2065.) Amos 5

March 31, 2017


Amos 5 (NIV)

A Lament and Call to Repentance

The dominant theme is clearly stated in verse 24, which calls for social justice as the indispensable expression of true piety. Amos was a vigorous spokesman for God’s justice and righteousness. Amos declared that God was going to judge his unfaithful, disobedient, covenant-breaking people. Despite the Lord’s special choice of Israel and his kindnesses to her during the exodus and conquest and in the days of David and Solomon, his people continually failed to honor and obey him. The shrines at Bethel and other places of worship were often paganized, and Israel had a worldly view of even the ritual that the Lord himself had prescribed. They thought performance of the rites was all God required, and, with that done, they could do whatever they pleased—an essentially pagan notion. Without commitment to God’s law, they had no basis for standards of conduct. Amos condemns all who make themselves powerful or rich at the expense of others. Those who had acquired multiple splendid houses, expensive furniture and richly laden tables by cheating, perverting justice and crushing the poor would lose everything they had.

–NIV Study Bible notes

1Hear this word, Israel, this lament I take up concerning you:
2 “Fallen is Virgin Israel,
never to rise again,
deserted in her own land,
with no one to lift her up.”

God foretells the judgment that is coming to Israel.

3 This is what the Sovereign LORD says to Israel:

“Your city that marches out a thousand strong
will have only a hundred left;
your town that marches out a hundred strong
will have only ten left.”

Their military forces will be decimated.

4 This is what the LORD says to Israel:

“Seek me and live;
5 do not seek Bethel,
do not go to Gilgal,
do not journey to Beersheba.
For Gilgal will surely go into exile,
and Bethel will be reduced to nothing.”

Bethel, Gilgal, and Beersheba were once places associated with great privilege and spiritual heritage. Bethel was the place where God met Jacob (Genesis 28:11-19, Genesis 35:1-7). Gilgal was the place where Israel’s spiritual reproach was rolled away in the days of Joshua (Joshua 5:1-12). Beersheba was connected to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Genesis 21:22-33, 26:23-33, 46:1-5). Now these were places of vain, empty worship.

–David Guzik

6 Seek the LORD and live,
or he will sweep through the tribes of Joseph like a fire;
it will devour them,
and Bethel will have no one to quench it.

7 There are those who turn justice into bitterness
and cast righteousness to the ground.

Their justice system is now only a legal system, for the true end of justice is discarded.

8 He who made the Pleiades and Orion,
who turns midnight into dawn
and darkens day into night,
who calls for the waters of the sea
and pours them out over the face of the land—
the LORD is his name.
9 With a blinding flash he destroys the stronghold
and brings the fortified city to ruin.

The LORD is able to create the cosmos and take care of it day by day — surely, Israel, he is able to save you!

10 There are those who hate the one who upholds justice in court
and detest the one who tells the truth.

Amos tells us the cause of coming judgment — the terrible way that the people of Israel treat one another, especially how the strong take advantage of the weak. The weak have no voice in the courts, are robbed by oppressive taxes. The rich take advantage with bribes and pay off the system to drive the poor from justice . . . 

11 You levy a straw tax on the poor
and impose a tax on their grain.
Therefore, though you have built stone mansions,
you will not live in them;
though you have planted lush vineyards,
you will not drink their wine.
12 For I know how many are your offenses
and how great your sins.

There are those who oppress the innocent and take bribes
and deprive the poor of justice in the courts.
13 Therefore the prudent keep quiet in such times,
for the times are evil.

14 Seek good, not evil,
that you may live.
Then the LORD God Almighty will be with you,
just as you say he is.

15 Hate evil, love good;
maintain justice in the courts.
Perhaps the LORD God Almighty will have mercy
on the remnant of Joseph.

Amos proclaims God’s cure for Israel’s sin. They must begin to seek good and not evil. They must transform their corrupt courts and establish justice.

16 Therefore this is what the Lord, the LORD God Almighty, says:

“There will be wailing in all the streets
and cries of anguish in every public square.
The farmers will be summoned to weep
and the mourners to wail.
17 There will be wailing in all the vineyards,
for I will pass through your midst,”
says the LORD.

The Day of the LORD

18 Woe to you who long
for the day of the LORD!
Why do you long for the day of the LORD?
That day will be darkness, not light.
19 It will be as though a man fled from a lion
only to meet a bear,
as though he entered his house
and rested his hand on the wall
only to have a snake bite him.
20 Will not the day of the LORD be darkness, not light—
pitch-dark, without a ray of brightness?

21 “I hate, I despise your religious festivals;
your assemblies are a stench to me.

“But, Lord, I was in church every Sunday!  I helped with the youth!  I served on various committees!”

