A Rebuke from the Lord
Taught November 19, 2023
Table of Contents
Watch & Listen
Over the past couple of weeks, we have taken a look at how we must go about correcting our ways so that we can be forgiven by the Lord. The notion of being forgiven by the Lord is one that many people today take very lightly. However, as we will see in our lesson this week, one ought not take God’s mercy and forgiveness lightly.
Seek What is Holy
One of the biggest gripes I have about the world today is one that I have shared with my brother over the past couple of months. What is that gripe? My gripe is that it feels like a lot of people crave the opposite of what is holy and righteous. For example, rather than finding a way to uplift and to love, people tend to do their best to tear down others.
The internet, for example, while it can be incredibly wonderful, has become a cesspool of hatred banter where people take pleasure in desiring evil against others and applauding the downfall of others. Many are quick to support people who, through all manner of lies, will build themselves up as the only ones that know the truth while going out of their way to lie and bring down others. The sad part is how many people are blind to reality.
The internet is actually a really good parallel to what we see in scripture when it comes to heeding false doctrines and living by those doctrines. Our lesson today comes from the prophecy of Amos. Amos was a prophet that was born in Judah, the southern kingdom, but he prophesied to Israel, the northern kingdom.
During those times, Israel was living out of fellowship with the Lord in complete wickedness. Through the prophet, the Lord asked, “Can two walk together, unless they are agreed (Amos 3:3)?” If two aren’t walking together, there is no way they can agree. If you aren’t walking in fellowship with the Lord, how can you receive His blessings?
So, as we see in the opening verse of our lesson this week, the Lord says through the prophet, “Seek good and not evil, that you may live; So the Lord God of hosts will be with you, as you have spoken (v.14).” God’s desire was to be in fellowship with Israel, but He would not be in fellowship with them if they chose to keep seeking out the way of sin.
It was said to Israel, “Hate evil, love good; Establish justice in the gate (v.15).” Let’s understand that in both of these verses we, once again, see the Lord’s rebuke – His instructions to make corrections – and His call for repentance from Israel. In Isaiah 59:4, scripture speaks of how justice was lacking in Israel as no one called for justice nor pleaded for truth; evil was conceived during that day and God was calling for Israel to turn away from evil.
So, let’s remember what we have learned over the past couple of weeks: when God rebukes us, it is a show of mercy. With mercy, you have a period of grace to correct your ways. The question you must answer is whether or not you take advantage of God’s mercy or not.
Don’t Take God for Granted
The Lord was calling on Israel to make the proper corrections within this passage of scripture. To be clear, this rebuke and call for repentance is happening well after the period of the judges. So, even after our recent lessons, we can understand that Israel fell back into sin very deeply; we will see just how deep Israel was in sin in a few verses.
Woe to the sinner
Through the prophet Amos, we will see the Lord say to Israel, “Woe to you who desire the day of the Lord (v.18)! For what good is the day of the Lord to you?” The day of the Lord speaks about the day of God’s judgment – the day He will judge and punish sin.
This verse begins with a warning to Israel, but once again, to the rest of the world about God’s final judgment of sin. I want to point out that also within this statement from the Lord, there is a hint of Israel having taken God’s mercy for granted. The sinner should not be looking forward to the day of God’s judgment but by the manner in which the sinner lives, the sinner makes light of God’s mercy and the day of God’s judgment.
Should anyone make light of God’s mercy and final judgment of sin? Considering that the day God judges sin will end with those of sin being cast into the lake of fire, I don’t believe anyone should make light of His mercy and final judgment (Rev. 20:11-15).
The day of the Lord is not going to be a beautiful day. Scripture, we will see, describes it as a day of darkness where there will be no brightness (vss.18, 20). A lot of people try to picture hell as a literal lake of fire but there will be no physical fire as the physical will have passed away. On multiple occasions, when Jesus spoke of the casting away of the sinner, He spoke of the sinner being cast into outer darkness (Matt. 8:12; 22:13; 25:30).
Hell, living without the presence of God, will be true suffering. Through Amos, we will see that the Lord said, “it will be as though a man fled from a lion, and a bear met him (v.19).” Those who are cast away from the presence of the Lord for eternity will be surrounded by trouble. Where believers will spend eternity rejoicing in the peace of God, the sinner will suffer in regret and the pain of knowing that they rejected God’s offer of eternal peace.
Again, we must understand that this was a warning not just for Israel, but it also serves as a warning to the world (mankind) as well. God does not want to cast anyone away from His presence for eternity. The Lord would rather you stand before the judgment seat of Christ, where yes, believers will be judged for our works but even if our works are consumed, we will be saved through the purifying fire of Jesus’ judgment (1 Cor. 3:14-15).
Heed God’s warning
As we continue in our lesson, we will see God pick back up in His rebuke of how Israel was living. The Lord says, “I hate, I despise your feast days, and I do not savor your sacred assemblies (v.21).” The Lord speaks against the burnt, grain, and peace offerings that Israel was offering up (v.22). Lastly, we’ll see Lord say to Israel, “Take away from Me the noise of your songs, for I will not hear the melody of your stringed instruments (v.23).”
Now, you may begin to wonder, why did the Lord despise the gathering together for the holy feast, and the offering of their sacrifices and songs? This is a passage of scripture that is very similar to what is written in Isaiah 1. Through Isaiah, the Lord asked Israel, “To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices to Me (Is. 1:11)?” That was a question that was, once again, asked while Israel was living in complete wickedness.
The Lord then called for Israel not to bring any more futile sacrifices to Him nor burn incense to Him as it was an abomination to Him (Is. 1:13). Why did the Lord consider their sacrifices and the burning of incense as an abomination? It was considered an abomination due to Israel’s indulgence to living in sin; their worship of God was not out of sincerity as they would offer up sacrifice and then go back to living in sin!
Through Isaiah, the Lord said to Israel that He could not endure their iniquity for what should have been a sacred (holy) meeting. We must understand that the Lord desires sincere worship. If you’re convicted of living in sin, and don’t truly care for the Lord, then God says to you not to even bother with worshiping Him; you have given your heart to sin and not to Him.
Going back to the scripture of our lesson, we will see that through Amos, the Lord said to Israel, should they have desired to correct themselves, “let justice run down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream (v.24).” Again, this was a call for Israel to repent. If they should choose to disregard God’s call of repentance, the Lord warned, “I will send you into captivity beyond Damascus (v.27).”
The northern kingdom, Israel, because they chose to live in sin, was conquered by the Assyrians. The southern kingdom, Judah, was eventually conquered by the Babylonians because they chose to live in sin. When you choose to abide in sin, understand, you do not please the Lord and eventually your dwelling with sin will catch up to you.
Something that many people seem to disregard is the damage that sin actually does to our soul. Sin compromises and corrupts our soul; it strangles and chokes the soul and keeps it in bondage. Many people, because they choose not to be of faith, live under the impression that they are living free, but in actuality, they are living in the bondage of sin and the Lord will allow them to live in that bondage.
However, we should understand that the Lord does not want anyone to live in the bondage of sin; that is why He sent His only begotten Son. Remember, Jesus said to the Jews that should believe in His word – the divine truth – they would be made free (John 8:31-32).
The Lord’s rebuke, His instructions, warnings, and mercy should never be made light of. The big takeaway from our lesson this week is to heed God’s rebuke and heed His warnings; they are no laughing matter. Those that do not heed His rebuke, will one day stand before the Great White Throne, and all laugh will cease as the Lord will show no mercy towards sin.