Thursday, September 18, 2014

"Seek the LORD and live …"

Day #265:  Daily Bible Reading Plan - September 19th

Scripture Reading:  Amos 5 - 9 …

As the prophet, Amos, was sent to Israel to proclaim God's coming judgment, he offered a small ray of hope to those who were about to lose their property, their homes and in many cases, their lives:  "Seek me and live …  Seek the LORD and live … " (5:4,6).  As the Word of God warns of His coming judgment upon the earth in our day, those same words come to us as we hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ:  "Seek me and live … Seek the LORD and live!"

Many within Israel thought it would be different.  They thought God did not notice their sins, but God says, "I know how many are your offenses and how great your sins" (5:12).  Though they tried, they could not hide from the LORD, the only true God, the great "I AM."  Still God called out to them, "Seek ME and live!"  The prophet Isaiah spoke to these same people, "Seek the LORD while He may be found; call on Him while He is near.  Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts.  Let him turn to the LORD, and He will have mercy on him, and to our God, for He will freely pardon" (Isaiah 55:6-7).  Only because of the stubborn foolishness of those without the Spirit of God will they persist in their sin and unbelief without confession, repentance and seeking God.

Amos, along with the other prophets, predicts the coming judgment of God as he describes the "day of the LORD" (5:18ff.).  It is sometimes amazing how much like the days of the prophets our day is.  People want God to send His judgment on others, failing to realize that they, too, lie in the path of His coming wrath.  Amos declares, "Woe to you who long for the day of the LORD! … That day will be darkness, not light!"  (5:18).  The "day of the LORD" points to the coming judgment of God upon Israel, in the present and in the future, as well as His judgment upon all those who do not know Him and who do not come to Him in the only way He has prescribed:  through faith in His Son Jesus Christ.

Repeatedly, Amos states, "the LORD is His Name," or "whose name is God Almighty!"  Only the God who reveals Himself in the Scriptures contained in the Bible as the "LORD," the Great "I AM," "Jehovah" or "Yahweh," is to be worshiped, for He alone is God Almighty.  All the supposed gods of the nations are poor impostors who cannot save from God's coming judgment.  "Woe to you who are complacent in Zion," Amos declares (6:1).  The same is true of those who are "lukewarm" in the church today … who do not take seriously the warnings found throughout the Bible.  They go on about their lives and their supposed worship as though God does not see - but He DOES!!

Paul wrote to those who presumed on the grace and mercy of God in Romans 2:1-5, when he says that those who judge others and do the same things condemn themselves.  "Or do you show contempt for the riches of His kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness leads you toward repentance?  But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God's wrath, when His righteous judgment will be revealed" (2:4-5).  That will be the "day of the LORD," described by Amos.

God says that He hates the pride of Jacob, and so He sets a "plumb line" (7:8) by which He measures the obedience (or lack thereof) of those who claim to be His people.  King Amaziah of Israel told Hosea to go back to Judah and to be quiet!  But who can stop the word of the Lord from being fulfilled?  Who today can say that God will not fulfill every word that He has spoken through the prophets and apostles, and through Jesus, the Christ, the eternal Son of God.  Those who want to believe in a Jesus that would not judge anyone have never read the Bible, even the red letters!!  Jesus told His disciples shortly before His crucifixion that when the Holy Spirit came He would "convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment" (16:8).  Jesus foretold the destruction of Jerualem and called His sheep to hear His voice, to believe in Him and be saved … from what?  God's coming wrath and judgment.

Before the judgment came, God said that He would send a "famine of hearing the words of the LORD" (8:11).  For almost 400 years prior to the birth of Christ there were no prophets in Israel.  Then came John the Baptist, the forerunner, pointing to the coming of the Savior, calling people to repentance.  In our own nation and in many places around the world today it seems as though there is a famine of God's Word.  People have gathered for themselves teachers who will tell them what they want to hear, as Paul predicted in his letters to Timothy.  Many find it difficult to find a place where they can hear the Word of God preached and where there are those who are seeking the LORD and placing their faith in Jesus Christ alone to be saved.  Can the judgment of Almighty God be far behind?  Is it even now beginning to fall upon us?

Where is there any hope in this message?  What are we to hold on to as we live among a people so depraved, so determined to scorn the God who made them, and as we see our own sin and how far we fall short of God's glory?  Where is there HOPE??  Only in the promises of God through Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed One, the Christ, our Savior and our Lord!!  God offered hope even at the end of Amos' declaration of judgment:  "Surely the eyes of the Sovereign LORD are on the sinful kingdom.  I will destroy it from the face of the earth - YET I will not totally destroy the house of Jacob" (9:8).

"In that day," says the LORD, "I will restore David's fallen tent.  I will repair its broken places, restore its ruins, and build it as it used to be" (9:11) … "I will plant Israel in their own land, never again to be uprooted from the land I have given them" (9:15).  Not all who have returned to the land of Israel in our day will escape the judgment of God.  The nations will be gathered against Israel and difficult times lie ahead … yet God will save a remnant from Israel and from the nations for Himself through His Son Jesus Christ.  His call still goes out today, "Seek the LORD and live …"

What have YOU done with Jesus?  Have you acknowledged the LORD, the great "I AM," as God?  Do you believe in Him, and have you placed your faith in Jesus Christ?  As this world races towards the "day of the LORD" one will appear who will appear to offer peace, who will unite all nations and all religions together in an effort to establish himself as the one to be worshiped … millions will be deceived, desiring peace and security for themselves rather than worship and praise of the LORD, the one and only true God.  Then the end will come suddenly upon those who do not know Him and who have not sought Him …

Where will you be on that day?  Where are you today?  I warn you and urge you to "seek the LORD and live!"  Through the blood of Jesus Christ shed on the cross we who have been given the Holy Spirit confess our sin, turn from it and trust in Jesus Christ for forgiveness and life eternal.  We have no other hope, for "we have THIS hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure" (Hebrews 6:19).  May this hope be yours today as you repent of your sins and place your trust in Jesus Christ.  "Seek the LORD while He may be found.  Call upon Him while He is near" and find that His promises are all 'Yes! and Amen" in Christ Jesus!!

"O LORD my God, to You be endless praise for Your holiness, righteousness and majesty!  You alone are God and I worship You with all my heart.  I thank You for giving me ears to hear the warnings of judgment in Your Word and for moving my heart to respond in repentance and faith in Your Son Jesus Christ.  Give me wisdom and strength to live in this world as an ambassador of Your truth and of Your kingdom, of the reign of Your Son Jesus Christ.  Open the ears of those whom You have chosen through the words You have placed in my mouth, that they may seek You and live!  In Jesus' name, Amen"

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