And the Lord will say, “Depart from me.  I don’t know you.”

(See Matthew 25:31-46)

22 Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings,
I will not accept them.
Though you bring choice fellowship offerings,
I will have no regard for them.
23 Away with the noise of your songs!
I will not listen to the music of your harps.
24 But let justice roll on like a river,
righteousness like a never-failing stream!

25 “Did you bring me sacrifices and offerings
forty years in the wilderness, people of Israel?
26 You have lifted up the shrine of your king,
the pedestal of your idols,
the star of your god—
which you made for yourselves.
27 Therefore I will send you into exile beyond Damascus,”
says the LORD, whose name is God Almighty.

This is serious business, says the Lord. I cannot tolerate your sinfulness and idolatry; there will be extreme consequences. But even now I call you back to me.

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is Chris Christensen and “Let Justice Roll Down.”

Let justice roll down like a mighty river,

And righteousness roll on and on;

Till the desert becomes like the Garden of Eden

Where the nations will come and be healed

And the glory of God is revealed!

_________________________

New International Version (NIV)   Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
Let justice roll on.   https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/43/27/4f/43274fbb40d1ff563fccbf9d1bba80b2.jpg
broken justice scale.    http://breakingthecode.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Broken-Justice-Scale.jpg
Romans 12:9.   https://thepreachersword.files.wordpress.com/2017/01/romans-12-9.jpg
justice and righteousness.    http://media.salemwebnetwork.com/cms/CROSSCARDS/26756-07102015-july-10-social.jpg

2064.) Amos 4

March 30, 2017

I grew up in the rural Midwest and signs like this one were familiar sightings.

Amos 4 (NIV)

Israel Has Not Returned to God

1 Hear this word, you cows of Bashan on Mount Samaria,
you women who oppress the poor and crush the needy
and say to your husbands, “Bring us some drinks!”

Amos wasn’t trained as a prophet, he was a simple herdsman and farmer. When he wanted to get the point across to the indulgent women of Israel, he called them fat cows. The livestock of Bashan–in the northern part of Israel, the modern-day Golan Heights–was known for being fat and healthy.

Psalm 22:12 mentions the strong bulls of Bashan; Ezekiel 39:18 mentions the large livestock, the fatlings of Bashan. It’s no exaggeration to say that Amos calls these women “fat cows.” Though it is true that the very skinny ideal of female beauty is a modern phenomenon and especially in ancient times plumpness was a valued sign of affluence, we can count on it that at no time in human history has a woman appreciated being called a fat cow

It wasn’t that these women were plump and affluent, it was that they gained their wealth and affluence by oppressing and crushing the less fortunate (or with their demands for luxuries, driving their husbands to greater injustices), and that they used their affluence in the pure, self-focused pursuit of pleasure. God saw this and promised to hold them to account.

–David Guzik

2 The Sovereign LORD has sworn by his holiness:
“The time will surely come
when you will be taken away with hooks,
the last of you with fishhooks.
3 You will each go straight out
through breaches in the wall,
and you will be cast out toward Harmon,”
declares the LORD.

God tells unrepentant Israel of their coming agony when they are conquered and exiled by the Assyrians. When the Assyrians depopulated and exiled a conquered community, they led the captives away on journeys of hundreds of miles, with the captives naked and attached together with a system of strings and fishhooks pierced through their lower lip. God would make sure they were led in this humiliating manner through the broken walls of their conquered cities. This would thoroughly humble the fat cows of Israel.

–David Guzik

4 “Go to Bethel and sin;
go to Gilgal and sin yet more.
Bring your sacrifices every morning,
your tithes every three years.
5 Burn leavened bread as a thank offering
and brag about your freewill offerings—
boast about them, you Israelites,
for this is what you love to do,”
declares the Sovereign LORD.

6 “I gave you empty stomachs in every city
and lack of bread in every town,
yet you have not returned to me,”
declares the LORD.

God describes the chastisement he has sent to them, to encourage them to repent of their sins and return to faithfulness.

7 “I also withheld rain from you
when the harvest was still three months away.
I sent rain on one town,
but withheld it from another.
One field had rain;
another had none and dried up.
8 People staggered from town to town for water
but did not get enough to drink,
yet you have not returned to me,”
declares the LORD.

9 “Many times I struck your gardens and vineyards,
destroying them with blight and mildew.

mildew on a vine leaf

Locusts devoured your fig and olive trees,
yet you have not returned to me,”
declares the LORD.

10 “I sent plagues among you
as I did to Egypt.
I killed your young men with the sword,
along with your captured horses.
I filled your nostrils with the stench of your camps,
yet you have not returned to me,”
declares the LORD.

