Our Savior, My Redeemer-A

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Working Definitions 

Savior – The  one who brings about the result.

Redeemer – The person who pays the price to bring about the result. 
         

STEP ONE

Who Am I ?

     The question has intrigued thinkers in every age; and our search to find the answer helps us to better understand ourselves, God and His nature which is love, our relationship to him and our relationship to others.   

The answer is both simple and clear:
       I
am a created rational human person made up of not only just a body or only just a soul, but of the substantial union of both in a unique personality. 

     I also have a special human nature unique only to myself which is measured by height, weight, color of eyes, long/short fingers, hair color texture, etc. These marks identify each of us as a human person and a totally unique individual.   

     I have always existed in God’s consciousness and my existence is the result of His love for me.  The purpose of my physical life is to make use of the opportunities he offers each day to show him how much I love him in what I do.     

What are these opportunities? (This needs some explaining)  

     My real birthday marked the moment when I was first formed in my mother’s womb.  On the left is my sonogram picture as she nourished me and protected me for about nine months before my independent earthly experience began.  I have never been alone, because then as now I am accompanied by my own special guardian angel and my earthly mother and father.  I am also supported by all the angels, the saints, Mary, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.  My earthly task is to cooperate with the gifts God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit give me to show them how much I love them.

     Since I am a unique, one-of-a-kind individual with a physical body animated by an immortal soul and destined to be united again with God when my physical body dies, things should go pretty smoothly here on earth - right? 

Not Always!  

     Only humans have been gifted with the ability to think (rationalize) . . . this means that each of us can make choices and decisions.  Using our gifts, we humans have created abstract social systems and laws that are possible only because we have the ability to understand, and have been gifted with the ability to use and work with non-material ideas and concepts such as numbers, space, time, beauty and truth.  As the Declaration of Independence states clearly “. . . . we the people possess certain rights . . .” 

But . . . “We the People” Have A Systemic Problem, and it can be traced to one source – pride!   

     Pride is a very part of all of us and we all possess it in different degrees.  It is the number one source of problems not only for ourselves, but in our relationships with others.  A wise person once said, “We are so filled with pride that it takes at least 24 hours after we die for it all to run out.”

Let's Back Up  

     In the beginning, things were very good.  The Lord God formed Adam (the first man) from the earth and breathed into him a living soul (the principle of life).  A partner was created for man named Eve (who became the mother of all the living).  Everything created could have been enjoyed by the first man and woman as they were superior to all earthly creation.  But there was one condition – they were not to eat the attractive fruit of a certain tree (experience the results of a choice that was available to them).  They were aware of the fact that if they ignored God and chose to follow their wills instead of His, they would surely die (remove themselves from God’s love).  But this warning was ignored because of the attractive suggestion presented by "The Prince of Evil," the devil, that they could become  better than they were . . . even become god-like . . . and that would mean knowing good from evil!  WOW!  

Pretty Attractive . . . but a Bad Choice!  

     In spite of God’s warnings, the first humans made a choice . . . and messed up their relationship with God not only for themselves, but their children . . .  which is us! 

Oh My Gosh!  

     What God said would happen – did happen!  Both Adam and Eve came to know suffering and eventual physical death.  But while God is all-just, He is also all-perfect in love and mercy; and in his mercy for our first parents and their descendants (you and me), He made the following covenant with them.  

God’s Covenant Made in Love

" . . . I will put enmity between you (the devil), and the woman, and between your offspring (those who follow him) and hers; He (Jesus) will strike at your head, while you strike at his heel.  (Genesis 3:15)

What God's Covenant Meant  

     Never-ending hatred would exist between Lucifer, the most gifted of the fallen angels, the other fallen angels, and their followers who struggle against Mary, the new Eve, and her son – Jesus Christ.

The Bible tells how man attempted to please God

     Since humans had disobeyed and distanced themselves from God, it was important for them to learn his will; and  understand what pleased and what displeased him.  The story of the offerings of Cain and Abel is one of the first bible accounts to illustrate the importance of a well-formed faith.     

     An offering from the fruit of the soil - Cain: in the course of time Cain brought an offering to the Lord from the fruit of the soil. (Genesis 4:3)  His offering choice was not the best of his crops.  He kept a better portion for himself.
. . . .while Abel, for his part brought one of the best firstlings of his flock. (Genesis 4:4-5)  God looked with favor on Abel' s sacrifice because his offering contained the best he had while Cain's sacrifice was selected from merely some of what he owned.  Cain's envy led to his brother's eventual death which caused Cain to both leave his parents and to wander far from his homeland.

