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1 & 2 Thessalonians
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7 Last Words of Christ
Acts 1-12: The Early Church
Christ Powered Life (Rom 5-8)
Conquering Lamb of Revelation
David, Life of
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11. God Our Savior and Redeemer
Audio (25:27) |
Lucas Cranach the Elder (German painter, 1472-1553), Detail of The Trinity (undated), oil on wood; Museum der Bildenden Künste at Leipzig, Germany. Larger image. Observe the haunted pain in the Father's eyes as he holds the crucified Savior. Our salvation is indeed costly to the Godhead.
The first title or descriptor we'll consider is Deliverer. It only occurs six times in the Old Testament and not at all in the New. The title is a participle of the verb pālat, "escape, save, deliver." In the sense of "rescue, deliver," the word is limited to poetry in the Old Testament.1 Notice that it often occurs with titles of God as Defender:
"The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge;
My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold (Psalm 18:2 = 2 Samuel 22:2-3)
"O LORD, my Lord, my strong deliverer, you have covered my head in the day of battle." (Psalms 140:7, NRSV)
"Yet I am poor and needy; come quickly to me, O God. You are my help and my deliverer; O LORD, do not delay." (Psalms 70:5, similar to 40:17)
"He is my loving God and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield, in whom I take refuge, who subdues peoples under me." (Psalms 144:2, NIV)
Our Deliverer is the one who has come to rescue us when we could not rescue ourselves.
A second title or descriptor is Redeemer. While "redeem" is translated by two Hebrew words pādā and gā´al, only gā´al is used as a title or descriptor of God. It is a very interesting word indeed. The verb gā´al means "redeem, ransom, do the part of a kinsman."2 A kinsman had the responsibility to help his kin in any difficulty or danger.
If a close relative lost his property to a debtor, it was the responsibility of his kinsmen to redeem it. If a relative was murdered, his kinsmen were responsible to avenge his death. If a relative was in prison or in slavery, a kinsman was obligated to pay whatever was necessary to get him released.
The Bible has a number of examples of this. For example, when Abraham's nephew Lot is taken prisoner, Abraham rescues him (Genesis 14). When Lot is threatened by the destruction of Sodom (Genesis 18-19), Abraham makes it his personal responsibility to intercede and protect his kinsman.
Boaz the Kinsman-Redeemer
Probably the most endearing story in the Bible that illustrates this is the relationship between Ruth, Naomi, and Boaz (Ruth 1-4). Naomi and her husband travel to Moab during a famine. During the interim, both Naomi's husband and both her sons die. Naomi and her daughter-in-law Ruth return as poverty-stricken widows to Naomi's home in Bethlehem. Ruth is reduced to gleaning behind the harvesters, picking up whatever stray wheat stalks are left. "It just happens" that she is gleaning in the field of Boaz, a relative of Naomi's husband. In various translations he is called "kinsman-redeemer" (NIV), "near kinsman" (KJV), or "next-of-kin" (NRSV), a participle of the verb gā´al, "redeem, ransom." Boaz loves Ruth, and takes on this role of kinsman-redeemer, not only purchasing back Naomi's dead husband's property, but also marrying Ruth to bear children to continue in his dead kinsman's line, a custom sometimes referred to as levirate marriage.
Redemption from Egypt and Babylon
In the Psalms and the prophets there is a strong theme that God is the Kinsman-Redeemer of his people Israel. When Israel is in bondage in Egypt, God redeems them from slavery and puts them in their own land.
"I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment." (Exodus 6:6)
When they are in exile in Babylon because of their sin, there too God redeems them and brings them back to their land.
"You will go to Babylon; there you will be rescued. There the LORD will redeem you out of the hand of your enemies." (Micah 4:10)
Let's look at a few of the many verses that call God our Redeemer:
"May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer." (Psalm 19:14)
"For your Maker is your husband -- the LORD Almighty is his name -- the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth." (Isaiah 54:5)
"You, O LORD, are our father;
our Redeemer from of old is your name." (Isaiah 63:16)
In a remarkable passage that points forward to Jesus the Messiah and Redeemer, Job calls out in faith:
"I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth." (Job 19:25, NIV)
You can also see the metaphor of Redeemer in Psalm 78:35; Proverbs 23:11; Isaiah 41:14; 43:14; 44:6, 24; 48:17; 59:20; and Jeremiah 50:34.
Jesus Our Ransom and Redeemer
Consider the power of this metaphor. The invisible God has so bonded with the people of Israel that he takes on himself the role of their Kinsman. In the New Testament, God sends Jesus to become a human, identify with us and our plight, and redeem us from the power of sin. In the New Testament, Jesus is the referred to as the Redeemer, no doubt carrying on the Old Testament understanding of Kinsman-Redeemer.
