When I was growing up, I really wanted to be a doctor.
For those who know my testimony of how I became a pastor, they would think that being a doctor was something my parents put on me and that is somewhat true but I actually really liked biology!
I not only liked it but I was not that shabby at it as well and to this day I am a proud owner of a piece of paper that states that I have a Bachelors of Science in the field of Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior.
That is a mouthful but the irony of this is that I wanted to be a doctor but didn’t like going to the doctors.
I wanted to pursue medicine but didn’t like taking medicine.
I am not alone in this but I realize that a lot of people don’t like to go to the doctors because of the possibility of getting bad news. That more than a routine check up or sickness, that one can be seriously ill but not show symptoms of sickness.
What happens to a lot of people is that due to this denial and fear of the possibility of sickness, that there might actually be something within that person that can easily be treated if dealt with in its early stages but because it was allowed to remain hidden, it grows into something that is uncontrollable and devastating.
You can have the greatest doctor in human history but is powerless to help you if you refuse to believe you need help.
The greatest travesty is that many people have an idea of who Jesus is but that they don’t realize that they desperately need Him to be their redeemer and Lord. It’s hard for Jesus to be your redeemer if you don’t realize you need to be redeemed.
What does redemption and redeemer mean?
Redemption: deliverance by payment of a price. In the NT, redemption refers to salvation from sin, death, and the wrath of God by Christ’s sacrifice (Nelson 1073).
Redeemer: one who frees or delivers another from difficulty, danger, or bondage, usually by the payment of a ransom price (Nelson 1073)
In redemption, a person or thing is under the control of something or someone and that there is a certain price that will bring freedom. In the OT, God set up a system for the Israelites to either redeem people, property, or objects and there are many references where God is the one who will be the redeemer of His own people who have put themselves into situations of oppression.
In Jeremiah 50:33-46
God is calling out a prophetic word of judgment upon Babylon who has been the oppressor of not only God’s people but the nations around the mediterranean world.
But God is not going to allow oppression to continue… He is going to bring the redemption as the redeemer.
“Thus says the LORD of hosts: The people of Israel are oppressed, and the people of Judah with them. All who took them captive have held them fast; they refuse to let them go. Their Redeemer is strong; the LORD of hosts is his name. He will surely plead their cause, that he may give rest to the earth, but unrest to the inhabitants of Babylon.”
The Babylonians devastated the people of God by destroying their nation and taking some of the captives back to Babylon. One of God’s intentions for His people is to bring them from being in many nomadic groups into one unified nation with Him being the center but their sin has caused God’s judgement to spread them out through this foreign nation.
In the midst of the punishment, God has not forgotten His people and though they are scattered and under the oppression of Babylon, God is going to set them free and unite them once again. The people of God are in a deep refining process where the sin that will scatter them, disorient them, and cause pain will be removed so that they can truly experience the goodness of God.
God proclaims all these judgments upon the oppressive Babylonians but what sticks out is in verse thirty-eight where it states,
“For it is a land of images, and they are mad over idols.”
Babylon is the oppressor because they are reflecting the oppression that they experience and allowed to persist in their culture. The oppression that the Babylonians are under is that of idol worship.
Idol worship is not harmless.
We still have idol worship to this day.
It may not be in the form of golden statues of animals or weird beings but we have them more close to our hearts in the forms of desires that are more important than our relationship with God!
We all have idols for we all have desires to a certain degree.
How do you identify an idol? If you have anything or anyone in your life that you say to yourself that you cannot live without and are willing to spend more time fixated on that then God.
If you have anything like that, then you have just identified one of most likely many idols!
This is not condemnation time but a time of exposure for until the idols are exposed for what they are, they will maintain their oppressive power. A lot of times they will disguise themselves as good things that you deserve and thus continue to oppress us but you will have to ask yourself time and time again,
“Does this interfere, block, compromise, and or remove my relationship with God?”
If it does than it must go or you will find God’s goodness go from your life.
Israel and Judah will experience the redeemer God when He sets them free from the oppression of foreign nations. But it will require a humbling. It will require the refiners fire to burn away the unnecessary if not the harmful. But until they are willing to embrace it they will never be able to experience the redeemer.
I think for us today, if we are not experiencing the redemption that we sorely need then we must ask ourselves what we need to let go and admit we need the redeemer. Upon finding those places, we then must ask ourselves if we are willing to embrace not the redemption but the redeemer Himself because redemption comes and goes but the redeemer wishes to stay.
Is He welcomed with you?