11 “I overthrew some of you
as I overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah.
You were like a burning stick snatched from the fire,
yet you have not returned to me,”
declares the LORD.

Drought, blight, plague, war . . . nothing humbled them. Their hearts were too hard to face their own sin. I have a friend who says, “God will bring you back to himself as gently as you will allow him.” Gentle did not work with these folks!

12 “Therefore this is what I will do to you, Israel,
and because I will do this to you, Israel,
prepare to meet your God.”

13 He who forms the mountains,
who creates the wind,
and who reveals his thoughts to mankind,
who turns dawn to darkness,
and treads on the heights of the earth—
the LORD God Almighty is his name.

_________________________

Music:

“Meet With Me”  by Ten Shekel Shirt,  HERE,  reminds us that we are often/always preparing to meet our God.

_________________________

New International Version (NIV)   Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
Prepare (blakc and white).  http://avco.files.wordpress.com/2010/03/prepare-to-meet-god.jpg
Roy Delgado cartoon.  http://www.cartoonstock.com/lowres/rde7470l.jpg
mildew.  http://hortuscamden.com/images/plants/Mildew_on_grape_vine_leaf_.jpg
Prepare (color).   https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/f1/4f/09/f14f09b6e497b82cb218afdef3e9e3e3.jpg

2063.) Amos 3

March 29, 2017

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21)

Amos 3 (NIV)

Witnesses Summoned Against Israel

According to the first verse of chapter 1, Amos prophesied during the reigns of Uzziah over Judah (792–740 b.c.) and Jeroboam II over Israel (793–753). The main part of his ministry was probably carried out c. 760–750. Both kingdoms were enjoying great prosperity and had reached new political and military heights. It was also a time of idolatry, extravagant indulgence in luxurious living, immorality, corruption of judicial procedures and oppression of the poor. As a consequence, God would soon bring about the Assyrian captivity of the northern kingdom (722–721).

Israel at the time was politically secure and spiritually smug. About 40 years earlier, at the end of his ministry, Elisha had prophesied the resurgence of Israel’s power (2 Kings 13:17-19), and more recently Jonah had prophesied her restoration to a glory not known since the days of Solomon (2 Kings 14:25). The nation felt sure, therefore, that she was in God’s good graces. But prosperity increased Israel’s religious and moral corruption. God’s past punishments for unfaithfulness were forgotten, and his patience was at an end—which he sent Amos to announce.

–NIV Study Bible notes

1Hear this word, people of Israel, the word the LORD has spoken against you—against the whole family I brought up out of Egypt:

The central act of redemption in the Old Testament was the Lord bringing the people of Israel out of their slavery in Egypt. God frequently refers to himself as the one who rescued them, reminding them of his goodness towards them. Israel’s rejection of the Lord is all the more inexcusable because of God’s wonderful deliverance!

2 “You only have I chosen
of all the families of the earth;
therefore I will punish you
for all your sins.”

3 Do two walk together
unless they have agreed to do so?

Here Amos asks several questions that have obvious answers — “Is the Pope Catholic?” kind of questions.

4 Does a lion roar in the thicket
when it has no prey?
Does it growl in its den
when it has caught nothing?
5 Does a bird swoop down to a trap on the ground
when no bait is there?
Does a trap spring up from the ground
if it has not caught anything?
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?

7 Surely the Sovereign LORD does nothing
without revealing his plan
to his servants the prophets.

8 The lion has roared—
who will not fear?
The Sovereign LORD has spoken—
who can but prophesy?

Amos is saying he must prophesy once the Lord has spoken, just as people must feel fear when they hear a lion roar.

9 Proclaim to the fortresses of Ashdod
and to the fortresses of Egypt:
“Assemble yourselves on the mountains of Samaria;
see the great unrest within her
and the oppression among her people.”

10 “They do not know how to do right,” declares the LORD,
“who store up in their fortresses
what they have plundered and looted.”

11 Therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says:

“An enemy will overrun your land,
pull down your strongholds
and plunder your fortresses.”

This was fulfilled in the Assyrian invasion of Israel, less than 30 years after Amos made this prophecy. The bas-relief above shows King Tiglath Pileser II besieging a town.

12 This is what the LORD says:

“As a shepherd rescues from the lion’s mouth
only two leg bones or a piece of an ear,
so will the Israelites living in Samaria be rescued,
with only the head of a bed
and a piece of fabric from a couch.”

Exodus 22:10-13 says that if an animal dies in the care of another man – such as a shepherd – that the shepherd must make restitution to the owner of the animal, unless he can bring remains that demonstrate the animal was attacked by a predator. “Amos’ comparison, then, makes the sarcastic point that when invasion strikes Israel’s devastation will be so complete that all that will be rescued is proof of death in the form of scraps of furniture.” (Hubbard)

–David Guzik

13 “Hear this and testify against the descendants of Jacob,” declares the Lord, the LORD God Almighty.