This was clearly Jesus' own self-understanding of his mission and destiny. He told his disciples:
"Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." (Mark 10:43b-45)
Though Jesus is God, he becomes one of us:
"Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness." (Philippians 2:6-7)
He becomes our kinsman, our brother. And by the surrender of his own flesh and blood he redeems us (Ephesians 1:7; Hebrews 9:12). He buys back his kin who have fallen so far into debt that they cannot redeem themselves -- ever.
Q1. What was the responsibility of the next of kin to
someone in his family who was in trouble? How did Jesus play the role of Kinsman-Redeemer for us? What does this say about God's love? What does this say about our worth?
God Our Savior in the Old Testament
Depending on the English translation, the title "Savior" is used of God 25 to 30 times in the Old Testament. The verb is yāsha`, meaning in the Hiphil, "save, deliver, give victory." The root meaning is "make wide, make sufficient," that is, freedom from distress and the ability to pursue one's own objectives.3 It is no accident that Jesus' own name, in Hebrew yeshua, is derived from yāsha`, "to save." The angel told Joseph, "She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins" (Matthew 1:21).
In the New Testament, the concept of salvation is primarily forgiveness from sin, deliverance from its power, and the defeat of Satan. And most of the time, the title Savior is used of Jesus, God's Messiah. Salvation from sin is certainly present, however, in the Old Testament. For example:
"Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save,
nor his ear too dull to hear.
But your iniquities have separated
you from your God;
your sins have hidden his face from you,
so that he will not hear." (Isaiah 59:1-2)
"Help us, O God our Savior, for the glory of your name; deliver us and forgive our sins for your name's sake." (Psalm 79:9)
But most of the time "Savior" is usually used of Yahweh granting deliverance to Israel from enemy nations and rescuing his people from catastrophes of one sort or another.
The most common use of the term as a title in the Old Testament is "God of our salvation" (KJV, NRSV), which is often rendered "God our savior" or "God my Savior," in contemporary translations (NIV). Here are a few examples for you to read out loud and savor:
"Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long." (Psalms 25:5)
"Do not reject me or forsake me, O God my Savior." (Psalms 27:9)
"Come quickly to help me, O Lord my Savior." (Psalms 38:22)
"Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God." (Psalm 42:11; 43:5)
"Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens." (Psalm 68:19)
"Truly you are a God who hides himself, O God and Savior of Israel." (Isaiah 45:15)
"And there is no God apart from me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none but me." (Isaiah 45:21b)
"Say to the Daughter of Zion, 'See, your Savior comes! See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him.'" (Isaiah 62:11)
The phrase is also found in 1 Chronicles 16:35; Psalm 24:5; 65:5; 85:4; Isaiah 43:3, 11; 62:11; 63:8; Hosea 13:4; Micah 7:7; and Habakkuk 3:18. The title Savior is also associated with "Redeemer" (Isaiah 49:26; 60:16) and "Hope of Israel" (Jeremiah 14:8).
God Our Savior in the New Testament
Several times in the New Testament the phrase "God our Savior" or "God my Savior" appears in much the same way as it does in the Old Testament (Luke 1:47; 1 Timothy 1:1; Titus 1:3; 2:10; and Jude 1:25). While the Old Testament tended to see salvation for the nation of Israel, the New Testament broadens the focus from one people to all peoples, and salvation now points to the salvation from personal sin:
"This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth." (1 Timothy 2:3-4)
"We have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, and especially of those who believe." (1 Timothy 4:10)
Twice in Titus we see the work of the Father and Son merging together to save their people from sin:
"We wait for the blessed hope -- the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good." (Titus 2:13-14)
"But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life." (Titus 3:4-7)
Q2. "Save" and "Savior" are used so much in Christian circles that they have become almost jargon words that we don't even think about. What are synonyms for "save" and "Savior"? What does a "Savior" actually do to earn the name?
The Rock and Horn of My Salvation
Several times the ideas of Savior and Rock are found together (especially in the NIV translation). God is called "the Rock of my salvation!" (Psalm 89:26; 95:1; Deuteronomy 32:15, NRSV), that is, the Rock who saves, "the Rock his Savior" (Deuteronomy 32:15, NIV). "God our Savior" is in parallel with Rock twice (Psalm 18:46 = 2 Samuel 22:47; Isaiah 17:10). The Psalmist brags: "He alone is my Rock and my Salvation, my Fortress, I will never by shaken" (Psalm 62:2, 6, NIV).
Three times God is called "the Horn of my Salvation" (2 Samuel 22:3 = Psalm 18:2; Luke 1:69). As mentioned in chapter 7, "horn" refers to military strength, probably derived from the horns of rams used to battle each other. To say that the Lord is the "Horn of My Salvation" means that he is the Strong and Mighty One who brings Salvation and Rescue to his people.
