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:

Amos 4:6 is about the coming great famine.
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.

Amos 4:8 is about the drought that is to come.
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.

Amos 4:9 is about pestilence and locusts that devours crops.
9 "Many times I struck your gardens and vineyards, I struck them with blight and mildew. Locusts devoured your fig and olive trees, yet you have not returned to me," declares the LORD.

Amos 4:10 is about the same ten plagues that ravaged Egypt will also be inflicted on Israel.
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.

And Amos 4:11 is finally, a fire from God.
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.

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.

The New Peckham Mosque in Waite Street, Camberwell, Greater London was once the St. Mark Cathedral. More and more chapels or cathedrals are being converted into mosques as church attendance declines while Islam is growing. Click here for some more of these conversions.

This is what God said to ancient Israel and the same applies to Israel today:

Amos 5:4-6
4 This is what the LORD says to the house of 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." 6 Seek the LORD and live, or he will sweep through the house of Joseph like a fire; it will devour, and Bethel will have no one to quench it.

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:

John 4:23-24
23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth."

Not only is the land being cursed by God because of sin but also our works will be in vain.

Amos 5:11-12
11 You trample on the poor and force him to give you 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.

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

Man has put their trust on human power to remain supreme, both of which God will put an end to.

Amos is one of the many prophets who prophesied the coming darkness, the Day of the Lord.

Amos 5:18-20
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?

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--

3 Therefore the prudent man keeps 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.

Also in Luke 21:36
36 Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man."

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.

Worship is not confined in the chapel, it is how we live a holy life every day. God seeks worshippers in Truth and Spirit.

Amos 5:21-24
21 "I hate, I despise your religious feasts; I cannot stand your assemblies. 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!

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.

Amos 6:8
8 The 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."

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,

Traditional allies, the US and Israel has been solid for a long time until today. Iran is a test for Israel and her allies. The prophecies have to be fulfilled.
Source: Screen capture from FoxNews.

Isa 31:1-3
Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, who rely on horses, who trust in the multitude of their chariots and in the great strength of their horsemen, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel, or seek help from the LORD. 2 Yet he too is wise and can bring disaster; he does not take back his words. He will rise up against the house of the wicked, against those who help evildoers. 3 But the Egyptians are men and not God; their horses are flesh and not spirit. When the LORD stretches out his hand, he who helps will stumble, he who is helped will fall; both will perish together.

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.

Isa 30:7
7 to Egypt, whose help is utterly useless. Therefore I call her Rahab the Do-Nothing.

As already foretold by Amos, everything has already been laid out from the very beginning.

Amos 3:7
7 Surely the Sovereign LORD does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets.

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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