In Biblical Redemption pt. 1, we learned that redemption was a cultural action of protecting, providing for, and rescuing the people who left or were taken from the father’s house, called a bet’av: that it was the patriarchs job to spend whatever necessary, travel whatever distance, fight, or do whatever it took to bring the lost family back into his bet’av. And that this is what Jesus did for you; he paid dearly so you could be brought back into his father’s house. This is the first part of Biblical redemption. But as previously explained, redemption is a two-part thing. The first part of redeeming the lost family member was the rescue, the buying or fighting for their freedom, no matter the cost – which is the father’s job. But then, there’s a second part to their redemption that is left up to the entire family. In order to learn about this secondary act, we are going to the book of Hosea, chapter 3.
Hosea was a prophet of God to the kingdom of Israel, which was grievously sinning against God. In this time of Israel, prophets were the top of the food-chain – even above the kings. The prophet spoke the words of God to the people, and were responsible for convicting even the kings when they stepped out of line. Hosea was highly regarded as a prophet, though maybe not popular because of his counter-cultural messages. If you are reading in our Quest Bible plan, he is active right around the time we are studying in Kings and Chronicles. Hosea got the lucky of job of being a prophet to God in a time when God’s people were whoring with other gods. Remember, the covenant at Mt. Sinai was a marriage, where God married the people of Israel. To him, they committed adultery and broke their marriage vows when they worshipped other gods. So God, the husband of Israel, tells his prophet Hosea to live out his broken relationship with the Israelites: he tells Hosea to literally go to the whorehouse and purchase a whore and take her as his wife, because God feels like he married a whore. So Hosea does it! He goes down to the local brothel, finds a woman named Gomer, bought her, and brought her home as his wife. Together, they have three children and Hosea is the patriarch of his bet’av, including Gomer and the three kids. But Gomer, for reasons unnamed, chooses to leave Hosea and go back to prostitution. That’s where we pick up in Hosea 3:1-3:
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.”
So, we see Hosea, returning to the brothel, finding his wife being sold as a slave. She is literally at her lowest point – even the brothel doesn’t want her! Exodus 21:32 says that 30 shekels is the worth of a slave. How much is her sale price? 15 shekels! She’s half-price. 50% off this sex slave. And in front of all his neighbors and friends, this respected prophet – whose position in the kingdom is higher than even the king – must buy back his whore of a wife. No matter how much shame she has brought upon him or his family, his position as patriarch and his requirements as the redeemer, means that he must spend whatever is necessary to buy her back and bring her back into his bet’av.
Let me ask you this question, though. Did scripture ever say Gomer seemed repentant? Does the passage ever describe her trying to return to Hosea and her family? Would she have been the kind of person you would say deserves forgiveness or rescuing? She, the mother of three children, left her children and her husband to a life of being used as a sex slave.
The betrayal must have been outrageous. The shame overwhelming. Absolutely crushing.
It did not matter. Redemption is the patriarch’s responsibility of rescuing or buying back the one outside his bet’av – whether the person left of their own accord or not, whether the person was sorry he or she left or not, whether this person made any effort whatsoever to come back. The patriarch, as we have studied, was responsible for making sure the person was able to come back; but the second part of redemption is the family’s responsibility to welcome the marginalized as if they never left – no matter how much betrayal, pain, or shame the person brings to the bet’av. No matter if the person wanted to be there or not, the family had to welcome him or her home so completely that the person felt like he or she could return.
How do you get someone to come home who doesn’t want to be there? You shower them with love – whether they deserve it or not, whether they want it or not.
Ephesians 2:19 says,
So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,
When we accept Jesus as our Savior, our King, our Patriarch, if you will, we become members of God’s bet’av. Jesus, as the patriarch, fulfilled his part of redeeming his children, but we members of the bet’av, must then do our part. We must reach out to every single one of God’s children outside the bet’av, and love them so outrageously that they want to come home. Jesus taught about this in the three parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the prodigal son of Luke 15. This chapter begins with this context (vv1-2):
Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”
Why are the holy ones grumbling? Because Jesus is identifying himself with the sinners and the traitors of the Jews by eating with them. Not only is he eating with them, but he is treating them in such a way that makes them want to be near him. Jesus is pouring his love onto those outside the Father’s bet’av, and the holy people of his time are grumbling because they don’t think the sinners deserve it. But Jesus knows their thoughts and begins to teach them three parables all about their place and purpose in the Father’s redemption. The first goes like this (Luke 15:3-7):
So he told them this parable: “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.
In parables, sheep are always the people of God; and the shepherds are the leaders of Israel. Jesus says through this parable, “You – the leaders of Israel – have lost some of my Father’s sheep! They are outside his bet’av! If they were actually sheep, wouldn’t each of you go leave the 99 that’s found, and go look for it? And when you’ve found it, throw all 60-70 pounds of that sheep on your shoulders, and carry it all the way home. And then wouldn’t you throw a party and celebrate?!”
He’s teaching them that not only is he exactly where he should be, but where they should be as well. He is offering them an invitation to sit at the table with them too! Because that is exactly their purpose inside the bet’av – to love those outside the bet’av so they want to come home.
But he doesn’t stop there, he continues with this parable (vv8-10):
“Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
Again, the same message is repeated, except this time we see even more clearly, the thing that is lost has done nothing to be found again. The woman loses her coin. Again, like the leaders of Israel, it is her fault it is lost. So, she diligently searches her entire house by lamplight on craggy, rocky floors, with many cracks in which a coin might hide; and upon finally finding it, she throws a party – not because the coin found itself. Again, the coin did nothing to deserve being found! They celebrate because she has put the effort into searching for the lost and finding it. They celebrate because she went looking.
We cannot expect those outside the house of God to find themselves; to bring themselves home; to do something to “deserve” being welcomed home, or to change what they are doing in order to get in. It is the job of those within the bet’av do their job and go out and find them! Jesus did his job to enable them to come home, but it’s our job to make them want to come home! We complete the redemption for which Jesus paid by pouring outrageous love upon them, by seeking them out, eating with them, walking through life with them, and more than anything showing them through our words, through our actions what the Father looks like.
Paul says in Acts 13:47-48 says,
“so the Lord has commanded us, saying,
“‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles [for the lost, the marginalize, the oppressed],
that you may bring salvation [redemption] to the ends of the earth.’”
And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.
If we lived, truly dedicated to our part of redemption of the Father’s children, y’all, we would have real, lasting impact on those we meet every day. God has asked us to partner with him – us! As broken, as undeserving, as sinful as we are, he still wants us to be His partner – this same God who spoke and life was created by his mere words, the same God who raises people from the dead, and transforms broken hearts into beauty – this is the same God who calls you by name to be his partner! If you choose to live in his bet’av, if you choose to take on the name of Jesus as your King and patriarch, you are obligated to take part in the redemption of the marginalized, the lost, and the oppressed.
My prayer is that God might open your eyes to see every opportunity of love on those outside the bet’av, and that you would be so filled with joy and passion that you would seize that opportunity. If we Christians could get this, could understand and live this idea of redemption, our mission would be realized. Our world would be changed, God would reign on earth, and shalom would break out.
How can you change your life to fulfill your part in God’s redemption of his lost children? Ask God to show you every opportunity, to teach you how to act, to draw his lost children back into his bet’av. And resolve to act.
May you be filled with an overwhelming passion to see shalom brought to this world that is so terrorized by chaos; may you be filled with the courage to reflect God and his love to all you meet this week. In His most holy name, amen. Be blessed.