amos

1 Chronicles 15, Amos 9

Today’s OT18 readings are 1 Chronicles 15 and Amos 9

This devotional is about Amos 9:11-12: “In that day ‘I will restore David’s fallen shelter— I will repair its broken walls and restore its ruins—and will rebuild it as it used to be, so that they may possess the remnant of Edom and all the nations that bear my name,[e]’ declares the Lord, who will do these things.”

Things that were once considered great and powerful can, over time, become weak and useless, a shadow of its former self. Sears Roebuck and company was once, and for many decades, a retail giant. How many Craftsman tools, Kenmore appliances, and/or DieHard batteries have you owned? But now Sears is in bankruptcy and the inventory on the shelves is being sold, never to be restocked.

Great and powerful things can become weak and rickety.

This is what happened to David’s dynasty. David and his son Solomon were blessed immensely by the Lord. David’s “house,” that is, his kingdom passed from one generation to another, split after Solomon died and Judah, the part that was left, became weaker and weaker. Here in Amos 9:11 God refers to David’s house as a “fallen shelter.” This is a word that describes a shack, a temporary dwelling that is not much to look at and not very sturdy. David’s once powerful house was now like house of straw that the first of the three little pigs built in the nursery rhyme.

This verse, however, promises that it will not remain a shack. Instead, God promised to “restore” it repairing “its broken walls and its ruins” and “rebuilt it as it used to be”. God himself would do this restoration and the fulfillment of this promise began with the first coming of Christ.

But verse 12 says something more. In the NIV text it says, “so that they may possess the remnant of Edom and all the nations that bear my name.” But, for reasons too long and complicated to explain here, that might not be the best translation. The alternative translation, which is hiding behind that [e] in the text in BibleGateway, is “so that the remnant of people / and all the nations that bear my name may seek me.” If that is what God originally said in Amos, then his promise is that he will rebuild David’s house so that both Jews “the remnant of people” and Gentiles “all the nations that bear my name” would seek and find God.

This is how the early church understood Amos 9:11-12, too. In Acts, God started saving Gentiles and churches full of Gentiles began to appear. The apostles and early followers of Jesus were uncertain about how to handle these Gentiles. Should the apostles require the men to be circumcised? Should all these new Gentile believers be required to keep the Law of Moses, including the diet of the Jews? The early church wrestled with these questions and, in Acts 15, we read that there was a meeting in Jerusalem to decide the answers. In that chapter--Acts 15--James quoted this passage, Amos 9:11-12 (see Acts 15:15-18). Based on these verses in Amos, the apostles decided that we Gentiles are fully accepted by Christ and are to be treated as equal partners in God’s grace.

Your salvation and mine and the salvation of others all over the world from the time Jesus came the first time until he comes back and restores the kingdom of Israel completely are part of God’s fulfillment of Amos 9:11-12. When Israel was at its weakest point, and David’s house looked like it would be blown over, God promised to rebuild it so that we would hear his call of grace and come to follow him.

Let this fulfillment of prophecy encourage you! Not only are you saved eternally by the grace of God but your salvation was part of the plan of God all along. Now that you’re saved, you are part of the fulfillment of that plan.

1 Chronicles 7-8, Amos 5

Today, our schedule calls for us to read 1 Chronicles 7-8, Amos 5.

This devotional is about Amos 5.

Many religions are built around rituals. Rituals may involve memorizing words and saying them at certain times. They may involve lighting candles or attending gatherings or giving money. Religious rituals can center on what someone eats, what kind of clothing (or underwear) they wear. Most religions have certain expectations that followers of that religion must do or should do or are supposed to do.

Judaism was no different; in fact, Old Testament worship had many, many rituals. It regulated how often and when people gathered, how much they gave, what they wore, what they ate, and on and on.

Rituals can be meaningful but they can also just become habits. Like most habits, we can do rituals without thinking or caring very much. This is especially true if someone equates their relationship to God 100% with the performance of the ritual. If someone thinks that God is pleased because he or she performed a religious act or consistently performed a bunch of religious acts, that person needs to look more closely at scripture.