The LORD Is Peace
The final descriptor of God that we will examine is the God of Peace. We encounter "the LORD Is Peace" in the period of the Judges, when the Lord appears to Gideon, whom he is preparing to deliver Israel from the Midianites. The Angel of the Lord calls Gideon, who is hiding in fear from the marauding Midianites, "mighty warrior" (NIV, NRSV) or "mighty man of valor" (KJV). He is bewildered by this epithet, but as gracious host, Gideon prepares his guest a meal, not really knowing who he is. The Angel of the Lord extends his staff to touch the food and "fire flared from the rock, consuming the meat and the bread." The Angel vanishes, leaving Gideon terrified.
"When Gideon realized that it was the angel of the LORD, he exclaimed, 'Ah, Sovereign LORD! I have seen the angel of the LORD face to face!'
But the LORD said to him, 'Peace! Do not be afraid. You are not going to die.'
So Gideon built an altar to the LORD there and called it The LORD is Peace." (Judges 6:22-24)
The name of the altar, "The LORD Is Peace" (NIV, NRSV) or "Yahweh-Peace" (NJB) is not translated in the KJV. Rather it is transliterated as "Jehovah-Shalom."
The God of Shalom
"Peace" in the Old Testament is shālōm. It is a rich word that far outstrips our English word "peace," which means "a state of tranquility and quiet,"4 lack of conflict or hostility. Rather shālōm has at its root the idea of "completion and fulfillment, of entering into a state of wholeness and unity, a restored relationship." While shālōm can mean "absence of strife," the true concept of the word is better expressed by "completeness, wholeness, harmony, fulfillment... Implicit in shālōm is the idea of unimpaired relationships with others and fulfillment in one's undertakings."5 It carries the same kind of full, rich meaning in the New Testament. Paul opens his letters with a salutation of "grace and peace" to his readers. "Grace" (or "favor") was the common greeting among Greek-speakers. "Peace" (or "Shalom") was and still is the common greeting among Hebrew speakers.
To Gideon, the LORD's assurance of shālōm meant that God wouldn't slay him, that instead the Lord was kindly intentioned towards him. So Gideon's altar is a memorial to Gideon and those who followed him that God was a friend rather than a foe, a benefactor, one who brought blessing. The altar stood for generations as a monument of God's favor bearing the name, "The LORD Is Peace."
Q3. Why did Gideon name the altar "the LORD Is Peace"? In what sense did the Lord offer peace to Gideon?
The Prince of Peace
In Isaiah we read of the promise of a Child who will bring Peace. The names by which he is called can only rightly be given to God himself, pointing to the divinity of the Child.
"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." (Isaiah 9:6)
We considered "Prince of Peace" in chapter 6, when we explored God as Prince, Lord, and King. Prince of Peace means "the Prince who brings peace." This Prince, when he comes in all his glory, will bring true shālōm to his wounded and fall world. When he comes and restores a "new heavens and new earth where righteousness dwells" (2 Peter 3:13; Isaiah 65:17; 66:22; Revelation 21:1), our fallen nature will be no more. This wonderful alteration in the basic character of man and beast brought by the Messiah is described figuratively by Isaiah:
"But with righteousness He shall judge the poor,
And decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
He shall strike the earth with the rod of His mouth,
And with the breath of His lips He shall slay the wicked.
Righteousness shall be the belt of His loins,
And faithfulness the belt of His waist.
The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb,
The leopard shall lie down with the young goat,
The calf and the young lion and the fatling together;
And a little child shall lead them.
The cow and the bear shall graze;
Their young ones shall lie down together;
And the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
The nursing child shall play by the cobra's hole,
And the weaned child shall put his hand in the viper's den.
They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain,
For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD
As the waters cover the sea." (Isaiah 11:6-9, NKJV)
It is a peace that will be brought about by God, who will end oppression and unrighteousness and usher in a brand new age.
I want to be part of that New World, and I expect that you do too. For that to happen you and I must find our peace with God. We must come to terms with who he is, in all his might and glory, his power and majesty, his righteousness and holiness, and awesome creating power.
Q4. What kind of shalom will the Prince of Peace
bring about in the New Heavens and the New Earth? What do we have
to look forward to?
