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God is Setting All Things Right. So I am Blogging Through the Bible in a Year.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

July 11 - Amos 1-5: God's Chosen People in the Hands of an Angry (but Forgiving) God

Today’s Reading: Amos 1-5

The Message

English Standard Version

Thought to Guide Your Reading

God chose Israel from the entire world. God expects more from them.

Summary in 100 Words or Less

The message of Amos during Uzziah's and Jeroboam (the Younger's) reign:
"God roars from Zion.
"'Aram! Gaza! Edom! Ammon! Moab! Judah! Israel! That's it! We're through!
"'Israel, I picked you, and in return you persecute the poor and delight in evil? We're going in different directions.
"'I swear your judgment is coming. You were too hardheaded to understand my messages. Now you'll listen!
"'Set things right and live. Otherwise God's punishment is coming—and it's not a pretty picture.
"'Here is what I want—rivers and oceans of setting things right. Or take your so-called gods with you into captivity.'"

How Today’s Reading Contributes to the Gospel: God is Setting All Things Right

God is angry. He will be heard.

These chapters are difficult to read. They drip of anger, fury, rage, and exasperation. God looks down on His Chosen People and what does He see? War crimes, slavery of God's Chosen People, promise-breaking, murder, desecration of corpses, rejection of His revelation, and persecution of the righteous and the poor. Now, God will be heard or they will wiped off the face of the earth. Beware: Anger God and your punishment will come.

Israel thanks God for taking them out of slavery by selling others into slavery.

God has given Israel all it needs: deliverance from Egypt, safe passage through the wilderness, a land flowing with milk and honey, prophets to deliver His messages, and destruction for their enemies. Israel has regressed slowly but surely away from God's influence. Now, they must repent or die. Why has this happened? They forgot what God had done for them. They stopped training their young people to set things right. This is what happens when we ignore God's direction to teach the next generation what God has done. We must always remind our children how God delivered and blessed us.

God tried to communicate His Message, but they never listened.

Before we write Amos off as a harbinger of bad news, God reminds Israel that He tried to remind them of their God by taking away what Canaan gave them. Their so-called gods could not give them bread; yet they never hungered for God. What a sad, sad statement when God called out for His Chosen People to return, but they couldn't care less. If you lack something you desperately crave, it may be God's way of telling you that you are asking the wrong source for it. Ask God and He will respond.

God, through Amos, gives this message: Come back! I don't want to punish you!

It is easy to write Amos' presentation of God off as an angry man ready to strike at the first good opportunity. Unfortunately, we have often pictured the God of the Old Testament, especially the Minor Prophets, as a beast and the God of the New Testament as a fatherly, genteel god. Conversely, the presentation of God in the Old Testament is just as gentle and fatherly as the New Testament. God wants Israel to "Seek me and live" (5:4, The Message).
I’ve had all I can take of your noisy ego-music.
   When was the last time you sang to me?
Do you know what I want?
   I want justice—oceans of it.
I want fairness—rivers of it.
   That’s what I want. That’s all I want.
God wants worship that comes from setting things right, not religious grandstanding.

Are you singing to the God who sets all things right or placating an angry God bent on destruction?

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