I am a coupon guy by nature.  I will drive out of my way to save 50 cents off groceries or a sandwich.  I am not as bad as my friend who had a deal to get two free pounds of smoked sausage when you buy one pound.  In the course of one afternoon, he went to the same store five times and ended up with fifteen pounds of smoked sausage for the price of five.  The interesting note here;  he doesn’t like smoked sausage.  But the deal was just too good to pass up.  The idea of getting any sort of deal is just something that appeals to us.

And when was the last time you looked at the small print of one of those coupons you find in the Sunday Circulars?  If you look real closely, you might be able to make out that each of those little pieces of paper has a cash value.  It is usually some thing along the lines of $.00008 cents.  In other words, you are handing over something with virtually no worldly value, and the person behind the counter gives you a free foot long sub.  It’s amazing!  How can they afford to do that? 

Well, since this post isn’t about economics, I won’t take the time to explain it to you.  That may also be necessary because I don’t really understand how it works, but I’m sure it has something to do with math.  But what I do know is that this is one example of our worldly concept of redemption.  We redeem a coupon of almost infinitesimal value, and the store provides you with meat, cheese, and spicy condiments.  In the same way, God redeemed you from your worldly sin, a better translation might even be paid your ransom.  Paul wrote in the letter to the Ephesians 1:7, “in him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace.”  God’s payment for us was the blood and death of his son, Jesus, on the cross.  And that worthless piece of paper?  Well, unfortunately, that’s us.

One of my favorite stories of redemption is the Old Testament prophet, Hosea.  Hosea is commanded to marry “a promiscuous woman,”  Gomer.  This could be a great tale of Gomer changing her wicked ways under the love of a caring husband, … but it is not.  Though it is not mentioned in the text, I image that Hosea must have been the object of ridicule and curiosity.  After all, Gomer continues to sleep with other men eventually moving in with one to become a prostitute.  Whatever value she may have had to Hosea or to the culture in general must have reached the .00008 level.

But in Chapter 3, Hosea goes and buys Gomer back.  A women who he already, kind of, possessed.  A women who could no longer even function as a prostitute and was now, more than likely, being offered as a slave.  He ransomed her to “live with me many days, you must not be a prostitute or be intimate with any man, and I will behave the same way toward you.” (3:3).

That last part’s the kicker.  Hosea knows what she has done;  I mean the whole town knows what she has done, but he will not treat her as anything other than his beloved wife.  In all of her life,  she had been seen as a loose woman, a prostitute, and eventually a slave, but Hosea chose to see as her only as her true identity, Beloved.

As in most Old Testament narratives, the ancient prophets didn’t mess around in making sure we understood their point.  When God was instructing Hosea to marry Gomer, he pointed out that “like an adulterous wife this land is guilty of unfaithfulness to the Lord.”  So the metaphor is pretty clear (I don’t even want to talk about the commands of naming one child Jezreel, after a massacre of 70 descendants of Ahab, and the second one “not loved”) .

The bad news for us then is that you and I are Gomer:  unfaithful, haughty, sinful.  But we have a coupon!  A coupon that may be redeemed, not for 50% off, not even for a buy one get one free.  We can redeem our tattered lives for something of much more value:  a life with Jesus by our side.  But there’s more!  We also get an eternity spent with Him in paradise covered in the complete and loving grace of God.  Now that’s a deal.

what is your true identity in Christ?