Thursday, February 4, 2016

God’s Efforts To Correct Israel

Amos 4:1-13

“Hear this word, ye kine of Bashan, that are in the mountain of Samaria, which oppress the poor, which crush the needy, which say to their masters, Bring, and let us drink.  The Lord GOD hath sworn by his holiness, that, lo, the days shall come upon you, that he will take you away with hooks, and your posterity with fishhooks.  And ye shall go out at the breaches, every cow at that which is before her; and ye shall cast them into the palace, saith the LORD.” (Amos 4:1-3)

Bashan was the area east of the Sea of Galilee that had originally been given to the half tribe of Manasseh because it was such a good area for raising livestock.  Ephraim and Manasseh were Joseph’s sons and the two tribes were closely allied in ruling the nation of Israel.  Like a bunch of half wild cattle, they had trampled over and bullied the other tribes to get their way and waiting for their herdsmen to bring them water and food.   God said they would be treated like a bunch of cattle, being butchered and carried away on meat hooks and their descendants on fishhooks like bait.  They will be like a bunch of cows escaping through the closest hole in the fence and ramming people into the palace to get away.    

“Come to Bethel, and transgress; at Gilgal multiply transgression; and bring your sacrifices every morning, and your tithes after three years: And offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving with leaven, and proclaim and publish the free offerings: for this liketh you, O ye children of Israel, saith the Lord GOD.” (Amos 4:4-5)

One of Jeroboams golden calves had been placed in Bethel and it was there they first turned away from God, offering the same sacrifices as they offered God in the Temple.    At Gilgal, they went farther into idolatry.  They were offering the proper sacrifices, in the proper way, but to another God, the golden calf.  They had chosen those golden calves over God. 

“And I also have given you cleanness of teeth in all your cities, and want of bread in all your places: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD.  And also I have withholden the rain from you, when there were yet three months to the harvest: and I caused it to rain upon one city, and caused it not to rain upon another city: one piece was rained upon, and the piece whereupon it rained not withered.  So two or three cities wandered unto one city, to drink water; but they were not satisfied: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD.” (Amos 4:6-8)

As a warning, God had caused famine in all the cities of Israel.  There was no food caught in their teeth.  In spite of that there was no effort to turn to God.  God had changed the weather so that there was no rain from the time the crops were planted until harvest time.  Instead of wide spread rains he caused there to just be local downpours with other areas experiencing severe drought.  Cities were forced to turn to each other for help, but there was not enough water to meet the needs.  In spite of that they did not turn to God. 

“I have smitten you with blasting and mildew: when your gardens and your vineyards and your fig trees and your olive trees increased, the palmerworm devoured them: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD.” (Amos 4:9)

God sent diseases and mold to destroy their crops, and the worms had devoured the fruit and vegetables.  Still they had not turned to God. 

“I have sent among you the pestilence after the manner of Egypt: your young men have I slain with the sword, and have taken away your horses; and I have made the stink of your camps to come up unto your nostrils: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD.” (Amos 4:10)

They had experienced diseases like occurred in Egypt, killing many.  Wars had claimed most of the young men, and the horses they used in the fields.  The smell of rotting corpses in the camps was unbearable yet they did not turn to God.

“I have overthrown some of you, as God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, and ye were as a firebrand plucked out of the burning: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD.” (Amos 4:11)

Some of them had been destroyed by natural events just as Sodom and Gomorrah were, and a few survivors saved like burning sticks from a fire, yet they did not turn to God.

“Therefore thus will I do unto thee, O Israel: and because I will do this unto thee, prepare to meet thy God, O Israel.  For, lo, he that formeth the mountains, and createth the wind, and declareth unto man what is his thought, that maketh the morning darkness, and treadeth upon the high places of the earth, The LORD, The God of hosts, is his name.” (Amos 4:12-13)

They needed to get ready to meet God in his anger, remembering he is the creator of the universe and the one who spoke to man.  He is God Almighty. 

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