Monday, December 9, 2013
Amos was a “rough-cut” prophet. He is not as well-known perhaps as John the Baptist, but their messages were similar and simple: REPENT! NOW!
God had shown Amos several scenarios of judgment and suffering that was marked out for Israel; in each case Amos knew the people couldn’t endure under what God had planned, so Amos had interceded for the nation, and the Lord relented.
But that didn’t mean remedial punishment (read that: woodshed experience) was entirely off the table. In fact, the first judgment scenarios were only warnings – samples of what God planned to do to (and for) His disobedient children.
It’s something like a parent getting ready to discipline a child and giving them a choice, “…do you want the paddle or time-out.” The child wails… “NOOOO! Not the paddle….anything but the paddle!” With the choice of discipline selected, the child marches off to the corner to serve his time-out sentence. God was lifting the curtain for the prophet to see what was ahead…Amos cried, Lord, who could stand that? So God agreed and shifted the judgment methodology – but the issue of judgment would remain.
So, why was God taking Israel to the woodshed…again?
The reason for loving discipline is as unchanging as God’s nature; God always draws His petulant child, Israel, back to God’s loving arms and protection. Israel was like a child constantly playing near the railroad tracks; the Father must make a lasting impression for the child’s safety and future.
This was the record of God’s people from Abraham to Jesus:
· God’s people sinning by living apart from God’s standards
· God’s grace sending judgment and hard times
· God’s people responding in humble repentance followed by a brief period of obedience, then wandering away into spiritual disobedience, living apart from God’s standards…again!
· Repeat…Repeat….and Repeat!
Hey, America…Don’t sit there looking all spiritual
We have a tendency to shake our heads over Israel not learning the lesson that to BE God’s people you have to ACT like it! We have the same problem.
Somehow Western culture has gotten the idea that, because God is a God of grace and love, forgiveness is our birthright and will be there no matter what we do. Check out this verse:
I will judge Jerusalem by the same standard I used for Samaria and the same measure I used for the family of Ahab. I will wipe away the people of Jerusalem as one wipes a dish and turns it upside down. 2 Kings 21:13 (NLT)
Now read it again – and where you read “Jerusalem” substitute “Washington”.
I know you cannot always equate a national punishment (or blessing) for Israel with America, but the principle is hard to ignore – our sins, nationally and personally are just as black as at any time in history.
And God still sees sin the same way!
So…the message of repentance, preached by John the Baptist, Amos and any other place in the Bible you care to look, is still relevant. If we want judgment and hard times, keep on living the way Americans have chosen, with our pervasive sexual obsession, wanton violence and economic oppression of the weak.
On the other hand, if you want grace and forgiveness, turn it around; humble yourself, pray, and seek his holy face. God doesn’t change…but we should.