Archive for the ‘Amos’ Category

Amos 9

Amos 9 has the prophet describing his final vision. “I saw the Lord standing beside the altar”.  In this final vision, Amos sees the Lord at the temple, supervising the judgment. Amos wants us to know that God isn’t detached from this His hard work of judgment.  God says, You can run, but you can’t hide.  “Not one of them shall flee away; not one of them shall escape”.  God is really serious about sin.  There will be a punishment and judgment that all sinners will face.  The only exception will be those who allow the blood of Jesus to cover their sin.

God’s dead serious about it.  “I will fix my eyes upon them for evil and not for good”.  An essential part of the Old Covenant was the promise of blessing or cursing based on Israel’s obedience. If Israel was in continued willful disobedience, they could expect that God’s eye toward them would be for harm and not for good.  They will be under God’s punishment.  “Behold, the eyes of the Lord God are upon the sinful kingdom, and I will destroy it from the surface of the ground, except that I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob”.

God wants all His people to understand clearly that they cannot presume upon His mercy or the fact that they are His people.  Sin carries a price, God’s people or not, and He is intent on making sure Amos makes that perfectly clear.  God has many ways to accomplish that punishment based on the judgment of their bad choices which led them to sin against God.  “All the sinners of my people shall die by the sword”.  It’s a pretty complete judgment – all the sinners – and while Amos was talking to the people of his day, it still applies to us today.  All sinners will face God’s judgment and will die.  Only those who claim God’s grace through Christ will be set free from the penalty of sin.

Yet even in His anger, God is in the restoration business. “I will restore the fortunes of my people Israel, and  they shall rebuild the ruined cities and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and drink their wine, and they shall make gardens and eat their fruit.  I will plant them on their land, and they shall never again be uprooted out of the land that I have given them”.  After the judgment and punishment and removing those who are guilty of sin, God wants to restore His people, then and now, to Himself.  God loves us and wants us to be in right fellowship with Him!

Amos 8

Amos 8 has God speaking to Amos about the end of His people.  God shows Amos a basket of summer fruit.  Seems a bit strange as a vision of destruction.  But this was fruit that was ripe would not keep long. Just as the time is short for summer fruit, so the time is short for Israel.  And that end is going to be really severe.  “The end has come upon my people Israel….So many dead bodies”!  Ripe fruit is close to being thrown out, and a similar judgment will come upon “rotten” Israel.

God reminds us of the reality of sin.  “I will never forget any of their deeds”.  This reminds us that time can never erase sin.  Just waiting for the judgment related to sin to go away will never work. We often feel that if we or if others forget the sins of our youth, or even from yesterday, then God must forget about them also. But that is not the case. Only the atoning work of Jesus can cover sin, not time. Scripture is clear that sin must be paid for – there is a cost, and for us today, it is only the blood of Christ that can set us free.

God can do unbelievable things to make His point.  “I will make the sun go down at noon and darken the earth in broad daylight”. History shows there were two full eclipses during Amos’ lifetime.  God has the power and ability to do whatever He wishes.  He is serious about sin.  He sends a message that He means business.  We cannot ignore the reality of sin in our lives.  If we do, we will face judgment and spend eternity apart from God.  He sent Jesus to keep the Son shining in our lives.

God reveals the truth that His Word is the only thing that will keep us on the path to life.  “They shall wander from sea to sea, and from north to east; they shall run to and fro, to seek the word of the Lord,  but they shall not find it”.  Without God’s direction, we’ll wander aimlessly and be lost.  God has given us the source of life.  Since it is true that man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God, then it is true that a famine of hearing God’s Word is ultimately worse than a famine of bread.  We need God’s Word in our life!

Amos 7

Amos 7 has the prophet seeing visions of God’s judgment and experiencing the power of prayer.  God speaks to us in many ways.  For Amos, some of that was through visions.  In this chapter, he experiences that again.  “This is what the Lord God showed me: behold, the Lord God was calling for a judgment by fire, and it devoured the great deep and was eating up the land”.  Late in the harvest, Amos sees a swarm of locusts coming to devour the crops of Israel. It came after the king’s mowings, so the royal court already took their taxes, so there is nothing left at all.  The country would be desolate.

Amos prays that God will not allow the vision to happen.  He intercedes for God’s people and the frail situation they are in.  Amos stands in the gap.  And what is God’s response?  “The Lord relented concerning this: “This also shall not be,” said the Lord God”.  There is power in prayer, and in particular in earnest prayer of intercession.  This is another amazing example of how much rests upon prayer. It certainly appears that the plague either came or was held back based on the prophet’s prayer.  Amos made it strong and with passion, and God heard and responded.

