Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Monday, 10 December 18:
1. `Amos 3:2-8 — “You only have I known of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities. ‘Do two walk together, unless they have agreed to meet…? Is a trumpet blown in a city, and the people are not afraid? Does disaster come to a city, unless the Lord has done it? “For the Lord God does nothing without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets. The lion has roared; who will not fear? The Lord God has spoken; who can but prophesy?” A father is more concerned, not less, about the behavior of his own children than he is someone else’s. God punishes His family when they choose to disobey Him, and that should not be surprising. Walking with God is an opportunity freely given by grace. We have been given access to the “inner place” through Jesus, and can call the Father ‘Abba.’ (Hebrews 11:13-19) We should take comfort in the Father’s love and protection. However, we must be very concerned not to get out of step with Him. What is to be said of the child who blatantly disregards the words and rebuke of the Father? In the Old Testament, a child that could not be controlled by his/her parents was stoned to death. (Deuteronomy 21:18-21) Many today point to this command as evidence of a merciless God. However, God’s punishment was intended that “all Israel shall hear, and fear.” Israel chose to ignore God’s commands which seemed ‘unjust’ or ‘unmerciful’ to them. The rest is history. Today, we also make light of God’s commands. What do we think God is going to do? For generations, the prayers of those victimized by sin have reached heaven; yet, God in His mercy has patiently withheld His just judgment that sinners might repent. Today’s readings in Revelation speak to when God ultimately answers the prayers of those persecuted by the actions of the disobedient: “And another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer, and he was given much incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar before the throne, and the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, rose before God from the hand of the angel. Then the angel took the censer and filled it with fire from the altar and threw it on the earth, and there were peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake.” (Revelation 8:3-5) “The lion has roared; who will not fear? The Lord God has spoken; who can but prophesy?”
– Deuteronomy 21:18-21 — “If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey the voice of his father or the voice of his mother, and, though they discipline him, will not listen to them, then his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his city at the gate of the place where he lives, and they shall say to the elders of his city, ‘This our son is stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard.’ Then all the men of the city shall stone him to death with stones. So you shall purge the evil from your midst, and all Israel shall hear, and fear.
2. Amos 3:3-6 – There are consequences for sin which are predictable and preventable.
3. Amos 3:6 — “When a trumpet sounds in a city, do not the people tremble? When disaster comes to a city, has not the Lord caused it?”
– There are two paths a person can travel, the way of life, and the way of death; the way of blessings and the way of curses. The lighthouse of truth does not move. You are either directed by its light or you crash into the rocks from which it intends to protect you. There are consequences for behavior that are as predictable as natural laws (such as the law of gravity); the wise understand this from Scripture and are perceptive to the signs of destruction. Someone once said that wisdom is understanding what you haven’t experienced. The Bible guides you in wisdom. Proverbs points out “The way of the Lord is a refuge for the righteous, but it is the ruin of those who do evil.” (Proverbs 10:29) In today’s readings, Amos points out to the Israelites that God had given them plenty of warning prior to the total destruction that he was bringing, but despite the many warnings the Lord says, “you have not returned to me…. prepare to meet your God, O Israel.” The people were living lives dishonoring to God while faithfully continuing in their “religious” practices as if all were good with the Lord (Amos 4:4,5), yet they could not see the signs of the times. Amos says, “Surely the Sovereign Lord does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets (Amos 3:7).” Jesus said, that only a wicked and adulterous generation looks for a miraculous sign.” (Matthew 16:4) I believe part of the point here is that only the spiritually blind and deaf would not see what is going on around them and would require a miraculous sign. Even when signs are given, the spiritually dead ignore them. Today’s Revelation readings interestingly talk of the angels sounding trumpets of destruction which caused me to question: “What are the signs of our times?” Are we paying attention to what is going on around us? Should God’s people be surprised by circumstances as they unfold? Something to consider…..
– Revelation 8:6 — “Then the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared to sound them.”
4. Amos 3:7 — “For the Lord God does nothing without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets.”
– God has made it clear what He will do.
– The Bible says that God provides revelation to His servants the prophets. However, when God’s people turn from Him, revelation ceases, and when revelation ceases, lawlessness only grows – it becomes a downward spiral of destruction. Proverbs 29:18 points out, “Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint, but blessed is he who keeps the law.” How important is it to live obediently before the Lord? Jumping ahead to Amos chapter 8 (I can’t help it), God warns His rebellious people, “’Behold, the days are coming,’ declares the Lord GOD, ‘when I will send a famine on the land— not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD.’” Remember Jesus said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Are you feasting on God’s word? Are you being guided by the revelation of The Holy Spirit?
– From Henry T. Blackaby — Christians spend much time talking about “seeking God’s will,” as though it were hidden and difficult to find. God does not hide His will. His will is not difficult to discover. We do not have to plead with God to reveal His will to us. He is more eager to reveal His will than we are willing to receive it. We sometimes ask God to do things He has already done! The people in Amos’s day became disoriented to God and to His desires. God had revealed His will; the problem was that they had not recognized it or obeyed it. Amos declared that God does nothing in the affairs of humanity without seeking one of His servants to whom He will reveal His activity. Tragically, there are times when no one is walking closely enough with Him to be receptive to His word (Isa. 59:16; 63:5; Ezek. 22:30-31). Jesus walked so intimately with His Father that He was always aware of what the Father was doing around Him (John 5:19-20). Jesus said that if our eyes are pure, they will see God and recognize His activity (Matt. 6:22). If we are not seeing God’s activity, the problem is not a lack of revelation. The problem is that our sin prevents us from noticing it. When God is working in your child’s life or when He is convicting your coworker, He may reveal His activity to you. His revelation is His invitation for you to join Him in His redemptive work. Be alert to God’s activity around you. He will reveal His activity to His servants. If your spiritual eyes are pure, you will be overwhelmed by all that you see God doing around you!
5. Amos 4:6, 8, 9, 11 — “Yet you did not return to me.” God disciplines in hopes that sinners will return to Him, but in His sovereignty, He makes room for free will. Love must be a choice. Our response to discipline should be to draw closer to God.
6. Amos 4:12 — “Prepare to meet your God, O Israel!” Every person will either meet God in peace through Jesus or in judgment.
7. Proverbs 10:21 – “The lips of the righteous feed many, but fools die for lack of sense.” Those who are faithful to God are the real leaders.
8. Revelation 8:13 — “Woe, woe, woe to those who dwell on the earth, at the blasts of the other trumpets that the three angels are about to blow!” There are only two words repeated three times in the New Testament for emphasis: “Holy, holy, holy”, and “Woe, woe, woe.” Unfortunately, both words are under-emphasized from the pulpits today. God’s wrath will be unimaginably horrible to those who don’t honor His holiness. This reality should excite all Christians to spread the Gospel to as many as possible. Christians too should not lose sight of the truth that if you do not honor God as Holy, you will experience woe. Grace is not given that a person can safely dishonor God. Grace is given that we can glorify God as Holy.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 10 Dec 18: Honor God as Holy today by being holy — (1 Peter 1:15, 16). (Rev 8:13)