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!”
How in the World do I vote?
In the last 2 years the American people have been inundated with political rhetoric and viewpoints. I have heard that many are thinking of not even voting, for they find both candidates undesirable. There is a lot of anger, stress and opposition within America. The election is important, and we all must exercise our constitution rights. Voting is more than just a right it is also a responsibility. While I agree that all eligible people should be registered and vote; there is more to voting than casting a ballot. As Believers we are commanded to respect and honor those civil authorities over us [Romans 13]. We are to “render unto Caesar’s and unto God what is God’s. We live in two worlds, as believers were are to be “pilgrims and aliens” for we seek a city whose builder and maker is God; having said that we do live life in the earthly existence so we can just ignore civil issues. I have been in a dilemma as many of you asking “how do I exercise my citizenship in America, while remaining faithful to trusting God?” Well I know that Caesar is always going to be Caesar, therefore I must seek what God’s will is in all things. Our voting responsibility means that we must be informed about each candidate, and seek to understand what God is doing in our country. As the Holy Spirit illuminates your understanding through reading and listening to the abundance of material – you have to ask “How does God want me to vote?” Let me give you two examples from scripture that will show you that God’s choice isn’t necessarily man’s choice. The first is when Israel wanted to be like all the other nations and have a king. Samuel told them they didn’t need a king, they had Jehovah. Pressed by the people, God instructed Samuel to let the people have a king. God gave them King Saul, he was the tallest and most impressive “candidate,” needless to say, Saul last a year before the Holy Spirit was removed from him by God. [1 Samuel 9-11] The second example was King Nebuchadnezzar, the King of Babylon. The Father in heaven chose to elevate Nebuchadnezzar to a lofty position as the greatest kingdom to ever exist. God used the Babylonians as His instrument of discipline towards the unfaithful Israelites. The reigning king Zedekiah was flabbergasted that Jeremiah would proclaim such a thing to the people of Judah. The point I am trying to make is that people want a king of their own liking and supportive of their own agenda and issues. However, God is the reigning King and will remain so. We may not like what He is doing – but we must accept His judgment and person He chooses to raise to power. Now I know that the situation for my two examples is opposite. God chose Nebuchadnezzar to discipline an unfaithful, carnal people of God. They went into captivity for 70 years – only 4600 people were saved after the disciplining of God. I don’t think I have to explain the condition of America. But I do want you to know why we are in such a condition. I believe that the “Church” is the fault. The Church has followed the demise of Israel then; it stands to reason any people who refuse to live for the Lord will be the object of His punishment and anger. If we want to see the morality and ethics of our nation changed to a biblical standard, then it starts with us. We must live out what we say lives in us. Jesus Christ is the difference maker, not an elected official. I am reminded of how the early Church was persecuted terribly by the “Caesar’s” yet they turned the known would upside down with the Gospel. Who do you vote for? Be educated on the candidates, be fervent in prayer and listen to the Holy Spirit being convinced of what God in doing in our midst – then vote accordingly and leave the results to God.
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