We continue to study the 400 year history of God’s covenant people, the Israelites, as found in the books of first and second Kings, but as seen through the eyes of Yahweh’s prophets. Our most current study? The prophet Amos, and his poetry, sermons, and oracles.
The benefit of moving through this prophetic literature by covering a book each Sunday is that it is easier to identify some themes. For example, a common progression in each book is the identification of covenant failure by Israel, a proclamation from Yahweh via a prophet of his accusations, a description of judgment, the opportunity for repentance, and the promise of salvation and restoration for the repentant.
One of the most encouraging things I am learning about God in The Whole Story is his steadfast love for his people expressed through his promise of salvation and restoration for those who repent. It is remarkable to see that, no matter how long the list of sins and accusations against his people, no matter how abhorrent their failure, regardless of the amount of time that has passed, the steadfast love of Yahweh never ceases, and his mercies never come to an end.
And that is really good news.
Because we are no better than Israel.
And we are all really ‘good’ sinners.
So I need this kind of repeated, consistent message:
1 Return, O Israel, to the Lord your God,
for you have stumbled because of your iniquity.
2 Take with you words
and return to the Lord;
say to him,
“Take away all iniquity;
accept what is good,
and we will pay with bulls
the vows of our lips.
3 Assyria shall not save us;
we will not ride on horses;
and we will say no more, ‘Our God,’
to the work of our hands.
In you the orphan finds mercy.”
4 I will heal their apostasy;
I will love them freely,
for my anger has turned from them.
5 I will be like the dew to Israel;
he shall blossom like the lily;
he shall take root like the trees of Lebanon;
6 his shoots shall spread out;
his beauty shall be like the olive,
and his fragrance like Lebanon.
7 They shall return and dwell beneath my shadow;
they shall flourish like the grain;
they shall blossom like the vine;
their fame shall be like the wine of Lebanon.
Joel 3:16—18; 21b
16 The Lord roars from Zion,
and utters his voice from Jerusalem,
and the heavens and the earth quake.
But the Lord is a refuge to his people,
a stronghold to the people of Israel.
The Glorious Future of Judah
17 “So you shall know that I am the Lord your God,
who dwells in Zion, my holy mountain.
And Jerusalem shall be holy,
and strangers shall never again pass through it.
18 “And in that day
the mountains shall drip sweet wine,
and the hills shall flow with milk,
and all the streambeds of Judah
shall flow with water;
and a fountain shall come forth from the house of the Lord
and water the Valley of Shittim.
….Yahweh dwells in Jerusalem.”
11 “In that day I will raise up
the booth of David that is fallen
and repair its breaches,
and raise up its ruins
and rebuild it as in the days of old,
12 that they may possess the remnant of Edom
and all the nations who are called by my name,”
declares the Lord who does this.
13 “Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord,
“when the plowman shall overtake the reaper
and the treader of grapes him who sows the seed;
the mountains shall drip sweet wine,
and all the hills shall flow with it.
14 I will restore the fortunes of my people Israel,
and they shall rebuild the ruined cities and inhabit them;
they shall plant vineyards and drink their wine,
and they shall make gardens and eat their fruit.
15 I will plant them on their land,
and they shall never again be uprooted
out of the land that I have given them,”
says the Lord your God.
Over and over again, his promise to those who would turn to him is that he is faithful to forgive, heal, and restore. And for us, that means trusting in the Messiah that Israel could only look forward to, but that we now celebrate — Jesus. When we embrace the Christ, all the promises are ours. One day we will enter into the joy of our Master, because of his finished work and perfect life and spotless righteousness given to us in exchange for our incomplete works and imperfect life and corrupted souls, so that we might live with him in a new heavens and new earth that will be glorious beyond our imagining and which will never end.
If you’d like to listen to a song celebrating and articulating a stunning vision of that King, and our future, I highly recommend heading over to the Rabbit Room, with Andrew Peterson, to take in “Remember Me.” It’s always a good thing for our theology to lead to doxology.
