2069.) Amos 9

April 6, 2017

Jeremiah 29:11

Amos 9    (NIV)

Israel to Be Destroyed

God’s imminent judgment on Israel would not be a mere punitive blow to warn, as God had done often before, but an almost total destruction. The unthinkable was about to happen: Because they had not faithfully consecrated themselves to his lordship, God would uproot his chosen people by the hands of a pagan nation. Even so, if they would repent, there was hope that “the Lord God Almighty (would) have mercy on the remnant.” In fact, the Lord had a glorious future for his people, beyond the impending judgment. The house of David would again rule over Israel—even extend its rule over many nations—and Israel would once more be secure in the promised land, feasting on wine and fruit. The God of Israel, the Lord of history, would not abandon his chosen people or his chosen program of redemption.

–NIV Study Bible notes

I saw the Lord standing by the altar, and he said:

“Strike the tops of the pillars
so that the thresholds shake.
Bring them down on the heads of all the people;
those who are left I will kill with the sword.
Not one will get away,
none will escape.

You can run but you can’t hide. God says complete destruction is coming because of the sinfulness of the people.

Though they dig down to the depths below,
from there my hand will take them.
Though they climb up to the heavens above,
from there I will bring them down.
Though they hide themselves on the top of Carmel,
there I will hunt them down and seize them.
Though they hide from my eyes at the bottom of the sea,
there I will command the serpent to bite them.
Though they are driven into exile by their enemies,
there I will command the sword to slay them.

“I will keep my eye on them
for harm and not for good. ”

But for those who love God:  “His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.”

2 Chronicles 16:9 (N ASB)

For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.

The Lord, the Lord Almighty—
he touches the earth and it melts,
and all who live in it mourn;
the whole land rises like the Nile,
then sinks like the river of Egypt;
he builds his lofty palace in the heavens
and sets its foundation on the earth;
he calls for the waters of the sea
and pours them out over the face of the land—
the Lord is his name.

“Are not you Israelites
the same to me as the Cushites?”
declares the Lord.
“Did I not bring Israel up from Egypt,
the Philistines from Caphtor
and the Arameans from Kir?

“Surely the eyes of the Sovereign Lord
are on the sinful kingdom.
I will destroy it
from the face of the earth.
Yet I will not totally destroy
the descendants of Jacob,”
declares the Lord.
“For I will give the command,
and I will shake the people of Israel
among all the nations
as grain is shaken in a sieve,
and not a pebble will reach the ground.

“I think I see you, poor believer, tossed about like that wheat, up and down, right and left, in the sieve, and in the air, never resting. Perhaps it is suggested to you, ‘God is very angry with me.’ No, the farmer is not angry with his wheat when he casts it up and down in the sieve, and neither is God angry with you; this you shall see one day when the light shall show that love ruled in all your griefs.”

–Charles Haddon Spurgeon

10 All the sinners among my people
will die by the sword,
all those who say,
‘Disaster will not overtake or meet us.’

Israel’s Restoration

Suddenly — “hope and a future”!

11 “In that day

“I will restore David’s fallen shelter —
I will repair its broken walls
and restore its ruins —
and will rebuild it as it used to be,
12 so that they may possess the remnant of Edom
and all the Gentiles who are called by my name, ”
declares the Lord, who will do these things.

James, the brother of Jesus, quoted Amos 9:11-12 at the Council of Jerusalem. He used this passage to demonstrate that God promised to reach the Gentiles and to bring them into His kingdom under the Messiah, not under Israel.

13 “The days are coming,” declares the Lord,
“when the reaper will be overtaken by the plowman
and the planter by the one treading grapes.

. . . meaning that the planter and harvester will trip over each other due to the incredible fertility and abundance.

New wine will drip from the mountains
and flow from all the hills,
14     and I will bring my people Israel back from exile.

fertile northern Israel today

“They will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them.
They will plant vineyards and drink their wine;
they will make gardens and eat their fruit.
15 I will plant Israel in their own land,
never again to be uprooted
from the land I have given them,”

says the Lord your God.

_________________________

Music:

So the book of Amos, full of warnings and threats, ends with glorious promises of God’s loving restoration and abundance!  HERE  is “Song of Reconciliation”  as sung by Susan Ashton, Margaret Becker, and Christine Dente on the album Along the Road.

