Monday, July 13, 2009
As if working my way through Ecclesiastes and Hosea wasn't enough to digest, I was inspired by Lexi's youth group leader (Jerry) to read through Amos. Jerry has been taking the youth through a book of the minor prophets during each Sunday School class. (Just a plug for Jerry, he has been a gift from God to the church and our youth. The youth program has doubled if not tripled in the year that he's been here, and the best part is that he is teaching the solid word of God straight-forward to these kids, many who have rarely attended a church or heard about God. Plus, he is just barely over 20, with a college degree, working his way through some more seminary courses, comes from a family of 8 kids, and was home schooled. Thanks God!)
Another heavy book of prophecy against the nation of Israel for the umpteenth time they neglected God and forsake His ways. I have to admit, I saw alot of resemblance to our nation, our churches, to American Christians, and even the complacency in my own life. I have had to repent of things in my life and readjust again my focus and direction in light of God's word.
Amos is a shepherd of Tekoa that God chooses to speak His word of prophecy and upcoming destruction of Israel because of all her sins. Just so they are clear on why God would do this He spells out very plainly the many sins they have committed in chapters 1 and 2. "Is this not true, people of Israel?" God asks them. "You only have I chosen of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your sins" (any Calvin fans out there? Go Calvin!).
As loving parents would not let their children's disobedience go without discipline, neither will God. These people turned from worshiping God to worshiping idols, they did not keep His decrees, they were led astray by false gods, they did not honor marriage. These people who were supposed to represent God as His children denied Him again. They had strayed so far that they did not even know how to do right anymore.God started slowly by taking their food, withholding the rain from their crops, striking their vineyards, sending plagues. Yet, the people refused to turn back to God. They continued in their prideful ways to do it themselves, rather than call on their God. God's response? "Therefore this is what I will do to you, Israel, and because I will do this to you, prepare to meet your God, O Israel."
Stop right there and take account of your own life. Are you ready to meet your God? First of all we need to know the Lord. It is He who calls, saves, and transforms our lives. Takes us from that state of being a sinner, and breathes into us new life. Are you there? Has He saved you? Has He been calling and you've strayed so far that you do not know how to do right anymore? Repent, lament, seek the Lord and live! He says He knows how many are our offenses, how great our sin is against Him. He also says He will forgive those sins, never to recall them again.
But, Woe to you who are complacent! You put off the evil day and bring near a reign of terror. You lie on beds inlaid with ivory and lounge on your couches. You dine on choice lambs and fattened calves. You strum away on your harps... but you do not grieve over [your sins].The Lord revealed to Amos a wall where He was standing with a plumb line. He told Amos "Look, I am setting a plumb line among my people Israel; I will spare them no longer." What would a plumb line look like in our nation? In our churches? In our lives? Does anyone even care where God's plumb line would be drawn?
Remodeling this old house and these old buildings I have seen just how important a plumb line is. I have seen how the years of neglect have caused these buildings to lean so bad that the only way to save them is to tear out what has been left to rot and build new. It is a long, expensive, exhausting effort to bring beauty to something so badly decayed. Sort of like salvation. Sort of like our walk with God. We can choose to ignore it, but eventually we will meet our God. We will give account.
The king cried out that the land could not bear what Amos was saying. Get rid of him. Shut him up! They told him "Do not prophecy... stop preaching against [us]." Amos' response was that these were not his words. He was a simple shepherd and farmer that God chose to speak through. He would not deny His God by giving in to these people who refused to repent. Because they refused to hear the word of God and repent, and demanded Amos' silence, God's immediate judgement was that "Your (the King's) wife will become a prostitute in the city, and your sons and daughters will fall by the sword..." I don't think God's kidding.
"The days are coming," declares the Sovereign Lord, "when I will send a famine through the land- not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord." No one will get away, none will escape. Though they dig down to the depths of the grave, or climb up to the heavens, whether they hide on top of the mountains, or the bottom of the sea, God will seek them out. Surely the eyes of the Sovereign Lord are on the sinful kingdom.
"The days are coming," declares the Lord.But, as He always does after His people repent, there is restoration. How long we prolong our sin, rather than running immediately to the Saviour. Causing again God's anger and destruction because of our hard hearts. Oh, what wretched people we are.What a heavy topic for a Monday morning. But, oh, how deep our sins are against our God. If the depth of sin is being revealed now, imagine the glory and depth of His forgiveness when it is clearly revealed to us one day.He who forms the mountains,creates the wind,and reveals his thoughts to man;he who turns dawn to darkness,and treads the high place of the earth-the Lord God Almighty is his name.Amos 4:13