December 12

Amos 7:1–9:15

Amos 7 begins with 3 visions the prophet has.

The first is a vision of locust swarming at the beginning of the late crop and consuming everything – so Amos prays. BECAUSE of his prayer, God relents.

Amos 7:2–3 (NKJV) “And so it was, when they had finished eating the grass of the land, that I said: ‘O Lord GOD, forgive, I pray! Oh, that Jacob may stand, for he is small!’ 3 So the LORD relented concerning this. ‘It shall not be,’ said the LORD.”

Yes, prayer makes a difference!

The second vision was of a consuming fire which devoured Israelite territory – so Amos prays, and BECAUSE of his prayer, God relents.

The third vision is of a plumb-line, and tool by which one can check a wall and its framing to make sure it’s straight. Apparently Israel didn’t measure up, even after all the grace that God had lavished upon them, so we read:

Amos 7:8 (NKJV) “…then the Lord said: ‘Behold, I am setting a plumb line in the midst of My people Israel; I will not pass by them anymore.’” 

Or as the NLT puts it, “I will no longer ignore their sins.” God was about to judge. It’s a lesson for me, grace is not a license to sin, it’s should be a motivation not to. Grace not only forgives my sin, it helps me overcome my sin.

At this time Amaziah the Israeli priest of Bethel complained about the doom-and-gloom prophecies of Amos. He told him to leave, to  go south to Judah, he didn’t want him to ever prophecy in Bethel again – it was the king’s “sanctuary,” he said. But Amos explained the fact that he was called by God. Prior to being a prophet Amos was a simple farmer and shepherd – but the LORD God Himself commanded him to “Prophecy to My people Israel.” Amos HAD to speak, and he had another prophecy, this time for Amaziah:

Amos 7:17 (NKJV) “Therefore thus says the LORD: ‘Your wife shall be a harlot in the city; your sons and daughters shall fall by the sword; your land shall be divided by survey line; you shall die in a defiled land; and Israel shall surely be led away captive from his own land.’”

Amaziah brought devastation upon his family because he openly opposed the Lord.

In Amos 8 he has another vision, this time of summer fruit…indicating that just as the fruit was ripe to pick and eat, so Israel was now ripe for harvest. The NLT translates Amos 8:1b, “I will not delay their punishment again.”

Their songs would turn to wailing, their feasts to mourning, there would be dead bodies everywhere. They didn’t honestly honor the Sabbath, in all reality they couldn’t wait for it to be over, for them it was all about the money. They not only exploited the poor, they sold the poor…for a pair of sandals! One of God’s greatest judgments was a famine for His people – not of food – but a famine of the Word of God!

Amos 8:11–12 (NKJV) “Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord GOD, “That I will send a famine on the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD. 12 They shall wander from sea to sea, and from north to east; they shall run to and fro, seeking the word of the LORD, but shall not find it.”

Earlier they said they didn’t want the prophet to prophesy (Amos 7:12-13), so God gives them their way. What a tragedy…no fresh message from God’s heart to men! How horribly sad it would be when the Spirit went silent!

In Amos 9 we read about the devastation that would fall upon the people of Israel…and my, how this has proven to be so true! There was no hiding from God’s judgment. It didn’t matter if they dug down to hell, or rose up to the “heavens,” God would find them, and bring them to justice. To whom much is given, much more is required (Luke 12:48).

And yet – – in all this – – Amos declares it loud and clear that Israel will not be utterly destroyed.

Amos 9:8–9 (NKJV) “Behold, the eyes of the Lord GOD are on the sinful kingdom, and I will destroy it from the face of the earth; yet I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob,” says the LORD. 9 “For surely I will command, and will sift the house of Israel among all nations, as grain is sifted in a sieve; yet not the smallest grain shall fall to the ground.”

God would scatter His people, but regather them, time and time again, until the last of the last days, when the “tabernacle” of David is established (this is a Prophecy of Christ as King).  And there will be peace on earth, blessings beyond measure. In that day Israel will finally find their forever rest.

