Tuesday, June 27, 2006

15 Shekels of Silver and a Homer and a Half of Barley

I've quickly taken to this practice of blogging. It's fun to write my thoughts on any given subject under the sun. And it's also therapeutic for me. I'm one of those kinds of people who will hold in & hold in thoughts and feelings (good and bad) until I'm full and then it explodes. This has helped me get them out on a regular basis.

In Bible Class Sunday, I briefly told the story of Hosea. Only one man, a preacher himself, actually knew the story himself. I had to smile and preface the story by saying, "You're going think I'm making this up, but every word I'm about to tell you is true."

I first heard of this story from my friend Matthew. My first impression when I met Matthew was that he was a Minor Prophets junky -- he loved to point out in Bible class how whatever we were talking about related to Hosea, or Micha, or some other book that we Christians pay lend no attention to. So I heard of it, but didn't pay it much mind.

I then heard more about it from Birmingham, AL preacher named Wayne Kilpatrick. My interest was stirred. I then heard about a novel that was an embellishment & modernization of the story. It was called Redeeming Love, and it was written by Francine Rivers. I'll warn you now: you will never pick up a more addictive book. You won't hardly be able to set it down except for when your drooping eyelids force it upon you. My studies suffered for a couple weeks because I was reading this instead of my assignments. Careful! :)

My appreciation for this story has grown over the last several years. Different folks find different parts of the story fascinating, and each person has a favorite part of the story. Some folks love the faith of Hosea to take on Gomer as his wife in the first place -- knowing full well her background and her lifestyle, but trusting that God had something big in mind. Others are drawn to the lovely poetry in Hosea 11, where God struggles with what he should do with his beloved Israel.

My favorite part? It happens in chapter three. Gomer has had three children, none of them by Hosea. And she's gone back to prostitution; God's sick little experiment appears to have run it's course. But then there is the scene described in chapter 3. Gomer is on the auction block, and Hosea shows up. Who knows what's running through his mind. As the first bids come in, I can only wonder about the passions that were stirred within him: for his wife & against the other men who would sleep with his wife. And then the incredible happens. Hosea enters the bidding. And he enters the highest bid, winning his wife for 15 shekels of silver and a homer and a half of barley.

I sometimes wonder how a secular therapist might label a modern-day scenario like this. Unworkable. Dysfunctional. Unhealthy. And yet this is what God calls love. When anyone else would give up, God reaches that much further to pluck His beloved from hopelessness. The totality of His grace is always "A Little More" than the sum of our sin.

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