Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Amos 3 & 4 - “Yet you have not returned to Me”

LINK: Amos 3 & 4

BACKGROUND

Israel’s judgment was inevitable because they had oppressed people. God had chosen (from the Hebrew word yada, literally, “to know”) them out of all the families of the earth. Since He had chosen them, revealed Himself to them, and blessed them, they should have wanted to know Him and please Him, but they did not. Through a series of seven rhetorical questions indicating that inevitably one event will follow another, Amos revealed that judgment would surely come, and there would be no turning back.

It was not as if God had not warned Israel, but they had not listened. Throughout Israel’s history, God had warned them through the prophets. If you are going through the Bible Book Club from the beginning, you have been reading 1 and 2 Kings where prophets like Ahijah, Elijah, Elisha, and anonymous prophets predicted the rise and fall of dynasties. The Lord always revealed his major plans in advance.

God had continually attempted to discipline the nation through famine, drought, mildew, locusts, plagues, military defeat, and devastation (see a similar pattern of chastening in Leviticus 26, Deuteronomy 28-29, and 1 Kings 8), but nothing had turned them from their course of economic exploitation (by husbands responding to their “fat cow” wives demanding more drink), religious hypocrisy, and refusal to repent. Five times God declared through Amos:


“Yet you have not returned to Me.” 
(4:6, 8-11)

Thus prompting Amos to declare the judgment of the LORD God of hosts:


"Prepare to meet your God, O Israel." 
(4:12)

REFLECTION

Yoo-hoo! Carol, it’s Me, God. Are you listening?”

Israel was NOT listening to God through the prophet Amos; a pattern we will see repeated over and over again as we study the prophets. It is easy to cast judgment upon them, but are we any different? We go along on our own way with our busy lives and give God only a small portion of it, but we do not give him ALL of it.

The Hebrew word for “return” is šûb. It is the twelfth most frequently used verb in the Old Testament and is used over 1050 times. It appears most often in the prophecies of Jeremiah (111 times). The Bible is rich with idioms for the process of repentance (see Joshua 24:23, Jeremiah 4:4,14; Hosea 10:12), but this word sums up what repentance really means: to turn from evil and to turn to the good.

I think God is constantly trying to get our attention to keep us on His path straight to His goodness, but we often just go our own way. We can make many tiny little decisions to “seek good, not evil" (Amos 5:14) every single day of our lives. These little choices create a destiny.

Are you listening when He asks you to return to Him?

APPLICATION

Set aside some time to listen to God today. Slow down and REALLY listen. Ask Him to search your heart and reveal any areas of unconfessed sin (I am posting a link to a prayer guide from a previous post in the prayer section below.). I think we may be surprised at what He brings up when we take the time to stop and really listen. 

Remember that in confession of sin you are not only turning away from evil, you are turning to the good!

After confession, keep on listening. He may have something to tell you to say or do. After you hear Him, write it down. We are so prone to forget. I have my best listening times in the shower. I used to always forget what He told me by the time I was dried off. Now, I have a tub crayon, and I write it on my shower wall. Sometimes, I get back in the shower the next day and see it written there, and I am reminded to do the last step of listening:

OBEY! 

We all need to follow through on what He tells us to do.


PRAYER

Teach us to return to You, O God! Amen

Try reading this prayer from Face to Face: Praying the Scriptures for Intimate Worship (pp. 4-5) out loud as a verbal affirmation:

Examination 
Holy Spirit, search my heart and reveal to me any unconfessed sin you find in me: 
Search me, O God, and know my heart; 
Test me and know my anxious thoughts. 
See if there is any offensive way in me,And lead me in the way everlasting. (Psalm 139:23-24) 
Lord, I thank you for the forgiveness you promised when you said: 
Come now, let us reason together: 
Though your sins are like scarlet, 
They shall be as white as snow; 
Though they are red as crimson, 
They shall be like wool. (Isaiah 1:18) 
My Identity in Christ 
I rejoice, Lord Jesus, in the identity I have in You: 
I have been crucified with You and it is no longer I who live, but You who live in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in You, the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Yourself up for me. (Galatians 2:20) 
I have forgiveness from the penalty of sin because You died for me: 
But You, O God, demonstrate Your own love for us in that, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8) 
I have freedom from the power of sin because I died with You: 
In You, O Christ, I was circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by Your circumcision, having been buried with You in baptism and raised with You through faith in the working of God, who raised You from the dead. (Colossians 2:11-12)
I have fulfillment for this day because You live in me: 
I eagerly expect and hope that I will no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always You, Jesus Christ, will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live in You, Jesus Christ, means everything and to die is gain. (Philippians 1:20-21) 
By faith, I will allow You, O Christ, to manifest Your life through me: 
Thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in You and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of You. (2 Corinthians 2:14)

You can download all of the Morning Affirmations HERE.  
Post a Comment