And, if we do rituals in God’s name while also practicing sinful habits the rest of the time, we are deceiving ourselves. Here in Amos 5:21-24, God condemned the observance of Jewish religious rituals in the harshest of terms. “I hate, I despise your religious festivals; your assemblies are a stench to me” he said in verse 21. Forget the sacrifices, too (v. 22) and your worship music, no matter how emotive it is or how skillfully you play it (v. 23).

Instead, God wanted those who loved him to do what is right: “...let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!” (v. 24). Christ has fulfilled the sacrifices so that we can be declared righteous and God can be just. But if we name the name of Christ and diligently do what Christians are supposed to do yet we break God’s commands routinely in our daily lives, we are deceiving ourselves about the state of our relationship with God.

How about ti? Are you living a life that is right with God in your home, your workplace, and in our community? If someone from one of those contexts found out that you are a Christian, would they be surprised? God wants living sacrifices; our daily choices, ethics, values, how we treat people, and the words that we say reveal far more about our faith than does our church attendance, giving, and Bible reading. Those things--church attendance, etc.--are designed to help us live a more righteous life. They are important for growing and strengthening our faith, not for measuring our compliance with Christian expectations.

God judged his people for many things including religious performance without righteous living. Let’s learn from their painful example and truly walk with God.

1 Chronicles 3-4, Amos 3

Today we’re reading 1 Chronicles 3-4 and Amos 3.

This devotional is about Amos 3.

Judgment is coming to Israel but in this chapter God tells his people that they shouldn’t be surprised when it arrives. The chapter begins by reminding Israel that God chose them to be blessed and rescued them from Egypt (vv. 1-2a). Then in verses 3-6, God’s prophet reminds the people that things happen for a reason. Specifically:

People don’t randomly walk side by side; the reason they walk side by side is that they have agreed to take a walk together (v. 3). Lions don’t roar when they are hunting; that would scare off their prey. The reason they roar is that they have caught something and want to keep others from trying to take it (v. 4). Birds don’t fly into traps; they get caught in traps because they are drawn there by bait (v. 5a-b). The trap doesn’t close on its own; rather, the reason it closes is that something has taken the bait (v. 5c-d). When someone sounds an alarm, people get scared because the alarm was triggered by incoming armies. When you have a live person blowing the trumpet’s alarm, you don’t get alarm malfunctions or need drills like we have. So people had a reason to be scared when they heard the sound of a trumpet.

So, things usually happen for a reason and the reason that Samaria would fall and Jerusalem would, too, later is that “the Lord caused it” (v. 6d).

The good news, though, is that God warns his people before he sends judgment on them. That’s the message of verse 7, “Surely the Sovereign Lord does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets.” The rest of the chapter goes on to tell the people, again, that God has warned them through his prophets. The implication, then, is that they should repent.

People don’t like messages of judgment. Who would? No fortune cookie will tell you that within a year you’ll be dead of cancer. Who would want to read that? Some people would complain to restaurant’s management if they got a fortune like that. But if you were dying from cancer and didn’t know it, that’s exactly the message you’d need to hear, like it or not. An accurate diagnosis gives one a chance to avoid the inevitable disaster.

God has left us in this world to make disciples but also to warn the world of God’s coming judgment. People complain and call us unloving when we talk about sin, judgment, and hell; they should understand that the message of warning is a gracious act of God. On the day of judgment no one will escape by saying, “I didn’t know I was guilty before God.” On the contrary; many will have as part of their condemnation the fact that they heard the warning of God’s word and ignored it.

If you are reading this and have not come to faith in Jesus, please listen to the warnings of God’s word and turn to him in faith and repentance now. If you’ve already become a Christian, please don’t avoid talking about God’s justice and the need that everyone has for forgiveness.

1 Chronicles 9–10, Hebrews 12, Amos 6, Luke 1:39–80

If you’re following the schedule, you should read these chapters today: 1 Chronicles 9–10, Hebrews 12, Amos 6, Luke 1:39–80. Click on any of those references to see all the passages in one long page on BibleGateway. If you can’t do all the readings today, read Amos 6.

