I thought it best to declare a time of rest
in our "in-between time" of Christmas Day and New Year's Day.
Looking forward to picking up and completing Amos in the first weeks of 2011!
3For thus says the Lord GOD,
"The city which goes forth a thousand strong
Will have a hundred left,
And the one which goes forth a hundred strong
Will have ten left to the house of Israel."
4For thus says the LORD to the house of Israel, "Seek Me that you may live.
5"But do not resort to Bethel And do not come to Gilgal, Nor cross over to Beersheba; For Gilgal will certainly go into captivity And Bethel will come to trouble.
6"Seek the LORD that you may live, or He will break forth like a fire, O house of Joseph, And it will consume with none to quench it for Bethel,
7For those who turn justice into wormwood and cast righteousness down to the earth."
"Seek Me that you may live." (vs. 4)
"Seek the Lord that you may live...." (vs.6)
"Let the wicked forsake his way
And the unrighteous man his thoughts;
And let him return to the LORD,
And He will have compassion on him,
And to our God,
For He will abundantly pardon."--Isaiah 55:7
"Yet you have not returned to me...." (vs. 11)
"'Do you not fear Me?' declares the LORD. 'Do you not tremble in My presence?..."--Jeremiah 5:22a
"A name or title of God frequently used in the OT, always translated 'Jehovah of Hosts'.... The meaning of the title is that all created agencies and forces are under the leadership or dominion of Jehovah, who made and maintains them. It is used to express Jehovah’s great power."--International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
"For behold, the Lord GOD of hosts is going to remove from Jerusalem and Judah both supply and support, the whole supply of bread and the whole supply of water...."--Isaiah 1:3
"Yet you have not returned to Me," declares the Lord. (vs. 8)
"So the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and He gave them continually into the hand of Hazael king of Aram, and into the hand of Ben-hadad the son of Hazael.... For he left to Jehoahaz of the army not more than fifty horsemen and ten chariots and 10,000 footmen, for the king of Aram had destroyed them and made them like the dust at threshing."--II Kings 13:3 & 7
"Yet you have not returned to Me," declares the Lord. (vs 10)
"O LORD, do not Your eyes look for truth? You have smitten them, but they did not weaken; You have consumed them, but they refused to take correction. They have made their faces harder than rock; they have refused to repent."--Jeremiah 5:3
"Then the LORD said to Joshua, "Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you." So the name of that place is called Gilgal to this day."--Joshua 5:9
"...then come and stand before Me in this house, which is called by My name, and say, 'We are delivered!'--that you may do all these abominations?"--Jeremiah 7:10
10"But they do not know how to do what is right," declares the LORD, "these who hoard up violence and devastation in their citadels.
11Therefore, thus says the Lord GOD,
"An enemy, even one surrounding the land,
Will pull down your strength from you
And your citadels will be looted."
12Thus says the LORD,
"Just as the shepherd snatches from the lion's mouth a couple of legs or a piece of an ear,
So will the sons of Israel dwelling in Samaria be snatched away--
With the corner of a bed and the cover of a couch!
13"Hear and testify against the house of Jacob,"
Declares the Lord GOD, the God of hosts.
14"For on the day that I punish Israel's transgressions,
I will also punish the altars of Bethel;
The horns of the altar will be cut off
And they will fall to the ground.
15"I will also smite the winter house together with the summer house;
The houses of ivory will also perish
And the great houses will come to an end,"
Declares the LORD.
"But David said to Saul, 'Your servant was tending his father's sheep. When a lion or a bear came and took a lamb from the flock, I went out after him and attacked him, and rescued it from his mouth; and when he rose up against me, I seized him by his beard and struck him and killed him.
'Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, since he has taunted the armies of the living God.' And David said, 'The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.' And Saul said to David, 'Go, and may the LORD be with you.'"
--I Samuel 17:34-37
Never tire of seeing the consistency and symmetry in God's Word! Shepherd boy David up against Goliath--a Philistine--is rescuing his people by God's blessing. Israel, in Amos, is under judgment, for sure, but God continues to uphold His long-held promise in saving a remnant by His protection. I found an interesting difference in translation that is worth noting:
"Thus saith the LORD; As the shepherd taketh out of the mouth of the lion two legs, or a piece of an ear; so shall the children of Israel be taken out that dwell in Samaria in the corner of a bed, and in Damascus in a couch."--Verse 12, King James Version
"Then I looked, and behold, the Lamb was standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His name and the name of His Father written on their foreheads.... And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders; and no one could learn the song except the one hundred and forty-four thousand who had been purchased from the earth.
These are the ones who have not been defiled with women, for they have kept themselves chaste. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These have been purchased from among men as first fruits to God and to the Lamb. And no lie was found in their mouth; they are blameless."--Revelation 14: 1, 3-5
"Furthermore, the altar that was at Bethel and the high place which Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel sin, had made, even that altar and the high place he [King Josiah] broke down. Then he demolished its stones, ground them to dust, and burned the Asherah [idol]."--II Kings 23:15 (with my additions for clarification.
