Categories
Life Theology

Jesus: Redeemer and Unfaithful Bride

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.

Categories
Theology

Christ the Pure Redeemer, Christ the Dirty Whore

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. You might think I’m walking a fine line, but hold on before you cry foul. 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 took Gomer’s place, and our place, as the one 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). He became the cursed, dirty whore that we might be accepted, redeemed, and pure.

Amazingly, Christ can be both Hosea and Gomer in one person. Hallelujah, what a Savior!

Categories
Theology

Salvation, Sanctification, and Spiritual Hookers

Today I studied Titus 2;14.  It says that Jesus Christ “gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.”

As I meditated and prayed, I asked myself, “What would make this stick in my mind?  What will make this real?”  I think there’s a progressive relationship between the statements in Titus 2:14.  It goes from redemption to purification to zeal. That helps, but what does that look like?

Then I thought about Hosea.  You know, the prophet who married the hooker and then had to buy her back?

Here’s what made it stick for me:

Imagine that you are like Hosea and God tells you to marry a prostitute.  You get married in the courthouse because the family would be too ashamed to come to the wedding at a church.  You don’t get a honeymoon because before the weekend is over, she cheats on you and goes back to the strip club.

You go downtown to get your wife back.  She is up on stage waiting to be purchased by men who will have their way with her, abuse her, and give her but a few bucks for her services. She’s not going for much money tonight.  But you don’t say, “I deserve better.  She’s not worth it.”  Instead, you lay down a couple hundred and buy her for yourself.

You drive her home.  Other than the sound of her weeping, it’s quiet.  You don’t chastise her or accuse her.  Instead, you reach over to hold her hand as she covers her sobs with the other.

You sit down with her at the table.  You don’t revile her or hit her.  You don’t condemn her and say, “How could you, again?!”  Instead, you wash off her makeup and anoint her with oil.  You take off her dirty, immodest stripper outfit and give a her brand new elegant dress that you’ve been saving up for.  You kiss her forehead and forgive her and cleanse her conscience.

You look into her eyes and say, “My bride, I love you.  And I will love you until you stay with me.”  She is so comforted, so secure, so loved.  So much so, in fact, that over time, she becomes zealous to do good and doesn’t want to sell her body anymore.

We are the whore.  O how often we have cheated on our God and sold our bodies to our sin!  Jesus is our husband, and this is what God did for us through him.  He redeems us through his death.  He purifies us despite our constant failures.  He makes us zealous to do good and hate evil.

He lifts our dropping head and says, “I have redeemed you and I will love you until you obey.”

Will you have this love, or reject it?

*  *  *

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Categories
Theology

The Gospel According to Hosea 12

The gospel is all over Hosea.  “What?” you ask.  “Jesus isn’t even named in Hosea.”  I know, but in the words of Lee Corso, “Not so fast, my friend.”

Hosea 12:2 says, “The LORD has an indictment against Judah.”  God has an indictment against us — we sin…a lot.  We have committed cosmic treason by totally forsaking God’s rules.  We totally offended God by turning our backs on him and saying, “Yeah, thanks but no thanks, God.”  So, God, not waiting for us to make the first move, sent his Son to fulfill the requirement that we could not (and did not want) to fill.

Because we couldn’t fill the requirement (i.e. perfection), we deserved to be killed.  We deserved the electric chair or gas chamber or worse.  That’s how bad we are.  In 12:14, God says, “Ephraim has given bitter provocation; so his Lord will leave his bloodguilt on him and will repay him for his disgraceful deeds.”  We have made God incredibly irritated with the way we’ve acted.  This happened to Israel after Jacob sought his whole life, after starting the 12 tribes of Israel.  This happened after Moses led the Israelites out of bondage from a crazy Egyptian dictator.  And we have done the same, or dare I say, much worse.  Still, while we were enemies, God sent his Son to show us true love, compassion, and grace.  We didn’t get God’s repayment for our deeds.  Instead of wrath, we got mercy.  Christ came.  God repaid to Jesus what we were due when he went to the cross.   Jesus took our disgraceful deeds and exchanged them for his righteousness, so that we might become the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:21).  This doesn’t just make it a Christian.  It radically transforms the rest of my life in how I respond to and interact with God.

Our response to God’s initiative and grace that he gave us through Jesus’ death is that we “by the help of God, return, hold fast to love and justice, and wait continually for your God” (v. 6). God is sovereign and he will help us come to Jesus if indeed he has called us to come to Jesus.  And after we trust Jesus and become Christians, we must wait for him to cause us to feel the heat of his word in our lives. You cannot manufacture any affection toward God, either before or after conversion. We might see the light of the sun, but because of our imperfect nature and propensity toward sin, we so often find ourselves in the shadows, shivering, not feeling its heat. We must wait on the Lord and believe that he who has predestined us, also called us, and justified us, and has already glorified us (Rom. 8:30).   In the shadows, God calls us to wait, but while waiting, we are to long for him to rescue us.  We must go to God, by his help, and in our going we must wait for him to show up.  God showing up is what he does best.  This is grace.  This is who God is.  This is the gospel.