A stable life is a peaceful life but, if we’re not careful, it can become a complacent life. Complacency, to me, is very similar to laziness. It is a satisfaction with life that causes someone to quit striving for excellence. This is the attitude that the Lord, through Amos, addressed here in Amos 6. Verse 1 tells us that this is directed to two groups of people—those “in Zion” which was Jerusalem, the capital of the Southern Kingdom of Judah and “on Mount Samaria” which was the capital of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Who lives in these places? “Notable men” as verse 1 calls them live there; in other words, this is a prophecy directed to the leadership of both nations. Verses 4-7 describe the life of leisure these people have. They “lie on beds adorned with ivory and lounge on your couches” (v. 4a). They “dine on choice lambs and fattened calves” (v. 4b). They “strum away on your harps like David and improvise on musical instruments” (v. 5). they “drink wine by the bowlful and use the finest lotions” (v. 6). Sounds nice, yes? “But you do not grieve over the ruin of Joseph.” This is a reference to the spiritual decline of the nation. 

This is one reason why materialism is so dangerous to spiritual growth. When you have everything you want, it is easy to believe that God is not important. Our struggles may be painful, but they keep us dependent on Christ. As we move toward Thanksgiving, this is a helpful warning. If it has been a good year for you financially, how’s your walk with God going?

Now for your thoughts: What stood out in your Bible reading for today? What questions do you have about what you read? What are your thoughts about what I wrote above? Post them in the comments below or on our Facebook page. And, feel free to answer and interact with the questions and comments of others. Have a great day; we’ll talk scripture again tomorrow.

1 Chronicles 7–8, Hebrews 11, Amos 5, Luke 1:1–38

If you’re following the schedule, you should read these chapters today: 1 Chronicles 7–8, Hebrews 11, Amos 5, Luke 1:1–38. Click on any of those references to see all the passages in one long page on BibleGateway. If you can’t do all the readings today, read Amos 5.

Idol worship in Israel was a constant problem after the kingdom was divided. Not all of God’s people neglected the Lord, however. There were some who maintained their worship of the Lord. These people, apparently, were longing for God’s judgment which is often called “the day of the Lord.” That phrase is used about prophetic, end time events in the Bible that are still future to us, but it was also used for days of judgment in the Old Testament that have already happened. Verses 18-20 warns those who wanted to see their countrymen punished: “Woe to you who long for the day of the Lord! Why do you long for the day of the Lord? That day will be darkness, not light…” (v. 18). Those who wanted God’s judgment to fall on Israel must have believed that they would be safe. They reasoned, apparently, that performing the rituals of worship that the Lord commanded would protect them for his judgment. They must have been surprised, then, when the Lord said through Amos, “I hate, I despise your religious festivals; your assemblies are a stench to me. Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Though you bring choice fellowship offerings, I will have no regard for them. Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps.” 

It is quite surprising to see God rejecting the worship of his people, especially since the prophets were constantly calling them to repentance (v. 6). What was the problem with the worship of those Amos is describing in this chapter?

There are two problems. First, they joined with the rest of their idol worshipping countrymen in exploiting others in court (compare verses 7, 10, and 15a with 24). Although these Israelites may have been obedient to the Lord’s commands about worship, they were disobedient to his commands in their ethics and morals. They lived a dual, hypocritical life so that they appeared devout on Saturday but lived like pagans on Sunday through Friday. 

The second problem with this group is that their worship of the Lord was not exclusive and wholehearted. Verse 26 says, “You have lifted up the shrine of your king, the pedestal of your idols, the star of your god—which you made for yourselves.” The God who had redeemed them from Egypt long before (v. 25) was now just like every other false god they worshipped. They may have kept the ceremonial law of God but they broke the very first law of his commandments: “You shall have no other gods before me.” 

We face the same kind of temptation—to worship the gods of materialism, worldliness, self-centeredness, or whatever—while showing up faithfully to church on Sunday and performing the outward acts common to Christians. We also can be tempted to worship the Lord with our lips while abusing his children in our everyday life. Let’s look within today and consider whether our devotion to the Lord is complete and whether or not it is reflected in our daily ethics and morals. That’s the kind of worship that God wants because it is the kind of worship that comes from a changed heart.

Now for your thoughts: What stood out in your Bible reading for today? What questions do you have about what you read? What are your thoughts about what I wrote above? Post them in the comments below or on our Facebook page. And, feel free to answer and interact with the questions and comments of others. Have a great day; we’ll talk scripture again tomorrow.

