impending storm June 26 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): 2Kings 14:23-28; Amos 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

A Coming Storm

We are in the hurricane season where there are tornadoes, large hail, damaging winds and floods. We watch the weather anxiously, wondering if we might be hit next, and we prepare for the worst. However, there are some who are complacent. They ignore the ominous dark clouds. They think the hurricane has never wiped them out before so they will go on living their lives without a care.

There are other kinds of impending storms—a big stock drop on Wall Street, a marriage in trouble, a lawsuit, bankruptcy, and other bad things. Still some are complacent and believe they are secure—nothing is going to happen to them.

Many people in this world have shaky shelters. Stocks and bonds, insurance, property, position, and rich inheritances are things which they count on to secure their lives. When they feel secure, they may no longer fear the LORD. Perhaps they still attend church and make a show of their religion but do not truly serve him. The poor become contemptible to them. They live self-indulgent lifestyles. Does this describe any of us? Does God care? Will He judge or discipline us?

In today's Bible reading the northern tribes of Israel and the southern tribes of Judah are experiencing the benefits of the long prosperous reigns of King Jeroboam II (north) and good King Uzziah (south). The surrounding nations are weak in military strength, so the whole area around the land of Israel is at peace. Peace brings prosperity. Prosperity brings a self-indulgent lifestyle and abuse; the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. In these two nations injustice reigns, slothful living is the norm (both physically and spiritually), and people have a false sense of security with no need for God,... or so they think.

Two years before a mammoth earthquake rocks the Middle East in 760 B.C.*, Amos prophesies of God’s wrath. The LORD is compared to a lion ready to pounce on the nations surrounding Israel and Judah. Israel's neighbors act or will soon act directly or in complicity with other nations against her. It is true that Israel is wicked and the surrounding nations are allowed to be God’s disciplining arm, but these nations are still responsible for their vile acts against Israel, His chosen people. For most of them, judgment comes when Assyria and (later) Babylon rake through their land, burn their towns and cities, savagely kill their people, plunder them, and exile many into captivity.

After speaking judgments against the surrounding nations (for three sins, even for four meaning God has had enough), the prophet Amos, pronounces seven of the harshest judgments against Israel.

This is what the LORD says: “For three sins of Israel, even for four, I will not turn back my wrath. [1]They sell the righteous for silver, and the needy for a pair of sandals. [2] They trample on the heads of the poor as upon the dust of the ground and [3] deny justice to the oppressed. [4] Father and son use the same girl and so profane my holy name. [5] They lie down beside every altar on garments taken in pledge. [6] In the house of their god they drink wine taken as fines, and [7]… you made the Nazirites [devoted followers of God] drink wine and commanded the prophets not to prophesy” (Amos 2:6-8,12, NIV).

Israel is God’s family, His spiritual progeny.

Hear this word the LORD has spoken against you, O people of Israel-- against the whole family I brought up out of Egypt: “You only have I chosen of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your sins.

See the great unrest within her and the oppression among her people. They do not know how to do right,” declares the LORD, “who hoard plunder and loot in their fortresses.” Therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says: “An enemy [Assyria in 722 B.C. and Babylon in 586 B.C.] will overrun the land; he will pull down your strongholds and plunder your fortresses” (Amos 3:1-2, NIV; for an explanation of the name Sovereign LORD see more...).

While Israel lay in ease, living a self-indulgent lifestyle, she does not know she will be devoured as lamb by a wolf, so little of it will remain. God has already disciplined Israel with plagues of drought, famine, hunger, slaughter in military battles, and even with fire, but Israel is proud and obstinate and will not repent. Therefore, Amos prophesies that only one-tenth of Israel will remain after their enemies ravage them (Amos 5:3). What are they to do about it? How can they avert judgment?

This is what the LORD says to the house of Israel: “Seek me and live; do not seek Bethel, do not go to Gilgal, do not journey to Beersheba [places of worship of the false gods of Baal and Ashteroth set up by King Jeroboam, son of Nebat]. For Gilgal will surely go into exile, and Bethel will be reduced to nothing.” Seek the LORD and live, or he will sweep through the house of Joseph [another name for the northern kingdom of Israel] like a fire; it will devour, and Bethel will have no one to quench it,” (Amos 5:4-6, NIV).

Are some of us obstinate Christians? Do we refuse to repent? If God disciplined Israel for her wickedness, do we think we will escape? We must, like Israel, repent, seek the LORD and live (more...).

Israel feels secure because she is religious, i.e., she has a religious heritage. God, however, hates Israel’s religious practices. In Amos 5:21-24 God says,

I hate, I despise your religious feasts; I cannot stand your assemblies. 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. But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream! (NIV)

In summary, God says to Israel: You worship me in ceremonies, but in daily practice you worship other gods and do not act with righteousness and justice. You lie in the comfort of your prosperity and are complacent. You do not care about Me or justice for the poor or righteousness.

Does this describe any of us? If Israel was disciplined for such things, are we so arrogant and self-assured that we think we can escape? There is an impending storm of judgment for such people. If we are irreverent in the way we live, we must take this warning seriously—we must turn from our sins and seek the LORD or be judged. He offers us forgiveness, peace, and spiritual life (more...).

If we are reverent, however, let this message from Amos be an encouragement for us to keep seeking the LORD, to not live a self-indulgent lifestyle, and to act with justice and mercy so we might live and prosper.

Lessons to Live By

  • God needs to be our shelter in a coming storm.
  • If we are not careful to fear the LORD, riches can tempt us to live a self-indulgent, complacent lifestyle, for which God disciplines His people.
  • The LORD wants us to be kind to the poor and to act with justice and mercy.
  • God is not impressed with religious ceremonies; He wants a real relationship with us (more...).

Focus Verse

Micah 6:8 (NIV) “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

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A Look Ahead: God has had just about enough of Israel's idolatry, wickedness and complacency, but still he is merciful. Do any of us have bad behavior? What should we do When God has had Enough? Find out in our Next Lesson.

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