Amaziah, Priest not King

Today’s reading:

Amos 5:1-9:15

My Selection:

 And Amaziah said to Amos, “O seer, go, flee away to the land of Judah, and eat bread there, and prophesy there,  but never again prophesy at Bethel, for it is the king’s sanctuary, and it is a temple of the kingdom.”

 Then Amos answered and said to Amaziah, “I was[g] no prophet, nor a prophet’s son, but I was a herdsman and a dresser of sycamore figs.  But the Lord took me from following the flock, and the Lord said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel.’ 16 Now therefore hear the word of the LordAmos 7:12-15

One of the things you learn when you publish a book is that perfection is impossible.  My comments on today’s passage need a correction.  I misidentified Amaziah as the king of Israel.  He was a priest in Bethel, not a king.  Jeroboam II was the king of Israel at that time. [See Amos 7:10].  I apologize for this error.

In spite of this, my point is still true that Amos models a confidence in God and God’s calling for him to be a bold prophet.  Amaziah was not receptive to the prophet and attempted to deport him.  Amos stood firm.  May we do the same.

[For more reflections on today’s reading, see the corresponding reading in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days].

[Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture references are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.]

Prepare to Meet Your God

Today’s reading:

Joel 2:28-Amos 4:13

My Selection:

“I overthrew some of you,
as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah,
and you were as a brand plucked out of the burning;
yet you did not return to me,”
declares the Lord.

 “Therefore thus I will do to you, O Israel;
because I will do this to you,
prepare to meet your God, O Israel!”  Amos 4:11-12

Contrary to logic, people who are placed under God’s discipline and judgment do not always respond positively.  God sent a series of plagues and trials on Israel.  Did they return to the Lord?  No!  So Amos tells them to prepare to meet their God.

It is not always easy to understand if trials and difficulties we experience are God’s way of disciplining us or if they are merely the result of living in a fallen world.  It is important to ask God for wisdom (James 1:5).  Pray for the ability to respond to whatever discipline that God may send with an open heart eager to learn and grow in Him.  Israel failed to do that and suffered for it.

[For more reflections on today’s reading, see the corresponding reading in my book Cover to Cover: Through the Bible in 365 days].

[Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture references are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.]

 

 

 

Tribulation, then Restoration

Tribulation is real, but it is not the end for God’s people.

Today’s reading: Amos 7-9; Revelation 7

15 I will plant them on their land,
and they shall never again be uprooted
out of the land that I have given them,”
says the Lord your God.                                                                  Amos 9:15

13 Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” 14 I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.                             Revelation 7:13-14

The prophet Amos had a gloomy message for Israel. He himself was touched by what he was saying. “O Lord God, please forgive! How can Jacob stand? He is so small!” he cries out again and again (7:2b). But God relents and promises that all these dire warnings will not be final. There is a day of restoration and joy ahead. It will be permanent. There will be lasting prosperity and security.

Given the depth of sin and failure on the part of Israel, how is this blessing possible?

The answer is found in the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God whose blood atones for the sin of God’s elect. They wash their robes in it. Those filthy robes are made white. They endure the pain and suffering of the great tribulation and though, as Amos admitted, they are small, yet they stand.

Do not be surprised if you suffer for a time. Some of it, we bring on ourselves by our sin and some of it is merely the sufferings of Christ that His people must bear. In the end, there is restoration. Be strong in the Lord, because tribulation is real but it is not the end.

The Day of Wrath

The day of wrath is coming, and no one will be spared.

Today’s reading: Amos 4-6; Revelation 6

12 “Therefore thus I will do to you, O Israel;
because I will do this to you,
prepare to meet your God, O Israel!”

13 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! Amos 4:12-13

15 Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, 16 calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, 17 for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?” Revelation 6:15-17

If God poured out His terrible judgment on Israel, how much more will He pour out wrath on the whole earth which has rebelled against Him?

Amos continues to lay out for Israel how they have failed God. Repeatedly, he tells them that they ignored all of God’s judgments. “Yet you did not return to me!” he says. Looking at Israel’s history from a distance, it appears inexplicable. How could they not get the message? But they did not. But then, do we?

So Amos tells them to “prepare to meet [their] God.”

John’s vision reveals the contents of the scroll with the seven seals. One by one they are opened. All are frightening, but the sixth drives all the people great and small who are under the condemnation of the wrath of God and the Lamb to cry out for the mountains and rocks to fall upon them. Anything, they think, is better than to experience the full judgment of God.

Here we have a picture of what is to come. The day of wrath of the One who is on the throne is before us. Will we prepare to meet our God, as Amos urged? There is a way to prepare. Bow before the Lamb who was slain for sinners and repent of your sins. Ask for His mercy and forgiveness. By His grace, you will stand in the day of wrath.

Who is Worthy?

God’s blessings and warnings to Israel did not make them faithful to Him. Only One can be found who is worthy before God the Father.

