26 June 2017

What Does Redemption Really Mean?

2 Tamuz 5777

The word "redemption" is being thrown around a lot today and is being used as an excuse for a lot of people to do a lot of very questionable things. 

The Hebrew word geulah (גְּאֻלָּה) is translated into English as "redemption". There are important reasons why one word is chosen over another when translating, because it's not just a word that is being translated but an entire concept.

Many of you will no doubt be too young to remember stamp redemption centers, but once upon a time they were very common. In order to draw in customers, some gas stations (more commonly referred to as filling stations in those days) and some groceries would give out trading stamps with each purchase. The more money you spent, the more stamps you collected. They would be pasted into a book and after enough books had been filled, you could go to a redemption center and redeem your stamps from all manner of items. They had a catalogue that listed all the available items which could be traded for the stamps along with how many books it would cost you.


I was thinking about this concept today and thought how the word "exchange" comes closest to describing the concept of redemption in this context. When I looked it up in the dictionary, I found: "redeem: gain or regain possession of (something) in exchange for payment."


I thought about this with regard to the redemption from Egypt and it fits. When we left Egypt, we exchanged one master for another Master. We stopped being slaves to Egypt and became bond-servants (of our own free will - na'aseh v'nishmah) to HKB"H. And that was the essence of the covenant we entered into at Har Sinai. Unlike the popular modern notion of Passover being a holiday of freedom which can be applied to all oppressed people-groups, the foundational concept of freedom at Passover is that we became free to choose our master. No one is ever truly free in this world. We are only free to choose - substance over artifice, truth over lie, good over evil, life over death, etc.

It also includes the idea of HKB"H coming to take possession of His people Israel. This is an aspect that is also clearly revealed in the concept of the kinsman-redeemer spoken of in the Book of Ruth. The kinsman-redeemer was the closest relative who could "redeem" the earthly posessions of a niftar so that they not be lost to the family line. 

So, the next question naturally becomes how then are we to understand the final redemption in light of this? What will it mean to be redeemed in the future?

HKB"H is going to establish His possession of this world and all who live in it; to confirm that Israel is His chosen nation - not only His holy servants, but his precious children -  and to exchange the World of Truth for this current World of Lies.

Just like in the example above, the stamps were just a token - a promise, if you will - of something else, something better and more valuable, to come. This is what we are awaiting and it's clearly not something we can do. Just like we could not take ourselves out of Egypt. Only the Master of the Universe, the Almighty King of Creation can do this. All we can do is prepare ourselves for it so we might be counted worthy to enjoy it when the time comes.

Understanding it in this way also makes it abundantly clear that a world where the majority of its inhabitants continue to worship in false religious systems which promote lies and deceit and call HKB"H by names unknown to our fathers is not the redemption we are waiting for. Those who promote acceptance of such a world where humankind continues in its false ways, but united in peaceful coexistence is not bringing redemption!

When redemption has finally arrived, only HKB"H will be worshipped and in the manner the Torah prescribes and His name will be One - not three or three thousand, but ONE.

As long as there remains one Christian praying in the name of Yeshu or one Muslim calling out in the name of Yalla, we have not yet been redeemed. And if it is possible to delay the redemption, then surely those who encourage Christians to remain "good" Christians and Muslims to become "peaceful" Muslims, are doing just that - pushing off the day when all will worship one God in only one way.