Summary: Hosea didn’t merely redeem Gomer with "cheap grace," but established a plan for "sanctification," as well.
My wife enjoys watching movies over and over again. She’s the perfect target market for DVDs because, if she is really into a movie, she’s willing to watch that movie several times over a short period of time. I’m different. I like to watch a film and then, I won’t want to watch it again for a while. I never liked watching television re-runs in the same season, either. I wanted something fresh.
A lot of people think that Hosea 3 is anticlimactic, essentially a re-run that doesn’t add much to what happened in Chapters 1 and 2. I don’t agree. I believe that Chapter 3 is vital to understanding what happened between Hosea and Gomer and, in turn, is vital to understanding what happened between God and Israel. It isn’t a re-run. It’s Hosea’s personal testimony that affirms the prophecy God gave him in Chapters 1 and 2. Most importantly, it is the “costly grace” that counteracts any idea of “cheap grace” associated with God’s promise to take Israel, Yahweh’s adulterous wife, back.
Let’s pray for God’s guidance in really listening to this passage. [Father God, Your faithfulness trumps our unfaithfulness, but we need to learn how to live in a right relationship with You. We need to show real gratitude for your grace, and with Your help, it can be living according to Your pleasure, Your purpose. Teach us what You will from this passage and help us to live it day by day.]
Hosea 3:1 And Yahweh proceeded to say to me again, “Go, love a woman you loved greatly and she committed adultery just as I, Yahweh, loved the sons of Israel and they turned to other gods and they are lovers of raisin cakes.”
The use of the word, “again,” is sometimes translated as we have here with Yahweh speaking to Hosea again. Sometimes, it is translated with the verb, “Go, love again.” In the Hebrew text, the adverb is located between the verbs and, technically, could be translated with either of them. Usually, the adverb follows the verb it is modifying, so that would point to it merely meaning that God spoke to Hosea again, but it can occasionally precede the verb and could mean loving Gomer again.
I’m going to take the position that some of you will think is a “cop-out,” here. I think “again” primarily modifies God’s speaking, but I also recognize that Hosea’s emotions toward Gomer must have been calloused over. If he really loved her and saw her slipping off to do her duty in the temple, copulating with strangers for the glory of a false god, he must surely have hardened his feelings toward her so that it didn’t hurt so bad. Now, God tells him to become vulnerable again, to open himself to being hurt and betrayed again.
But this isn’t an occasion where Hosea can say to God what we often say to each other, “That’s easy for you to say!” It ISN’T easy for God to say. God knows exactly what Hosea must be feeling because God’s People have cheated on him in the same way that Gomer has cheated on Hosea. I like what the great Old Testament scholar, Hans Walter Wolff, has to say: “At the discovery of God’s love he perceives how he must act toward his wife.” Because Hosea was close to God, he had to take the costly step of buying his wife back and risking the reality—maybe even the likelihood—that she would cheat on him again.
And the message for you and me is that the closer we are to God, the more we are likely to love like God loves. And when we love like God loves, we risk being hurt like God hurts. God reminds us of the expectation that we love like God loves and then, we see what we must do.
Now, let’s look at the price for Hosea.
v. 2 And, as a result, I purchased her for me with 15 shekels of silver and a homer and a lethek of barley.
Unfortunately, we don’t know how much silver you can get from the sale of a homer of barley, much less from a homer and a half (a lethek). We’re talking about 8 bushels of barley all together since a homer equals about 5.16 bushels. It would be very nice if we could say that a homer and half of barley equaled 15 shekels so that we could add them together and get the 30 shekels usually paid for a slave or we could claim they equaled 35 shekels so we could add them together to get the 50 shekel bride price.
Symbolically, we could preach on buying her back from slavery like God (in the New Testament) purchased us back from slavery (with the blood of Jesus) or that Hosea was remarrying Gomer to create a new marriage like God gave us a New Covenant (in Jesus). Unfortunately, we don’t have sufficient grounds to allegorize either symbol. But I do notice something in the rather obscure pricing arrangement.