The last four chapters of Amos looked like a dead end. That’s it, God is angry and there’s nothing we can do about it. But the next two chapters give us huge amounts of hope. They also aid us in the understanding of the relationship between God’s sovereignty and our call by God.
We can see throughout the chapters previous that God is in ultimate control:
2And he said:
“The LORD roars from Zion
and utters his voice from Jerusalem;
the pastures of the shepherds mourn,
and the top of Carmel withers.” (1:2)
He has power over the nations, over the environment, over society, over everything. Now it was time for the Israelites to be judged for how far they had gone away from God. God had given them everything; freedom, power, mercy and promise. Yet they had gone back to their old ways, they had:
25 “Did you bring to me sacrifices and offerings during
the forty years in the wilderness, O house of Israel?
26 You shall take up Sikkuth your king, and Kiyyun your
star-god—your images that you made for yourselves,
The Israelites had become idolaters, unjust, oppressive of the poor and good people, and hypocrites. Everything religious had become a chore, and God hated it:
21 “I hate all your show and pretense—
the hypocrisy of your religious festivals and solemn assemblies.
All hope was lost. However, God makes it clear in chapter 5 that there is hope. He gives them a call to repentance and says “Come back to me and live!” (v4b). Then in verses 14 and 15:
14 Do what is good and run from evil
so that you may live!
Then the Lord God of Heaven’s Armies will be your helper,
just as you have claimed.
15 Hate evil and love what is good;
turn your courts into true halls of justice.
Perhaps even yet the Lord God of Heaven’s Armies
will have mercy on the remnant of his people.
God was calling them to come back to how He desired them to be. There was still hope.
There are two ways that we can take this passage. We can see it as a call to our nation to go back to our roots, to go back to the way that brought peace, goodness, justice and truth. But even more importantly looking at our own personal lives, we can admit as Christians we need to heed this call by Amos to go back to God’s way.
It’s outstandingly stupid to repeat the same mistake time and time again. History is there as a warning sign reading “BEWARE!” in big bold print, yet what do we do?
I’ve had first hand experience of this since becoming a Christian. These two chapters in Amos describe the people of Israel, God had given them so many chances to turn from their wicked ways and flee to Him. Yet no matter what they did not turn back to God – and as God Himself says;
You only have I known
of all the families of the earth;
therefore I will punish you
for all your iniquities.
God was serious. His special people had disobeyed Him too many times. Imagine how the people felt as they heard God’s word through Amos the shepherd! They must have been gripped with fear, this Almighty God, the great I AM had decided their destruction, had set his heart on punishing Israel for their actions against Him.
It’s a terrifying thought for us as Christians, and I am speaking to myself first. The sins that I commit scare me to the core – I am a Christian yet I keep going back to my old idols, the idols that wrapped heavy chains around my neck and made me sacrifice what I loved. There is no rational explanation – it is utter stupidity.
The last few verses truly strike a cord within my soul. My sin that is still left over can take over like in the story of Mansoul – that great city described by Bunyan – but it can’t stay there. If needs be, God will take drastic action.
12“Therefore thus I will do to you, O Israel;
because I will do this to you,
prepare to meet your God, O Israel!”
13For 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!
Am I going to keep on sinning knowing this? Can I serve two masters?
At my local church tonight we were given a whistle-stop tour of the missionary work going on in south-east Asia. It was overwhelming at times, but also challenging, prayer-provoking, God-glorifying and hopeful. These people no matter what Satan threw at them had hope (something that I personally felt I lacked) – to hope in God when death, torture, suffering and so on turns your life inside-out.
We should never forget the many people that God has placed into these difficult, sometimes life-threating, areas of the world.
Although not much can be said so publically, prayer for these workers is of vital importance. Why not pray now for those individuals and families who your church has connections with – they will most certainly need it. If you want more information about missionary work across the globe check out the ufm.org.uk website, there’s so much to pray for.
In Amos 1 and 2 we’re given a list of areas that had sinned “again and again”. When I read these chapters the first thing that hit me personally was that phrase which is repeated for every nation,
For three sins of… even for four.
This is an idiom that basically means “again and again” according to the New Living Translation. The ancient areas of Damascus, Gaza, Tyre, Edom, Ammon, Moab and, God’s chosen people, Judah and Israel. The nations of Judah and Israel were chosen by God, they were the people of God. Yet, we see that they had “rejected the instruction of the Lord” and had allowed themselves to become corrupted socially (vv.6-7), economically (v.8) and in worship to God (vv.4 & 12).
It’s easy in this day and age to put this into a national context and start calling judgement on our own nations. The sins are so plain in some western and westernized nations that we can’t help but worry for them. However, first and foremost, you and I have to put it into a personal context.
As Christians we are like the nations of Judah and Israel, God’s chosen people. It’s so important that we don’t make the same mistake as these nations did. The question we have to ask ourselves is, am I throwing everything that God has provided for me back into His face? He’d provided Israel especially with so much:
9 “But as my people watched,
I destroyed the Amorites,
though they were as tall as cedars
and as strong as oaks.
I destroyed the fruit on their branches
and dug out their roots.
10 It was I who rescued you from Egypt
and led you through the desert for forty years,
so you could possess the land of the Amorites.
11 I chose some of your sons to be prophets
and others to be Nazirites.
Can you deny this, my people of Israel?”
asks the Lord.
He has done the same for us and we have to remember when we are tempted to God away from God, to forget His goodness and follow other things that God will not let us go one like this forever.
So the question is, do we live lives that please Him or are we forgetting the goodness of God and retracing the sinners’ road which He had spent so much to take us off?
So here it is, the start of a new journey in life. I am 18 years old, starting university in the Autumn. A new exciting world awaits me, what will it be like? Over the past seven months I have been trying desperately to prepare myself mentally, physically but most importantly spiritually for the next three years of my life.
Well here I go…
(What a boring first post…)