Where there is love there is a peace
And in the cages that bind the bitter heart it is release
Hold it close to your chest, let it move and let it rest
For it is here to set your mind at ease
Where there is love there is a peace

Where there is hope there is a dream
To rise above, to remit and to redeem
To go back, to go where there’s no hurt or anger there
To find the song that you once could sing
Where there is hope there is a dream

Where there is faith there is a chance
To alter the course and fight the winds of circumstance
Not to scar, but mend, not to break, but to bend
And not to know but to understand
Where there is faith there is a chance
Where there is hope there is a dream
Where there is love there is a peace

_________________________

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

Images courtesy of:
Jeremiah 29:11.  https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/jeremiah29-11.jpg
does God care?  http://www.dailyencouragement.net/images/scripture/does_god_care.jpg
Jesus cares.   http://jesuscaresforyou.org/gallery/82f5356b06974a04cb1c55d150ac2b3e_280x180.png
Israel today.  http://cdn.greenprophet.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/north-israel-solar-clouds11.jpg

2068.) Amos 8

April 5, 2017

“Fruit Basket” by Balthasar van der Ast (Dutch Golden Age painter, 1593-1657)

Amos 8   (NIV)

A Basket of Ripe Fruit

This is what the Sovereign Lord showed me: a basket of ripe fruit. “What do you see, Amos? ” he asked.

“A basket of ripe fruit,” I answered.

Then the Lord said to me, “The end has come upon my people Israel; I will spare them no longer.

Scholars say that this is a clever play on words. In Hebrew, the words ‘ripe fruit’ sound like ‘end.’ God’s mercy has come to an end.

“In that day,” declares the Sovereign Lord, “the songs in the temple will turn to wailing.  Many, many bodies—flung everywhere! Silence!”

No more songs of thanks at harvest time. Instead there will be sadness, weeping, death.

Hear this, you who trample the needy
and do away with the poor of the land,

saying,

“When will the New Moon be over
that we may sell grain,
and the Sabbath be ended
that we may market wheat?” —
skimping on the measure,
boosting the price
and cheating with dishonest scales,
buying the poor with silver
and the needy for a pair of sandals,
selling even the sweepings with the wheat.

God has seen the arrogant rich people cheating, he has seen them conducting their unfair business practices, and he has seen them taking advantage of the vulnerable poor people.

The Lord has sworn by himself, the Pride of Jacob: “I will never forget anything they have done.

We can make a contrast between Amos 8:7 and Hebrews 6:10: For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister. God does not forget the good works of His people, and He does not forget the evil works of those who reject Him.

–David Guzik

“Will not the land tremble for this,
and all who live in it mourn?
The whole land will rise like the Nile;
it will be stirred up and then sink
like the river of Egypt.

“In that day,” declares the Sovereign Lord,

“I will make the sun go down at noon
and darken the earth in broad daylight.
10 I will turn your religious festivals into mourning
and all your singing into weeping.
I will make all of you wear sackcloth
and shave your heads.
I will make that time like mourning for an only son
and the end of it like a bitter day.

Zechariah 12:10 (ESV)

“And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn.”

11 “The days are coming,” declares the Sovereign Lord,
“when I will send a famine through the land—
not a famine of food or a thirst for water,
but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord.
12 People will stagger from sea to sea
and wander from north to east,
searching for the word of the Lord,
but they will not find it.

Since it is true that man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4), then it is true that a famine of hearing God’s Word is ultimately worse than a famine of bread.

–David Guzik

13 “In that day

“the lovely young women and strong young men
will faint because of thirst.
14 Those who swear by the sin of Samaria —
who say, ‘As surely as your god lives, Dan,’
or, ‘As surely as the god of Beersheba lives’—
they will fall, never to rise again. ”

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is “Lord, Have Mercy”  by Michael W. Smith and Amy Grant.  Deep down, we are so much like the Israelites!  Thank you, Lord, for your kindness and mercy to us!

_________________________

New International Version (NIV)   Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica
Images courtesy of:
van der Ast.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/fruit-basket-by-balthasar-van-der-ast.jpg
greedy business practice.   https://lygsbtd.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/rob-arkley-eureka-businessman.jpg
Christ on cross, pierced.   http://sothl.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Jesus-on-the-cross-about-to-be-pierced-with-a-spear-610×352.jpg
bread, wheat, Bible.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/bread-wheat-bible1.jpg

2067.) Amos 7

April 4, 2017

This is Amos.  Considered a little weird.  Not well-liked in Israel.

Amos 7 (NIV)

Locusts, Fire and a Plumb Line

This is what the Sovereign Lord showed me: He was preparing swarms of locusts after the king’s share had been harvested and just as the late crops were coming up.

There was an early crop; the king took a share from this crop. (However, we know very little about the circumstances of this.) The harvest from the second crop was for the farmers. So if the locusts ate this second crop, there would be no food left.

