SEEK THE LORD AND LIVE! (AMOS) Lesson 5 for May 4, 2013
How to seek the Lord: • Hating evil and loving good (Amos 5:14-15) • Abandoning the religious formalism (Amos 5:5, 21-27) • Result of rejecting the message: • The example of Amaziah (Amos 7:10-17) • The silence of God (Amos 8:11-12) • Result of accepting the message: • A kingdom of justice and prosperity (Amos 9:11-15) “For thus says the Lord to the house of Israel: “Seek Me and live”” (Amos 5:4)
HATING EVIL AND LOVING GOOD Because of the growing evil in Israel, Amos advised them, “Seek good and not evil… Hate evil, love good!”(Amos 5:14-15) Our first step must be to gain the ability to distinguish between good and evil. The apostle Paul states that we must exercise to gain it with the help of God. “But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” (Hebrews 5:14) We must exercise through prayer and seeking God’s will. If we don’t exercise, we could make the mistake Isaiah warned us about: “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!”(Isaiah 5:20) But just knowing and seeking good is not enough. We must hate evil: “The spirit of Christ will lead us to hate sin, while we are willing to make any sacrifice to save the sinner”(E.G.W., Testimonies for the Church, vol. 5, pg. 171)
ABANDONING THE RELIGIOUS FORMALISM “But do not seek Bethel, nor enter Gilgal, nor pass over to Beersheba; for Gilgal shall surely go into captivity, and Bethel shall come to nothing.… Though you offer Me burnt offerings and your grain offerings, I will not accept them, nor will I regard your fattened peace offerings” (Amos 5:5, 22) Although those places were idolatrous houses, Israel thought that they could worship the true God there. But their sacrifices and hymns were just red tape. God wasn’t in their hearts. Their lives of injustice, cruelty and inhumanity denied their faith. The book of Amos is an invitation to reconsider our lives and our motivations; to seek God and live.
THE MESSAGE OF AMAZIAH “They hate the one who rebukes in the gate, and they abhor the one who speaks uprightly” (Amos 5:10) They treated Amos like a “professional” prophet who could be purchased with gifts. Amaziah (priest in Bethel) invited him to go to Judah where his prophecies could be better heard. But Amos was a simple shepherd who had received a calling from God. He was sure of his mission: “Go, prophesy to My people Israel”(Amos 7:15) “Therefore thus says the Lord: ‘Your wife shall be a harlot in the city; your sons and daughters shall fall by the sword; your land shall be divided by survey line; you shall die in a defiled land; and Israel shall surely be led away captive from his own land.’”(Amos 7:17) Amaziah rejected God’s message and that had terrible consequences which would be shared with all the people of Israel if they refused to seek God.
THE SILENCE OF GOD “They shall wander from sea to sea, and from north to east; they shall run to and fro, seeking the word of the Lord, but shall not find it” (Amos 8:12) When someone repeatedly rejects the calling of the Holy Spirit to the point of totally silencing his/her conscience, there is no more Word of God to him/her but only “a certain fearful expectation of judgment” (Hebrews 10:27) That will particularly happen in the last generation. When grace will end, the wicked will seek words to calm their consciences down but won’t find them —like King Saul. “Then they will call on me, but I will not answer; they will seek me diligently, but they will not find me” (Proverbs 1:28)
“Then I saw Jesus lay off His priestly attire and clothe Himself with His most kingly robes. Upon His head were many crowns, a crown within a crown. Surrounded by the angelic host, He left heaven. The plagues were falling upon the inhabitants of the earth. Some were denouncing God and cursing Him. Others rushed to the people of God and begged to be taught how they might escape His judgments. But the saints had nothing for them. The last tear for sinners had been shed, the last agonizing prayer offered, the last burden borne, the last warning given. The sweet voice of mercy was no more to invite them. When the saints, and all heaven, were interested for their salvation, they had not interest for themselves. Life and death had been set before them. Many desired life, but made no effort to obtain it. They did not choose life, and now there was no atoning blood to cleanse the guilty, no compassionate Saviour to plead for them and cry, “Spare, spare the sinner a little longer.” All heaven had united with Jesus, as they heard the fearful words, “It is done. It is finished.” The plan of salvation had been accomplished, but few had chosen to accept it. And as mercy’s sweet voice died away, fear and horror seized the wicked. With terrible distinctness they heard the words, “Too late! too late!”” E.G.W. (The Story of Redemption, cp. 59, pg. 404)
A KINGDOM OF JUSTICE AND PROSPERITY Those who are repentant and accept the message of forgiveness from God will own the kingdom Jesus has prepared for us. “Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world’” (Matthew 25:34) ““On that day I will raise up the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down, and repair its damages; I will raise up its ruins, and rebuild it as in the days of old; that they may possess the remnant of Edom, and all the Gentiles who are called by My name,” says the Lord who does this thing” (Amos 9:11-12)