Hosea / chapter 3 (read the chapter)
Imagine having to “buy” what you already own. Hosea did: “Then God ordered me, ‘Start all over: Love your wife again, your wife who’s in bed with her latest boyfriend, your cheating wife’ . . . I did it. I paid good money to get her back. It cost me the price of a slave. Then I told her, ‘From now on you’re living with me. No more whoring, no more sleeping around. You’re living with me and I’m living with you.’” (vs 1-3)
Of course, in our modern world, the idea that a man would “own” a woman is offensive, but it was a very real mentality in Old Testament times. Women were often viewed (by men, not by God!) as little less than property. So, when you were married, you literally belonged to your husband.
But Gomer had left her husband and was living with another man. I don’t know if the money Hosea paid was a sort of bribe, in order to get Gomer’s boyfriend to kick her out, or if—as her husband—he had to square up with the boyfriend for his wife’s living expenses. Either way, it was nothing short of ridiculous that Hosea had to go retrieve his own wife from another man’s house.
Imagine how God must have felt about Israel!
He had saved them from starvation through Joseph, prospered them even in the midst of slavery in Egypt, rescued them from slavery, cared for them miraculously in the wilderness, and brought them into the Promised Land. Everything He did was designed to heap blessing after blessing on them . . . and they continued to “run away from home” and sell themselves to other gods, just as Gomer did with the locals.
Gomer was willing to be “owned” for a price, so even though she already belonged to Hosea, he went and paid her price to bring her home. And I guarantee you, the treatment she got at home with Hosea was better than anything she was getting anywhere else.
In the same way, God owns us. In fact, He owns us in a more fundamental way than Hosea owned Gomer, because He actually created us. And far beyond simply creating us, He continues to sustain our lives each and every day. In every sense of the word, we are owned by Him.
Yet, when we come home to God, we find that the way in which He owns us is completely different than anybody or anything else we have sold ourselves to in the past. Having sold ourselves to sin, we were quickly put in bondage. But, to use a favorite fundamentalist’s phrase, God paid the price to bring us home, and He did that so we could be free.
You see, what God owns, He sets free. And if we use (or abuse) that freedom to sell ourselves to the nearest local, God will come and find us, redeem us, and make us free again.
Whether we will remain free is up to us.