14 “On the day I punish Israel for her sins,
I will destroy the altars of Bethel;
the horns of the altar will be cut off
and fall to the ground.
15 I will tear down the winter house
along with the summer house;
the houses adorned with ivory will be destroyed
and the mansions will be demolished,”
declares the LORD.

After a little more than ten years as a subject state in the Assyrian Empire, Israel was completely conquered by Assyria and the people of Israel were taken from their land and scattered throughout the Assyrian Empire. The Ten Tribes of the Northern Kingdom disappeared; all their treasure was worthless to save them.

“They do not know how to do right,” the Lord says in verse 10, as they put their trust in their lovely possessions. The Israelites found out the hard way that “things” don’t last. But faith, hope, and love — these remain.

_________________________

Music:

I remember as a child hearing George Beverly Shea sing this song as my family watched Billy Graham Crusades on television. Shea was born in Canada in 1909, son of a Wesleyan Methodist preacher; he died at age 104.  HERE  is “I’d Rather Have Jesus.”

_________________________

New International Version (NIV)   Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
sand castle.  https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/sand-castle1.jpg
duh.   https://rlv.zcache.com/duh_classic_round_sticker-rb178c50db7de49a7adbf51ee841f638b_v9waf_8byvr_324.jpg
roaring lion.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/roaringlion1.jpg
King Tiglath Pileser II.   https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/0/02/Tiglath-Pileser_II_-_1889_drawing.jpg/440px-Tiglath-Pileser_II_-_1889_drawing.jpg
map of Assyria.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/assyria-map.jpg

2062.) Amos 2

March 28, 2017

It is our only hope — that the Lord will bring us to face our sins so that we can confess them by name and ask for the forgiveness which we so desperately need and which Christ is so willing to give!

Amos 2 (NIV)

 1 This is what the LORD says:

“For three sins of Moab,
even for four, I will not relent.
Because he burned to ashes
the bones of Edom’s king,
2 I will send fire on Moab
that will consume the fortresses of Kerioth.
Moab will go down in great tumult
amid war cries and the blast of the trumpet.
3 I will destroy her ruler
and kill all her officials with him,”
says the LORD.

Moab was a southern neighbor to Judah, and the last of the six judgments Amos pronounces against the Gentile nations in this section. God promises judgment against Moab because of their cruelty to Edom and her king.

4 This is what the LORD says:

“For three sins of Judah,
even for four, I will not relent.

Then Amos speaks against the southern Kingdom of Judah from which Israel had separated. The people of the northern Kingdom would have had no grumbles about this, because Judah had also been an enemy against them at times.

–Word of Life

Because they have rejected the law of the LORD
and have not kept his decrees,
because they have been led astray by false gods,
the gods their ancestors followed,
5 I will send fire on Judah
that will consume the fortresses of Jerusalem.”

The people of Judah were given the wonderful gift of God’s word, the Law, the Commandments. When they turned away from the truth of God’s word, it is no surprise that they then embraced the lies of false gods. We do not have to look far to see the same exchange in our own world (our own lives?) today. Lord, sanctify me in your word, your truth.

Judgment on Israel

6This is what the LORD says:
 
“For three sins of Israel,
even for four, I will not relent.

It is only after all this, and after Amos had grabbed the attention of the people of the northern Kingdom, that he turned to pronouncing God’s judgement against Israel.

We may observe two things in this scenario. The first is how ready people are to see the sins in others, and approve the judgement of such sins, and fail to notice their own sins. To notice sin in others and see that sin punished makes us feel approval, but it is at the expense of being honest before God regarding our own sins.

The second is the wisdom of this approach in bringing Israel’s attention to God’s complaint against them. If Amos had simply gone to Israel and denounced their sin, Israel would have shut their ears and their minds before he even began to speak. By denouncing God’s judgement on the sins of Israel’s enemies first, Amos gained the close attention and approval of Israel to his words, and so gained attention to the words of God to Israel themselves. This shows that it is not wrong to seek to be wise in our approach to witness. We must gain people’s attention, for if we do not then our witness is vain.

–Word of Life

They sell the innocent for silver,
and the needy for a pair of sandals.
7 They trample on the heads of the poor
as on the dust of the ground
and deny justice to the oppressed.
Father and son use the same girl
and so profane my holy name.
8 They lie down beside every altar
on garments taken in pledge.
In the house of their god
they drink wine taken as fines.

For Israel, the whole picture is almost overwhelming. Amos pictures a man committing sexual immorality with a temple prostitute — the same girl his son visited the day before — keeping warm with a garment extorted from the poor, toasting his success with wine bought with money dishonestly gained.

