Monday, September 18, 2023

The Book Of Amos. Day 32, A House That Rises, Part One

Yesterday's passage was another foretelling of the fall of the northern kingdom of Israel. But it ended with this note of hope: "'Yet I will not totally destroy the descendants of Jacob,' declares the Lord." 

Today's passage begins again with the theme of a coming disaster, which we know will be the invasion of the Assyrian army, the conquering of Israel, and the deportation of the majority of Israel's citizens to foreign lands. In today's text the Lord speaks of these events as one would speak of sifting grain or flour. These events, terrible as they will be, will not be for the purpose of wiping the descendants of Jacob from the face of the earth. Rather, He describes those dreadful days as a method of separating the wheat from the chaff, so to speak. It is a sifting process in which those who have utterly forsaken Him for idols and who will not turn back to Him (those who are the chaff) are separated from those who still have or who will have a heart for Him (those who are the wheat). The Lord Jesus used this same type of analogy in the Old Testament when He spoke of the final judgment day in which the Lord would separate believers from those who have utterly rejected the Lord. Jesus also said there would be many calling themselves by the name of the Lord (and they may be able to fool their fellow man) but the Lord knows whether they are truly His or are simply using His name for their own benefit. 

Here is what the Lord says about the sifting process: "For I will give the command, and I will shake the people of Israel among all the nations as grain is shaken in a sieve, and not a pebble will reach the ground. All the sinners among My people will die by the sword, all those who say, 'Disaster will not overtake or meet us.'" (Amos 9:9-10)

As we continue moving through the books of the prophets we will see that there were false prophets contradicting the word of the Lord's true prophets. They were saying, "Disaster will not come! The Lord will never bring disaster on those He brought out of Egypt. The Lord will never bring disaster on those who call themselves by His name. He won't allow the nation to fall. He is not displeased with you. You just need to keep on the same as always; nothing has to change. The Lord made a promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to never wipe their descendants off the earth." 

While it's true that the Lord made such a promise, He never promised He wouldn't allow them to be defeated and scattered among the nations. In fact, He said they would be defeated and scattered among the nations if they turned away from Him. Two passages that make this very clear can be found in Leviticus 26 and in Deuteronomy 28, where He plainly describes the blessings for obedience and the curses for disobedience. He can keep His promise never to make a complete end of the people and He can keep His promise to judge their sin at the same time by sparing those who are still faithful (and by sparing those He knows will turn to Him) and by allowing the nation to be conquered and most of the people to be deported.

But the fall of the nation is not the end of the nation. While the ten northern kingdoms will not reassemble and form a new northern kingdom, the Lord did not allow all the people to perish. The Lord did not make an end of a nation named "Israel" either, for the promises contained in the remainder of Chapter 9 have already begun to be fulfilled. Israel became a sovereign nation in the world again in 1948. This was the beginning of the ingathering of the people and the restoring of the nation. The Lord makes many promises in the Scriptures concerning Israel, some of which have already been fulfilled and many of which are still in the future in our day, but we can rest assured that not one word of His promises will fail. 

Amos has had to deliver some bad news. The bad news is going to come true, whether everyone thinks it will or not, and when it comes true they will need some hope to hold onto. Those who still love the Lord and those who come to know the Lord will cling to these beautiful promises. They will need the promises to get them through but, thanks be to God, He always gives us something to hold onto! The entire Bible is filled with beautiful promises that the children of God can cling to and count on when the days are dark.

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