Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Wednesday, 8 December 21:
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 upon disobedience for a while, but it is a house of cards.
- Matthew 7:24-27 -- “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” - 1 Corinthians 3:11 -- For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. - 2 Timothy 2:19 -- But God's firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.”
What do you do when you realize that your walls have drifted from the plumb line? You must tear them down and start over (repent), this time using the plumb line the whole time you build. As Jesus told the adulterous woman – “Repent, and sin no more.”
- Ezekiel 11:19 -- And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh…. - Ezekiel 18:31 -- Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why will you die, O house of Israel? - Ezekiel 36:26 -- And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. - 2 Corinthians 5:17 -- Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. - Luke 5:37, 38 -- And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed. But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins. - Ephesians 4:24 -- Put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. - Colossians 3:10 -- Put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.
Amos 7:7, 8 – “Amos, what do you see?”
We are not merely called to make our own walls plumb, we are also called to help others rebuild (repent) and turn to the plumb line of God’s truth (“make disciples, teaching them to obey….) 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. With God’s word as the measure, Christ’s ambassadors reveal sin to others, not as their judge, but as a messenger of reconciliation commissioned God who is the Judge but who offers grace through faith in Jesus Christ for all who will believe in Him and follow Him. As ambassadors for Jesus, we are called to lovingly proclaim God’s truth to all people, whether they desire to hear it or not, that some would repent and turn to the Savior.
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. Then, 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 and proclaim the Gospel (which demands repentance) at all costs, even when it doesn’t seem at all practical and if no one else is willing to stand with you?
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.’”
Will you obey God even if it means giving up what you had planned for your life? An interesting trend throughout the Bible is that God takes people away from their plans, goals, careers, and aspirations to accomplish His purposes. Few people (if any) in the Bible remained on their original path when God called them. We have our plans, but God’s thoughts are not our thoughts, and His ways are not our ways.
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.
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 might fear or pride be keeping you from accomplishing what God would have you do?
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?”
Amos stood out vocally in a nation which had become more concerned about making money and pursuing luxury than obeying God and His law of love. The political/economic scene has not changed much over the centuries, nor has the individual temptation to seek wealth and comfort over God’s glory. Jesus warned that a person has to choose between God and money — “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” (Matthew 6:24) Nations must choose what they will prioritize too. 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. Amos warns a godless society is doomed – destruction is inevitable, quick, and unexpected. Nations change when hearts change.
What does how you give and forgive reveal about the plumb of your walls? “Let a person examine himself….” (1 Corinthians 11:28; 2 Corinthians 13:5)
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 8 December 21: Today, tear down what isn’t straight and upright in your life, building upon it no longer – repent. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)