–David Guzik

9 “Yet I destroyed the Amorites before them,
though they were tall as the cedars
and strong as the oaks.
I destroyed their fruit above
and their roots below.
10 I brought you up out of Egypt
and led you forty years in the wilderness
to give you the land of the Amorites.

11 “I also raised up prophets from among your children
and Nazirites from among your youths.
Is this not true, people of Israel?”
declares the LORD.
12 “But you made the Nazirites drink wine
and commanded the prophets not to prophesy.

The vow of a Nazirite was a special vow of dedication unto the Lord, described in Numbers 6 and used to express a special desire to draw close to God and to separate from the comforts and pleasures of this world. Under the Nazirite vow a man would eat or drink nothing from the grape vine, would not cut his hair, and would not go near any dead carcass. Here the Lord condemns Israel because they did not receive this honor with gratitude and humility, but instead rejected and despised the Lord.

13 “Now then, I will crush you
as a cart crushes when loaded with grain.
14 The swift will not escape,
the strong will not muster their strength,
and the warrior will not save his life.
15 The archer will not stand his ground,
the fleet-footed soldier will not get away,
and the horseman will not save his life.
16 Even the bravest warriors
will flee naked on that day,”
declares the LORD.

Any time justice is perverted: any time the rich receive preferential treatment, or the poor are oppressed; any time people cheat and manipulate and make money off of others in questionable ways, even if it is legal; any time people unfairly profit at the expense of the unfortunate — God sees from heaven and he promises to set it right.

_________________________

Music:

How easy to read these judgments and think they are meant for others, and forget to see my own sin —  selfishness and unkindness and arrogance and carelessness and on and on. That is why this song from the Oslo Gospel Choir is one of my favorites, because it reminds me of my constant need of the Lord’s grace!  I am “Never gonna lose my way” because “I trust in You.”  HERE.

I was doing fine so long,
thinking I was too strong,
and nothing in this world could shake me.

Everything was black or white,
either wrong or right,
condemning was so very easy.
But I’ve learned my lesson,
I see my my misery
and it’s my confession,
I’m pulling though,  it’s all because of grace I see

I am never gonna lose my way,
step by step You lead me day by day,
and I’m confident that You will always see me through,
my feet on solid ground, I trust in You!

When I used to feel so good,
doing what I should,
convinced that I knew all the answers.

Yes, I simply couldn’t see
it was all a mystery,
how people could be weak and faulty.

But I’m getting wiser,
yes, I see my misery,
and it’s so much nicer,
I’m pulling through,
it’s all because the grace I see.

I am never gonna lose my way,
step by step You lead me day by day,
and I’m glad to know that You will always see me through,
my feet on solid ground, I trust in You!

I am never gonna lose my way,
step by step You lead me day by day,
and I’m confident that You will always see me through,
my feet on solid ground, I trust in You!

I trust in You!

_________________________

New International Version (NIV)   Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
Be sure your sins . . .   http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5014/5508892182_a3f0e4497f_z.jpg
John 17:17.  http://wallpaper4god.com/en/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/john-1717_1995_1280x1024.jpg
sin.    http://deepenyourfaith.in/amdg/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/sin-672×372.png?52a695
Vengeance is mine.   http://i.quoteaddicts.com/media/quotes/84/4155320-vengeance-is-mine-i-will-repay-says-the-lord.jpg

2061.) Amos 1

March 27, 2017

Amos accuses Israel of false religion—“having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power” (2 Timothy 3:5). In the midst of the religious rituals, idolatry and social injustice thrived.

Amos 1 (NIV)

Back to the Old Testament narrative!

“Amos was from Tekoa, a small town in Judah about 6 miles south of Bethlehem and 11 miles from Jerusalem. He was not a man of the court like Isaiah, or a member of a priestly family like Jeremiah and Ezekiel. He earned his living from the flock and the sycamore-fig grove. Whether he owned the flocks and groves or only worked as a hired hand is not known. His skill with words and the strikingly broad range of his general knowledge of history and the world preclude his being an ignorant peasant. Though his home was in Judah, he was sent to announce God’s judgment on the northern kingdom (Israel). He probably ministered for the most part at Bethel, Israel’s main religious sanctuary, where the upper echelons of the northern kingdom worshiped.

“The book brings his prophecies together in a carefully organized form intended to be read as a unit. It offers few, if any, clues as to the chronological order of his spoken messages—he may have repeated them on many occasions to reach everyone who came to worship. The book is ultimately addressed to all Israel (hence the references to Judah and Jerusalem).”

