Read Hosea 3
Focus on verse 2
In the time of the events recorded in the New Testament, the trade language of the Roman Empire was apparently the Greek language. This is also the language that scholars suspect much of the New Testament was originally written in. In that culture when a debtor finally paid a debt in full, the lender would typically issue a statement with the word “tetelestai” written on it. The word “tetelestai” means, “paid in full” or could perhaps also be translated “it is finished”.
In today’s reading Hosea is instructed by God to go out and buy back the woman who has betrayed him and pursued other men as another illustration to Israel of God’s faithfulness to them in spite of their unfaithfulness to Him. It is also a picture for us of God’s faithfulness to all humanity despite our faithless behavior toward Him.
In the New Testament gospels we get an even clearer picture of this redemptive act of God through the person and mission of Jesus Christ. When humanity initially chose to sin by disobeying God’s command by eating of the fruit of the tree in the center of the Garden of Eden, we forfeited our freedom and became enslaved to sin. We essentially put ourselves in debt to Satan with our souls being the collateral. So because of Adam’s sin, Satan placed a legal claim upon the souls of the human race.
When Jesus died on the cross the last thing He said was the word “tetelestai”. In our English Bibles it is most often translated “it is finished”, but it would be just as correct to translate it “paid in full”, because that is what He meant. The huge debt that humanity owed to Satan was paid in full by Jesus – setting us free of Satan’s claim on our souls and giving us the opportunity to choose to be restored in relationship to God.
This picture of Hosea buying back his wife – because she had sold herself to another man, is a close representation of what Jesus did when He purchased us back from Satan, paying for it with His own blood.
“I owed a debt I could not pay, He paid a debt He did not owe, I needed someone to wash my sins away.” (Ellis J. Crum)
“Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe – sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow.” (Elvina M. Hall)