Chapter 10 Redemption Without Money

Ye have sold yourselves for nought; and ye shall be redeemed without money (Isaiah 52:3).

One of men’s sweetest and most prized possessions is liberty. What is health, or money, or possessions, or high-sounding titles, if one is not free? How a dog enjoys liberty when freed from its chain or a criminal when freed from his captivity! In this portion of Isaiah’s prophecy, the prophet sees the nation in exile—slaves of a foreign power—their harps hung on the willow tree. The song had gone out of them. “How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?” they asked (Psalm 137:4). That was the answer of the Jews to the request of their Babylonian captors. It was the Lord’s song the Babylonians required them to sing. But it was so sacred as not to be sung in any place, or at any time, or in any company. That would be casting pearls before swine and giving that which is holy unto the dogs (Matthew 7:6).

What Man Has Done for Himself

“Ye have sold yourselves for nought.” As Ahab did to work wickedness, as men do freely, and get nothing by it—for there is no gain in the service of sin, or Satan, or in being vassals to any such masters. There is no profit, but loss; no pleasure, but pain; no honor, but shame; no liberty, but bondage; no riches and plenty, but poverty and want. Such is human folly. It is the sale of one’s whole self to the service of another. Sin has been like the venom of a serpent which has drugged man into a torpor of spiritual slumber, so that he is insensible of his own actions. He has sold himself and is a slave of Satan.

Slavery is our natural state. Our first parents sold themselves to Satan to do acts of sin and rebellion, and we are simply the offspring and progeny of slaves. Slaves!—bound and branded with a perpetual bondage—bound by fetters stronger than iron chains. And for what price has man sold himself? The answer is “for nought”—not a thing—no return at all. Were a businessman to sell his goods for nought he would soon be bankrupt. And man’s folly spells out his own spiritual bankruptcy.

Also, ye have sold “yourselves,” said the prophet. Every man has sold himself—some to gold—some to lust—some to drunkenness—some to drugs—some to fashion—some to pleasure—but all to Satan, to do his godless works, especially the evil of forgetting God and departing from Him. Satan may not lead all into grosser sins, but he will lead all into unbelief and into the opposite of a heavenly walk.

What the Lord Has Done for Man

“Ye shall be redeemed without money.” Our redemption is not like that within national Israel, when slaves of others within the same nation waited only the passing of time for the year of Jubilee, when all were freed. Time remodels many things—even the face of the earth and the condition of human society. But neither time, nor money, nor merit, can redeem our souls.

“Ye shall be redeemed,” is the Lord’s promise. And this is to teach us that our spiritual and eternal redemption from sin, Satan, the law, the world, death and hell, is obtained without such corruptible things as silver and gold. There could be no cash transactions sufficient for such a redemption. Yet redemption would not be without a price—albeit, only by the precious blood of the Lamb of God (1 Peter 1:18). That redemption was accomplished without any price paid to Satan. It was paid to the justice of God, for it was against God that man had sinned—whose law we had broken—whose justice must be served. Only the blood of Christ is a sufficient price to answer for all. Hence redemption, though it cost our Saviour so much, is free to us. It is brought about by God alone and wholly undeserved by us. It is not through human merit and not by any ransom price paid to Satan who held us captive.

The Old Testament is full of light and luster and shines with the assurance of God’s promises of the Redeemer and His redeeming work. God’s wondrous mercy is seen in the plan. He calls His beloved Son to bear the sinner’s curse. He lays help upon the only One able and mighty to bear it. He clearly shows by type, symbol, illustration, and word of promise, how He does so. It is a blood-stained record. All types and symbols in that old economy are full of blood and death. From of old, the Redeemer was promised and the plan made clear—not with entreaties only upon His lips—not to melt justice with soft appeals—not to beg for mitigation or reprieve—but by bearing our sins in a human body and absorbing all the punishment due all our sins in that body. He claims the right to save by substitution on behalf of His people. The sinful seed of man is one of flesh and blood. The Son of God would take upon Him a truly human nature, sin apart, and become a Fellow-kinsman of our race. His people’s sins would be laid upon Him. He Himself would mount the steps of the altar of God. He would bear their penalty. He would drink the cup of woe until it was drained. He would allow the sword of divine justice to be sheathed in His own heart. He Himself would sustain the hell of torment which should have passed upon us.

This is the one fact upon which the redemption of man hinges. But until man sees that his soul is drifting toward an eternal lostness, he will not cry for deliverance. When that day comes, and with it a sense of helplessness to deliver ourselves, what a wondrous thing it is to know that our deserved death has taken place—our sufferings borne—our agonies endured—the worm slain—vengeance satisfied—sins washed away—all debts paid. Believing this with the whole heart, our heaven is begun. Hell’s portals close—all claims are shivered—all fires made extinct. Redemption! Redemption by the blood of Christ! It is this alone which opens the passage to heaven—to eternal and blessed rest—to rule and reign with our Lord for ever and ever.

Never further than the cross,
Never higher than Thy feet;
Here—earth’s precious things seem dross,
Here earth’s bitter things grow sweet.

Gazing thus our sin we see,
Learn Thy love while gazing thus;
Sin which laid the cross on Thee,
Love which bore the cross for us.

Pressing onwards as we can,
Still to this our hearts must tend;
Where our earliest hopes began,
There our last aspirings end.

Till amid the hosts of light,
We, in Thee, redeemed complete,
Through Thy cross made pure and white,
Cast our crowns before Thy feet.

—Elizabeth R. Charles