–NIV Study Bible notes

 1 The words of Amos, one of the shepherds of Tekoa—the vision he saw concerning Israel two years before the earthquake, when Uzziah was king of Judah and Jeroboam son of Jehoash was king of Israel.

2 He said:

“The LORD roars from Zion
and thunders from Jerusalem;
the pastures of the shepherds dry up,
and the top of Carmel withers.”

Judgment on Israel’s Neighbors

What we see in these verses (Amos 1:3 – 2:16) is a progression. Amos commences with prophetic words against the various enemies of Israel. These nations had afflicted Israel over the years, and done many evil things against Israel. They deserved the wrath of God against them, and this would be a thought very much in the minds of the people of the northern kingdom, called Israel. As Israel heard Amos pronouncing judgement on their enemies they would be full of approval, and so give close attention to what Amos was saying, and Amos would go up in their estimation to a marked degree. They hated their enemies who had afflicted them, and so they would be delighted to hear that God was going to judge them severely, and reduce and even remove their ability to do harm to Israel.

–Word of Life

3This is what the LORD says:   

“For three sins of Damascus,
even for four, I will not relent.

“For three sins . . . even for four” does not mean the total number of the sins. It is the “formula” Amos uses to introduce God’s displeasure and coming judgment. The idea is sin upon sin upon sin. 

Because she threshed Gilead
with sledges having iron teeth,
4 I will send fire on the house of Hazael
that will consume the fortresses of Ben-Hadad.
5 I will break down the gate of Damascus;
I will destroy the king who is in the Valley of Aven
and the one who holds the scepter in Beth Eden.
The people of Aram will go into exile to Kir,”
says the LORD.

Damascus: the Roman Jupiter temple

Damascus, the capitol of Syria, has destroyed the Israelite area of Gilead so completely it is as if the land itself had been threshed.

6 This is what the LORD says:

“For three sins of Gaza,
even for four, I will not relent.
Because she took captive whole communities
and sold them to Edom,
7 I will send fire on the walls of Gaza
that will consume her fortresses.
8 I will destroy the king of Ashdod
and the one who holds the scepter in Ashkelon.
I will turn my hand against Ekron,
till the last of the Philistines are dead,”
says the Sovereign LORD.

pain in Gaza today

“The condemnation here is not against slavery in and of itself, just as the previous oracle was not against war in and of itself. The crime is not that soldiers were enslaved after being taken in battle, which was the standard practice, but that the Philistines used their temporary supremacy to enslave whole populations — soldiers and civilians, men and women, adults and children, young and old — for commercial profit. Gaza did not even need the slaves. She merely sold them to Edom for more money.”

–James Montgomery Boice

9 This is what the LORD says:

“For three sins of Tyre,
even for four, I will not relent.
Because she sold whole communities of captives to Edom,
disregarding a treaty of brotherhood,
10 I will send fire on the walls of Tyre
that will consume her fortresses.”

ruins of ancient Tyre

God promises to burn the walls of Tyre, a city in Lebanon. City walls were defensive; burned walls indicated defeat.

11 This is what the LORD says:

“For three sins of Edom,
even for four, I will not relent.
Because he pursued his brother with a sword
and slaughtered the women of the land,
because his anger raged continually
and his fury flamed unchecked,
12 I will send fire on Teman
that will consume the fortresses of Bozrah.”

The people of Edom were descended from Esau, the brother of Jacob. Jacob was the father of the 12 tribes of Israel. God condemns the Edomites for their anger against their own brother.

13 This is what the LORD says:

“For three sins of Ammon,
even for four, I will not relent.
Because he ripped open the pregnant women of Gilead
in order to extend his borders,
14 I will set fire to the walls of Rabbah
that will consume her fortresses
amid war cries on the day of battle,
amid violent winds on a stormy day.
15 Her king will go into exile,
he and his officials together,”
says the LORD.

Gilead suffered not only at the hands of the Syrians, but also from the Ammonites.

_________________________

Music:

God is a worthy judge.  HERE  is “Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise”  arranged for brass and played by the Foundation Brass of Bob Jones University.

Immortal, invisible, God only wise,
In light inaccessible hid from our eyes,
Most blessed, most glorious, the Ancient of Days,
Almighty, victorious, thy great name we praise.

Unresting, unhasting, and silent as light,
Nor wanting, nor wasting, thou rulest in might;
Thy justice like mountains high soaring above
Thy clouds which are fountains of goodness and love.

To all life thou givest to both great and small;
In all life thou livest, the true life of all;
We blossom and flourish as leaves on the tree,
And wither and perish but nought changeth thee.

Great Father of glory, pure Father of light,
Thine angels adore thee, all veiling their sight;
All laud we would render: O help us to see
‘Tis only the splendour of light hideth thee.

