In Hosea chapter 3, Hosea is dealing with the bitter reality that Gomer has left him AGAIN and this time she in sexual slavery. Hosea has to go get his wife and buy her back from her pimp. Can you imagine what this would have been like for Hosea? Hosea 3:2, records “I bought her for fifteen shekels of silver and about a homer and lethek of barley.” A lethek weighed about 430 pounds. If you put it all together it would have been about thirty shekels in the ancient world. Thirty shekels was the price that was paid for a slave. Hosea went to his unfaithful wife who chose sexual slavery over him and bought her back. Can you imagine the emotions? Can you imagine the pain, the embarrassment, the humiliation on both parts? Can you imagine her feeling like she couldn’t accept his love or kindness towards her? Then he takes her to be with him. The picture that we see in Hosea 3 is one of redemption. Redemption is a term used throughout the Bible. Redemption is an economic word. In the Old Testament for someone to be redeemed it literally means to buy them back.
To buy someone back, just like Hosea bought Gomer back at least three different things had to be in place:
- That person had to be in bondage or slavery.
- There had to be a price that was paid to get them out of bondage or slavery.
- There had to be a mediator that would go and pay the price to get the person out of bondage or slavery.
Those three conditions were met in the Old Testament when someone was redeemed or bought back. It’s fascinating that as we read this story about Hosea and Gomer (that happened almost 3 thousands of years ago) that God looking towards the future when the day would come when Jesus Christ would come into our world and literally do what Hosea did for Gomer. Jesus would come and live and die and buy us back – redeem us from slavery to sin and death. It’s a picture of God’s love for us.
God is a just God. Sin had to be punished. He couldn’t just forget all the things that had happened. God was willing to put the punishment for sin on the shoulders of Jesus so that the mercy and free grace could be delivered to us. That’s the good news! That’s what the Christian message is all about. That’s what makes it different from every religion in the world. In every religion in the world you boil it down fundamentally – it’s about “DO.” What will you do to earn and accomplish God’s favor in your life? The Christian faith is about “DONE.” What God has already done two thousand years ago in the person of Jesus Christ is what accomplishes our salvation in our life.
In my life I have wrestled with this many times and have felt unworthy of God’s love. I felt like perhaps God can forgive everyone else but He can’t forgive me. Do you know what that feeling is like? God can forgive that person but not me. I can’t forgive myself; God can’t forgive me. Not for the things I’ve done. It took me awhile to realize that when I was thinking that way ultimately what I was doing was I was showing pride in reverse. When we say, “God can’t forgive me, we are saying, “God, you are going to have to pay a higher price for me.” Apparently Jesus wasn’t enough.” If Jesus wasn’t enough then you and God can start working out what the price will be for you. What hit me is who am I to tell God how much the price is? God set the price and the price was His very son. The price, if it’s good enough for God, then it better be good enough for me.
Since we were bought with a price, it means we must think differently so we can live differently.
We have begin to live as one who has been bought by with a price. It means we hold our heads up a little higher and sit up straight. It means we stop telling ourselves in our inner voice that we‘re worthless and God is against us – because He isn’t. We start looking in the mirror in the morning and say, “I was bought with a price!” Then go out the door with a sense of esteem that’s not based in ourselves but based in God.
Then we begin to respond to God with action. In chapter 3 we see that Hosea goes and buys Gomer back. He takes her back to be with him but there is some action that follows this grace. We see it in 3:3: “Then I told her that you are to live with me many days and you must not be a prostitute or be intimate with any man and I will live with you.” He doesn’t just go and take her back and say, “Do whatever you want and be my wife.” No, there are some qualifications here. No longer be a prostitute. No longer be intimate with another man and you can live with me.
At Upwards we have asked ourselves questions like, “with so much noise in our world and so much going on, how do we as a church partner with people to help you respond to God with action in your life?” We have boiled it down to three simple things:
- LOVE GOD in our weekend services. I believe that church attendance is something we all mark on the calendar. Some weeks you’ll think the message and music is good. Some weeks you’ll think we stink. Some weeks you’ll be mad. That’s okay. We show up because God meets us in the community of believers, in the worship, the music, and the prayer. We show up because of who He is. That consistency will make a difference in our lives. LOVE GOD in our weekend services.
- LOVE PEOPLE in a Connect Group. As we gather with a group of people who are meeting in homes or restaurants talking about our faith, what God is doing and praying for one another we are changing and growing spiritually. Find a group of people that can watch our backs and pray for us and walk the road of life together. LOVE PEOPLE to become like Christ in a Connect group environment.
- SHARE JESUS by serving in the church, the community or mission trips.
LOVE God in the weekend. LOVE PEOPLE in Connect Group an SHARE JESUS in a Ministy Team or Mission Team. If we do those things we’re responding to God with action.
I love Victor Hugo’s, Les Miserable, A powerful book, Broadway play and a movie starring Liam Nielsen. There is a scene in that movie that I’ll never forget. Jean Valjean is a criminal. He’s been in prison for twenty years because he stole a piece of bread when he was starving. After twenty years of hard labor, suffering he gets out but he’s not really accustomed to being free. He meets this pastor, a bishop who is nice enough to take him into his house and let him sleep there. He feeds them at his own table. He shows him kindness. But that night, Jean gives into his past, leaves the house and steals some of the Bishop’s silver. As he goes out, the authorities catch him. They take him back to the Bishop. There is this scene where the Bishop comes out. It’s so powerful. He looks at Jean Valjean who is literally waiting for his words that will send him back to prison for the rest of his life. He will never wake up a free man again. This is his last chance and he is guilty. They say to the Bishop, “We found this silver in his bags. It belongs to you. We’re assuming he stole this from you.” The Bishop looks at him and says, “No. No, this was a gift. This was my gift to him. Jean Valjean what you forgot is the most important thing. You forgot the silver candlesticks too.” He takes the silver candlesticks and he gives them to him. There is this dumbfounded look on the face of this criminal who has only known hate and violence for the last twenty years. He’s shown kindness. He takes the candlesticks in his hands. The authorities walk away. I think the most memorable scene in the movie and the book is when the bishop walks over and puts his hand on Jean Valjean’s shoulder, looks him in the eyes and says, “You must never forget this moment. You are not your own. You were bought with a price. Now you live toward God.” Jean Valjean was marked by that moment for the rest of his life. He was never able to get over it. He was never able to go back from that place. In fact, he lived a completely different life from that moment on because he lived as if he was bought with a price. Victor Hugo is weaving into his story biblical imagery and truth.
Les Miserable is exactly what the story of Hosea and the story of Jesus tell us today. You and I were bought with a price. We were guilty, but set free. We are not our own. Since we are not our own we must live differently.
PS. Join us for our next series, “Messed Up Church” from 1 Corinthians
Sources: Life Application Study Bible, Bible Exposition Commentary (BE Series) – Old Testament – The Bible Exposition Commentary – The Prophets, Thru The Bible with J. Vernon McGee, Pursuit Ministries, Beyond Boundaries, Jud Wilhite,