurrection, appeared to some disciples on the road to Emmaus. Describing His conversation with them, Luke says, “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.” Luke 24:27. When I read that, I realized that all of the Old Testament, and not just the New Testament, is about Jesus. He existed before the world began and His story is the story of God’s relationship with His people. At that time, I prayed and asked God to show me where Jesus was revealed in the Old Testament scriptures as I read them.

Another time, in answer to that prayer, God revealed an interesting passage to me in Exodus. Generally, the book of Exodus is considered the story of Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt and their subsequent wanderings in the desert of Sinai. This is not a book where one normally would think to find reference to Jesus. But it is there nonethless. 

Then the LORD said to Moses, “When you take a census of the Israelites to count them, each one must pay the LORD a ransom for his life at the time he is counted. . . . Each one who crosses over to those already counted is to give a half shekel, according to the sanctuary shekel, which weighs twenty gerahs. This half shekel is an offering to the LORD. All who cross over, those twenty years old or more, are to give an offering to the LORD. The rich are not to give more than a half shekel and the poor are not to give less when you make the offering to the LORD to atone for your lives.” Exodus 30:11-15

When I read this, it became clear that the price to ransom every person’s life is the same. Whether we are rich or poor, the price to pay for all our sins and redeem us, to reconcile us with God, is the same. And that price was the life of Jesus Christ; He is the half shekel. The price has been paid. Satan seeks to hold us captive, but God paid the kidnapper’s ransom 2000 years ago on Calvary.

The rich are no better off because they could give more; the poor are not at a disadvantage because they cannot pay the price themselves. Standing before God on our judgment day, rich or poor stand in the same position. The only question is whether you and I will claim we have paid the price ourselves by our good deeds and works, or whether we will accept the offer of Jesus to take care of our debt and to pay our ransom price.

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Holding on to What I Know

A dear and wise friend of mine once told me that I should never go by what I feel, but by what I know. Feelings can be fickle and reactionary, and oftentimes they do not reveal the truth about the situation they are a reaction to.

Lately my feelings have been all of those things. I’ve gone from sad to angry to depressed to disillusioned and back to angry again. My feelings have been a reaction to what has been going on with some dear friends of mine, and to things that have been said to me as well as about me and others whom I care deeply about. I’ve been feeling a bit hopeless and been in disbelief of the things that have transpired. I feel lost.

So I’m going to listen to my dear friend and turn to the things I know to help me get through how I am feeling, to get to the truth of the matter. Here is what I know:

  •  “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28. The important word in this verse for me is “all.” It is not just in some things, but in all things, that God works for the good of those who love Him. I may not see the good that will come from my present circumstances, but God does.
  • “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” Jeremiah 29:11. God has planned my days, now and for eternity, and His plan is one of hope.
  • “But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:31. Even though my own strength may be insufficient to get me through difficult times, the strength of the Lord is always there for me to lean on.
  • “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7. God loves me and will take my burdens and anxiety if I will only let go.
  • “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” John 17:3. Eternal life starts now by knowing Jesus, not just when this body dies.
  • “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Luke 6:38. This is one I have proven to myself. As I am a blessing to others I receive a blessing in return much greater than I gave.
  • “Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10. There is joy to be found when I trust in the Lord.
  • “From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” John 1:16-17. Grace and truth go hand in hand, and they are the great blessing that we all have from Jesus.
  • “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10. Jesus came that we might live an abundant life, the best life that God could possibly want for us, something much better than we can ever imagine. Satan is the thief who promises pleasure and great things, but means us only harm.
  • “Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” Psalm 23:6. This is a promise and a truth that can get me through any day.

These are just some of the things I know. God’s Word is full of promises of hope, love, joy, and redemption. It is full of stories of how those who had faith in God, who trusted in His promises, were blessed beyond measure. God is greater than my feelings. I may feel hopeless, but that does not negate the hope He offers. I may feel lost, but that does not change the fact that He has found me and will never leave me. For all these promises I am grateful.

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Double Jeopardy

All of mankind has a problem, and that problem is that every one of us has broken the law in one way or another during our lives. The Bible puts it this way, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23. At the end of our lives, I believe, we will each walk into God’s courtroom for the final judgment. Matthew 12:36. At the prosecutor’s table will sit our accuser, Satan, with a list of all our wrongs. For some he will have a long list, for others he will have an even longer list. But we all have a list.

The evidence the accuser presents will be conclusive, because we did, in fact, commit all those wrongs. Some of them seemed so minor at the time, and some we didn’t even think about before doing. But we can’t deny that we did them. We can’t deny our guilt.

So what do you do in this situation? I suggest a really great defense attorney. The apostle John suggested a good one. “But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.” 1 John 2:1.

But what defense could he possibly offer, you might ask, since we did commit the offenses we are charged with? Will he plead insanity on our behalf? Will he offer an alibi, say we were somewhere else when those sins were committed? Will he present evidence that it was someone else? What defense could we possibly have?

The answer, my friend, is double jeopardy. The doctrine of double jeopardy says that a person cannot be twice convicted or punished for the same crime. In the United States, this defense is guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution. Other countries also guarantee this defense by constitution. But for all people, this defense is guaranteed through Jesus Christ.

The defense that Jesus will offer on our behalf is that the punishment has already been meted out for the sins that we committed. Judgment was rendered and the punishment handed down on the cross for every single offense on our list. We can’t be punished for it again. “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” 1 John 2:2.

So do you have Jesus on retainer? Is he set to plead your case, to offer up for you the ultimate defense of double jeopardy, when the time comes for you to walk into God’s courtroom? His retainer is rather inexpensive – all you have to do is ask.

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