_________________________

New International Version (NIV)    Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
Amos, by Dore.   http://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org/bible-images/hires/Amos-Chapter-1-The-Prophet-Amos.jpg
dice.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2017/03/6f6c7-1960s-lucky-7-green-dice-showing-number-4-four-and-3-three-symbolic-winner.jpg
Damscus:  Roman temple ruins.   https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/47/The_Jupiter_temple_in_Damascus.jpg
Gaza.   http://i3.mirror.co.uk/incoming/article3880905.ece/ALTERNATES/s615/Gaza-Strip.jpg
Tyre.    http://bdeb2a7f1a2924562fd9-1032c9ed9eee47cac88a7222b79896b8.r88.cf2.rackcdn.com/uploaded/r/0e952269_ruins-of-ancient-tyre.jpg
Jacob and Esau.    https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/c2/1f/48/c21f48618a5ed7299bff221ba0dce753.jpg
balm in Gilead.   https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/564x/76/c6/ca/76c6cad8bf21456c2f51ccd4dfd3eda3.jpg

2060.) Proverbs 12

March 24, 2017

Proverbs 12 (The Message)

If You Love Learning

1 If you love learning, you love the discipline that goes with it—
how shortsighted to refuse correction!

He who opens a school door, closes a prison.

Victor Hugo
French novelist, statesman, human rights activist
(1802 – 1885)

2 A good person basks in the delight of God,
and he wants nothing to do with devious schemers.

3 You can’t find firm footing in a swamp,
but life rooted in God stands firm.

4 A hearty wife invigorates her husband,
but a frigid woman is cancer in the bones.

happy couple:  a wife with a good heart and a husband who loves her!

Eve was not taken from Adam’s head, because she was not intended to be his ruler . . . nor from his feet either, because she was not intended to be his slave . . . but from his side, precisely, because she was intended to be his companion.

5 The thinking of principled people makes for justice;
the plots of degenerates corrupt.

6 The words of the wicked kill;
the speech of the upright saves.

7 Wicked people fall to pieces—there’s nothing to them;
the homes of good people hold together.

2 Peter 2:9 (ESV)

The Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment.

8 A person who talks sense is honored;
airheads are held in contempt.

9 Better to be ordinary and work for a living
than act important and starve in the process.

10 Good people are good to their animals;
the “good-hearted” bad people kick and abuse them.

Ask the beasts and they will teach you the beauty of this earth.

–St. Francis

11 The one who stays on the job has food on the table;
the witless chase whims and fancies.

12 What the wicked construct finally falls into ruin,
while the roots of the righteous give life, and more life.

Wise People Take Advice

13 The gossip of bad people gets them in trouble;
the conversation of good people keeps them out of it.

14 Well-spoken words bring satisfaction;
well-done work has its own reward.

Tulips in a couple of the one thousand acres of Longwood Gardens, PA.

Kind hearts are the garden,
Kind thoughts are the roots,
Kind words are the blossoms,
Kind deeds are the fruits.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
American poet (1807 – 1882)

15 Fools are headstrong and do what they like;
wise people take advice.

16 Fools have short fuses and explode all too quickly;
the prudent quietly shrug off insults.

Choose NOT to be offended. I was taught this some years ago by my friend Ross, and I love the idea that I can make a choice that will benefit me and honor God!

17 Truthful witness by a good person clears the air,
but liars lay down a smoke screen of deceit.

18 Rash language cuts and maims,
but there is healing in the words of the wise.

Healing Words

The greatest healing therapy is friendship and love.
— Hubert H. Humphrey

The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing… not healing, not curing… that is a friend who cares.
— Henri Nouwen

The miracles of the church seem to me to rest not so much upon faces or voices or healing power coming suddenly near to us from afar off, but upon our perceptions being made finer, so that for a moment our eyes can see and our ears can hear what is there about us always.
— Willa Cather

You don’t have a soul. You are a Soul. You have a body.
— C.S. Lewis

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
— Philippians 4:8  (KJV)

19 Truth lasts;
lies are here today, gone tomorrow.

20 Evil scheming distorts the schemer;
peace-planning brings joy to the planner.

21 No evil can overwhelm a good person,
but the wicked have their hands full of it.

22 God can’t stomach liars;
he loves the company of those who keep their word.

23 Prudent people don’t flaunt their knowledge;
talkative fools broadcast their silliness.

24 The diligent find freedom in their work;
the lazy are oppressed by work.

It is possible to fail in many ways. . . while to succeed is possible only in one way.

Aristotle
Greek critic, philosopher, physicist, zoologist
(384-322 BC)

25 Worry weighs us down;
a cheerful word picks us up.

26 A good person survives misfortune,
but a wicked life invites disaster.

27 A lazy life is an empty life,
but “early to rise” gets the job done.

Early to bed, and early to rise,
Makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.

