Yesterday the students and I had a very animated discussion of God’s design for marriage as we walked through parts of Hosea. I will apply the part of the prophet’s story (read the Old Testament prophet Hosea if you haven’t, and blush modestly) when God sends Hosea to love and retrieve his prostitute/wife and he purchases her for pennies:
God commanded Hosea to love her, but please understand that God was not commanding a feeling. He was commanding Hosea to do the loving thing. You can imagine how difficult this must have been for Hosea.
Therefore, behold, I will allure her, bring her into the wilderness and speak kindly to her. Hosea 2:14
So I bought her for myself for fifteen shekels of silver and a homer and a half of barley. Hosea 3:2
He paid fifteen shekels of silver and a homer and a half of barley for her. To give that context, the owner of a male or female slave in Israel had to be paid thirty pieces of silver by a man whose ox gored the slave to death (Exodus 21:32). Gomer must have been seen as damaged merchandise.
Away with the man-centered theology that tells us Jesus’ death shows us how much we are worth. Our stomachs should rightly churn when we hear Christians tell us that if we had been the only people on earth Jesus would have died just for us. Please. Jesus didn’t die because we are special but because we are sinful. In truth He died for the Father, to satisfy wrath.
Look at this woman as she is. She is a low, selfish, sneaky prostitute who is reaping the consequences of her own actions. She stands there naked on the auction block and her bid is lower than the damages required for a dead slave. Her worth is not inherent. Her identity is nothing apart from the man who bought her back. This is not the story of human worth but the story of God’s love and faithfulness.
This is all about redemption. You have seen the creation as God intended it. You have seen the horrid, destructive effects of the fall. Now you see the bloody price of redemption. God loves His people. That means he is committed to His people.
After all she (Israel) did to Him, He chased her down, bought her back and took her home. Praise Him. Guess what happens when you love someone like that? You start to love them. Notice the emotion-filled declaration of love the Lord gives to His own rescued bride. Ponder what kind of love is this:
How can I give you up, O Ephraim? How can I surrender you, O Israel? Hosea 11:8
You and I are the unfaithful bride. We are more evil than we could ever imagine. Yet we are more loved than we could ever hope. We have been loved. We have been rescued. Ours is to respond. Ours is to sing the songs of the redeemed.
You respond both vertically and horizontally. Your relationships will look different when you order them in light of the price that was paid for you. Your delight in the Lord cannot help but bring you to delight in the people in your life He has given you to serve.
Adventure report: I forgot my flashlight at home but I do have my cell phone. Last night I needed it because our generator ran out of gas and our battery bank eventually discharged. It was quite warm and dark. No rain.
The night was largely sleepless because of a combination of factors. In my waking hours I could hear a large group of people in the distance talking, singing and eventually screaming. I will withhold judgment until a Haitian explains it to me, but it didn’t sound good.