Saturday, 28 January 2012

The Verse - Amos 4:13

So I continue with my read the bible in a year-ish plan, and have now landed in the book of Amos. To be honest, I think it's the first time I've ever read it - and what a book! 
Amos was a prophet from Tekoa, a small village about 10 miles south of Jerusalem. Unlike many other prophets, we learn his day job was actually "sheepbreeder" (Amos 1:1) and "tender of syacmore fruit" (7:14) - which just goes to show that you don't necessarily have to be a Bible scholar, pastor or full-time missionary for God to use you; you just have to love God and be obedient.

Amos was a contemporary of Jonah, Hosea and Isaiah. From the small amount of background I've read on him, I have come to the conclusion that like all of God's prophets he had a hard time getting the people to listen to him. Actually, in many ways Amos' time reminds me strongly of our own. He was called to preach primarily to the northern tribes of Israel at a time when everything was, by human standards, going pretty well. Jeroboam II was King, and doing a pretty good job restoring Israel's territory. However, spiritually the nation was on a very fast spiral downwards into serious immorality. 

Amos' warnings concerned two major sins of the people. Firstly, they had forgotten how to love God with all their hearts; and secondly, they were not following God's standards in showing justice to their neighbours.  God takes both these things very seriously, as shown by Amos' prophecies that divine judgement was to come if these sins continued

"Therefore thus will I do to you, O Israel;
Because I will do this to you,
Prepare to meet your God, O Israel!” 

For behold,
He who forms mountains,
And creates the wind,
Who declares to man what his thought is,
And makes the morning darkness,
Who treads the high places of the earth—
The Lord God of hosts is His name.

Amos 4:12-13. I had actually read these verses before, out of context. Although I had appreciated that they describe how mighty God is, because I read them separate from the chapter I failed to see that Amos is in fact warning Israel about whom they are openly rebelling against in their sinning. He is asking them if they are ready to meet their Maker, who formed all things and sees all things, and who is mighty and just. 

It is so important that we use the Bible to understand who God is, instead of relying on our own thoughts and feelings, and consequently creating a God of our own image. As the verse above indicates, God has not hidden Himself from mankind. In fact, He has described Himself with absolute detail and clarity in His word, including what He judges to be good and evil. Naturally, none of us can ever fully comprehend God, but we can discern who He is through the Word and have a personal relationship with Him through His Son Jesus Christ.

So this begs the question: how much is the God in your mind made up of your own understanding, and how much according to the Bible?

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