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Before last year, I did not even know there was a book called Amos in the Bible!!! And, now I can’t forget it.
Amos was a shepherd and tree farmer (fig and sycamore.) He was from Judah. No where are we told anything like Amos doubted the Lord, or asked HIM if HE was SURE that he was to go before these people. This showed me that Amos had a very deep, secure, personal relationship with HIS God. AMAZING!!!
So he was from Judah sent by God to speak to Israel. HOW does he get the attention of the Nation of Israel? Now remember that Israel was living in prosperity, living “the good life”, feeling so secure that they just knew nothing could bring them down. BUT Israel was worshiping other gods, creating idols and worshiping them as well, not helping the poor and needy. Amos entered the center of Israel and told them how God would judge their enemies….all their enemies would basically be destroyed. In the intensity of this reading….God allowed me to see his sense of humor with the Israelites. God KNEW they were prideful, self righteous, and had NO need for HIM (or so they thought!!) Can you picture the reaction of the people of Israel when Amos told them their enemies would be destroyed???? I am confident they were clapping and cheering because this fed their egos…..I am sure Israel was patting themselves on the back while saying something like—“See…..we are good, we are being protected our enemies will be destroyed by God!!” And if you noticed…. God gave a reason as to why each of Israel’s enemies would be destroyed (maybe HE gave the reasons in hopes the Israel might think of the things they were doing wrong!!) I am SURE the Israelites were standing on their tippy toes, leaning into all that Amos had to say. I can imagine them giving each other high fives during Amos’ prophesies. Look at some of the reasons the enemies would be destroyed:
DAMASCUS — (capital of Aram/Syria), attacked Israel
GAZA, Ashdod, Ashkelon, and Ekron are major cities in the Philistia, thus the verse about the Philistines….remember Goliath was a Philistine!!
TYRE (Phoenicia) several treaties were made there, as allies, and they broke their word. (Remember… David and Solomon made treaties with Tyre because they had the Cedars to build the Temple.)
EDOM (Edomites, Esau’s descendants…Jacob/Israel’s brother) need I say more??
AMMON and MOAB– (Lot’s children by incest with his two daughters) These wicked nations have been the center of idol worship and idolatry. Israel was following the ways of these evil nations; but these nations NEVER missed an opportunity to attack Israel.
JUDAH (south) for rejecting the Lord and neglecting God’s laws.
NOW….he has has their attention, I am sure they were all ears to hear who else would be destroyed so they could continue their prosperity and “glory days!” Oh but…. Amos LAYS on them a message regarding their OWN judgement, and tells them WHY. Oooooooouch!!!!
God tells Israel (the Northern Kingdom) in PLAIN terms WHY they will be crushed …. for their greed, unjust ways, their fake outward worship to the Lord. If you ever get a chance to listen to a Piper Podcast on this …. DO IT!!! It will definitely make you think about Israel and the similarities between us and them. Starting in 4:4 The Lord says (paraphrase)…Go ahead, go to Bethel (not even a proper place of worship) and keep sinning. Man’s way of worship is sinful! You bring me religion and tithes all week long, and even brag about how “rich” your way of worship is!!” YES… GOD was being quite sarcastic to them. If you recall Bethel had become the religious center for the Northern Kingdom. Jeroboam built two golden calves in the Northern Kingdom so the Israelites would not have to go to Jerusalem in the SOUTH to worship God in HIS HOUSE. Jeroboam was afraid if “his people” went South to worship God in THE TEMPLE…they might turn against him and not return to the North!! Keep in mind also that Bethel was where God had renewed HIS covenant to Abraham with Jacob (Genesis 28:10-22)!!! And WHAT were the Israelites thinking??? WHY would they be worshiping golden calves??? BOTH Israel and Judah KNEW God’s law, they KNEW the 10 Commandments…they simply CHOSE NOT to follow HIM. UGGGGGG!!!
NOW…. the Lord gave Israel WARNINGS!!! God WARNED HIS people to give them another chance to turn back to HIM. There were 5 big warnings given. If God were giving these WARNINGS TODAY…it might sound something like: “Israel, I have collapsed your stock market, presented challenges in your employment opportunities, allowed terrorists to attack you on your soil!! I have watched as you have taken prayer to ME out of your schools and restricted the places where Bibles can go!! I have set earthquakes and fires on you, I have caused and/or allowed great flooding, droughts, hurricanes, and even forest fires…yet you STILL refuse to turn to me…. you still don’t see my strength…You have left me no choice America…. (whoops…. I mean Israel), I am almost out of patience with you!!!” “Therefore (verse 12) PREPARE TO MEET YOUR GOD.”
THEN chapter 5. Hear this Word! SEEK ME AND LIVE!!! Truly, the prophetic books are books of LOVE and not so much about judgement. Both Israel and Judah could have heeded the warnings from the current prophets and from times past. Both Israel and Judah could have CHOSEN to walk in the ways of the Lord, but they CHOSE to worship other gods and build idols. The WARNINGS meant (and mean) there is time to TURN TO HIM!!! When we do not CHOOSE to follow HIM with ALL of our being…we begin to walk a slippery slope. When we do not choose HIM…..HE is greatly grieved.
Just think for a moment about parents and their children. Most, not all, but most….TRULY want to love their children, they want to see them grow up be successful, be happy and joyful, and SO much more. Yet, along the way the parents HAVE to discipline the children they deeply love. I am NOT talking about beatings or abuse. I am speaking of correction to teach their children right from wrong, to teach their children about OUR GREAT GOD. Some children are more head strong than others and require more severe approaches. I have seen parents sit before me with broken hearts because a child REFUSES to obey them, or may be struggling with an addiction, abusive relationships, or worse…..it grieves them deeply. And from the deep emotions I have witnessed through human parents…I can ONLY imagine how deeply the Lord was/is grieved when they did not (or we do not) choose HIM. They faced severe consequences for not heeding the warnings and not following HIM.
Please take all these prophetic books as Love books not judgement. God knows deeper than we can ever imagine and HE desires GREAT things for each of us. It does not mean this life will be “fair” or without pain….but it does mean we have a savior who has PROMISED to NEVER leave or forsake us!! He has promised to ALWAYS be with us!! YET…. at the time we are reading about in Israel’s history…. the rich get richer, the poor are starving, they worship other gods and practice paganistic practices. Violence and greed are at an all time high and God repeatedly is saying REPENT. Turn from your ways. SEEK me! That is all He is asking. It will get so bad that He will have to intervene to SAVE US FROM OURSELVES!!!
JESUS CAME TO SAVE US FROM OURSELVES!!! God KNEW we could not do it alone, and HE NEVER expected us to….HE has ALWAYS wanted to have that personal relationship with each of us. I MEAN LOOK at the way he created the Garden of Eden!!! IT WAS PERFECT!!! Today, on this side of the cross……we can have that personal relationship with HIM….24/7 x365-366!! The wonderful thing is that NOW once we ask HIM in to our heart….HE DWELLS INSIDE OF US…WE ARE HIS TEMPLE!!!
Romans 12:1-2 — Do not be conformed to this world but be TRANSFORMED by the renewing of your minds with the WORD (my paraphrase.) God has left the OT for us to read so we can see that we are not so different from the people 2500+ years ago!!! Some of the OT people are our heros…some teach us the importance of heeding the WARNINGs….some teach us what not do to. BUT the bottom line… is God gave of HIS WORD out of PURE LOVE… to show us the way….so we could be the salt and light on this earth FOR HIM.
Sharing HIS love