King Josiah of Judah would come to rule around 640 B.C.,
more than 60 years after Assyria's conquest of Israel)
"'For as the waistband clings to the waist of a man, so I made the whole household of Israel and the whole household of Judah cling to Me,' declares the LORD, 'that they might be for Me a people, for renown, for praise and for glory; but they did not listen.'"--Jeremiah 13:11
"And you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons,
'MY SON, DO NOT REGARD LIGHTLY THE DISCIPLINE OF THE LORD,
NOR FAINT WHEN YOU ARE REPROVED BY HIM;
FOR THOSE WHOM THE LORD LOVES HE DISCIPLINES,
AND HE SCOURGES EVERY SON WHOM HE RECEIVES.'
It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline?"
Beginning with verse 3, God poses a series of what should be rhetorical questions to Israel. His intention is to make them realize that absolutely nothing occurs apart from His sovereign decision. Some clarification on verse 3, the King James' verbiage is a bit more clear: "Can two walk together except they be agreed?" If Israel is going to continue in a loving relationship with their Lord, they need to be walking together--meaning, they need to walk in accordance with God's Word. Their characteristic stiff-neckedness and idol worship cannot continue.
"Thus says the LORD to this people, "Even so they have loved to wander; they have not kept their feet in check. Therefore the LORD does not accept them; now He will remember their iniquity and call their sins to account."--Jeremiah 14:10
"They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them," declares the LORD, "for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more."--Jeremiah 31:34 [emphasis mine, note the parallelism in the phrasing]
What this Isaiah passage says, and the Amos passage affirms, is God's power, yes, but also His providence. Satan is surely the evil one, but even Satan is under God's complete control and will be brought to ultimate judgment in God's timing. God allows evil to exist but in a way that is sovereignly controlled for His purposes.
"The One forming light and creating darkness,
Causing well-being and creating calamity;
I am the LORD who does all these."
"The doctrine of divine providence, therefore, has reference to that preservation care and government which God exercises over all things that He has created in order they may accomplish the ends for which they were created." [International Standard Bible Encyclopedia]
Back to the text, not only does God do everything with His purposes in mind, but He makes a way for the Israelites and you and me to know what He's thinking, at least a little bit. God reveals His Word to prophets (vs 7) and they tell forth the Word, preparing and equipping the people to serve Him. He has done this since the beginning. Look at Noah (Genesis 6), Abraham (Genesis 18:17), Daniel (9:22), and, yes, Jesus--and, by association, us!
"No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.
God made a way for us to know Him, if we open the door to accepting that fact. The Israelites were given many prophets, revealing God's Word, showing them the way to live. But, remember what we read in 2:12: "And you commanded the prophets saying, 'You shall not prophesy!'" They rejected God in rejecting His prophets! Now He is roaring mad (Amos 1:2).
Amos could not hold back the words that he was called by God to utter. That didn't mean that the receivers would receive him. Even though Peter and John could not "stop speaking about what we have seen and heard," (Acts 4:20), they also were not well-received by all. Oh, prophets!
"And when they heard this, they lifted their voices to God with one accord and said, 'O Lord, it is You who MADE THE HEAVEN AND THE EARTH AND THE SEA, AND ALL THAT IS IN THEM, who by the Holy Spirit, through the mouth of our father David Your servant, said,
'WHY DID THE GENTILES RAGE,
AND THE PEOPLES DEVISE FUTILE THINGS?
'THE KINGS OF THE EARTH TOOK THEIR STAND,
AND THE RULERS WERE GATHERED TOGETHER
AGAINST THE LORD AND AGAINST HIS CHRIST.'
For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur."
--Acts 4:24-28 (quoting from David's words in Psalm 2)
There will be no option for grace at this time, as God tells the Israelites how their judgment is going down.... 'Til next Wednesday!
"Then Joshua spoke to the LORD in the day when the LORD delivered up the Amorites before the sons of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel,
"O sun, stand still at Gibeon,
And O moon in the valley of Aijalon."
So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped,
Until the nation avenged themselves of their enemies
Is it not written in the book of Jashar? And the sun stopped in the middle of the sky and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day.
There was no day like that before it or after it, when the LORD listened to the voice of a man; for the LORD fought for Israel."
--Joshua 10:12-14 (emphasis mine)
God then recounts His raising up of prophets through whom to speak His holy word to the people. But His people rejected the prophets and the word. Specially anointed followers--Nazirites ("[who] consecrated himself or herself, and took a vow of separation and self-imposed discipline for the purpose of some special service, and the fact of the vow was indicated by special signs of abstinence"--International Standard Bible Encyclopedia)--were made to drink wine, one of those self-imposed disciplines.
