Two knights in shining armor, both manly and as true and pure as the day is bright. Two women who could never, ever be friends. One is a widow, the other a prostitute. One faithful to her family, the other never faithful to anyone in her life. One lived to bless others, the other lived for others to bless her. The one was content with her life of sorrow, the other unhappy with her life of joy.
The chasm between two women could never be more gaping. Two opposite women, two worthy redeemers. With love and passion more beautiful than any love story you have ever seen, a redeemer stepped in for the first woman. When life seemed a hard and endless track of struggling to stay afloat, the kinsman redeemer stood up. He redeemed her life, brought joy where there had been sorrow, love where there had been pain, and comfort where there had been servitude. The love story of Ruth and Boaz is one of the greatest ever told, and I could hear it over and over.
But there is a love story still greater, and it takes us back to that miserable, forlorn wretch of a woman—Gomer. Hosea married her, loved her with all his heart, and had three children with her. And one day, she walked out the door and didn't look back. People looked askance at Hosea from that day forward when he walked through the marketplace, and Gomer had abandoned the care of their three children to Hosea.
If Ruth was the Proverbs 31 woman, Gomer assuredly was the Proverbs 7 woman, the sort of woman who shames womankind. She became nothing more than a prostitute, the woman you avert your eyes from in the street. And she gradually fell lower and lower in her whirlwind of debauchery and immorality, until her newest lover could not even feed her. She lay in her hovel night after night and wondered why she had ever left her husband. She shed bitter tears and even made up her mind to return to him. But when morning's light crept in through the window, her courage always wavered.
But while she shrank from him, Hosea quietly wended his way through the alleys and slums until he came to her lover’s house, and he faithfully left there for Gomer grain, new wine, oil, silver, and gold (Hosea 2:8). Then he turned and traced the same route home, his heart breaking with his love for her who had so wronged him and sorrow for her betrayal. This became his ritual of love and faithfulness to the faithless Gomer, but she never knew, and thanked her lover for the food. And still she did not come home, and every day that she did not appear was like another stab in Hosea's heart.
The days passed, the leaves fell, and Hosea still made sure that Gomer was taken care of, even as he preached the word of the Lord to
and fed babies and fell into bed at night with tears on his face. Finally, one turbulent day, he got word of a slave auction. Gomer was one of those about to be sold. Israel
“Go again, love a woman who is loved by a lover and is committing adultery, (Hosea 3:1)” God told Hosea. Hosea put on his robe, trembling with anticipation and pent-up emotions, kissed his children, and strode out of the house to redeem the woman who had thrown his love in his face. This honorable, noble man stood in front of the slave auction, his tear-filled eyes fixed only on Gomer.
Her cheap finery was torn, her face haggard and aged by self-destruction, her voice raspy, and she averted her eyes from his face in shame. His wife, shrunken and despised, stood on the auction stand, and no one else in the crowd could find anything desirable about her. But her kinsman redeemer stood in front of her, and he bought her for himself, after all those painful months.
“It’s you!” she said in a voice of awe when he came up to her. Gomer broke down in sobs as Hosea helped her down and towards home—to redemption. “You shall stay with me many days; you shall not play the harlot, nor shall you have a man—so, too, will I be toward you, (Hosea 3:3)” Hosea told her. Gomer could hardly walk, she was so weak with her overwhelming amazement. Slowly, timidly, she lifted her face, covered with shame like a veil, to look up into Hosea’s, and saw in his eyes only true, true love.
Ruth is beautiful, and the beauty of her story resonates with me. But somehow, my tears only begin to flow when I read Gomer’s story, because in her I see a vivid picture of myself. A girl vile and wretched to her very core, a girl deserving of no love, no mercy—only death. And yet in the midst of my betrayal, in the very blackest, deepest moment of sin, my Kinsman Redeemer's hand stretched into the pit. “I will ransom you from the hand of the grave; I will be your kinsman redeemer to redeem you from death. (paraphrase of Hosea 13:14 to reflect original language)”
Boaz stepped up to the gate against poverty and a nearer relative to redeem Ruth. Hosea stepped up to a slave auction against the glaring eyes of the world, the blatant rejection of his wife, and vile prostitution to redeem Gomer. Jesus stepped up to the cross against all the sin ever committed, against the jeers and spitting of those He was dying for, and against my own unfaithfulness to redeem me for eternity. For that He has my undying love.
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Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.