Today’s reading: Amos 1-3; Revelation 5

1Hear this word that the Lord has spoken against you, O people of Israel, against the whole family that I brought up out of the land of Egypt:

2 “You only have I known
of all the families of the earth;
therefore I will punish you
for all your iniquities.                                                                                 Amos 3:1-2

3 And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, 4 and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.”                                                                                       Revelation 5:3-5

In all kinds of human settings, we use rewards and punishments to attempt to encourage desired behavior or to inhibit undesired behavior. As any parent, teacher, or boss can attest, this approach yields limited success, but it seems to be the best option we have.

God did the same sort of thing, first, with our first parents, Adam and Eve, in the Garden and then with Israel. He blessed them and He warned them. Their response was rebellion and sin. In fact, much of the content of the Old Testament is dedicated to pointing out this failure on the part of people. To turn against one’s benefactor is a completely irrational act. To disobey God after being clearly warned about the consequences is the height of stupidity. Indeed, sin is stupid, always. Ungratefulness is more than stupid. Yet Israel was guilty, but they were not the only ones. We all have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).

When John got his vision of heaven, this truth, that all are unworthy before God, was confirmed. He saw a scroll with seven seals. An angel’s cry went out, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” No one was found who qualified. John was appalled. He wept loudly. Such was the state of all mankind against the backdrop of God’s mercy, grace, and holiness.

Then John saw the Lamb. He was declared worthy. He alone could open the seals of the scroll.

How would you respond if you could see the true spiritual state of mankind before God in Heaven? Would you weep? Would  you look to Jesus Christ, the Lamb who was slain and who alone is worthy? Look to Him and give Him the praise and glory He is due. He is the one who is worthy.

The Undaunted Prophet

Today’s reading: Amos 5:1-9:15

My selection: Amos 7:12-15

12 And Amaziah said to Amos, “O seer, go, flee away to the land of Judah, and eat bread there, and prophesy there, 13 but never again prophesy at Bethel, for it is the king’s sanctuary, and it is a temple of the kingdom.”

14 Then Amos answered and said to Amaziah, “I was no prophet, nor a prophet’s son, but I was a herdsman and a dresser of sycamore figs. 15 But the Lord took me from following the flock, and the Lord said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel.’

My reflections: King Amaziah of Israel felt secure in his own kingdom, secure enough to send the prophet of God out of the land. He foolishly believed his own press reports, that he ruled a land that was his forever. He called it his sanctuary. So he attempted to deport Amos to Judah.

Amos, though admittedly a farmer and herdsman, not a member of the professional prophets’ guild, did not back down. He had been commissioned by God, and he did not flinch in the face of royal opposition.

My challenge: Like Amaziah, we are not sovereign over the property we think we own or the people we think we manage. Our positions are precarious at best. Although the land I live on has been in our family for 70 years, one day I will leave it behind. God is eternal. Only He controls completely all there is. Walk before Him in humility. Know His commands and calling, as Amos did, and be undaunted to do God’s will.

Tomorrow’s reading: Obadiah 1-Jonah 4:11

Prepare to Meet Your God

Today’s reading: Joel 2:28-Amos 4:13

My selection: Amos 4:11-12

11 “ I overthrew some of you,

as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah,

and you were as a brand plucked out of the burning;

yet you did not return to me,”

declares the Lord.

12 “ Therefore thus I will do to you, O Israel;

because I will do this to you,

prepare to meet your God, O Israel!”

My reflections: Israel did not respond to the series of plagues and trials that God sent their way. They did not return to the Lord even when they saw Him overthrowing some of their people. Those God spared were like brands plucked out of the fire but, in their presumption, they did not come to Him. Now God tells them they will meet Him but on His terms, not their own.

My challenge: A final meeting with God is inevitable for every human being throughout history. You cannot avoid it. Nor can I (Hebrews 9:27,28).  How will you meet God? Will you come to Him in faith and repentance now and receive forgiveness and salvation or will you resist to the end and defiantly face Him as your judge? Prepare to meet your God, my friend. The day will come sooner than you imagine.

Tomorrow’s reading: Amos 5:1-9:10

Restoring the Lost Years

Today’s reading: Hosea 12:1-Joel 2:27

My selection: Joel 2:25

25  I will restore to you the years

that the swarming locust has eaten,

the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter,

my great army, which I sent among you.

My reflections: The same God who sent the locust plague on His people also promised to reverse the impact of that plague if His people would repent and turn back to Him. God is not time-bound as is man. He can restore what was lost.

My challenge: Never say, “I have sinned beyond restoration. There is no hope for me.” God is able to restore the years that the locusts ate. It is always best to repent, believe in Him, and to return to His ways. He is able to restore the most wasted life. It is never too late for God to redeem you and give you back the lost years.

Tomorrow’s reading: Joel 2:28-Amos 4:13