HUMAN SACRIFICE?

The Story of Jephthah

     An Israelite chieftain named Jephthah made a rash vow to the Lord before battle swearing that if he were successful, he would offer as a holocaust the first person to greet him when he returned home.  He was victorious, but his vow bound him to sacrifice his daughter and only child whom he loved dearly.  "If you deliver the Ammonites into my power," he promised, "whoever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me when I return in triumph from the Ammonites shall belong to the Lord.  I shall offer him up as a holocaust."  (Judges 11:30-31)

     When Jephthah returned to his house in Mizpah, it was his daughter who came forth, playing the tambourines and dancing.  She was an only child: he had neither son nor daughter besides her.  When he saw her, he rent his garments and said, "Alas, daughter, you have struck me down and brought calamity upon me.  For I have made a vow to the Lord and I cannot retract."  (Judges 11:34-35)

The Story of Abraham and Isaac

     When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it.  Next he tied up his son Isaac, and put him on top of the wood on the altar.  Then he reached out and took the knife to slaughter his son.  But the Lord's messenger called to him from heaven, "Abraham. Abraham,!"  "Yes Lord," he answered.  "Do not lay your hand on the boy," said the messenger.  "Do not do the least thing to him.  I know now how devoted you are to God, since you did not withhold from me your own beloved son."  As Abraham looked about, he spied a ram caught by its horns in the thicket.  So he went and took the ram and offered it up as holocaust in place of his son.  (Genesis 22:9-13) 

     This story while showing a test of Abraham's love is thought to contain God's message to Abraham and his people that the practice of human sacrifice common among his neighbors did not please God. 

ANOTHER DIRECTION   

     As time passed, some people mistakenly believed that God would give more attention to requests for favors if they made more frequent, larger, and more valuable sacrifices of crops, animals, money and possessions.         

Early Prophets Announce A Change

     I hate, I spurn your feasts, I take no pleasure in your solemnities, your cereal offerings I will not accept, nor consider your stall-fed peace offerings.  Away with your noisy songs.  I will not listen to the melodies of your harps.  But if you would offer me holocausts, then let justice surge like water, and goodness like an unfailing stream.  (Amos 5:21-24)

     Does the Lord so delight in holocausts and sacrifices as in obedience to the command of the Lord?  Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission than the fat of rams.  (1 Samuel 15:22)

     For it is love that I desire not sacrifice, knowledge of God rather than holocausts  (Hosea 6:6)

A SAVIOR IS FORETOLD

A later covenant included a special birth:

     For a child is born to us, a son is given us; upon his shoulder dominion rests.  They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace.  His dominion is vast and forever peaceful, from David's throne, and over his kingdom, which he confirms and sustains by judgment and justice, both now and forever.  The zeal of the Lord of Hosts will do this!  (Isaiah 9:5-6)

What would this child be like?

     God's plan gradually unfolded over the years.  Some people did not have a clear idea what this promised Savior could or would do; asking themselves and each other . . . how will this promised Savior possible satisfy for the insult and rejection humans showed their creator through our first parent's sin of pride?

The prophet Isaiah described the person.

     Here is my servant whom I uphold, my chosen one with whom I am pleased, upon whom I have put my spirit; he shall bring forth justice to the nations, not crying out, not shouting, not making his voice heard in the street.  A bruised reed he shall not break, and a smoldering wick he shall not quench, until he establishes justice on the earth; the coastlands will wait for his teaching.  (Isaiah 42:1-3)

     He grew up like a sapling before him, like a shoot from the parched earth; there was in him no stately bearing to make us look at him, nor appearance that would attract us to him.  He was spurned and avoided by men, a man of suffering, accustomed to infirmity, one of those from who men hide their faces, spurned, and we held him in no esteem.  Yet it was our infirmities that he bore, our sufferings that he endured, while we thought of him as stricken, as one smitten by God and afflicted.  But he was pierced for our offenses, crushed for our sins, upon him was the chastisement that makes us whole, by his stripes we were healed.  (Isaiah 53:2-5)

A later Gospel writer repeats the same message!

     Here is my servant whom I have chosen, my loved one in whom I delight.  I will endow him with my spirit and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles.  He will not contend or cry out, nor will his voice be heard in the streets.  The bruised reed he will not crush; the smoldering wick he will not quench until judgment is made victorious.  In his name, the Gentiles (referring to the non-Jews - the people of the earth) will find hope.   (Matthew 12:21)

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