I give Egypt as your ransom,
Cush and Seba in exchange for you.
Because you are precious in my eyes,
and honored, and I love you,
I give men in return for you,
peoples in exchange for your life.
Fear not, for I am with you;
I will bring your offspring from the east,
and from the west I will gather you.
I will say to the north, Give up,
and to the south, Do not withhold;
bring my sons from afar
and my daughters from the end of the earth,
everyone who is called by my name,
whom I created for my glory,
whom I formed and made. Isaiah 43:3b-7 ESV
The four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying,
“Worthy are you to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation,
and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
and they shall reign on the earth.” Revelation 5:8b-10 ESV
Many years ago in England, Matilda and Stephen battled for the crown. Matilda’s father, Henry I, had been the king, and she was his only surviving child and his choice as the next ruler. However, many people didn’t want a woman to rule them, and her cousin Stephen tried to claim the throne. In one battle Stephen was taken prisoner, but Matilda’s half-brother Robert of Gloucester, who supported her, was also taken prisoner. When Matilda couldn’t gain the crown for herself, the two sides agreed to exchange prisoners. Matilda released Stephen, and in exchange Robert was released to her.
God spoke to his people through the prophet Isaiah, reassuring them about the hard times that were coming to them. When they were all scattered in distant lands, the Lord would bring them home again. He would gather them from east, west, north, south, and the ends of the earth because he loved them so much. He would make an exchange for them, giving up nations like Egypt, Cush, and Seba so that they could go free. Many years later, these nations would be taken captive by the Persian empire, and God’s people would be set free. Even though they were a small and weak nation, he would work out his purposes through them.
God’s purposes in the end were to bring the promised Savior into the world through his chosen people. Jesus was that promised Savior, and he came to ransom all people and call them back to their Heavenly Father. When Jesus died on the cross, he was giving his life in exchange for the lives of all the people in the world. He died so that we could be set free to live forever in his heavenly kingdom. Jesus calls to himself people from the ends of the earth, and people from nations, tribes, and languages all over the world are still coming to know and love Jesus.
Dear Jesus, thank you for giving your life in exchange for ours, and for calling people from many nations, tribes, and languages to yourself. Amen.