Saturday, 29 January 2022

The Visions of Amos - 5

Here is demonstrated the tough love of Father God who brings His people back to where they belong
Amos Chapter 9

Amos has delivered some very strong words to Israel and to the surrounding nations, but the last chapters of his confrontations are about what he saw; his visions.

First he saw locusts, then a destroying fire, but both of these were prevented by the prophet's pleas for mercy. Then came the plumb line, set against the religious and political hierarchy, followed by the basket of summer fruit, a picture of a nation ripe and ready for ruin. 

Now in the fifth vision Amos sees the Lord Himself, standing in the very spot where the stench of syncretism has gone up. Most English translations have the Lord standing 'beside' the altar but the Hebrew preposition is normally rendered 'upon'. The Lord is standing on or above this offensive monument to infidelity, ready to bring down the whole edifice on the heads of the idolatrous worshippers. The temple design could well have been similar to the Philistine house of Dagon with two central pillars which Samson pushed against and brought the roof down on three thousand of his enemies. In this case the Lord uses a great earthquake to strike the tops of the pillars and bring down the whole edifice on heads of the assembled throng.

These chapters leave us in no doubt that God, who is God of love, is also prepared to judge, condemn and destroy those who persistently oppose Him, and especially those who should know better.

The following verses tell us three more things about the nature of God:

(v2-4) God is everywhere at once (omnipresence). There is no place beyond His reach; not the deepest sea nor the highest mountain, not even in death itself can man escape the presence of the Lord. We can never be safe from God; only safe in Him.
(v5-6) God has unlimited power (omnipotence). In His infinite greatness He can do what He wants and when He wants. The rise and fall of continents and oceans, earthquakes, tsunamis, wind and water events, climate, heat and cold - all are under His control.

(v7-8) God knows everything (omniscience). He knows all there is to know and all that can be known. He is aware of the past, the present and the future of every being and of every people and nation.   

And God chose an obstinate and rebellious people from the Middle East to demonstrate to the rest of the world his magnanimous desire for friendship and relationship with mankind. The Hebrew people were given privileged access but with it greater accountability; harsher punishment for disobedience but with it an inextinguishable hope of return to the Covenant of friendship with the Almighty.

So Amos declares that Israel will be shaken like a seive but the pebbles will not be lost. One day they will be returned to the land from which they were banished. After two thousand years we are the generation that have witnessed this miraculous return. While the original Egyptians, the Philistines, the Arameans (Syrians), the Edomites and other surrounding nations all disappeared off the face of the earth, the Hebrew people have returned, and still are returning, to the same land, speaking the same language and once again believing in the same God, prospering despite worldwide jealousy and antipathy.  

"I will restore the fortunes of my people Israel,
and they shall rebuild the ruined cities and inhabit them;
they shall plant vineyards and drink their wine,
and they shall make gardens and eat their fruit.
I will plant them on their land,
and they shall never again be uprooted
out of the land that I have given them,”
says the Lord your God.

This modern miracle is surely a good reason to believe in the One who three millenia ago predicted these things through a humble shepherd. Here is demonstrated the tough love of Father God who brings His people back to where they belong. We too are brought back to repentance and restoration as we hope in Jesus the Jew, who suffered on our behalf, bringing us to where we belong with His redeemed and rescued people.

Author: John Plumb

May God bless and enrich your life

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