Friday, February 5, 2016

Israel’s Attitude Toward God

Amos 5:1-27

“Hear ye this word which I take up against you, even a lamentation, O house of Israel.  The virgin of Israel is fallen; she shall no more rise: she is forsaken upon her land; there is none to raise her up.  For thus saith the Lord GOD; The city that went out by a thousand shall leave an hundred, and that which went forth by an hundred shall leave ten, to the house of Israel.” (Amos 5:1-3)

Because of their constant rebellion, God is going to bring disaster on Israel.  She will never recover from this judgment.  God has withdrawn his blessings and no one else can save her.  Only a tenth of the people will b be left to try to rebuild.  Ninety percent will be killed or taken captive.  It is important to understand God has not forgotten his promise to Abraham, but that, because of their extreme sin Israel will never again be a separate nation from Judah.  After their defeat by Assyria, they were replaced by other peoples, and even in Jesus’ day there was only a comparatively small population of full blood Jews in the land. 

“For thus saith the LORD unto the house of Israel, Seek ye me, and ye shall live: But seek not Bethel, nor enter into Gilgal, and pass not to Beersheba: for Gilgal shall surely go into captivity, and Bethel shall come to nought.  Seek the LORD, and ye shall live; lest he break out like fire in the house of Joseph, and devour it, and there be none to quench it in Bethel.” (Amos 5:4-6)

As bad as they have been, if Israel will turn to God he will still save their country for them, but it will mean they cannot depend on their traditions.  The must not go back to Bethel or Gilgal to sacrifice to the golden calves or down to Beersheba to offer sacrifices where Isaac and Jacob had offered. Instead they would need to obey God, offering the sacrifices where he had commanded.    To go back to those other altars would result in captivity and defeat.    They could actively seek what God wanted and live or they could continue with their traditions and be destroyed, and God would not intervene. 

“Ye who turn judgment to wormwood, and leave off righteousness in the earth, Seek him that maketh the seven stars and Orion, and turneth the shadow of death into the morning, and maketh the day dark with night: that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth: The LORD is his name: That strengtheneth the spoiled against the strong, so that the spoiled shall come against the fortress. “ (Amos 5:7-9)

Instead of accepting God’s punishment as a warning to change, Israel felt sorry for themselves and made no effort to do what was right.  God is the one who created the stars and turns a near fatal disease into perfect health.  He is the one who turns day to night, and causes the water to evaporate from the ocean and fall as rain.  He is the one who gives the weak victory over the mighty, and his name is God. 
“They hate him that rebuketh in the gate, and they abhor him that speaketh uprightly.  Forasmuch therefore as your treading is upon the poor, and ye take from him burdens of wheat: ye have built houses of hewn stone, but ye shall not dwell in them; ye have planted pleasant vineyards, but ye shall not drink wine of them.  For I know your manifold transgressions, and your mighty sins: they afflict the just, they take a bribe, and they turn aside the poor in the gate from their right.” (Amos 5:10-12)

Israel hated those who made them aware of their sin, and despised those who took a stand for what was right.  They had taken advantage of the less fortunate, taking the crops he had produced to live on.  They had built themselves nice rock houses and planted orchards and ornamental gardens, but they would not be allowed to live in the houses or enjoy the luxuries their gardens and orchards produced because God knew how they had cheated and connived to get them.  They had accepted bribes and taken advantage of those who did right, then refused to allow those who were in need to receive what they deserved,   

“Therefore the prudent shall keep silence in that time; for it is an evil time.  Seek good, and not evil, that ye may live: and so the LORD, the God of hosts, shall be with you, as ye have spoken.  Hate the evil, and love the good, and establish judgment in the gate: it may be that the LORD God of hosts will be gracious unto the remnant of Joseph.” (Amos 5:13-15)

Because there is such hatred for what is right, the wise will be afraid to speak up.   If they would try to do what was right they would live and experience God’s blessings as he had promised.  If they would punish evil and reward what was good, and be fair in their judgments of people, they could expect God to be gracious, giving them better than they deserved.

Today, the United States is in much the same shape as God describes Israel.  Politicians tax people to promote their own schemes them threaten to withhold their pensions and Social Security.  People who stand against Homosexuality and other sins are vilified and criminals are protected or set free with only minimal penalties while those they robbed or killed are left with nothing.  While this prophecy is not about the United States, I Corinthians 10:11 tells us, “Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.”

“Therefore the LORD, the God of hosts, the Lord, saith thus; Wailing shall be in all streets; and they shall say in all the highways, Alas! alas! and they shall call the husbandman to mourning, and such as are skilful of lamentation to wailing.  And in all vineyards shall be wailing: for I will pass through thee, saith the LORD.” (Amos 5:16-17)

While God would be willing to save them, he already knows what they will do.  There will be sorrow and suffering throughout all the land.  Even those who would have expected to escape the suffering, such as business owners and farmers  will be affected by the results.    Political agitators and false teachers will have a heyday blaming others for their suffering and promising solutions.    

“Woe unto you that desire the day of the LORD! to what end is it for you? the day of the LORD is darkness, and not light.  As if a man did flee from a lion, and a bear met him; or went into the house, and leaned his hand on the wall, and a serpent bit him.  Shall not the day of the LORD be darkness, and not light? even very dark, and no brightness in it?” (Amos 5:18-20)

The people who are looking for the Lord’s coming to get them out of the suffering are going to be surprised because that is not its purpose.  It is a day of judgment for sin, not a time of reward.  It will be like they were running from a report of a lion and ran into an angry bear or if they went into the house for safety and were bitten by a snake.  It will be a time of despair and suffering, not a period of celebration, with no bright spots to be seen. 

“I hate, I despise your feast days, and I will not smell in your solemn assemblies.  Though ye offer me burnt offerings and your meat offerings, I will not accept them: neither will I regard the peace offerings of your fat beasts.  Take thou away from me the noise of thy songs; for I will not hear the melody of thy viols.  But let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream.” (Amos 5:21-24)

God hated their religious worship services and conventions.  To him they stank and he didn’t smell the incense.  All their sacrifices and offerings were unacceptable as was their service.  He was sick of their music services and religious songs.  He wanted to bring judgment on them like a flood washing out an arroyo. 

“Have ye offered unto me sacrifices and offerings in the wilderness forty years, O house of Israel?  But ye have borne the tabernacle of your Moloch and Chiun your images, the star of your god, which ye made to yourselves.  Therefore will I cause you to go into captivity beyond Damascus, saith the LORD, whose name is The God of hosts.” (Amos 5:25-27)

Jeroboam II reigned forty one years, and Amos prophesied near the end of his reign.  During the forty years in the wilderness, Israel had followed the lord, but always with the thought of theother Gods in their mind.  During the forty years Jeroboam II had been in office, they had kept the sacrifices and offerings the law called for, but offered them to the golden calves, and had worshipped Baal, Molech, and statues of other gods they had made.  As a result they would be taken into captivity beyond Damascus.  History tells us they were taken to the area around the Kur River in Northeastern Armenia.  It was God who would cause them to taken captive.

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