Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Wednesday, 12 December 18:
1. Amos 7:2-6 – “O Lord God, please forgive!” God hears your intercession and forgives His truly repentant people.
2. Amos 7:7-9 — “This is what he showed me: behold, the Lord was standing beside a wall built with a plumb line, with a plumb line in his hand. And the Lord said to me, ‘Amos, what do you see?’ And I said, ‘A plumb line.’ Then the Lord said, ‘Behold, I am setting a plumb line in the midst of my people Israel; I will never again pass by them; the high places of Isaac shall be made desolate, and the sanctuaries of Israel shall be laid waste, and I will rise against the house of Jeroboam with the sword.’” Here God’s Spiritual Laws are compared with natural laws – in this case, the law of gravity. God’s Spiritual Laws have consequences as predictable as God’s natural laws, even more predictable. God’s Spiritual Laws not only reflect His perfect truth, character, and wisdom, they also align to His perfect order and justice which is unchanging. There are inevitable consequences for drifting away from God’s will and order – the walls come tumbling down. Yes, you can build on disobedience for a while, but it’s a house of cards. What do you do when you realize that your walls have drifted from the plumb line? You must tear them down and start over, this time using the plumb line the whole time you build. As Jesus told the adulterous woman – “Repent, and sin no more.”
3. Amos 7:7, 8 – “Amos, what do you see?” God’s people are called to be priests on earth, experts on God’s word and messengers of God’s word to others, within the context of current situations. God’s word is the plumb line from which everyone is measured and held accountable. The prophet is given God’s word to proclaim to others in order to hold them accountable. With God’s word as the measure, the prophet reveals sin to others, not as their judge, but as a messenger of God who is the Judge. As ambassadors for Jesus, we are called to loving proclaim God’s truth to all people, whether they desire to hear it or not, that some would repent and turn to the Savior.
4. Amos 7:10 – “Then Amaziah the priest of Bethel sent to Jeroboam king of Israel, saying, “Amos has conspired against you in the midst of the house of Israel. The land is not able to bear all his words.” Because Amos spoke God’s truth about the nation, he was deemed a traitor. The religious leaders were the first to condemn Amos. Amos became the king’s enemy because the king was God’s enemy. Amaziah sided with his employer rather than God and Amos. To whom are you most loyal? By whom or by what are you most influenced? Will you obey God at all costs, when it doesn’t seem at all practical, and if no one else is willing to stand with you?
5. Amos 7:14, 15 — “I was 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.’”
– Amos did not intend to be a prophet, but God called him from his profession, his livelihood. He hadn’t gone to seminary and had established no credibility within the church. He was chosen by God, and that was all the credibility and validation he needed. You are an ambassador for Jesus. You don’t need the approval of anyone else to do what God has called you to do.
– An interesting trend throughout the Bible is that God takes people away from their plans, goals, careers, and aspirations to accomplish His purposes. We have our plans, but God’s thoughts are not our thoughts, and His ways are not our ways. I wonder how many people have walked away from a calling because it did not make sense from a worldly perspective, because it was too risky, or because friends and family did not support it. Another trend is that God’s faithful servants often appear to be unsuccessful as the world measures success. Amos was called to prophesize to the Israelites, but their response was, “Do not prophesy against Israel, and stop preaching….” He left his job to be a preacher, but no one wanted to hear him preach – I wonder how many preachers have left the pulpit discouraged under similar circumstances. Amos’ measure of success was fidelity to the Lord while others thought his primary motivation was to earn a living – “Get out, you seer! Go back to the land of Judah. Earn your bread there and do your prophesying there.” Amos sought first the Kingdom. What motivates you to do what you do? What are you seeking first, above all else? How have you failed due to fear or pride to accomplish what God would have had you do? These are questions I ask myself.
6. Amos 8:4-8 – “Hear this, you who trample on the needy and bring the poor of the land to an end…. and deal deceitfully with false balances, that we may buy the poor for silver and the needy for a pair of sandals and sell the chaff of the wheat?” The nation became more concerned about making money than obeying God and His law of love. The political/economic scene has not changed much over the centuries. Jesus warned that a person has to choose between God and money. Many people say that they have chosen God but, in reality, still prioritize self-interest. In a sinful nation, economics (prosperity and security) becomes god, the top priority for decisions, and the poor get poorer while the rich get richer. A godless society is doomed – destruction is inevitable, quick, and unexpected.