As I let the weight of God’s wrath on Jesus sink into my heart, I can’t help but tremble.  Every false word, lustful look, greedy thought, jealous action, selfish attitude, and prideful intention put Jesus on the cross.  I have given bitter provocation to God.  I deserved to be repaid for my disgraceful deeds.

Jesus died because God put him to death.  “It was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief” (Isa. 53:10).  Jesus died to make people right with God.  “The righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous (Isa. 53:11).  Jesus died to bring us to God.  “He bore the sins of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors (Isa. 53:12).

That’s the gospel.  And it’s in Hosea.  Actually, it’s on every page and in every word of the Bible.

Categories
Life

Thirsty? Don’t Drink From the Toilet

In Hosea 5, God gives a bone-chilling indictment to Israel and Judah.  He says, “The spirit of whoredom is within [Israel and Judah]” (v. 4)  That’s not what you want to hear out of God’s mouth.  If you read this entire chapter, the outlook doesn’t get much better.  In fact, it gets worse.  Israel will stumble in its guilt (v. 5); God has withdrawn himself from Israel (v. 6); Israel’s joyful festival times will now be a curse to them (v. 7); God is going to pour out his wrath on Israel and Judah (v. 10); God will be like a moth and pus-filled sores to Israel and Judah (v. 12); and God will tear apart Israel and Judah like a lion and carry them off so that they cannot be rescued (v. 14).

That’s not very encouraging.  In fact, if this were the last chapter in the Bible, I might just doubt the joy and purpose of this whole Christian thing.  Thank God it’s not the last chapter in the Bible.  It’s not even the last chapter in Hosea.

Amidst all those afflictions that God is bringing on his people, I noticed something significant in verse 11.  It says, “Ephraim is oppressed, crushed in judgment, because he was determined to go after filth.”  What’s significant about that?  Ephraim (which is another name for Israel) deserved this punishment because they were determined to do evil.  The “spirit of whoredom” had taken them astray so they pursued dirt instead of God.  They were so far gone that muddy, clouded toilet water looked clean, clear, and refreshing.

The phrase for “go after filth” in Hebrew is literally “to follow human precepts.”  Now that narrows it down a bit.  “Human precepts” sounds a lot like religion.  This is very similar to an issue Paul addressed in Philippians 3.  There, Paul lists his pedigree as a Jew and Pharisee.  But what does he say after his list of accomplishments?  He writes, “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.  For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ” (v. 8).  A lot of controversy has been spilled out over the word “rubbish.”  Daniel Wallace, Ph.D., is a professor of New Testament at Dallas Theological Seminary and he argues that the word “rubbish” is somewhere in between crap and s**t.  Whatever the case (but for the record, I side with Wallace), Paul makes the point that his Pharisaical and fleshly accomplishments are filthy compared to the person and work of Jesus Christ and his righteousness.

Hosea and Paul communicate the same truth in two different ways: If you are thirsty, don’t drink toilet water.  It’s disgusting.  Go to the Fountain that gives the living water, which will never leave us thirsty again.

In light of this, where is the hope of Christ in Hosea?  Where is the deliverance for God’s people?  Read ahead to 6:1.  “Come, let us return to the LORD; for he has torn us, that he may heal us; he has struck us down, and he will bind us up.”  Israel is honest: God has caused their harm.  They are confidently persuaded that God is a just God and that he will by no means let the guilty go free.  But they are just as confidently persuaded that God is merciful and he will forgive the people that he has purchased for himself.  He has done it for their good and his glory.  Still, this seems to be an insincere cry.  Verse 4 says, “What shall I do with you, O Ephraim…O Judah?”  Nevertheless, God is a good dad who loves his kids and wants them to be holy like him and so often discipline is required in order to bring about holiness (Heb. 12:3-11).  He says in Hosea 6:11 that he will restore the fortunes of his people.”  Therefore, though God slay us, let us praise him (Job 13:15).  More than that, let us praise him for his Son, Jesus, who was crushed and grieved by the Father so that he might bring us peace with God (Isa. 53:4-6, 10).

By the way, what does the last chapter of the Bible say?  Five verses from the end, it says, “The Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come.’  And let the one who hears say, ‘Come.’  And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.”

Our application?  If you are thirsty.  Don’t drink toilet water.  It’s gross.  Drink the water Jesus gives.  It’s the most satisfying, most clean, most free, and most important drink you’ll ever take.