Amos 9:15 (NKJV) “I will plant them in their land, and no longer shall they be pulled up from the land I have given them,” says the LORD your God.

Revelation 3:7-22

If there was one church we’d choose to identify with, it would most likely be the church of Philadelphia, which literally means, “brotherly love.” This church is not a denomination but represents the church as a whole who has been faithful to God’s Word, preaching the Name of Jesus, and although weak in-and-of ourselves, finds herself drawing her strength from God (see 2 Corinthians 12:10). This is the church with ministry opportunities (open doors) and sovereign guidance from God (closed doors). This is the church that Jesus says will be kept from the trial which shall come upon the whole world to test those who dwell on the earth. That means that this church will be raptured out, before the Tribulation Period begins, for God has not appointed us to wrath (1 Thessalonians 5:9).

The luke-warm Laodiceans probably represents most of the church today (at least in the United States of America). Neither hot nor cold, and that’s not good for coffee or coke, which is why Jesus shares a heavy warning, that such people will be vomited out of His mouth (doesn’t sound good to me).

This is a church with a lot of money, and maybe even many members; they appear to be successful in human eyes, but Jesus reveals their true state in that they’re wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked. Wow! I was thinking, how many times we focus and try so hard to look good to those who are watching, it’s all about appearance, at the expense of reality. Jesus counseled the Laodiceans to get right, to do whatever they needed to do; to buy the gold that God offers, to be clothed in the right-white clothing; and anoint their eyes with the eye salve Laodicea was known for. They needed to see everything from a Spiritual perspective.

Revelation 3:19 reminds us that God’s rebuke and chastening are all motivated by love.

The letter to the Laodiceans contains that classic visual of Jesus standing at the door, knocking. Somehow, someway over time Jesus ended up on the outside of His church. Lord is that me/us? God help us to open the doors of our hearts and let Jesus in…where He belongs, to dine with Him and fellowship forever and ever.

I realize we don’t know what Jesus actually looked like, and we should never bow down to any image of God, but I’ve always been touched by the painting of Jesus knocking on the door. You’ll notice there’s no door knob on the outside…it’s up to us, to open that “door” on the inside of our hearts.

Psalm 131:1-3

A short but beautiful Psalm about growing up and living a simple life of trust in God.

There will be MANY things in life that we will not be able to understand (things much too profound for us). But our peace is not planted or rooted there! Christians actually possess a peace that PASSES understanding and it’s a great guard for us.

Philippians 4:7 (NKJV) “…and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

Whenever we come across things that we don’t understand, we fall back on what we do understand – that God loves us, and has our best interest in mind. When we grow as Christians and move on from milk to meat, from being bottle-fed to studying God’s Word for ourselves, we learn to live on promises – not explanations. What a blessing it is to be weaned!

Proverbs 29:23

Proverbs 29:23 (NKJV) “A man’s pride will bring him low, but the humble in spirit will retain honor.”

Another one of those clear contrasts between pride and humility. God resists the prideful, but gives grace to the humble.

“A life wrapped up in itself makes a very small package.”

Bible Knowledge Commentary, “The reverse effects of pride and humility warn against the one and encourage the other. Ironically pride, by which a person seeks to elevate himself, actually results in his being brought low, whereas one who is of lowly spirit is elevated by others to a position of honor.”

Consider the contrast between Absalom and David.

As a matter of fact, God hates pride  (see Proverbs 6:16-17)

C.H. Spurgeon warned that we are not be proud of face, place, race, or even grace.

A minister, a Boy Scout, and a computer expert were the only passengers on a small plane. The pilot came back to the cabin and said that the plane was going down but there were only three parachutes and four people. The pilot added, “I should have one of the parachutes because I have a wife and three small children.” So he took one and jumped. The computer whiz said, “I should have one of the parachutes because I am the smartest man in the world and everyone needs me.” So he took one and jumped. The minister turned to the Boy Scout and with a sad smile said, “You are young and I have lived a rich life, so you take the remaining parachute, and I’ll go down with the plane.” The Boy Scout said, “Relax, Reverend, the smartest man in the world just picked up my knapsack and jumped out!”

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