Brian Taylor
Special to the Herald Democrat
Brian Taylor

Our church is studying the book of Hosea. It’s a crazy book about one of God’s holy prophets who was commanded by God to marry a prostitute. You would think that God would never ask something like that from one of His children. We are supposed to be holy, but holiness shouldn’t keep us from loving people that God loves. Gomer, the prostitute, is a picture of Israel. She is steeped in her idolatry, rooted in the mire of worshipping God and worshipping Baal. Israel is a prostitute. Her spiritual adultery has gone up before God, and He’s angry about it. Hosea prophesied about 25 or 30 years before the Assyrians came in and destroyed Israel and led some of her men and women into captivity in 722BCE. It wasn’t until 1948 that Israel once again regained her status as a nation. That’s a really long judgment - 2700 years. The love and judgment of God upon Israel and the prophecy of Hosea is a story about loving someone who constantly cheats on you, and who runs back to idolatry and sin. Running from God is nothing new, and people mixing their worship of God with lifestyle choices that can only be described as idolatry is also nothing new. Just because you don’t worship a statue made out of gold, silver, or wood doesn’t mean you don’t have idols. An idol can be anything you set your affection on that draws you away from God, and a relationship with Him. The fact that God still chooses to love and forgive Israel, and commands Hosea to keep trying to bring his wife back shows us the nature of who God really is - a God who forgives and wants a relationship with us.

The word redemption in the Greek is a compound word of sorts: the first part of the word is the prefix and denotes a reversal, and the second part of the word means to loosen or to free. You can see how one comes up very quickly with the idea of a ransom. It’s the buying back of a slave, or of someone who has enslaved themselves to either debt or worse. Redemption in the spiritual sense concerning salvation is based upon Christ’s work on the cross, and how what He did paid for humanity’s sins. He bought us back. We were enslaved to sin, and His blood paid for us to be free. We had sold ourselves, because we weren’t made to sin, we chose it, and sin put its chains on us. We were caught and ensnared. We were stupid and foolish running headlong into something that we had been warned would hurt us, and yet sin appealed to our flesh, so we went after it and the results were very bad. Sin brought death. The wages of sin is death, and spiritually we died. We became separated from God, and the truth is we were born into that state. We were not only the prostitute who sold ourselves back into slavery, but we were also the children of the whore. We chose sin, were born into sin, and we were enslaved to sin. Paul’s words were: “we were dead in our trespasses and sins.” We needed redemption. We needed Jesus to buy us back. Just as God tells Hosea to go buy back Gomer, so too He sent His Son to buy us back from sin. Freedom is not found in the chains of our prostitution, but only in the arms of the husband God betrothed us to - Jesus Christ. In a relationship with Him, sin is dealt with, forgiven, wiped away, paid for, and removed for eternity. Even our holiness is only found in Jesus, and it all began when He bought us back: Jesus our ransom. Your redemption is not something that can be taken from you. You may even try to run again from God. God only knows how many times Hosea had to run after Gomer. The old hymn

“Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” says it like this: Oh to Grace how great a debtor daily I’m constrained to be. Let thy goodness like a fetter bind my wandering heart to thee. Prone to wander Lord I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love. Here’s my heart oh take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above.

Our hearts are prone to wander, but our God chases after us. He buys us back at great cost to Himself - His own life. The greatest love you will ever experience is the love that buys us back, redeems us when we don’t deserve it, and loves us even while we were yet sinners. Jesus’ love is the redeeming love of Hosea chapter 3. It is the love that cures our hunger for lust, it is the hope for those who find themselves hopeless, and the peace that passes all understanding for those that find themselves afraid. If you’re running from God, then stop, turn around, and look into the eyes of Jesus. He’s been chasing you a long time. He’s here to buy you back from the sin you sold yourself to, and bring you home.