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Friday, March 17, 2017

Amos and the Judgment of Judah

Introduction

In the previous seven Bible studies in this series on the book of Amos, we learned about the history of Israel and their surrounding nations at the time Amos' prophecies were pronounced against Damascus, Gaza, Tyre, Edom, Ammon, and Moab. While studying these passages of the book of Amos we learned the prophet spoke to the Israelites, not the judged nations. God used Amos to speak to Israel about the surrounding nations for a reason-to lead them to see their sin and return to a right relationship with Him before He judged them, too.

As Amos prophesied against the nations around Israel, he created a net that drew closer to Israel trying to draw their attention to their sins. He began with a prophecy of God’s judgment against Damascus and all of Aram. They continually beleaguered Israel with assaults on their land and people. A plaque under Philistia’s name on a wall of shame would say “persecutor”.

Amos then prophesied about Gaza and all Philistia. They persistently raided the Promised Land to take land, people, and possessions. Philistia harassed the Israelites. The plaque under Philistia’s name on the wall of shame would say “harasser”.

Following Gaza, Amos prophesied against Tyre and all Phoenicia. They broke their covenant of brotherhood with Israel. The Phoenicians were two-faced and worked with Philistia to kidnap and sell the people of Israel as slaves with the help of Edom as intermediaries. The plaque under Phoenicia’s name on the wall of shame would say “back-stabber”.

After weaving the net on the northern, western, and southwestern borders of Israel, Amos began weaving the net together on the eastern side of Israel. He prophesied against Edom after Tyre. Edom kept and fed its anger against Jacob and his descendants for over a thousand years. They chose to retell the story of Esau not receiving his birthright and blessing as the firstborn son of Isaac. Edom took every opportunity they got to attack and not help the Israelites. Under Edom’s name on the wall of shame a plaque would say “angry”.

Next Amos wove the net to Ammon. The people of Ammon were blood relatives of Israel through Abraham’s nephew, Lot. The Ammonites were discontent. They were not happy with the land God gave them and their brother nation, Moab. Ammon experienced displeasure with Israel after they defeated King Sihon of the Amorites. Sihon stole their land and the Israelites did not return it to Ammon when they defeated him. They wanted more than God gave them from the basin below the Dead Sea to the Arnon River. The plaque that would go on the wall of shame under Ammon’s name would say “greedy” or “discontent”.

The last prophecy of Amos we studied was against Moab. Moabites came from the line of Lot. Moab was the big brother to Ben-ammi. The people of Moab showed disrespect toward the leaders of God’s people and toward God. King Mesha burned the bones of a king of Edom. He sacrificed his son by fire to his god, Chemosh. Mesha did not consider life sacred and did anything to keep the gods from being angry. He disrespected people from the line of Abraham and people, in general. The plaque on the wall of shame under Moab’s name would say “disrespect”.

So far, we understand Amos prophesied against these nations showing they were persecutors, harassers, back-stabbers, angry, greedy or discontent, and dis-respecters of people and God. Notice the first three nations’ crimes are against humans. The last three crimes are against humans and God. God, too, would judge each nation for worshiping false gods.

With Amos’ prophecy of judgment against Judah, he spoke for the first time about a crime concerning their relationship with the LORD. Through this prophecy, Amos wove his net much closer to his hearers, the people of the northern kingdom of Israel. Surely by this point they would have recognized God’s charges against the other nations were indictments against them for their own sin, too.

Today’s Bible study will help us learn the charge the LORD laid against Judah. We will understand the history behind the charge. We will study the LORD’s judgment against Judah and His fulfilling that judgment. Finally, we will understand what God wanted the Israelites to understand about this prophecy and what He wanted them to do. We then will apply that lesson to our own lives. Join me in this Bible study about Judah, the “rejecters.”

Who was Judah?

