Old Testament reading: Hosea 1-3
Hosea begins a section of the Old Testament known as the Minor Prophets and takes us back more than 200 years from where we just left off in Daniel. (This figure is determined from the reigns of the kings listed in Hosea 1:1 compared to the restoration of Israel in 536 B.C.) As He would do with Ezekiel (cf 24:15-27), God made Hosea a painful object lesson, as He commanded him to take a harlot for a wife (1:2). After two children are born to Hosea and Gomer, we see God instruct Hosea to name the third child Lo-Ammi, meaning “Not My People.” Through this Hosea learned the child was not his, but rather that his wife had been unfaithful to him as Israel was unfaithful to her husband, the Lord. Finally, we see that Hosea’s wife had left him and returned to her harlotry. In spite of this, God instructs Hosea to go and buy her back. Herein is God’s love for Israel pictured as well as His love toward all men. All have sinned and turned their back on God (Rom 3:23), but God, in His great love for us, sent His Son to redeem us and buy us back to Himself (Isaiah 53:6; Gal 1:3-5).
New Testament reading 2 Corinthians 6-10
“They shall not appear before the Lord empty handed; every man shall give as he is able” (Deut 16:16). Paul makes a similar statement in 2 Corinthians 8:12, wherein he says our giving “is accepted according to what one has, and not according to what he does not have.” I must remember that my giving is just that, my giving. It is not measured against the givning of another. Though she only contributed two small coins, the widow of Mark 12:41-44 was said to have “put in more than all those who have given to the treasury.” Our giving is not reckoned by God according to its amount, but according to the level of sacrifice. Paul challenged the church at Corinth to prove their sincerity based on the diligence in giving by the Macedonians (8:8). Moreover, giving in the early local churches was done publicly, as is evidenced by the giving of Barnabas in Acts 4:32-36 and Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5. Covetousness is a sin that will cause a man to miss heaven (1 Cor 5:10; Col 3:5). Think about it – How can the elders of the local church warn a man against covetousness unless they have some idea what he is giving?