Joel 1:4 (NIV)

What the locust swarm has left
   the great locusts have eaten;
what the great locusts have left
   the young locusts have eaten;
what the young locusts have left
   other locusts have eaten.

When they had stripped the land clean, I cried out, “Sovereign Lord, forgive! How can Jacob survive? He is so small! ”

So the Lord relented.  “This will not happen,” the Lord said.

James 5:16 (KJV)

The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

This is what the Sovereign Lord showed me: The Sovereign Lord was calling for judgment by fire; it dried up the great deep and devoured the land.

Revelation 8:7-8 (ESV)

The first angel blew his trumpet, and there followed hail and fire, mixed with blood, and these were thrown upon the earth. And a third of the earth was burned up, and a third of the trees were burned up, and all green grass was burned up.

The second angel blew his trumpet, and something like a great mountain, burning with fire, was thrown into the sea, and a third of the sea became blood.

Then I cried out, “Sovereign Lord, I beg you, stop! How can Jacob survive? He is so small! ”

So the Lord relented.  “This will not happen either,” the Sovereign Lord said.

Proverbs 15:29 (NLT)

The Lord is far from the wicked,
      but he hears the prayers of the righteous.

This is what he showed me: The Lord was standing by a wall that had been built true to plumb, with a plumb line in his hand. And the Lord asked me, “What do you see, Amos? ”

“A plumb line, ” I replied.

Then the Lord said, “Look, I am setting a plumb line among my people Israel; I will spare them no longer.

“The high places of Isaac will be destroyed
and the sanctuaries of Israel will be ruined;
with my sword I will rise against the house of Jeroboam. ”

Isaiah 40:8 (NLT)

The grass withers and the flowers fade,
      but the word of our God stands forever.

Amos and Amaziah

10 Then Amaziah the priest of Bethel sent a message to Jeroboam king of Israel: “Amos is raising a conspiracy against you in the very heart of Israel. The land cannot bear all his words. 11 For this is what Amos is saying:

“‘Jeroboam will die by the sword,
and Israel will surely go into exile,
away from their native land.’”

An idolatrous priest complains to an ungodly king that the preacher is talking about sin, which goes against the grain of the ruling class, and no one wants to hear it. This is closer to us than one might think. I did a Walk Thru the Bible seminar a few years ago at a church in Florida which was searching for a new pastor after a long-term pastor retired. “All we want,” one of the church leaders told me, “is someone who will teach us Bible study. Our former pastor would only do novels.” And a pastor/friend tells of a leader in one of his former churches meeting with him and asking him to stop preaching so much about Jesus, because that meant the cross, which was barbaric, and that meant sin, which was old-fashioned.  Just stick to the happy stuff, he was told.

Lord, open our eyes and ears to the truth of your word, so we will be faithful and not disobedient.

12 Then Amaziah said to Amos, “Get out, you seer! Go back to the land of Judah. Earn your bread there and do your prophesying there. 13 Don’t prophesy anymore at Bethel, because this is the king’s sanctuary and the temple of the kingdom. ”

14 Amos answered Amaziah, “I was neither a prophet nor the son of a prophet, but I was a shepherd, and I also took care of sycamore-fig trees. 15 But the Lord took me from tending the flock and said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel.’ 16 Now then, hear the word of the Lord. You say,

“‘Do not prophesy against Israel,
and stop preaching against the descendants of Isaac.’

17 “Therefore this is what the Lord says:

“‘Your wife will become a prostitute in the city,
and your sons and daughters will fall by the sword.
Your land will be measured and divided up,
and you yourself will die in a pagan country.
And Israel will surely go into exile,
away from their native land. ’”

(Can’t you picture it? Amos the prophet/farmer, replying to the priest, standing his ground in his high heels!)

“Israel will surely go into exile away from their native land.” This is exactly what Amaziah accused Amos of saying as part of the “conspiracy.” Amos is bold enough to speak for the Lord, and to tell Amaziah and everyone else that Israel’s impending captivity is indeed true. A difficult word in a most difficult circumstance, but Amos was faithful to deliver it.

_________________________

Music:

Amos mentions a plumb line, a tool used to ensure that constructions are vertically straight. Can we be a plumb line, of sorts, for our sphere of influence, showing the true light of Christ by our holy living? Or, in the words of St. Frances, can we be instruments of the Lord’s peace?  HERE  — Music by John Rutter, sung by the Cambridge Singers.