Judah originally was the fourth son of Jacob by his first wife, Leah. The name Judah means “praised”. Judah’s tribe was the largest of the Israelites. When this tribe received their share of the Promised Land, they received the largest amount of land in the southern part of Israel. Joshua gave part of Judah’s land portion to Simeon because it was too large for the tribe of Judah to manage on their own (Joshua 19). Judah’s tribal land wholly surrounded the land Simeon’s tribe received. In time, Simeon and Judah’s tribes melded as one. Some of Simeon’s tribe moved to Israel, and some stayed in Judah. To the north of Judah’s tribal land laid Benjamin’s land. These tribal lands made up the southern kingdom of Judah about whom Amos prophesied in this prophecy.

The Charge against Judah

In the six earlier prophecies against the other nations, God charged the nations with crimes against people. The charge against Judah is different. Their sin is against their LORD, the God who rescued them from Egypt, called them His people, made them into a nation, and gave them a land. God did not pronounce a charge against the others nations stating they worshiped other gods and rebelled against Him. With Judah, because they were God’s people, His children, their chief crime was their actions against God and His Law. The other nations did not know the LORD as their God and He did not give them His Law by which to live. Yahweh wanted the Israelites, in their faithfulness to Him, to be the beacon of light that led people of other nations to seek and follow Him. Because the Israelites were God’s people and received His Law, any part of the Law they broke was sin against God.

With this understanding, of what did God charge the people of Judah? In Amos 2:4, Amos prophesied,

“Thus says the LORD, ‘For three transgressions of Judah and for four I will not revoke its punishment because they rejected the law of the LORD and have not kept His statutes; their lies have led them astray, those after which their fathers walked.’” [NASB]

As we have studied in the previous six prophecies by Amos, Judah had measured sin upon sin and their sin was complete. They had a full measure of their sin and God, as loving and righteous Father, had to charge and judge them for it. His punishment was due and right. Amos said God would not revoke it; He would not put it aside. In God’s mercy and grace, He pardoned them repeatedly, but Judah continued to sin. The LORD stated Judah rejected His law and did not keep His statutes. From understanding the Hebrew words, we learn the word “rejected” means to despise and refuse, to cast off as not pertinent to one's self. The Judahites considered God’s law and statutes had no worth for their lives. They disregarded and rejected them as having no purpose in their lives. God’s Law given to the Judahites at Mount Sinai around 1350-1400 BC, to which their ancestors bound themselves in covenant to the LORD, held no worth for them in 760-750 BC. They were irrelevant and rejected. The Judahites rejected Yahweh’s laws and statutes as pertinent and part of their lives. They refused to keep them that is guard, treasure, observe, and obey them. They believed the lies saying the laws and statutes of God had no worth, relevance, or purpose in their lives. The Judahites, like their fathers, allowed other people and their ideas to lead them away from the LORD and their covenant with Him.

Imagine how that must feel. If the Israelites received betrayal by Tyre for breaking their covenant of brotherhood, how would the LORD feel when the Israelites broke their covenant of love with Him? With the other six prophecies, Amos spoke of the nations and drew logistically closer to Israel each time. With each prophecy, he wanted them to understand each sin because the people of the nations became more closely related to them in locality and by bloodline. Tyre had a covenant of brotherhood with them. Edom, Moab, and Ammon had a covenant based on blood relationship with the Israelites. Now with Judah, God showed their agreement, their covenant, was closer than all the others. It was with the God who chose, rescued, protected and provided for, and who fulfilled His covenant of love with them. The covenant between the Israelites and God was a covenant of the heart and soul. It did not just affect the physical being. The Israelites could have added another plaque to their wall of shame with Judah’s picture and a plaque under it saying “rejecters”.