After the vision of locusts, now Amos sees a vision of a great consuming fire upon the land of Israel. In response, he does what he did before: plead for mercy. And God again relented at the prayer of the prophet.  God gives a visual of what He expects from His people as He sets a plumb line for them to measure against His standard.  “I am setting  a plumb line in the midst of my people”.  That plumb line still exists for us today.  We will be judged according to God’s standards and commands.  And like His people in Amos’ time, we’ll be found ‘crooked’ and unable to meet that standard.  It’s the reality of sin in our life.  That’s why we need Jesus to take away the crookedness of our life and through grace to make us straight compared to God’s plumb line.

Amos has wrestled with God and some coming visions where he interceded.  But as the chapter ends, he faces attack from Amaziah, the wicked priest of Bethel, who accuses him of conspiring against King Jeroboam.  He also said that the message Amos was bringing was too hard and that Amos should go home and leave them alone.  So Amos answers him directly about his accusations.  “I was no prophet….But the Lord took me from following the flock, and the Lord said to me, Go, prophesy to my people Israel”.  Let there be no doubt – Amos tells the king and this wicked priest that he’s doing what God called him to do. He was a reluctant, untrained, and unprofessional prophet – only a farmer by trade. Amos was not the type to launch a conspiracy.  But he was exactly the type to carry God’s truth to the people, and that’s what he did.

Amos 6

Amos 6 has the prophet continuing to speak God’s truth as he warns Israel of its sinful living.  “Woe to those who are at ease in Zion”.  Israel was filled with pride and their main objective at this time was a life filled with luxury and ease.  Is luxury and ease a sin?  Maybe.  It certainly was for God’s people at this time.  Anytime anything pushes God from His place on the throne of our life – it is sin.  Good things become sin when we allow them to become the most important pursuits of our life.  And for the Israelites at this time – that pursuit of luxury and ease had become a sinful behavior.  A bad choice of making it the thing they most cared about.

Don’t get it wrong.  The idea of rest isn’t bad by itself.  In fact, God made it one of the 10 Commandments.  In the New testament, Jesus wants to give us rest.  We need it to be able to live effectively for and with Him. There is a rest waiting for the people of God when we enter into eternity with Him. But then there is another kind of rest, a sinful kind of rest – connected to indifference, laziness, and self indulgence.  It is all about how we focus and make it god in our life.  When we live for self, and for self only, and the things we want and pursue it rather than the things of God – it is sin!

Woe to those who lie on beds of ivory…. but are not grieved over the ruin of Joseph”!  Things were good in the kingdom of Israel during this time.  People were living in economic prosperity, but completely ignoring where that gift came from (God’s blessing) and forgetting completely the reality of those who were not able to participate in that prosperity.  Their self focus was so total and complete that anything else was completely ignored.  And when that happens – when we get so self focused that we completely ignore God and the world around us – look out because God’s going to get our attention.  And Amos delivers a powerful prophecy of just how God’s going to do exactly that.

Therefore they shall now be the first of those who go into exile, and the revelry of those who stretch themselves out shall pass away”.  The people were living very highly, and fell to another sin that God can’t stand – pride.  As much as their sinful life of luxury and ease, God hated their pride equally as much. In their season of prosperity and success they lifted their hearts high in pride, and God will send a destroying army to bring them back to reality and down to earth.  It didn’t need to end this way.  God isn’t against luxury and ease – but He is absolutely against us believing it happens because of our own efforts and when we make it the pursuit of our life.  God must remain on the throne of our life – it’s a choice – and when we choose something else we sin and will pay a price just like the Israelites will for their sin through Amos’ prophecy.

Amos 5

Amos 5 has the prophet continuing to wail against Israel and talk of their impending judgment.  Amos prophecies that things will go very badly for Israel.  “The city that went out a thousand shall have a hundred left, and that which went out a hundred shall have ten left to the house of Israel”.  Ninety percent of the soldiers that go out to deal with the enemy will die.  It will be carnage in the streets.  Israel will have only a handful of warriors left after they do battle with the enemy. The defeat will be staggering.

Even though Israel has been sinning like there is no tomorrow, God still wants to restore them.  “Seek me and live….Seek the Lord and live”.  He offers multiple times to save His people if they will only seek Him. When Israel was ripe for judgment, the key to survival was to simply seek the Lord. However, we can’t seek the Lord unless we do not seek places of disobedience and willfulness.  When we put self ahead of God, we can’t seek Him.  We have to put God back where He belongs, on the throne of our life, if we are truly going to seek Him.

God makes clear what the problem is for His people.  He describes the cause of their pending judgment, the curse that they will incur, and the cure that can set them free from what is to come.  “I know how many are your transgressions and how great are your sins….Seek good, and not evil, that you may live; and so the Lord, the God of hosts, will be with you….Hate evil, and love good, and establish justice in the gate;  it may be that the Lord, the God of hosts, will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph”.