And, for further study on Amos, head over to our friends at The Bible Project. A great way to start your weekly reading of a book that we are working on (or to review it after the sermon) is to visit their website. There you will find videos, milestones, study resources, and recommendations for further reading and study on all the books found in The Whole Story, including Amos.
Finally, just a reminder that this coming Sunday we will study our smallest book yet, weighing in at just one chapter — the prophetic proclamation of Obadiah. Be sure to read it a few times this week (every day if you can), so you may come with a ready and expectant heart as we gather together Sunday morning at 10:30am at Calvary.
Grateful with you for a loving and merciful Father,
Day Twenty-Six: A Morning Conversation With King Solomon
A conversation that happened this morning as I came upon a visitor in our fireplace room….
Day Nineteen: God Chose Her, Not You
The doctrine of God’s rule and reign in and over all things comes crashing into the human conception of the self-made man. We are tempted to think we have so much to do with our happinesses. But the wisdom found from James speaks a wakefulness into the pondering of our circumstances—the good gifts we have come not from our own hands, but by the grace and providence of our heavenly Father. And the wisdom of Solomon makes clear—one of man’s greatest gifts is something only God can give, an understanding wife.
Day Seventeen: The Great Gain Of Godly Contentment
We live in a world where the temptation is constant to believe the amount of our wealth and possessions directly translates to our joy and happiness. The Bible, once again, confronts our culture and holds out another possibility. Namely, “better” does not imply “more,” “bigger,” or “expensive.” It suggests that the reason you still haven’t found what you are looking for is because you’ve been searching in all the wrong places. Wisdom opens our eyes and hearts to deeper wells of contentment.
Day Fifteen: I Always Feel Like Somebody’s Watching Me
I always feel like somebody's watching me. And I have no privacy. Woh, I always feel like somebody's watching me. Tell me is it just a dream? So sang Rockwell in the dawning of my high school years back in 1984. All the cool kids were singing it at the time, and its the tune that sprang to mind when I read this similar sentiment this morning: Yahweh is watching everywhere, keeping his eye on both the evil and the good. (Proverbs 15:3, New Living Translation)
Day Fourteen: Death By Living
For those of us desirous to live a good life, we’ve known since the very beginning of this book that it begins with a healthy awe, reverence, and trembling before the God of the universe whose name is Yahweh (Proverbs 1:7). And here we are again reminded that this humble posture before the Holy One is a fountain overflowing with life.
Day Thirteen: You Can’t Always Get What You Want
One of the key assumptions we’ve been working with as we make our way through the wisdom literature is that God has hardwired wisdom into the way creation (and the creatures within it…us) operates. It was there at the beginning. It’s the inner logic of everything, and the secret code for how it works. (see Proverbs 8:22-31)
Day Eleven: A Pig Is Still A Pig
Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman without discretion. (Proverbs 11:22, English Standard Version) “Well…I never!” she replied to the King. Reading this proverb, it seems highly probable to me, given the stories of King Solomon and all the women in his life (1 Kings 11:3), that this was probably a proverb born from experience. He comes along a beautiful woman, of high social standing, of influence and power; but in his interactions with her, he begins to see her true self shining through all her external adornments. She has no discretion—she is a woman of loose and dissolute conversation, her mind and conscience are defiled. There’s a beauty for the eye, but the corruption of her character slowly transforms how Solomon sees her, and no amount of jewelry will cover that up.
Day Twenty-Nine: Please—Quietly Hold Your Tongue
Anger. noun. “a strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure, or hostility.” (New Oxford American Dictionary) As I entered day twenty-nine of Proverbs this morning, and came to 29:11, it struck me that this book has quite a bit to say about anger, strife, wrath, quarreling, fights, and rage. It is a theme that Solomon keeps coming back to, probably because he knows that it is a theme woven through humanity and history. Sometimes the best way to see a theme is to pull on that string so all the wisdom he has offered comes together for our observation. The accumulation helps us feel the weight of it.