Consider Israel’s perspective on Judah as they heard God’s charge against them. At first they may have pointed their fingers at Judah because their king, Rehoboam, caused the divided kingdom to occur. They may have mocked them for corrupting their worship of the LORD by following the “ways of their fathers”–idolatry-though they acted devout with their holy temple to God. The people of Israel may have snubbed their noses at the people of Judah. God wanted Israel’s attention. Maybe He got it. Maybe some of the people of the northern kingdom understood what God said to them with this prophecy. The people of the northern kingdom had chased after and worshiped other gods as a nation for over 200 years, since Jeroboam I. What God charged of the people of Judah applied to them, too. This explains why Amos prophesied to the people of Israel about Judah.

Why is this important for us to know? Are we supposed to apply it to ourselves today? Let’s consider this closer by thinking about these questions.

·         Do you allow your faith to guide your daily actions, decisions, and words?
·         Do you consider the laws of the Bible are irrelevant in a 21st century world of technology and globalized markets?
·         Do you live as if the ends always justify the means?
·         Have you ever taken something from your place of employment-stationery, food, clothes, etc.?
·         Have you ever lied so you could “save face” or get whatever it was you wanted?
·         Have you intentionally undercut someone so you would look better on the job and get the promotion, award, or recommendation?

Each of these is against the laws and statutes of God. They come from greed, disrespect of other people, and discontent, and lead to the betrayal of people who we call friends and disrespect of God. The charge God laid against Judah is very valid for each of us today. We live in a world of Darwinian exercise; the strong overcome and the weak perish. Let’s look closer at the history of God’s charge against Judah. We will see better why God charged them as He did.

The History of Judah

Remember, as a united nation, the palace of the king of Israel stood in the city of Jerusalem of Judah. The temple of the LORD stood in Jerusalem, too. As a nation, we do not see the people of the southern kingdom of Judah sin against the LORD like the people of the northern kingdom. With King Solomon’s permission to his wives from other nations to worship their own gods, he brought in the wholesale worship of false gods rather than Yahweh. He made it permissible for the people of Judah to worship false gods, too (1 Kings 11:4-7). First Kings 11:4-7 says,

“For when Solomon was old, his wives turned his heart away after other gods, and his heart was not wholly devoted to the LORD his God as the heart of David his father had been. For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians and after Milcom the detestable idol of the Ammonites. Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, and did not follow the LORD fully, as David his father had done. Then Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the detestable idol of Moab on the mountain which is east of Jerusalem, and for Molech, the detestable idol of the sons of Ammon.” [NASB]
Solomon was the first king of all the Israelites who actively worshiped other gods and his leadership led his people to accept it and worship them, too. That does not mean the Israelites of either kingdom did not worship false gods before the time of Solomon though. Consider these passages from the Old Testament.

1.      Exodus 32 – While the Israelites were in the wilderness and Moses was on Mount Sinai, the people made golden calves and worshiped them.
2.      Numbers 25:1-3 – While the Israelites encamped at Moab before crossing the Jordan River, they offered sacrifices to the god of Moab, Baal of Peor, and slept with their women.
3.      Judges 2:12-13 – The Israelites worshiped idols like the surrounding nations and forsook God.
4.      Judges 2:17-20 – The Israelites again followed other gods to serve and bow down to them. They did not abandon their stubborn ways. The anger of the LORD burned against them.
5.      Judges 6:25-30 – Gideon tore down the altar to Baal and the Asherah pole. This shows the people worshiped false gods.
6.      Judges 10:6 – The Israelites worshiped idols and forsook God.
7.      1 Samuel 7:3-4, 12:10 – Because the Israelites worshiped foreign gods, the LORD allowed the Philistines to take the Ark of the Covenant.

The nations surrounding Israel heavily influenced them to worship their gods and idols. This is why God told them to wipe out all the people and tear down and burn their altars, idols, and places of worship when they took the land of Canaan for themselves.