This isn’t rocket science – for God’s people then – or for us today.  Sin carries a price.  It will bring judgment.  We are all guilty as sinners – scripture is extremely clear about that and we know it too if we’re honest.  So we have a sin problem, just like the people of God did in Amos’ day.  If we don’t deal with it, we’ll stand in the face of judgment just like Israel did.  The same cure will work for us as God offered then to His people.  Confess (because God knows our sin), repent (seek good and not evil), and receive God’s gift of grace through Christ.  Amos didn’t have that last piece to offer the people in his day.  But God saw how lost we were and sent His Son to offer us redemption and restoration.  All we have to do is receive it.  Have you done that?  If not, why not today?

Amos 4

Amos 4 has the prophet stepping across the lines of political correctness and addressing the women of his day.  “Hear this word, you cows of Bashan, who are on the mountain of Samaria, who oppress the poor, who crush the needy, who say to your husbands, Bring, that we may drink”.  Amos wasn’t trained as a prophet, he was a simple herdsman and farmer. When he wanted to get the point across to the indulgent women of Israel, he called them fat cows.  He grabs their attention so he can deliver a  picture of what is to come – punishment and judgment.

 

It wasn’t that these women were merely fat and affluent, it was that they gained their wealth and position by oppressing and crushing the less fortunate. God saw this and promised to hold them accountable.  They are going to pay for their sin.  God reminds them that He has been trying to get their attention and draw them back to Himself.  But since they were not repenting, God tells this prideful land of Israel of their coming agony when they will be conquered and exiled by the Assyrians. When the Assyrians took over and removed people from a conquered city, they led the captives away on journeys of hundreds of miles, with the captives naked and attached together with a system of strings and fishhooks pierced through their lower lip.  It was a humiliating way to be exiled.

God reminds them all this happens for one reason – a stubbornness and willingness to repent. God reminds them that He had tried, but “You did not return to me declares the Lord”.  That’s always what God hopes for when we are in the midst of living a life of sin and disobedience.  He does things to get our attention and to draw ourselves back to Him.  He shines the light on our sin and gives us a chance to repent and be in right standing with Him.  He always is ready to take us back, but we have to take that action.  We have to be willing to humbly confess and repent and return to God.

In Amos day, the people we having non of that.  They were far too ingrained in their sin and bad choices.  God tells them of a number of ways He was trying to get their attention – and they couldn’t miss them as these were big and in their face.  But the still chose to ignore Him.  So Amos tells them to “prepare to meet your God, O Israel”! They can pretend they don’t realize what God’s up to, and try to ignore the reality of their sinful lives, but God is not leaving nor forgetting what they have done.

For behold, He who forms the mountains and creates the wind, and declares to man what is his thought, who makes the morning darkness, and treads on the heights of the earth—the Lord, the God of hosts, is his name! God isn’t going anywhere, and His judgment will come when the people of Israel stand before Him and have to answer for their choices.  We’ll have to do the same at Judgment Day ourselves.  Are you ready for that discussion with a Holy God?  If not, we need to get right with Him.  That is why Jesus was sent to earth – to make a way!

Amos 3

Amos 3 has the prophet carrying God’s message of punishment to the people of Israel.  “Against the whole family that I brought up out of the land of Egypt….I will punish you for all your iniquities”.  Israel’s rejection and disregard of God is all the more inexcusable in light of God’s great deliverance from their captivity in Egypt.  It’s easy to sit here today and wonder how the people could forget God’s love and provision.  But we’re no different.  We tend to forget all about God and do our own thing unless we’re in well over our heads and need His help.

God makes it clear that the connection He has with His people is a great privilege but also carries a great responsibility.  God expected (and expects from us today) that we will walk with Him in obedience to His will and His ways.  God makes six very obvious statements that everyone knew were true.  He reinforces it all with a seventh statement: “Does disaster come to a city, unless the Lord has done it”?  The answer is obvious as well, but God is reminding the people that when judgment comes, everyone should know that it was the Lord who has done it. It won’t be an accident. It will be the hand of the Lord.

And it won’t be unplanned or should not be unexpected.  God is consistent and does what He says.  “For the Lord God does nothing without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets”.  Prophets have been telling God’s story for generations.  There has been every opportunity for His people to repent and walk in obedience.  But they have chosen not to.  They have chosen to continue in their sinful ways and now will face judgment for those choices.  It hasn’t happened accidentally, and certainly without them knowing what the price would be.  Yet they chose to sin, just like we do today.  Sin is a choice, not an accident.  And like in Amos’ day, sin carries a price tag today too.

God tells them what’s ahead through Amos.  “An adversary shall surround the land and bring down your defenses from you, and your strongholds shall be plundered”.  God tells them that they are going down.  Amos prophecies an event that happens a mere 30 years later when the Assyrians come calling and Israel is under their reign for 10 years.  It didn’t have to be, but it was because of the sinful choices of the people.  God will deal with sin.  And the people were taken and scattered across the Assyrian Empire as God promised.

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