1 Chronicles 5–6, Hebrews 10, Amos 4, Psalms 148–150

If you’re following the schedule, you should read these chapters today: 1 Chronicles 5–6, Hebrews 10, Amos 4, Psalms 148–150. Click on any of those references to see all the passages in one long page on BibleGateway. If you can’t do all the readings today, read Amos 4.

I haven’t seen one in a long time, but I used to see a bumper sticker that quoted from our passage today, Amos 4:12 (KJV): “Prepare to meet Thy God.” Some church vans I’ve seen have it written on the back door of the van. I’ve always found this unsettling on a motor vehicle. Was this a warning from the driver of the vehicle that he or she was about to take me out? 

Regardless of what modern drivers mean, Amos wrote this to warn Israel. He warned the women of the Northern Kingdom who oppressed others that they would be expelled from their home (vv. 1-3). He condemned Israel for its idolatry (vv. 4-5), then talked about all the ways they had already suffered for their sins. They suffered famine (v. 6) and drought (vv. 7-8), plagues of locusts and disease (vv. 9-10a) and losses in war (vv. 10-11). Despite all of this, “‘you have not returned to me’ declares the Lord” (v. 11d). The phrase, “prepare to meet your God,” then, is not an invitation to worship on the back of a church van; it is a warning that God is coming to confront his people Israel about their sins. Verse 13 concludes the thought by describing the power of 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.” 

Because we are in Christ, we do not have to fear meeting God in judgment. Christ has redeemed us from that judgment and introduced us to God’s love. While God is now our Father, he is still immensely powerful, the ruler of all things and judge of all people. In addition to our love and thanks for his forgiveness, our reverence and awe belong to him, too. It deepens our worship and praise when we consider his greatness, power, and majesty. We are completely insignificant in comparison to him, yet he wants to bless us and to receive our worship. 

Now for your thoughts: What stood out in your Bible reading for today? What questions do you have about what you read? What are your thoughts about what I wrote above? Post them in the comments below or on our Facebook page. And, feel free to answer and interact with the questions and comments of others. Have a great day; we’ll talk scripture again tomorrow.

1 Chronicles 1–2, Hebrews 8, Amos 2, Psalm 145

If you’re following the schedule, you should read these chapters today: 1 Chronicles 1–2, Hebrews 8, Amos 2, Psalm 145. Click on any of those references to see all the passages in one long page on BibleGateway. If you can’t do all the readings today, read Amos 2.

Amos chapter 2 continued the Lord’s prophecy of judgment started in chapter 1. This chapter prophesied judgment for Moab (vv. 1-3), Judah (vv. 4-5), and Israel (vv. 6-16). Israel got the longest treatment because of her many sins. In the past several weeks we have read about the sins of Israel and Judah both in 1-2 Kings and in the prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea, and Joel. Idolatry was the primary sin of Israel and that sin is certainly present here in Amos 2:8. Verses 6-8a, however, focus on a different category of sin namely, exploitation. God’s people were punished both because they worshipped false gods and because they took advantage of other people. 

The exploitation of others took several forms. Verse 6b said, “They sell the innocent for silver, and the needy for a pair of sandals.” This is the form of exploitation known as slavery. In biblical times people became slaves in one of two ways: Either they (1) were captured in war and their slavery was the price they paid for losing or (2) they sold themselves into slavery to pay debts they could not pay back. Selling the “innocent for silver” indicates that Israel enslaved some people who were not debtors at all. Perhaps they used the threat or acts of violence or maybe they arranged false witnesses to accuse people of debts they did not owe. The second line in verse 7, “the needy for a pair of sandals” indicates how willingly they sold others for very meager profits. 

Verse 7a continued the description of Israel’s exploitation by describing how they treated the poor. This section refers to how the poor were treated in court; our familiar expression they were treated “like dirt” is basically what “They trample on the heads of the poor as on the dust of the ground” means. The next phrase, “and deny justice to the oppressed” continues the thought. The poor in Israel were abused and what little they had was taken from them by the wealthy and well-connected. When they went to court to get it back, the court sided with the rich and powerful. 