_________________________

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

Images courtesy of:
The end is near.   http://diarydiehard.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/cover.jpg
locusts swarm.   http://www.greatdreams.com/locusts-swarm.jpg
forest fire.   http://storage.canoe.ca/v1/blogs-prod-photos/e/8/7/0/d/e870d12c9b59a0c57cc419ccf50c939c.jpg?stmp=1274451356
plumb line.   https://upwordtogether.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/gods_plumb_line.jpg
Don’t rain.   https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/ea/85/0f/ea850fee998c3d9b551e34950e8dd296.jpg
high heels.   https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/564x/ea/79/e2/ea79e2b8249e169662088ef1e7ffe5d5.jpg

2066.) Amos 6

April 3, 2017

Brought to you by the World, the Flesh, and the Devil.

Amos 6 (NIV)

Woe to the Complacent

The God for whom Amos speaks is God of more than merely Israel. He also uses one nation against another to carry out his purposes, as we will read in verse 14. He is the Great King who rules the whole universe. Because he is all-sovereign, the God of Israel holds the history and destiny of all peoples and of the world in his hands. Israel must know not only that he is the Lord of her future, but also that he is Lord over all, and that he has purposes and concerns that reach far beyond her borders. Israel had a unique, but not an exclusive, claim on God. She needed to remember not only his covenant commitments to her but also her covenant obligations to him. 

–NIV Study Bible notes

1 Woe to you who are complacent in Zion,
and to you who feel secure on Mount Samaria,
you notable men of the foremost nation,
to whom the people of Israel come!

Luke 6:24 (CEV)

But you rich people
are in for trouble.
You have already had
an easy life!

2 Go to Kalneh and look at it;
go from there to great Hamath,
and then go down to Gath in Philistia.
Are they better off than your two kingdoms?
Is their land larger than yours?
3 You put off the day of disaster
and bring near a reign of terror.
4 You lie on beds adorned with ivory
and lounge on your couches.
You dine on choice lambs
and fattened calves.

Lunch at Thomas Keller’s The French Laundry: “Elysian Fields Farm Lamb Rib-Eye with ‘Collier d’Agneau,’ French Laundry Garden Brussels Sprouts, Young Turnips, Toasted Farro and Sauce Navarin.” $310 covers the meal and the tip but not tax or the wine. I am not saying it’s not worth it!

5 You strum away on your harps like David
and improvise on musical instruments.
6 You drink wine by the bowlful
and use the finest lotions,

3.4 ounces for $820. People are buying it because the brand has been around since 1991.

but you do not grieve over the ruin of Joseph.
7 Therefore you will be among the first to go into exile;
your feasting and lounging will end.

“Self-indulgence! Oh, this is the God of many! They live not for Christ – What do they for him? They live not for his Church – What care they for that? They live for self, and for self only. And mark there are such among the poor as well as among the rich, for all classes have this evil leaven.”

— Charles Haddon Spurgeon

The LORD Abhors the Pride of Israel

1 Peter 5:5 (ESV)

Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

8The Sovereign LORD has sworn by himself—the LORD God Almighty declares:
“I abhor the pride of Jacob
and detest his fortresses;
I will deliver up the city
and everything in it.”

9 If ten people are left in one house, they too will die. 10 And if the relative who comes to carry the bodies out of the house to burn them asks anyone who might be hiding there, “Is anyone else with you?” and he says, “No,” then he will go on to say, “Hush! We must not mention the name of the LORD.”

11 For the LORD has given the command,
and he will smash the great house into pieces
and the small house into bits.

12 Do horses run on the rocky crags?
Does one plow the sea with oxen?

Again Amos asks his questions that have an obvious answer:  “Of course not.”  The meaning is — Israel, what you have done is just as foolish and will have no good results.

But you have turned justice into poison
and the fruit of righteousness into bitterness—
13 you who rejoice in the conquest of Lo Debar
and say, “Did we not take Karnaim by our own strength?”

14 For the LORD God Almighty declares,
“I will stir up a nation against you, Israel,
that will oppress you all the way
from Lebo Hamath to the valley of the Arabah.”

Amos comes back to this constant theme – because of Israel’s great and deep sin, judgment is coming through a conquering nation.

–David Guzik

_________________________

Music:

That unsettling little conversation in verses 9 and 10, which ends with “We must not mention the name of the Lord.” No, no, no, I cannot agree! We will say it, sing it, proclaim it!  HERE  is “We Trust in the Name of the Lord our God”  by Steve Green.

_________________________

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

Images courtesy of:
Take it easy.   https://rurlink.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/take-it-easy.jpg
lunch.   http://lettherebebite.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/lamb-blog.jpg
“the finest lotions.”    http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2015/09/27/23/12E73185000005DC-3251389-image-a-28_1443393171877.jpg
More “me” stuff.  http://glossynews.com/society/201009180228/libertea-federalist-activists-launch-the-its-all-about-me-party/

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