For Judah, the acceptance by Solomon of other gods brought acceptability of it into the southern kingdom. He opened the door for the people who had the temple of God in their midst to consider other gods, fear them, and offer sacrifices to them. Solomon reigned as king from 970-931 BC. After him, nineteen kings and one queen reigned until Judah’s exile into captivity by the Babylonians in 586 BC. Of these twenty monarchs, God considered twelve of them bad-not following His ways and leading their people away from Him. Consider these instances as examples of the increasing attitude of the Judahites to worship false gods.

1.      1 Kings 14:22-24 – During King Rehoboam’s reign (931-913 BC), Judah built high places and sacred pillars to worship false gods and Asherim. They had male cult prostitutes, too.
2.      1 Kings 15:1-8 – During Abijam’s (Abijah) reign (913-911 BC), he and the Judahites followed other gods as his father, Rehoboam, did.
3.      1 Kings 15:9-15 – During Asa’s reign (911-870 BC), he put away the male cult prostitutes and removed every idol his forefathers made. He removed his mother from being Queen mother because she made images to Asherah. Asa cut down the Asherah images and burned them, but he did not take away the high places for worship of other gods.
4.      2 Kings 11:18 – Queen Athaliah, who reigned 841-835 BC, worshiped Baal and set up altars and images of it.
5.      2 Kings 17:19, 2 Chronicles 28:1-4 – King Ahaz, who reigned 732-716 BC, worshiped other gods, walked in the ways of Canaan and Israel, offered human sacrifices, burned his sons as sacrifices in a fire to Molech, and practiced divination. He did not listen to God’s prophets, rejected God’s statutes and covenant, and followed vanity.
6.      Hosea 12:2 – Hosea said all the Israelites sacrificed to Baals and burned incense to idols.
7.      Isaiah 1 – Isaiah prophesied during Kings Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah’s reigns (742-687 BC). He spoke God’s prophecy against all Israelites for idol worship.
8.      Micah 5:14 – Micah spoke during the reigns of Kings Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah (740-687 BC). He prophesied God would root out the Asherim from among Judah and Samaria and destroy their cities.
9.      Isaiah 28:15 – During Hezekiah’s reign, Isaiah prophesied Judah made falsehood a refuge and concealed their selves with deception.
10.  2 Kings 21:3 – During the reign of Manasseh (687-642 BC), the king and Judah did evil in the sight of the LORD. They rebuilt the high places his father, Hezekiah, tore down. He erected altars for Baals and made Asherah images and worshiped all the host of heaven.
11.  2 Kings 22:11-20, & 23:4-7, 13-14 – During the reign of King Josiah (640-608 BC), the book of the Law was found. Josiah read the book, tore his clothes in repentance, and God promised he would be gathered to his fathers before His judgment would come upon Judah. Josiah destroyed all the vessels used in the worship of Baal, Asherah, and the hosts of heaven and the high places of Ashtoreth, Chemosh, and Milcom. He broke down the pillars and cut down the Asherim.
12.  Jeremiah 6:19, 8:9, 9:14, 16:11-12, 19 – During the reigns of Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jehoiakin, and Zedekiah, who reigned from 608-586 BC, Jeremiah prophesied about Judah. He said they did not listen to the LORD’s words and rejected His Law. They walked after Baals as their fathers taught them and were stubborn of heart. These kings followed, served, and bowed down to other gods. They did more evil than their fathers.
13.  Ezekiel 20:21 – During Zedekiah’s reign, in about 590 BC, Ezekiel noted Zedekiah and the Judahites rebelled against the LORD, did not walk in His statutes, and profaned the Sabbath.

This list seems to show an increasing tendency of Judah toward leaving the LORD and following the ways of their own hearts. We can see that happened though not all the leaders and people of Judah rebelled against God. God sent prophets and other wise men and women to recall for them who Yahweh had been for them, their covenant with Him, and His faithfulness to them. That God-appointed servant then challenged and called them to return to the one true God, not the ways of the world. The people around them worshiped false gods that had no power and only offered fear, not peace.