7. Amos 8:10, 14; 9:1 – I will turn your feasts into mourning and all your songs into lamentation; I will bring sackcloth on every waist and baldness on every head; I will make it like the mourning for an only son and the end of it like a bitter day…. Those who swear by the Guilt of Samaria, and say, ‘As your god lives, O Dan,’ and, ‘As the Way of Beersheba lives,’ they shall fall, and never rise again. I saw the Lord standing beside the altar, and he said: ‘Strike the capitals until the thresholds shake, and shatter them on the heads of all the people; and those who are left of them I will kill with the sword; not one of them shall flee away; not one of them shall escape.’” Israel continued in extravagant worship even though God had announced judgment – the priests and the people were completely oblivious to what God was doing though they had convinced themselves otherwise. The proof of their relationship with God was revealed in their behavior. The true prophet and worshipper displays the character of Jesus and selfless, loving obedience. God had to go to shepherds to find such a person in Amos.
8. Amos 8:11 – “’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.’”
– The religious leaders within the land continued to preach, but they heard nothing really from God. The nation was spiritually starved because there was no nourishment from the true word of God. The religious leaders merely told people what they wanted to hear, words that accommodated and validated their sin. The body relies on food to survive. The spirit relies on God’s word to survive. A famine is a terrible thing. Are you hungry for God’s word today? Have you been missing meals? Man does not live on bread alone….
– From Henry T. Blackaby — One way God communicates is through silence. The Israelites blatantly ignored and rejected God’s word to them, and God responded by sending a famine. This famine was far more severe than a shortage of food and water. Instead, they were deprived of His words of life. God’s silence may be hardly noticeable at first. You may still remember times when God spoke to you, but you gradually realize you’ve not heard His voice for a long time. If you realize you are in a “drought,” immediately seek God and ask Him what adjustments your life requires so you can once again enjoy fellowship with Him. It may be that you disobeyed His last instructions to you and that He is waiting on your obedience before giving you a new direction. It may be that there is unconfessed sin in your life or that you have a damaged relationship (Isa. 1:15; 1 Pet. 3:7). It is possible that you have done too much talking in your prayer times and that He wants you to listen. God’s silences can be powerful times for Him to communicate with you. God is God! Because He is God, when He speaks He expects a listening ear and an eager response. He will not be mocked! (Gal. 6:7). When we ignore Him, He may withhold His voice until we repent and get right with Him. The prophet Isaiah assured King Asa, “The Lord is with you while you are with Him. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you.”
9. Amos 9:7 – “’Are you not like the Cushites to me, O people of Israel?’ declares the Lord. ‘Did I not bring up Israel from the land of Egypt, and the Philistines from Caphtor and the Syrians from Kir?’” What defines a nation is it’s level of fidelity to God. God judges and will judge all nations, including ours.
10. Amos 9:10 – “All the sinners of my people shall die by the sword, who say, ‘Disaster shall not overtake or meet us.’” Note that God is talking about the judgment of ‘His people,’ or what we might call the church. The concept of “cheap grace,” believing that God is somehow ok with sin, has always been around, and today, many churchy people continue in sin as if God won’t judge. Prideful sin makes you think God will judge someone else and not you.
11. Proverbs 12:2 — “A good man obtains favor from the LORD, but a man of evil devices he condemns.” The important points of the Bible are really not hard to understand. Many debate over complicated doctrines but aren’t willing to simply obey what is plainly clear. Walk in what you understand, and then God will show you the deeper things.
12. Proverbs 12:5 — “The thoughts of the righteous are just; the counsels of the wicked are deceitful.” Don’t waste your time seeking advice from those who do not walk in the word.
13. Proverbs 12:23 – “A prudent man conceals knowledge, but the heart of fools proclaims folly.” Wise people possess a humility that allows them to question their own wisdom, while fools always believe they are right.
14. Revelation 10:4 — “Seal up what the seven thunders have said, and do not write it down.” God has not revealed everything to us about End Times. Be very warry of those who say they have it all figured out.
15. Revelation 10:10, 11 — “And I took the little scroll from the hand of the angel and ate it. It was sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it my stomach was made bitter. And I was told, ‘You must again prophesy about many peoples and nations and languages and kings.’” God’s prophecy is usually hard for the prophet to stomach, and prophesying judgment to people you genuinely care about is very difficult. The prophet rejoices in God’s righteousness and hungers for God’s sweet word, but finds no joy in seeing the sinner reject God’s word and face condemnation. So, God’s word is bitter sweet. It proclaims grace and eternal life for some but also eternal damnation for others. Christians should mourn deeply over those who will reject God, and we should do everything within our power to reach the lost. A loving heart has a passion for evangelism.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 12 Dec 18: Today, lovingly proclaim God’s truth through His word to all people, whether they profess faith or not, that they might draw closer to Jesus through repentance and faith in Jesus, a faith that surrenders and obeys. All the while keep a humble repentant heart as you measure your own life against the plumb line of God’s word. God is the judge, you are the messenger. (See today’s readings)