Saturday, March 8, 2008

A Prophet's Stern Warning

Israel Will Not Return

Amos 4

1Listen to this message, you cows of Bashan on the Mountain of Samaria.

You take things from the poor

and crush people who are in need.

Then you command your husbands,

“Bring us something to drink!”

2The Lord GOD has promised this:

“Just as surely as I am a holy God,

the time will come

when you will be taken away by hooks,

and what is left of you with fishhooks.

3You will go straight out of the city

through holes in the walls,

and you will be thrown on the garbage dump,” says the LORD.

4“Come to the city of Bethel and sin;

come to Gilgal and sin even more.

Offer your sacrifices every morning,

and bring one-tenth of your crops every three days.

5Offer bread made with yeast as a sacrifice to show your thanks,

and brag about the special offerings you bring,

because this is what you love to do, Israelites,” says the Lord GOD.

6“I did not give you any food in your cities,

and there was not enough to eat in any of your towns,

but you did not come back to me,” says the LORD.

7“I held back the rain from you

three months before harvest time.

Then I let it rain on one city

but not on another.

Rain fell on one field,

but another field got none and dried up.

8People weak from thirst went from town to town for water,

but they could not get enough to drink.

Still you did not come back to me,” says the LORD.

9“I made your crops die from disease and mildew.

When your gardens and your vineyards got larger,

locusts ate your fig and olive trees.

But still you did not come back to me,” says the LORD.

10“I sent disasters against you,

as I did to Egypt.

I killed your young men with swords,

and your horses were taken from you.

I made you smell the stink from all the dead bodies,

but still you did not come back to me,” says the LORD.

11“I destroyed some of you

as I destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.

You were like a burning stick pulled from a fire,

but still you did not come back to me,” says the LORD.

12“So this is what I will do to you, Israel;

because I will do this to you,

get ready to meet your God, Israel.”

13He is the one who makes the mountains

and creates the wind

and makes his thoughts known to people.

He changes the dawn into darkness

and walks over the mountains of the earth.

His name is the LORD God All-Powerful.

The Holy Bible, New Century Version


Through Amos, God warned Israel of the judgment that would come upon the nation for its disobedience.


Despite continued discipline. Israel continued to turn away from God.


When my family lived in Rio de Janeiro, I owned a ham radio. I kept it in the utility room on top of the freezer. When we traveled, I always unplugged the radio and disconnected the antenna.

Once, when we were leaving for a week-long trip. I remembered I hadn't unplugged the radio. I ran back in the house, pulled the plug, and dashed out again.

But I pulled the wrong plug. I unplugged the freezer.... For seven days, then, a freezer full of food sat in a sweltering apartment with the power off

When we came home... guess who got fingered as the one who had unplugged the freezer- - and who therefore would be responsible for cleaning it? You got it. So I got to work.

What is the best way to clean out a rotten interior? I knew exactly what to do. I got a rag and a bucket of soapy water and began cleaning the outside of the appliance. I was sure the odor would disappear with a good shine, so I polished and buffed and wiped. When I was through. The freezer could have passed a Marine boot-camp inspection. It was sparkling.

But when I opened the door, that freezer was revolting.

(Are you wondering. "Now what kind of fool would do that?" Read on and you'll see.)

No problem. I thought. I knew what to do. This freezer needs some friends.

I'd stink, too, if I had the social life of a machine in a utility room. So, I threw a party. I invited all the appliances from the neighborhood kitchens. It was hard work, but we filled our apartment with refrigerators, stoves, microwaves, and washing machines. It was a great party. A couple of toasters recognized each other from the appliance store. Everyone played pin the plug on the socket and had a few laughs about limited warranties. The blenders were the hit, though; they really mixed well.

I was sure the social interaction would cure the inside of my freezer, but I was wrong. I opened it up, and the stink was even worse!

Now what?

I had an idea. If a polish job wouldn't do it and social life didn't help, I'd give the freezer some status!

I bought a Mercedes sticker and stuck it on the door. I painted a paisley tie down the front. I put a "Save the Whales" bumper sticker on the rear and installed a cellular phone on the side. That freezer was classy. It was stylish. It was ... cool. I splashed it with cologne and gave it a credit card for clout....

Then I opened the door, expecting to see a clean inside, but what I saw was putrid--a stinky and repulsive interior.

I could think of only one other option. My freezer needed some high-voltage pleasure! I immediately bought it some copies of Playfridge magazines-the publication that displays freezers with their doors open. I rented some films about foxy appliances.... I even tried to get my freezer a date with the Westinghouse next door, but she gave him the cold shoulder.

After a few days of supercharged, after-hours entertainment. I opened the door. And I nearly got sick.

I know what you're thinking. The only thing worse than Max's humor is his common sense. Who would concentrate on the outside when the problem is on the inside?

Do you really want to know?

A homemaker battles with depression. What is the solution suggested by some well-meaning friend? Buy a new dress.

A husband is involved in an affair that brings him as much guilt as it does adventure. The solution? Change peer groups. Hang out with people who don't make you feel guilty!

A young professional is plagued with loneliness. His obsession with success has left him with no friends. His boss gives him an idea:

Change your style. Get a new haircut. Flash some cash.

Case after case of treating the outside while ignoring the inside--polishing the case while ignoring the interior. And what is the result?

The homemaker gets a new dress, and the depression disappears ... for a day, maybe. Then the shadow returns.

The husband finds a bunch of buddies who sanction his adultery. The result? Peace ... until the crowd is gone. Then the guilt is back.

The young professional gets a new look and the people notice ... until the styles change. Then he has to scurry out and buy more stuff so he won't appear outdated.

The exterior polished; the interior corroding. The outside altered; the inside faltering. One thing is dear: Cosmetic changes are only skin deep.

. . . You change your life by changing your heart. (From The Applause of Heaven by Max Lucado)


No one enjoys being disciplined. Yet, it is often through the discomfort of chastisement that we return to the right path. Make your life easier: repent of your sin before God must bring discipline. If you are being disciplined, correct the wrong quickly.


Discipline - Job 5:17; Psalm 39:11; 94:12; Proverbs 3:11-12; Jeremiah 30:11;

Hebrews 12:7-10.

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