Verse 7b says, “Father and son use the same girl and so profane my holy name.” This is a reference to sexual exploitation. There isn’t enough information to know exactly what is meant here. Were fathers and sons raping their female slaves? Is this a reference to prostitution or wide-spread adultery? We don’t know; one thing is clear: sexual promiscuity was a big problem and men seem to have been forcing themselves on women. 

Verse 8 seems to combine several of these sins. “They lie down beside every altar” is a reference to immoral sexual relations in the idol temples, “…on garments taken in pledge” is a reference to abusing a poor person. Moses’ law forbid Israelites from taking the outer, heavier garment of someone as collateral for a loan. If you were poor enough and desperate enough, however, you’d hand over your coat if it meant enough money to feed your family. People who took these coats as collateral were then using them as bedding for their immoral sexual relations. The final phrase, “In the house of their god they drink wine taken as fines” tells us that instead of buying their own wine, the wealthy and privilege in Israel would find a poor man who was violating some minor law and take his wine to pay the fine, then they would consume that wine in their idol temples.

All of this tells us that God is watching how people treat each other. When we pick on the weak because they are weak and cannot fight back, the almighty judge sees. Those who used threats of lawsuits or better lawyers than their opponents could afford or the levers of government to enrich themselves at the expense of the weak and poor will have much to answer for on the day of God’s judgment. 

Let’s be sure that we don’t do something similar by giving a low tip to our waitress or pizza delivery guy, sexually harassing (or worse) someone who is younger or subordinate to us, or being stingy about loaning or giving money to someone we know is legitimately suffering financially. Let’s be sure that, if we serve on a jury, we seek a just result, not one assumes the guilt of the defendant or the correctness of the corporation. All of these things are wicked in the sight of God. Showing kindness to the weak and poor and standing up to the powerful when others are exploited are reflections of the love of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Now for your thoughts: What stood out in your Bible reading for today? What questions do you have about what you read? What are your thoughts about what I wrote above? Post them in the comments below or on our Facebook page. And, feel free to answer and interact with the questions and comments of others. Have a great day; we’ll talk scripture again tomorrow.

2 Kings 25, Hebrews 7, Amos 1, Psalm 144

If you’re following the schedule, you should read these chapters today: 2 Kings 25, Hebrews 7, Amos 1, Psalm 144. Click on any of those references to see all the passages in one long page on BibleGateway. If you can’t do all the readings today, read Amos 1.

We have read repeatedly about the Lord’s warnings of judgment to Israel and Judah and of his execution of that judgment on each of them. The basis of that judgment was his covenant with Israel which spelled out their obligations to obey him and God’s obligation either to bless them for their obedience or curse them for their disobedience. 

Here in Amos, however, God prophesies judgment on the nations around Israel and Judah. The Arameans would be exiled for their ruthless attacks on the region of Israel known as Gilead (vv. 3-5). The Philistines would be completely extinguished as a nation and a people group (vv. 6-8). The city of Tyre would be burned because they enslaved people and sold them away (vv. 9-10). The Edomites would also see their place burned up because they were ruthless killers of men and women (vv. 11-12). The Ammonites also would have their city of Rabbah burned and their leaders taken into exile because their thirst for more land caused them to attack Gilead (vv. 13-15). And this prophecy about other nations extended into chapter 2.

If it was Israel’s covenant with God that caused him to judge them, then why did he judge these nations that he had no covenant with? The answer is that God has a covenant with all humanity. As our creator, we belong to him and are obligated to keep his laws. The fall made it impossible for us to obey God’s laws which is why God’s covenant and his grace was necessary, but the fall did not absolve any person or nation from obedience to God’s word. This is why God will judge every nation and every person; we all are fail to keep the law that we are obligated to obey.

Remember this when you see an unbeliever doing what is evil. On one had, we expect unbelievers to act like unbelievers and we should. But they are still culpable before God for their sins, just as we are. This is why we should spread the gospel to all the nations; in the gospel people find out how to escape the coming judgment of God for their sins through faith in Christ alone.

Now for your thoughts: What stood out in your Bible reading for today? What questions do you have about what you read? What are your thoughts about what I wrote above? Post them in the comments below or on our Facebook page. And, feel free to answer and interact with the questions and comments of others. Have a great day; we’ll talk scripture again tomorrow.