The God of Peace
Standing on our own merits, we fall way short of God's standard. Alone, we are doomed to judgment for our sins. But wonderfully, the God of Peace (Romans 15:33; 16:20; Philippians 4:9; 1 Thessalonians 5:23) has made a way for us to be saved and rescued from our sins. The Letter to the Hebrews concludes with this benediction:
"May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. (Hebrews 13:20-21)
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The God of Peace, seeing that there was no other way to bring a state of peace with us humans, sent his own Son, Jesus, to be a sacrifice for our sins. God shed "the blood of the eternal covenant." It was not an animal's blood, or ours, but he shed his own blood that the power of sin and cycle of judgment might be broken, and we might be at peace. He has done what he can to make peace with you. Now you must receive the peace of God from the God of peace.
We thank you, O Lord, that we serve you, the God of Peace. The God who has extended himself to know us. O Lord, we do want to know you. I pray for those who have studied with me. If there is one who is crying out and seeking you, I pray that you might open your arms of Peace and welcome that brother, that sister to yourself. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.
This completes the Great Prayers of the Bible study.
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Names of God
- God of Peace
- God our/my Savior, God of our/my salvation
- Great God and Savior
- Horn of My Salvation
- Lord my Savior
- Prince of Peace
- Redeemer, Kinsman-Redeemer
- Rock His Savior
- Rock of My Salvation
- Savior of All Men
- Savior of Israel
- Strong Deliverer
- The LORD Is Peace, Jehovah-Shalom (Yahweh-Shalom)
Many, many praise and worship songs lift up Jesus as Savior and Redeemer, of which I've only include a couple. Here I'm looking especially for songs that exalt God the Father as Savior, Deliverer, and Redeemer. If you have a song in this category to suggest, please let me know (www.joyfulheart.com/contact/).
"Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah" (chorus: "Strong Deliverer, Strong Deliverer....") words by William Williams (1745.), music by John Hughes (1907)
"He Is Able to Deliver Thee," words and music by William A. Odgen (1887)
"He Is Our Peace" ("... who has broken down every wall"), words and music by Kandela Groves (©1975 Maranatha! Music, Admin. by Music Services)
"Make Me Glad," words and music by Miriam Webster (©2001 Hillsong Publishing, Admin. in U.S. & Canada by Integrity's Hosanna! Music). The chorus goes: "You are my shield/My strength my portion/Deliverer/My shelter strong tower/My very present help in time of need."
"I Know that My Redeemer Lives," words by Samuel Medley (1775), music "Duke Street" attributed to John Hatton (1793)
"I Know that My Redeemer Liveth," Handel's Messiah, Airia for Soprano #45 (G. Schirmer). Words put to verse by Charles Wesley (1741), for music arranged from the Messiah (1741)
"I Will Call upon the Lord" (Chorus: "The Lord liveth and blessed by my Rock/ Let the god of my salvation be exalted"), words and music by Michael O'Shields (©1981, Sound III, Inc., Admin. by Universal - MCA Music Publishing)
"Pass Me Not, O Gentle Savior," words by Fanny Crosby (1868), music by W. Howard Doane (1870)
"Praise Him, Praise Him" ("... Jesus our blessed Redeemer"), words by Fanny Crosby (1869), music by Chester G. Allen
"My Redeemer Lives" ("... and I will stand with him on that day."), words and music by John Willison (©1993 Mercy / Vineyard Publishing, Admin. by Music Services)
"Peace, Peace, Wonderful Peace," by W. George Cooper (1889) and Warren D. Cornell (1889)
"Praise the Name of Jesus," ("He's my Deliverer...."), words and music by Roy Hicks, Jr. (©1976 Latter Rain Music, Admin. by EMI Christian Music Publishing)
"Redeemer, Mighty One," words and music by Cindy Rethmeier, (©1989 Mercy / Vineyard Publishing, Admin. by Music Services)
"Sing, O Sing, of My Redeemer," words and Music by P.P. Bliss (1876), music by James McGranahan (1877)
"There Is a Redeemer," words and music by Melody Green-Sievright (©1982 Birdwing Music, Admin. by EMI Christian Music Publishing)
"You Are Holy" ("Prince of Peace"), by Mark Imboden and Tammi Rhoton (©1994 Imboden Music, Admin. by Music Services; Martha Jo Publishing, Admin. by Music Services)
Standard Abbreviations https://www.jesuswalk.com/names-god/refs.htm
- Pālat , TWOT #1774.
- R. Laird Harris, gā´al, TWOT #300. Leon Morris, The Apostolic Preaching of the Cross (Eerdmans, 1955), pp. 9-59. Otto Procksch, luo, ktl., TDNT 4:328-335.
- John E. Hartley, yāsha`, TWOT #929. G. Fohrer, sōzō, TDNT 7:970-980.
- Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary (11th Edition).
- G. Lloyd Carr, shālēm, TWOT #2401a.
Copyright © 2023, Ralph F. Wilson. <pastorjoyfulheart.com> All rights reserved. A single copy of this article is free. Do not put this on a website. See legal, copyright, and reprint information.
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