(Part 8 of 21)
AMOS 4… In this chapter the Lord, like a lawyer, gives contrasts of thought. Amos is picturing God as One who uses the power of intelligence to treat a problem and to arrive at a conclusion or decision. Like a lawyer, God presents an argument and gives a contrast of thought to influence a decision. After God presents His reasoning, Israel must make a decision. God reasons, ponders, and draws a conclusion about what He is going to do. Remember, see the justice of God at work in Amos, not the judgment.
The theme of Amos 4 is prepare to meet your God. God wants us to know some things. It is not His purpose to cure sin by judgment. Judgment does not cure a nation of sin. Remember Egypt and Pharaoh? God sent many plagues to put pressure on Pharaoh to let Israel go. Pharaoh said, “Go,” but as soon as the pressure was off, he changed his mind and said that they couldn’t go (Exodus 7-13). You can’t cure national sin by punishment. People must be educated to fear the Lord. One of the reasons people do wrong is because they do not know how to do right. They do not know that God is a God of righteousness and a God of justice. God is compassionate, but He is not permissive. He will give us loving discipline to teach us to be responsible for our own negative behavior. In Amos 4, God reasons. He is not going to force His principles of behavior on the nation, but He does lay them out so that the nation can make a decision.
Amos 4:1-3… Hear this word… God begins to reason by contrasting Himself as a holy God and the nation’s unholy lifestyle. God lays out His ways against Israel’s ways. Every time Israel went their way, they got into trouble. Remember, Amos was a herdsman, so God lets him speak in the area of his expertise. He uses the word “kine,” which means “cows.” God called them “cows.” The strong-willed were pushing others around. The rich who were prospering were pushing around those who were weaker. Often the “haves” look down on the “have-nots” with a spirit of condemnation. God was teaching them that it is not always the poor that bring sin into a nation; it can also be those who are rich and bored. God called them “cows.” He addressed them in the feminine gender. He was accusing the men of losing their manhood and their strength. Luxurious living caused them to lose their manliness and their will to do right. They reveled in their unrighteousness. There is something about wealth that causes people to oppress the public. “Bring us drinks” (v. 1). They want to receive rather than give. The word “masters” is taken from a Hebrew word adon, which means “ruler, sovereign, controller (human or divine), owner, lord.” Here in verse 1, these masters were trying to order the populace around. As Christians, we act like these same folk and try to order God around. “Here’s our plan, Lord; sign here.” But God will not bless and sanction what is not His will.
V. 2… God responds… “By my holiness” (Psalm 89:35, KJV). God is going to take action because He is holy and not because He is angry. God chastens His people when they err because He is holy. God deals with sin, trespasses, and mistakes out of His holy character. God demands that which is right, and until the nation does that which is right, nothing else is of any importance. God, through Amos, is trying to get Israel to respond to His holiness. Look at the contrast… “Let’s reason,” God says, “Put My holiness up against your lifestyle.” Israel’s lifestyle fell short. We need to pray, “Lord, cleanse me of my unholiness and impart Your holiness to me.” Amos prophesies in verse 2 about the nation’s fate. When the Assyrians come, they will act like “fishhooks.” Fishhooks are used to catch fish. They are cruel instruments that savage and tear the flesh. The Assyrians were going to do this to the nation. Israel’s wall of defense would be breached, and her people would be pulled out like a fish on a hook and sent into captivity. Today, God is putting His holiness against our nation’s lifestyle, and that lifestyle is falling short of God’s holiness. Who is there among us that can stop God’s justice? Right now, our nation is not showing the slightest evidence that it is returning back to God. Our nation is not thinking biblically.
(To be continued…)
Pastor George Belobaba
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