"Now this came about because the sons of Israel had sinned against the LORD their God, who had brought them up from the land of Egypt from under the hand of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and they had feared other gods and walked in the customs of the nations whom the LORD had driven out before the sons of Israel, and in the customs of the kings of Israel which they had introduced."
--II Kings 17: 7 & 8
Not that captivity was the end of God's grace to Israel. But, for the time, the nation needed to be cast from His sight. Cast out, not destroyed.
God continues His judgment of Israel next week in Chapter 3, posing a series of questions to the nation.... 'Til next Wednesday!
"He who oppresses the poor taunts his Maker,
But he who is gracious to the needy honors Him."--Proverbs 14:31
"If you ever take your neighbor's cloak as a pledge, you are to return it to him before the sun sets, for that is his only covering; it is his cloak for his body. What else shall he sleep in?...."Jesus took off His outer garment at the time of His last supper with His disciples when He washed their feet, illustrating His humility. I hadn't thought about the laying down of the garment as a metaphor for covering a debt, but I can see that now. Perhaps it's even more telling of the judgment rendered the Israelites in looking at the actions of the Roman soldiers at the Crucifixion.--Exodus 22:26-27a
"Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took His outer garments and made four parts, a part to every soldier and also the tunic; now the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece. So they said to one another, "Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it, to decide whose it shall be"; this was to fulfill the Scripture: "THEY DIVIDED MY OUTER GARMENTS AMONG THEM, AND FOR MY CLOTHING THEY CAST LOTS."--John 19: 23&24
"Because they rejected the law of the Lord and have not kept His statutes." (vs. 4)
"The wise men are put to shame,
They are dismayed and caught;
Behold, they have rejected the word of the LORD,
And what kind of wisdom do they have?"--Jeremiah 8:9
"Also Judah did not keep the commandments of the LORD their God, but walked in the customs which Israel had introduced."--II Kings 17:19
"'For I have set My face against this city for harm and not for good,' declares the LORD. 'It will be given into the hand of the king of Babylon and he will burn it with fire."'--Jeremiah 21:10 (with the full story found in II Kings, chapters 24 and 25)
"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. ...For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding."--Proverbs 1:7 & 2:6
"Because of violence to your brother Jacob, you will be covered with shame,
And you will be cut off forever.
On the day that you stood aloof,
On the day that strangers carried off his wealth,
and foreigners entered his gate and cast lots for Jerusalem--
You too were as one of them."--Obadiah 1: 10 & 11
"For the LORD has a sacrifice in Bozrah,
And a great slaughter in the land of Edom....
For it is the day of the LORD's vengeance,
The year of recompense for the cause of Zion."--Isaiah 34:6 (portion) & 8
"...Cry out, O daughters of Rabbah,
Gird yourselves with sackcloth and lament,
And rush back and forth inside the walls;
For Malcam will go into exile
Together with his priests and his princes."--Jeremiah 49:3
The word of the LORD is against you,
O Canaan, land of the Philistines
And I will destroy you
So that there will be no inhabitant.
So the seacoast will be pastures,
With caves for shepherds and folds for flocks.
And the coast will be
For the remnant of the house of Judah,
They will pasture on it
In the houses of Ashkelon they will lie down at evening;
For the LORD their God will care for them
And restore their fortune.--Zephaniah 2: 5 (portion)-7
"Son of man, because Tyre has said concerning Jerusalem, 'Aha, the gateway of the peoples is broken; it has opened to me. I shall be filled, now that she is laid waste,' therefore thus says the Lord GOD, 'Behold, I am against you, O Tyre, and I will bring up many nations against you, as the sea brings up its waves. 'They will destroy the walls of Tyre and break down her towers; and I will scrape her debris from her and make her a bare rock."Jesus would refer to Tyre and Sidon in his chastising of the nations which had seen His miracles yet had not repented of their sins as a result of being in the Messiah's presence.
--Ezekiel 26: 2-4
"For if the miracles had occurred in Tyre and Sidon which occurred in you, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. Nevertheless I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you."--Matthew 11:21-22
"Moreover, what are you to Me, O Tyre, Sidon and all the regions of Philistia? Are you rendering Me a recompense? But if you do recompense Me, swiftly and speedily I will return your recompense on your head."--Joel 3:4
"For three transgressions of _______ and for four, I will not revoke its punishment, because _________."
"Therefore, her young men will fall in her streets,
And all the men of war will be silenced in that day," declares the LORD of hosts.
"I will set fire to the wall of Damascus,
And it will devour the fortified towers of Ben-hadad."--Jeremiah 49: 26-27
"So the king of Assyria listened to him [Ahaz, king of Judah]; and the king of Assyria went up against Damascus and captured it, and carried the people of it away into exile to Kir, and put Rezin [king of Syria at the time] to death."--II Kings 16:9 [not that God was happy with Judah at this moment, but a prophecy spoken forth by God's called is one to be fulfilled--method of which is God's choosing!]