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15 shekels and 5 bushels...

"So I bought her for 15 shekels of silver and five bushels of barley." Hosea 3:2

Most cringe at the thought of the minor prophets...but what most don't realize is that within the minor prophets is the beating heart of Jesus. Hosea and Gomer. Two unlikely suspects in a prophecy fit for a King. A lecture I gave recently was dedicated to the book of Hosea and as I sat studying for it, I had no idea where God would lead me...what He would show me.

And for a long time, I felt lost in the pages. I was tired of the same story we all hear and know about Hosea. God tells him to marry a prostitute, they have 3 children, she leaves him to go prostitute herself and he goes to find her. All the while of course, the symbol of the wayward Israelites and God pursuing them.

But then....I re-read Chapter 3. A short 5 verses. But this time my eyes were in tune with the words and my heart was saying stop here. I did and I was mesmerized...staring at verse 2. "So I bought her for 15 shekels of silver and five bushels of barley." There it was. 15. Silver. 5. Barley. The salvation story in 2 names, 2 numbers and 2 words.

Hosea in Hebrew means Salvation. Gomer in Hebrew means complete. As a prophecy, it is no accident that the message throughout is that salvation will be complete.

15 is a biblically significant number meaning rest (after deliverance). Think Feast of Tabernacles (15th day of 7th month celebrating the deliverance from Egypt, on the way to the Promised Land) or Feast of Unleavened Bread (15th day of 1st month celebrating Passover).

Silver was harder to find than gold in Biblical days. It was a high prize, signifying wealth and abundance. It is not to be forgotten that it is what is used to compare our hearts to being refined. "For you, God, tested us; you refined us as silver is refined." Psalm 66:10.

In walks 5. Another significant biblical number which is consistently coupled with "grace". It is portrayed best in that there were 5 primary offerings that God commanded Israel to bring to him. Grace that washed over a multitude of sins.

Barley. A slave's food. Worthless. The cheapest grain. Us. This is humanity in it's sinful, bruised and hopeless state.

Here is Hosea who is commanded by God to BUY back his wife. She is his...yet still...he must pay a price. Nevermind the places he would had to go to get her, the things he would have to see or the rejection that he felt. But still. He pays 15 shekels of silver...he offers her rest after he delivers her and shows her what she is worth...silver. He doesn't stop there. In an act of pure love, he pays 5 bushels of barley. He offers her grace that covers her sin. The worthless is now worthy.

It is nothing short of beautiful that Jesus is our Hosea and that we are his Gomer. Jesus would pay the ultimate sacrifice, for me and for you. He too would buy us back, his people, the people he breathed neshamah, his breath, into. He took our worthlessness and made us worthy. We will never know how much it cost, to see our sin upon the cross...and that friends, is the greatest redemption story ever told.


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