I am reading the book of Amos in the Old Testament today and I find so many similarities to current world events. God is crying out to His people, the Jewish Nation, to repent or else the Day of the Lord will come upon them. We see this theme throughout the Old Testament, when the nation of Israel would rebel against God and be punished for their rebellion. What exactly is rebellion against God? Let’s see what the dictionary says rebellion means.
1: opposition to one in authority or dominance
2 a: open, armed, and usually unsuccessful defiance of or resistance to an established government b : an instance of such defiance or resistance (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/rebellion)
This makes sense, doesn’t it? God has a set a right way of living and is the supreme authority over the nation of Israel and they are openly resisting God’s authority and prescribed way of life. Hmmm. Sounds like my world today. People deny that God has any authority over them and certainly don’t live as if God even exists. Today God’s name is used in vain and is mocked and anyone who believes in God is considered dumb and stupid and full of superstitions, and yes we are also mocked for our faith. Let’s take a look at a passage from Amos to begin our study.
This is what the Lord says: “For three sins of Judah, even for four, I will not relent. Because they have rejected the law of the Lord and have not kept his decrees, because they have been led astray by false gods, the gods their ancestors followed, I will send fire on Judah that will consume the fortresses of Jerusalem.”
This is what the Lord says: “For three sins of Israel, even for four, I will not relent. They sell the innocent for silver, and the needy for a pair of sandals. They trample on the heads of the poor as on the dust of the ground and deny justice to the oppressed. Father and son use the same girl and so profane my holy name. They lie down beside every altar on garments taken in pledge. In the house of their god they drink wine taken as fines. “Yet I destroyed the Amorites before them, though they were tall as the cedars and strong as the oaks. I destroyed their fruit above and their roots below. I brought you up out of Egypt and led you forty years in the wilderness to give you the land of the Amorites. “I also raised up prophets from among your children and Nazirites from among your youths. Is this not true, people of Israel?” declares the Lord.
“But you made the Nazirites drink wine and commanded the prophets not to prophesy. “Now then, I will crush you as a cart crushes when loaded with grain. The swift will not escape, the strong will not muster their strength, and the warrior will not save his life. The archer will not stand his ground, the fleet-footed soldier will not get away, and the horseman will not save his life. Even the bravest warriors will flee naked on that day,” declares the Lord.
“Hear this and testify against the descendants of Jacob,” declares the Lord, the Lord God Almighty. “On the day I punish Israel for her sins, I will destroy the altars of Bethel; the horns of the altar will be cut off and fall to the ground. I will tear down the winter house along with the summer house; the houses adorned with ivory will be destroyed and the mansions will be demolished,” declares the Lord. Amos 2:4-16 & 3:13-15, (New International Version or NIV).
God is pressing charges against the nation of Israel and says that there are three, or perhaps four, crimes committed. First of all the nation has rejected the law of the Lord. The second charge God holds against them is they have not kept his decrees. The third charge is that they have been led astray by false gods, the gods their ancestors followed. Notice how God describes some of the laws they have broken, selling human beings, but not just selling them but thinking humans so worthless as to trade them for sandals! Cruel! The ruling class treats the poor horribly and denies them any recourse for justice. Evil! There is sex in the family which profane God’s Holy Name. Wicked! No regard for the law or respect for each other and forbidding the prophets to speak the truth. Sacrilegious! So what will God do about this?
Hear this word, you cows of Bashan on Mount Samaria, you women who oppress the poor and crush the needy and say to your husbands, “Bring us some drinks!” The Sovereign Lord has sworn by his holiness: “The time will surely come when you will be taken away with hooks, the last of you with fishhooks. You will each go straight out through breaches in the wall, and you will be cast out toward Harmon,” declares the Lord.
“Go to Bethel and sin; go to Gilgal and sin yet more. Bring your sacrifices every morning, your tithes every three years. Burn leavened bread as a thank offering and brag about your freewill offerings—boast about them, you Israelites, for this is what you love to do,” declares the Sovereign Lord.
“I gave you empty stomachs in every city and lack of bread in every town, yet you have not returned to me,” declares the Lord.
“I also withheld rain from you when the harvest was still three months away. I sent rain on one town, but withheld it from another. One field had rain; another had none and dried up. People staggered from town to town for water but did not get enough to drink, yet you have not returned to me,” declares the Lord.
“Many times I struck your gardens and vineyards, destroying them with blight and mildew. Locusts devoured your fig and olive trees, yet you have not returned to me,” declares the Lord.
“I sent plagues among you as I did to Egypt. I killed your young men with the sword, along with your captured horses. I filled your nostrils with the stench of your camps, yet you have not returned to me,” declares the Lord.
“I overthrew some of you as I overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. You were like a burning stick snatched from the fire, yet you have not returned to me,” declares the Lord.
“Therefore this is what I will do to you, Israel, and because I will do this to you, Israel, prepare to meet your God.” He who forms the mountains, who creates the wind, and who reveals his thoughts to mankind, who turns dawn to darkness, and treads on the heights of the earth—the Lord God Almighty is his name. Amos 4:1-13, (NIV).
God, the prosecutor, has laid out the charges He holds against the nation of Israel as a lawyer lays out the charges of the criminal in a courtroom. God is eloquent and thorough in this proceeding pleading the case that is pending. Women are in charge of their husbands as well as those who are in need and it sounds to me like these women are merciless in their dealings. This is charge number one or as this passage states declares the Lord. Fake religion abounds and not true and authentic teachings are followed, charge number two declares the Lord. God tried to bring these rebellious people to repentance by taking away their daily sustenance and yet they refused to repent, charge number three declares the Lord. God limited the rains and caused a drought and water to become scarce in the hope that the people would turn to Him but they remained unrepentant, charge number four declares the Lord. God sent pestilence and disease to destroy the crops in the hopes these people would repent and they did not, charge number five declares the Lord. God sent plagues to kill many people hoping that this would turn their hearts back to Him but they still remained unrepentant, charge number six declares the Lord. God destroyed whole cities of His people and still they refused to repent, charge number seven declares the Lord. God gave them time and more time and much more time to repent and still these people had stubborn hearts that refused to acknowledge God. This reminds me of so many people today who insist that science is more accurate than faith in God, people who believe that climate change is our responsibility and not God’s, that the increasingly turbulent weather has nothing to do with warnings from God to repent and turn back to Him. Cities have been destroyed through war and earthquakes and hurricanes and tornadoes and fire and floods and volcano eruptions and mudslides and tsunamis and avalanches and still people refuse to repent or even acknowledge that God exists. I want to ask a simple question, which is more believable science having all the answers to all the mysteries of this life or that there is a God who is in charge? I don’t know what your answer is but I sure do know what mine is. God!