Old Testament reading: Hosea 4-6
The prophet opens today’s reading with a legal term in Hosea 4:1, “For the Lord brings a charge against the inhabitants of the land.” These charges include false swearing, lying, adultery, and repeated bloodshed. When the Lord brings the charges, we can rest assured it’s an open and shut case. Hosea 4:6 is the most well-known verse in all the book, and particularly this one line, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” Looking at the verse, there are several things that stand out to me. First is the Lord’s identification of Israel as “My people.” Israel had been in apostasy for 150 years, yet God still considered them as His people. Perhaps there is a lesson for us regarding how harshly we deal with our own brethren. Second, the “lack of knowledge” in verse 6 is not simple ignorance. Rather, it is a total rejection of God and His word. It wasn’t as if they couldn’t know what God wanted, they adamantly refused to hear it. Not that ignorance is an excuse, but it will be better to be found in ignorance in the Judgment than in rebellion (cf Luke 12:47-48).
New Testament reading: 2 Corinthians 11-13
The question invariably arises when most folks read 2 Corinthians 12, “What was Paul’s thorn in the flesh?” We know his “messenger from Satan” was connected to his vision of verses 1-6. However, the exact time frame is unknown, as Paul was not specific when he said “above (more than) fourteen years ago” (KJV). The incident was not connected to Paul’s stoning at Lystra when he was left for dead, as that event took place in the more recent past. Concerning the identification of Paul’s thorn in the flesh, there is no consensus. We are led to believe that Paul suffered from poor eyesight throughout his ministry (Gal 4:15, 6:11). We also know that Paul dictated his letters (Rom 16:22), with the salutation alone written in his own hand as a sign of authenticity (2 Thes 3:17, 1 Cor 16:21, Col 4:18). While the aforementioned vision took place in the early days of his work according to Paul’s own timeframe, to definitively identify Paul’s thorn with his bad eyesight would be imprudent. Like Jesus writing in the dirt (John 8:6), some things will not be known this side of eternity.