Benjamin Franklin
author, printer, politician, scientist, inventor, diplomat
(1706-1790)

28 Good men and women travel right into life;
sin’s detours take you straight to hell.

_________________________

Music:

The Gandhi quote at the top of the page has really stayed with me, perhaps because I have had a couple deaths in my circle of friends recently: “Live as if you were to die tomorrow.  Learn as if you were to live forever.”

HERE  Tim McGraw sings some of the same thoughts in his “Live Like You Were Dying,” a song which won the County Music Song of the Year for 2004.

_________________________

The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Images courtesy of:
Gandhi quote.   https://chrisdelacruzofficial.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/live-as-if-you-were-to-die-tomorrow-learn-as-if-you-were-to-live-forever-mahatma-gandhi.jpg
school-apple.    http://extraordinarymomsnetwork.files.wordpress.com/2009/08/apple-school.jpg
dear friends Sonja and Johan Hinderlie.    http://lh6.ggpht.com/_wwHflP16Wm8/SlgCGi-f0OI/AAAAAAAAES8/EOHXusOYupU/s288/100_4460.jpg
St. Francis with the animals.   https://www.avemariapress.com/dynamicmedia/files/6d06008f1b02bbed0179a06cceb475f0/stfrancis.jpg
Longwood Gardens.    http://www.appraisaltrend.com/xSites/Appraisers/AppraisalTrendLLC/Content/UploadedFiles/LongwoodGardens.jpg
Attitude quote.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2017/03/e112e-17f9dc4d7329c7e3037d8beb43519eb7.jpg
bouquet of flowers.  http://myfsn-ars.flowershopnetwork.com/images/flowerdatabase/alstromeria-lilies-and-roses-everyday.365.jpg 
Work hard.    http://www.motivationpark.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Work-hard-and-become-a-leader.jpg
Ben Franklin.    http://stevenblair.files.wordpress.com/2010/01/ben-franklin-2.jpg

2059.) Psalm 99

March 23, 2017

Psalm 99   (NRSV)

Praise to God for His Holiness

1The Lord is king; let the peoples tremble! He sits enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth quake!

2The Lord is great in Zion; he is exalted over all the peoples.

3Let them praise your great and awesome name. Holy is he!

Psalm 138:2 (ESV)

I bow down toward your holy temple
   and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness,
   for you have exalted above all things
   your name and your word.

4Mighty King, lover of justice, you have established equity; you have executed justice and righteousness in Jacob.

5Extol the Lord our God; worship at his footstool. Holy is he!

The fundamental idea behind the Hebrew word qadosh which occurs three times in this psalm (verses 3,5,9) is apart or separate. A place where the Lord once appeared may be called “holy ground” (Exodus 3:5). Or a place where God is especially present may be described as a “holy temple” (Psalm 11:4; Habakkuk 2:20). In modern Israel to this day, a place of special significance is called a maqom qadosh or “holy place.”

Thus to say that God is holy is to stress the otherness or separateness of God. Isaiah saw the Lord and heard the angels singing “holy, holy, holy” (Isaiah 6:3). The twentieth-century theologian Karl Barth liked to speak of God as “wholly other.”

Yet, according to the Bible, the Lord has not cut off contact with humans but is active among them. Hosea put it this way, “I am God and no mortal, the Holy One in your midst” (Hosea 11:9). The fourth Gospel speaks the same way, “And the Word became flesh and lived among us” (John 1:14).

–James Limburg (Professor Emeritus of Old Testament, Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minnesota)

6Moses and Aaron were among his priests, Samuel also was among those who called on his name. They cried to the Lord, and he answered them.

7He spoke to them in the pillar of cloud; they kept his decrees, and the statutes that he gave them.

8O Lord our God, you answered them; you were a forgiving God to them, but an avenger of their wrongdoings.

9Extol the Lord our God, and worship at his holy mountain; for the Lord our God is holy.

“This psalm rather remarkably draws together the key elements of Israel’s faith tradition. God’s enthronement makes holy presence accessible and makes righteous will more urgent.  Neither emphasis can be minimized without distorting who this ruling one is.”

–Walter Brueggemann

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is “Holy, Holy” by Tim Hughes.

_________________________

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Psalm 99:9.   https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/85/34/0c/85340cec6adbc923076fae7957308e6f.jpg
O praise His Name.   https://i.ytimg.com/vi/LqBpifDpNKc/maxresdefault.jpg
Holy holy holy.   http://media.salemwebnetwork.com/ecards/church-family/holy-is-the-lord-1-550×320.jpg