The Prophet Amos - Part 2
This is the second instalment of our brief study on the Book of Amos. We are now covering chapters 5 and 6. The book although a short one has rich lessons for us today that are very timely which I would like to put emphasis on. The book is all about a call to repentance and and a promise of a bright future to those who return to God.
1. Man's unrepentance
Earlier, Amos wrote about the suffering of Israel because of her sins. and yet did not return to God. In all of chapter 4 of the book, the Lord in great sorrow declared five times about Israel after getting inflicted with series of hardships, "yet you have not returned to me". Let us enumerate again those passages:
2. God's call for us to seek Him
Notice how the punishment on Israel gets more severe as it progresses in the above passages. When God burned Sodom and Gomorrah, no one survived except Lot and his two daughters. That's the worst punishment on Israel and yet despite that, they won't return to God. Just like in Sodom and Gomorrah, there will only be few survivors, which is only ten percent (Amos 5:3) of their population. God declared that those remaining ten percent are still not willing to repent. Without repentance, no one is worthy to live. It is in the absence of God that we suffer. In Europe, more and more churches are being converted into mosques. People are becoming very complacent and less Christian. And yet unlike man, God is an ever merciful and patient God. God extends once more His invitation of repentance in chapter 5.
This is what God said to ancient Israel and the same applies to Israel today:
God is saying, go straight to Him. Bethel and Gilgal were both sacred places where the forefathers set a memorial stones to God. Beersheba was a place where Abraham made a treaty with Abimelek, a Philistine king. These places were held sacred where Israelites used to go and pray but God said He is the one to go to directly. Same thing is true today. So many people physically go to places of worship but are spiritually absent. Jesus once said to the Samaritan woman:
Not only is the land being cursed by God because of sin but also our works will be in vain.
During those days, all places, all men are corrupted. Days were evil, no one seek God. Over and over, God seek repentance and warned them not to seek evil.
3. The Day of the Lord
Amos is one of the many prophets who prophesied the coming darkness, the Day of the Lord.
The Day of the Lord will actually have a duration of one year, the last year of the last seven years of Daniel. When the Bible says "day of the Lord," it is referring always about the last year prior to the Second Coming. Jesus will come at the very last day of that year. Read Where Are We Now? What To Expect? for the time chart of the last seven years. It will be woeful for those who will be overtaken by the Day of the Lord but then they will still have a chance to seek salvation if they seek God and repent. In that day, God will destroy all His enemies but still wanted all to repent. Perhaps, God will have mercy on those overtaken by His coming as written in Amos 5:13-15--
4. God hates our way of worship
Some Church worship services are lacking in spirit and are dry. Sometimes, the songs and claps are just noise. Compare it with if we watch the games of our favourite teams and players in championship games and notice that our applauds are more emotional and real. God is looking for the same adulation. He is seeking for those who will worship Him in Truth and Spirit. We idolize a good actors, artists or great men that we want to be like them. People watch awards in Oscars for best artists with elaborate pageantry. These are our modern day idolatry that God hates. He also hates our feasts like our Christmases, Easter and other pagan-inspired festivals. Jesus also said that if we offer something to God, we should make sure that we should first get reconciled with our enemies and justice prevail. Read Matt 5:23-26.
5. God hates our dependency on our own power
God promised Abraham that his descendants will possess the gates of their enemies (Gen 24:60). That means possessing great military power. Abraham's descendants were assured to become the greatest military power in the world. The modern day Israel-- EU and America are the descendants of Abraham possessing that great blessing. However, God's own people are proven to be poor stewards of His blessings. They now take pride and rely more on their power instead of looking up to God. Read Weapons or God? for details.
Ancient fortresses are military stronghold or cities protected by thick walls. In the modern age these are the most modern weaponry that the West takes pride of as being the world's most advanced. However, we will see how God shall make them useless against the enemy when they are attacked.
God's test for the modern day Israel
What is one of the applications of Amos' lesson for today? God is testing His own people through the enemy. It is not an accident that Iran is suddenly at the edge of developing nuclear weapons. God is using the enemy to see if His own people will seek God. I haven't seen any national leader asking God for protection. Instead, Israel is relying on the US and weapons just like ancient Judah relying on ancient Egypt. As Isaiah says,
Today, check the headlines-- we are seeing that happening before our eyes. We know that the US is the modern Egypt and Israel is the land of the Jews, the old House of Judah. Also read Israel, The Divided House for details. And likewise, the old Egypt was just a loud noise (Jer 46:17) and whose help is useless.
As already foretold by Amos, everything has already been laid out from the very beginning.
The events that are happening in the Middle East and the West are just the reflection of what had happened in the past.
We will conclude our study of the Book of Amos next week.
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