"But poor Gomer passed from man to man, until at last she fell into the hands of a man who was unable to pay for her food and her clothing. Her first lover had given her a mink stole, but this one made her clothe from the Goodwill store. News of her miserable state came to the prophet and he sought out the man she was living with. He knew where he would find him, down at the local tavern, and when he met this man, the conversation may have gone something like this: "Are you the man who is living with Gomer, daughter of Diblaim?" The man must have said, "If it's any of your business, I am." Hosea said "Well, I am Hosea, her husband." A tense moment followed. But the man said, "What do you want? I haven't done anything wrong." Hosea said, "Listen, I'm not interest in causing any trouble. But I know that you are having difficulty making ends meet. I want you to take this money and buy Gomer some clothing and see that she has plenty of food. If you need any more I will give it to you." The man probably must have thought, "There's no fool like an old fool. If this sucker wants to help pay her expenses, that's all right with me." So he took the money and bought her some groceries and went home.
Now you may say, "That's a foolish thing for a man to do!" But who can explain the madness of love? Love exists apart from reason and has its own reasons. Love does not act according to logic. Love acts according to its own nature. And so Hosea acted on the basis of love. Undoubtedly he watched from a distance to catch a glimpse of the woman he loved as she rushed out the door to take the groceries from the man's arms and to thank him for what he was bringing to her- the gifts that true love had provided, and that villainy offered, and that folly accepted.
Well, how long this went on we don't know for sure, but at last word came that the woman Hosea loved was to be sold as a slave. The brokenhearted prophet didn't know what to do. He went weeping to God. And God said, "Hosea, do you love this woman in spite of all that she has done to you?" Hosea nodded through his tears, and God said, "Then go show your love for her in the same way that I love the nation Israel."
So Hosea went to the marketplace and he watched Gomer brought up and placed on the dock and there she was stripped of all her clothing and stood naked before the crowd. The auctioneer pinched her and prodded her and showed how strong she was, and then the bidding began. Somebody bid three pieces of silver and Hosea raised it to five. Somebody else upped it to eight and Hosea bit ten. Somebody went to eleven; he went to twelve. Then Hosea offered fifteen pieces of silver and a bushel of barley. The auctioneer's gavel fell and Hosea had his wife back.
He went to her and put her clothes on her and let her away by the hand and took her to his home. And then follows what is perhaps the most beautiful verse in all the Bible. As Hosea led her away he said to her:
"You must dwell as mine for many days; you shall not play the harlot, or belong to another man; so will I also be to you." Hosea 3:3b
He pledged his love to her anew. And that was all this poor women could take. She had gotten down to the very dregs of shame and disgrace, but the love of this man broke her heart, and from this time on Gomer was faithful to Hosea. She became an honest, industrious, faithful wife."
Can you see in this beautiful story all the elements of the eternal triangle? There is the loving God, the faithless human heart, and the deceptive attractiveness of the world. This is your story, and my story, isn't it? So many times we try to satisfy ourselves with the lying idols of self-importance, or wealth, or a good time. Ours is the blindness that, like Gomer's, cannot distinguish between lust and love. We try to run from God and drown our miseries in empty pleasure, or drink, or work, or social life, but, as surely as we think we have escaped, as surely as we think we have run far enough, God touches our sleeve with his love saying, "My child, my name and my nature are love and I must act according to what I am. When you tire of all your running, and your wandering, and your heartbreak, I'll be there to draw you to myself again." That is the story of the Bible isn't it? At Bethlehem God entered the slave market where the whole human race was putting itself up for auction, prostituting itself and its humanity to be a cheapened life. But on the cross the Lord Jesus paid the price, the full price for our freedom, and bought us back. This is the story of God's love and God's heart- his loving desire to mke of his people the full persons he intended them to be.