Often when we bring up redemption, we talk about how Jesus redeemed us and why He needed to. We’re sinners–people who’ve broken God’s laws and in doing so earned a death penalty. Jesus shifted that penalty onto Himself. When we accept His sacrifice for our sins, the burden of that sin and the associated death penalty is lifted away so we can live forever with Him.
As incredible as all that is, there’s more to redemption than simply saving us from our sins. God has a purpose for us after we’re redeemed. There’s something He wants us to do and someone He intends for us to become. I find this an exciting thought. God doesn’t start a wonderful work in our lives and then just let us sit there wondering, “Now what?” He gives us a purpose and a goal as well as a dynamic relationship with Him.
Leaving Egypt To Serve God
The way that God delivered ancient Israel from Egypt is a type of how He delivers us from sin. There are so many parallels between the Passover story and the crucifixion story that we don’t have time to go into them all now. In summary, they’re both stories of God’s incredible redemption of a chosen people for a specific purpose. In Exodus, the Lord gives Moses a purpose that he’s supposed to share with Pharaoh for why God wants to take Israel out of Egypt.
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and tell him, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, has said, “Release my people that they may serve me!Exodus 9:13, NET
God sets up a contrast here. “The Egyptians ruthlessly made the children of Israel serve” as slaves (Ex. 1:13, WEB), and now God commands them to free His people so they may serve Him instead. This command is repeated over and over early in Exodus as Moses and Pharaoh go back and forth on whether Egypt will obey God’s demand to let Israel go.
The Hebrew word translated “serve” is abad (H5647). It’s used 290 times in the Old Testament. The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament connects it with two root words that mean “to do or make” and “to worship, obey” (entry 1553). It’s used both of forced labor for an oppressive master and for joyful service given to God. Abad is also the word used for the type of service the Levites performed in God’s tabernacle and temple. As such, when used of serving God, it involves worship and obedience in our actions. We might say, then, that the reason God redeemed His people is so that they could serve Him as joyful worshipers doing actions that glorified Him.
There’s a simple phrase that Paul uses in Romans and 2 Corinthians to indicate God redeemed us for a purpose. Jesus died for us and we are crucified alongside him “so that the body of sin would no longer dominate us, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin” and “so that we serve in newness of the spirit, and not in oldness of the letter” ((Rom. 6:6, NET and Rom. 7:6, WEB; emphasis added).
Now that we’ve been redeemed, we’re to serve God and be reconciled to Him because “God made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we would become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:20-21, NET, emphasis added). In these passages, Paul draws our attention to the purpose for redemption. God accomplishes our salvation so that something can happen next. Peter uses this type of language as well.
you yourselves, as living stones, are built up as a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood and to offer spiritual sacrifices that are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. … But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own, so that you may proclaim the virtues of the one who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. You once were not a people, but now you are God’s people. You were shown no mercy, but now you have received mercy.1 Peter 2:5, 9-10, NET
Like ancient Israel (whom Peter references by quoting Hosea), we are called and chosen for a specific purpose. It is “so that” we can proclaim God’s virtues and “offer spiritual sacrifices.” In other words, we’re redeemed so we can serve God, just as the children of Israel were in Exodus.
Next Steps in Light
So far, we’ve seen the purpose God has for us after redemption described a few different ways. We’re to serve God in the spirit. We’re to become righteous like God. We’re to proclaim His virtues and goodness. Putting it all together, we could sum up our purpose as sincere, obedient worship that results in righteous action.
The book of Hebrews dives deep into this idea. It lays out Jesus’s relationship to the Old Testament sacrifices for sin, explaining how He fulfills them all by offering Himself once as a final, perfectly effective sacrifice. It also describes what we should do next after receiving redemption.
For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a young cow sprinkled on those who are defiled consecrated them and provided ritual purity, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our consciences from dead works to worship the living God.Hebrews 9:13-14, NET
So since we are receiving an unshakable kingdom, let us give thanks, and through this let us offer worship pleasing to God in devotion and awe.Hebrews 12:28, NET
Look at the wording here. Jesus died for us and purified us so we can “worship the living God.” Then, because we realize that God is offering us incredible gifts, including a place in His kingdom, we should “offer worship pleasing to God in devotion and awe.” These verses also echo other passages that talk about the importance of worshiping God in the spirit (John 4:23-24; Phil. 3:2-3).
As redeemed people, we walk with God in a new, spiritual life. His goal in redeeming us is to make us fully part of His family. Along with that position as family members in covenant with God comes a purpose for us to accomplish. We have a role now; a way that we’re supposed to live. We ought to serve God in the spirit of the law, modeling His righteousness and worshiping Him joyfully. After all, when we consider the gift of redemption, it’s clear that we have much to be joyful about.
Featured image by Pearl from Lightstock
Song Recommendation: “Redeemed” by Big Daddy Weave