Festivals, Famines and Foes

Amos 6-9; the prophet from the South brings the full verdict of God upon Israel in the North. Israel has departed from serving God since they were removed by God from Judah in 2 Kings 17. Jeroboam led the 10 tribes to serve Baal and pagan gods of the Canaanites.  God has had enough of His people and their idolatrous ways.  What caused the tribes to forget God? Was it just that they forgot because they were drawn away into pagan sensuous idol worship? Was it because of Solomon’s extravagant lifestyle and tax burden on the people? I think it was because the people became comfortable. No battles or wars to fight. The enemy had become unrecognizable, for Israel now lived among the pagan people. Also I think that Israel was living an affluent lifestyle. They had no need of God; they could provide for themselves. In chapter 6 we read of the “ease” of the people. They slept on beds of ivory, sprawl out on couches, ate from the flocks, drank from the sacrificial bowls, anointed themselves with the oils and listened to the songs composed for them. The sacred things became common place. No longer was there the “fear of God” among the nation. Israel had become arrogant, prideful and irreverent.  The Calm Before the Storm – surely for God would raise up Assyria to punish them. In Israel’s arrogance, they missed the warning signs from God. In Chapter 7, we get the illustration of a Plum-Line; God was going to measure with His standard, what was true. I remember using a plumb-line and a chalk line. One is used to get things vertically correct, the latter is to draw a horizontal line accurately. It is Amos and his intercession that prevents God from unleashing His wrath. Even in discipline, intercession is listened to by the Father. However, even God has a limit of long-suffering [7:8].

As many preachers of the Truth have learned, when the message becomes too close for comfort, people will lash out and criticize the messenger. Amos, is an outsider, just as many preachers are today in their churches. Preachers are seen just as Amos was “you’re not one of us.” In chapter 8, the image of a “summer Basket of Fruit” shows how quickly Israel’s lot will turn. Just as summer fruit doesn’t last, but spoils quickly, so would the fortunes of Israel. Their life of luxury would soon be over. Israel looks past the festivals to a time when they can resume their deceit, dishonesty and traitor tactics.

I wondered while reading the punishment of the Northern Kingdom, “why God didn’t give them into a period of exile” like Judah would later? The answer was again found in 2 Kings 17 – there was nothing redeemable about Israel. They had gone too far. Also, Judah was the covenant tribe of which the “Lion of Judah” would come.  In Israel, there were 19 different dynasties, with 19 different kings – all for the most part had the epitaph of “they walk not in the ways of their father David.” They continually did evil in the sight of the Lord. Jehovah was tired of their festivals to idols and the neglect of His own festivals. He wold send a famine among the people – a famine for the Word of God. No bread or water, parched and dry spiritual lives. We can think of the 400 years of silence experienced at the end of the Old Testament as a season of dryness. In chapter 9, we find that the judgment on Israel in unavoidable – the nation of Israel would be known as the “Lost Tribes.” Yet even in all of the peril, the book closes with Hope of restoration.

Now the crux of this blog today is to speak to the condition of not only United States, but to all nation who forget the God is God, and fall into an earthly living of affluence and arrogance. There is a famine of the Word of God. Preachers don’t preach the Gospel or the true revelation of God, they will defer away from pronouncing judgment on congregational, community or countries sins. Christianity has become a “How to”  or “self-Help” religion. I believe that there will be some more difficult and dark days ahead for our nation, and others who have sought – the “good Life” of the world and forfeited their souls. We have warnings today, we must listen, remember, repent and return. Israel didn’t and they were scattered to the four winds of the earth – this should teach us that “God is not a respecter of Persons!”

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Filed under 16 Prophets in 2016

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