Sunday, December 10, 2017

December 10: Amos 1 – 3; Psalm 129; Proverbs 29:19-20; Revelation 2:1-17



Overview

            Amos: Amos’ words that he saw about Israel during the Uzziah’s reign over Judah and Jeroboam’s reign over Israel and two years before a great earthquake.
            The Lord roars that he will punish Damascus because they threshed Gilead. He will punish Gaza because they took people into exile and delivered them to Edom. He will punish Tyre because they did the same as Gaza. He will punish Edom because they killed his brothers without pity. He will punish Ammon because they brutally killed women in Gilead just to expand their boarder. He will punish Moab because they burned the bones of the king of Edom.
            He will punish Judah because they rejected the Law of the Lord and went astray. He will punish Israel because they sell righteous and needy people, oppress the poor, commit incest, and indulge in cult prostitution.
            Yet, the Lord destroyed Amon before Israel when he took them out of Egypt. He raised some of them to be prophets and Nazirites. But Israel made the Nazirites drink wine and forbid the prophet to speak. Therefore, the Lord will make sure they can’t save themselves.
            The Lord tells Israel that they are the only nation he has known; therefore, he will punish them for their sins. He asks them several rhetorical questions to point out that he doesn’t do anything without telling his prophets. He tells Ashdod and Egypt to assemble in Samaria and to note the oppression and sin in her. Therefore, an enemy will surround Israel and plunder them. Only a few of Israel will escape like a shepherd that only retrieves the ear of a sheep from the lion.
            The Lord tells all of Jacob that at the time he punishes Israel, he will break the altars of Bethel. He will destroy all their fancy houses.
            Psalm: Israel should admit that it has been afflicted from its beginnings. Yet God has protected them. May those who hate Zion be shamed and be like withered grass. May they not be blessed.
            Proverbs: There are times when simply instructing a servant will not get him to do right even though he understands what is right. There must be consequences for error. There is more hope for a fool than for one who opens his mouth without thinking.
            Revelation: Jesus dictates his letter to the church at Ephesus. He holds the pastors of each church in his hands and walks among the churches. He knows the Ephesian’s work, patience, and hatred of evil. They exposed those in the church who think they are apostles, but they were false. However, their love has failed. They need to look back, repent and do what they did before. If not, Jesus will remove the church. Still, they hate cults like the Nicolaitans, whom Jesus also hates. Everyone should listen to what the Spirit says to the churches. The conquerors will eat of the tree of life in heaven.
            To the church in Smyrna, the words are from the eternal Jesus who died and now lives. He knows their persecution and poverty. People claiming to be Jews but belong to Satan slander them. They must not fear the coming trial from the devil when they are persecuted for ten days. They must be faithful even if killed and they will get the crown of life. Everyone should listen to what the Spirit says to the churches. The conquerors will not be hurt by the second death.
            To the church in Pergamum Jesus writes as the one with the sharp double-edged sword. He knows that they live where Satan lives and is active. He commends them for holding fast to Jesus’ name even when Antipas was killed. Still, they have some who have been teaching the same thing as Balaam. It is a stumbling bock so that some eat food sacrificed to idols and continue in sexual immorality. Other are Nicolaitans. They must repent or Jesus will fight them with the sword of his mouth. Everyone should listen to what the Spirit says to the churches. The conquerors will be given hidden manna and a white stone with a new name on it that only the person who gets it will know.

What Stood Out

            Amos: “Thus says the Lord: ‘For three transgressions of Damascus, and for four, I will not revoke the punishment’” (Amos 1:3).
            Psalm: “May all who hate Zion be put to shame and turned backward” (Ps 129:5)!
            Proverbs: “By mere words a servant is not disciplined, for though he understands, he will not respond” (Prov 29:19).
            Revelation: “To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: ‘The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands’” (Rev 2:1).

Insight

            Amos: The Lord makes some interesting statements about the pagan nations around Israel. He repeats a phrase that he will punish them for three and four transgressions. He isn’t saying that they have only committed three or four sins, but it is his way of emphasizing they have many sins. However, the ones he lists are primarily the ones against Israel. This is similar to what he has said through other prophets. When a nation sinfully attacks Israel, especially when they are being punished by God, and they gloat over it, they will also suffer God’s punishment.
            However, when it comes to Judah and Israel, he punishes them for rejecting his Law and spurning the grace he gave them when he saved them out of Egypt. He has given them everything they need and yet reject him and turn to other Gods. More is required of those who know more about God.
            We often obsess with the way unbelievers live their lives. We think that they are terrible and are ruining our world. While that is true to an extent, we need to understand that God has a higher calling for Christians. He will punish them for their evils, but what will he do to those of us whom he has blessed with eternal life when we act just the way unbelievers do and sometimes worse? Israel is an example for us to get serious in our walk with the Lord. Peter warned us that judgment begins with us (1 Peter 4:17). Because we are his representatives on earth, just as Israel was at one time, then he will not let us off when we live ungodly lives. We won’t loss eternity, but may suffer here more than we would have had we been obeying him. We will lose rewards in heaven that we should have gotten had we built our lives on Jesus instead of our own desires and lusts (1 Cor 3:12-14).
            Psalm: Not all Psalms fill us with joy. Some, like this one, point to reality. This reality is that from the beginning of time, Israel has been in Satan’s cross hairs. He is out to destroy Jerusalem and Israel because God has promised great things for it and there are still some that must be fulfilled. Satan uses people to accomplish his goals of destruction for Zion.
            Just as we have seen in Amos, some of those people go beyond what God has ordained. They do more to Israel than they should. They have malice toward them and take joy in their horrific acts against Jews. Since this Psalm is a prayer that the Lord will answer, then those who join in attacking Israel, in one way or another, will be put to shame and come to nothing. I don’t want to be in their company.
            Proverbs: This proverb is management 101. While most people are trustworthy and will do as instructed, the are some workers who simply do what they want. That is why companies have employee handbooks that outline exactly what is required of their people and what the consequences are when they break the rules. Christians need these just as much as other people. While we should be doing our work unto the Lord (1 Cor 10:31), we aren’t perfect.
            We do have an employee’s handbook that far exceeds any company’s and that is the Bible. We should be even more aware of its contents and respond in obedience to Jesus.
            Revelation: The messages to the churches in Asia all start with a description of Jesus that is fitting for that church and everyone in general. The description for Ephesus is that he is the one who upholds the faithful pastors of each church. He also upholds us. We are in his hands and no one can snatch us out of his hands. Though we may have some of the failures, just like the different churches, we know that we will never be snatched out Jesus’ hand or the Father’s (John 10:27-30). We ae secure in our salvation.
            Jesus is also the one who walks among the churches. He is involved in each one. He is telling us that he doesn’t just work with individuals, but with churches. However, churches can drift off, especially when false teachers come in and divert them. There are people today who call themselves apostles and are not. They claim to be speaking for God, not just teaching the Bible but their word is to be obeyed just like the Apostles. The Ephesians had that problem and got rid of them. We need to be just as careful. However, Jesus warns each church and us that when a church loses its first love (Jesus) and goes to far astray, he will remove that church. I wouldn’t want to be part of a church that Jesus fights against with the sword of his mouth.

Application

             It all boils down to loving Jesus and proving it by being obedient. It doesn’t matter if we look at the Old Testament as in Amos, the Psalms, Proverbs, or now in Revelation. We show our love and faith by our obedience and perseverance to the end when we will be called conquerors.

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