God wanted Israel to hear this message. That was Amos’ purpose for speaking these prophecies to them. God wanted them to see that He charged each of the nations with sins they committed against Him, too. Judah, the “rejecters,” could be their plaque, too.

Today we see this happens even more. Many people reject God and His laws and statutes. They consider Him imaginary and the laws irrelevant. These people feel they can pick what they follow and no moral right or wrong-no moral compass-exists. What would God say to that idea now? What did God say to the people of Judah then? Let’s consider His judgment of Judah, what He would do as punishment to bring them back to a right relationship with Him.
Consider areas we see this happening today –

·         Our tax dollars pay for fencing and piping on public buildings. I need money to pay my bills, so I take some of this metal and sell it for scrap. Is that wrong?
·         People on the road all go over the speed limit. If I don’t go with the flow, I will get hit by another car. Does that mean it’s right to go over the speed limit?
·         Our nation has corrupt leaders. People talk bad about our leaders and lead violent protests in communities that rile up cities and cause unrest. Is it right to cause protests that lead to destruction and bodily harm? Should we rather try an approach God recommends of praying for our leaders earnestly first then seek peaceable ways to remove the corrupt person if he or she does not change his or her ways?

Each of these is a moral dilemma today. Some people feel whatever it takes to get rid of the problem or not differ from everybody else is okay to do. What does God say though? Are His ways relevant for us today? Are the negative things happening to us now part of His judgment on us?

The Judgment of God

Amos did not confuse the Israelites with new terms. He was succinct and went directly to the point. He had their attention. In Amos 2:5, Amos stated God’s judgment of Judah. He said,

“So I will send fire upon Judah and it will consume the citadels of Jerusalem.” [NASB]

We need to note a very important point in this judgment. God included His holy city of Jerusalem in this judgment. He did not exclude them from judgment. Jerusalem was as sinful if not more so than the rest of Judah. It was through the kings of Judah who lived in Jerusalem that acceptance of idolatry occurred. Jerusalem fell under God’s judgment. It goes along with the pattern of Amos’ prophecies earlier, too. Amos spoke about individual, but chief cities of each nation intending them to represent the entire nation. Here Jerusalem represents the entire nation of Judah.

In God’s judgment of Judah, He said His fire of anger would come upon them. Remember this fire of God could be a supernatural fire from heaven or by the hands of a nation against which Judah battled. God’s fire would consume-completely destroy-the strongholds, fortresses, and castles of Judah and Jerusalem. What the people of Judah counted on to keep them safe from their enemies was manmade. Things made by man of created materials would not stand up against God, the Creator of all things. He has superior might over manmade things He confronts.

God’s punishment would cause the world of the Judahites to fall. Their hearts would grow faint with fear. Their enemies would oppress the cities and countryside of Judah because God allowed it as their punishment for rejecting Him and His law-for being unfaithful to their covenant with Him.
Do you think the Israelites paid more attention when Amos spoke God’s judgment against Judah? Being closely related by blood and location could have awakened their attention. The Israelites ran after other gods longer and with more insistence than did the people of the southern kingdom. Maybe now they would take notice, repent, and return to a right relationship with God.
Let’s consider our lives for a moment -
·         Should we consider God’s judgment relevant to us today like He wanted the Israelites to do in 760-750 BC?
·         Are there bad things happening in our world now that are God’s punishment of people for their rebellion against Him?
·         Throughout current history people have claimed God’s hand caused certain things as punishment –
o   AIDS
o   Drought and famine
o   Middle East wars and unrest
o   Lack of political peace among nations
o   Global warming
·         What else was God allowing to get His people turning back to Him?

The Fulfillment of God’s Judgment against Judah

Were Amos’ prophecies fulfilled? Did a fire come upon the walls of Judah and consume its citadels? Many people know the temple fell twice and the Israelites rebuilt it twice. Before those dates, other things happened to Judah and Jerusalem.

