Humans are naturally bent toward works righteousness. We think that if we do good, God will think we are good. When it comes to Bible reading, we often moralize passages of Scripture, asking, “What does this passage have to do to me?” and “What is God requiring of me in this passage?” Those questions aren’t irrelevant, they just aren’t the most relevant. Instead, we should ask, “How does this passage point me to the person and work of Jesus Christ?” and “How does that truth draw me to love, worship, and desire him above all else?”
Christians are not ignorant of the fact that the story of Hosea and his adulterous wife points to Jesus and his Bride, the church. The story of Hosea’s marriage to Gomer climaxes in Hosea 3. Here’s the whole chapter:
1 And the LORD said to me, “Go again, love a woman who is loved by another man and is an adulteress, even as the LORD loves the children of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love cakes of raisins.” 2 So I bought her for fifteen shekels of silver and a homer and a lethech of barley. 3 And I said to her, “You must dwell as mine for many days. You shall not play the whore, or belong to another man; so will I also be to you.” 4 For the children of Israel shall dwell many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or pillar, without ephod or household gods. 5 Afterward the children of Israel shall return and seek the LORD their God, and David their king, and they shall come in fear to the LORD and to his goodness in the latter days
Here Hosea is told by God to redeem (literally “buy back”) his wife who is now up for sale in the slave market after “play[ing] the whore.” I carefully ask you to picture a naked slave woman with smeared make-up and bloody joints, ashamed and weeping, standing on a stage with a man standing beside her asking, “Let’s start the bidding at…” Now imagine silence. No one wants her. From what I have researched, 15 shekels was not much money. Maybe ten bucks. Hosea paid $10 for his wife.
In verse 4, God tells Hosea why he is supposed to do this: God’s people will live without their true Husband (the LORD) for a long time, but then they will return to seek him and “David their king.” “David” is another name for the Messiah, who is Jesus Christ.
It is easy to see that Hosea serves as a type of Christ. He prefigures Jesus, who will be the ultimate Redeemer of God’s people. He will buy back a people who are unwanted and unloved. He will purchase them from spiritual adultery, from forsaking their true Husband for lesser husbands who cannot satisfy. Jesus though, unlike Hosea, paid an infinite cost to redeem his people. He shed his blood and died to bring God’s people to himself.
In this story, we often miss that Gomer is also a type of Christ. What?! you say. Isn’t Gomer representative of God’s people? Yes, of course! Jesus never committed spiritual adultery against the Father or physical adultery in his life on earth. He was not a sinner. But how did Jesus buy back God’s people? It wasn’t by living a good life and then going back to the Father. It was through substitution. Jesus became Gomer. Jesus, like Gomer, was raised up on a stage–the center stage. He was naked, bleeding, mocked, and rejected. No one wanted him. He was actually sold for 30 pieces of silver by one of his best friends. His Father even turned his back on him when he was on stage. Jesus stood in the place of God’s people who deserved all the wrath and shame coming to them.
Jesus took Gomer’s place. Israel’s place. Our place. My place. He became despised and rejected by men. He bore our griefs, carried our sorrows, and was pierced for our transgressions. He was guilty of no sin, but on the cross, God made Jesus to be sin for us so that we might become the righteousness of God (see 2 Cor. 5:21). We were cursed, just like Gomer, yet Christ “redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us” (Gal. 3:13). Only because Jesus became the cursed, dirty whore can we now be the accepted, redeemed, and pure bride.