The law of Moses stipulated that when a person was so poor that he had to sell his property—or even himself—in order to survive, he would receive that property or his liberty back every fifty years, on the jubilee year (Lev. 25:25–27, 47–49). The jubilee year was a “grand” Sabbath year in which debts were forgiven, properties reclaimed, and liberty proclaimed to the captives.
Fifty years was a long time to wait, however. That’s why the Law of Moses also stipulated that the nearest relative could pay the part that was still owed and thus ransom his relative much sooner.
The nearest relative was also the one who guaranteed that justice was done in the case of a murder. He was the “avenger of the blood,” who would pursue the murderer of his close relative and punish him (Num. 35:9–21).
Hebrews 2:14–16 describes us as slaves of the devil, but Jesus as our Redeemer. When Adam sinned, human beings fell under the power of Satan. As a result, we did not have the power to resist sin (Rom. 7:14–24). Worse, our transgression required a death penalty, which we could not pay (Rom. 6:23). Thus, our situation was apparently hopeless.
Jesus, however, adopted our human nature and became flesh and blood like us. He became our nearest relative and redeemed us. He was not ashamed to call us “brothers” (Heb. 2:11, ESV).
Paradoxically, by taking our nature and redeeming us, Jesus revealed His divine nature as well. In the Old Testament, the true redeemer of Israel, their closest relative, is Yahweh (e.g., Ps. 19:14; Isa. 41:14; 43:14; 44:22; Jer. 31:11; Hos. 13:14).
Hebrews says that Jesus was not ashamed to call us His brethren (Heb. 2:11). Despite being one with God, Jesus embraced us as part of His family. This solidarity contrasts with the public shaming that the readers of Hebrews suffered in their communities (Heb. 10:33).
Have you imagined what it meant for Moses to be called “the son of Pharaoh’s daughter”? Hebrews 11:24–26 reveals that Moses was a powerful figure in the most powerful empire of the time. He received the highest civil and military training and became a remarkable character. Stephen says that Moses was “mighty in words and in deeds” (Acts 7:22). Ellen G. White also says that he was “a favorite with the armies of Egypt” and that Pharaoh “determined to make his adopted grandson his successor on the throne.” (Ellen G. White, Patriarchs and Prophets (Washington, DC: Review and Herald, 1890), 245.) Yet, Moses abandoned all of this privilege when he chose to identify himself with the Israelites, a slave nation without education and power.
After suffering persecution and rejection, many of the early Christians began to feel ashamed of Jesus. By their actions some were in danger of putting Jesus “to an open shame” instead of honoring Him (Heb. 6:6). Thus, Paul constantly calls the readers to “hold fast” the “confession” of their faith (Heb. 4:14; 10:23, NKJV).
God wants us to recognize Jesus as our God and our Brother. As our Redeemer, Jesus has paid our debt; as our Brother, Jesus has shown us the way that we should live in order that we will “be conformed to the image of his Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren” (Rom. 8:29).