In 2 Chronicles 28:1-4, the writer tells the readers King Ahaz did not do right in the sight of the LORD as David had done. He walked in the ways of the kings of Israel who were all considered evil by the LORD. The king of Aram assaulted the northern territory of Judah and took many captive. The king of Israel raided Judah, took captives, slew 120,000 people of Judah, and killed sons of Ahaz. Obed, a prophet of God, told the King of Israel God delivered the people of Judah into his hands because He was angry with Judah (vs. 9). After these devastations allowed by God as punishment for worshiping and serving other gods, King Ahaz of Judah sought to ally with Assyria. Because of Aram and Israel’s attacks and because Edom and the Philistines attacked them, Ahaz sought this ally who was an enemy. Assyria agreed, but they exacted a terribly high tribute. The kingdom of Judah was almost destitute because of paying them each year (2 Chronicles 28:16-21). The assault by the nations and the tribute required by Assyria did not stop King Ahaz from worshiping other gods. He made every city in Judah build high places for other gods and made them burn incense to them (vs. 25). This provoked God to anger. Ahaz did not turn from his wicked ways when God punished him by using other nations.

In 701 BC, God allowed the Assyrian army under King Sennacherib to attack and seize all the fortified cities of Judah (1 Kings 18:13). King Hezekiah of Judah pleaded with Sennacherib to withdraw from them and he would give them whatever they imposed on him. Hezekiah took silver and gold from the treasury of the LORD’s house and silver from the ornamentation on the LORD’s house to pay Sennacherib (2 Kings 18:14). Jerusalem did not fall to the Assyrians at that time. Instead the Assyrians fell because the LORD sent a plague upon their army encamped outside the walls of Jerusalem. It killed 185,000 soldiers (2 Kings 19:35). Because Hezekiah humbled himself before the LORD, God spared Jerusalem that time.

Consider other times when God’s judgments visited the people of Judah. In 608 BC, the Egyptian, King Neco, a king put on the throne by Assyria, deposed Jehoahaz, and made Judah a vassal state (2 Chronicles 36:3). In 605 BC, during Judah’s King Jehoiakim’s reign, Babylon defeated Egypt and Judah became a vassal state of Babylon. In 601 BC, Judah, under King Jehoiakim, defeated the Egyptians when the Babylonians suffered defeat. Nebuchadnezzar retaliated in 597 BC. He sought to punish Judah. Nebuchadnezzar deported 10,000 of the people of Judah to the capital of Babylon. These captives were professionals, craftsmen, and the wealthy. The ordinary people stayed in Judah (2 Chronicles 36:6, and 2 Kings 24:1-5). This was the first wave of exiles into captivity. King Zedekiah, the king Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon put on the throne over Judah, defected from the Babylonians. Nebuchadnezzar responded in 588 BC. He conquered Jerusalem in 586 BC. Nebuchadnezzar caught Zedekiah, made him watch as he killed his sons, then blinded and deported him Babylon (2 Kings 25, 2 Chronicles 36:13-17, & Jeremiah 52). He deported about 2,000 other people from Jerusalem during this second wave of exile and captivity.

For seventy years, the prophets foretold and history tells the people of Judah remained exiled in Babylon. When King Cyrus of Persia came to power, he sent key people back to Jerusalem to rebuild the walls and temple. That was around 536 BC. By the time the seventy year exile ended, the Israelites rebuilt the temple and more exiles returned to Judah.

Unfortunately for the northern kingdom of Israel, Assyria captured their kingdom and took them into exile in 722 BC, 140 years before Judah. They could not learn from Judah’s mistake. The people of Israel had no more time. God wanted them to hear his judgment against Judah through Amos and the other prophets and return to Him. They did not.

We should consider what it will take for us today to return to a right relationship with God. What will God allow to happen before we turn to Him?

·         Will it take a severe famine to get a people to turn back to Him?
·         Will it take a plague to get people to return to Him?
·         Will a scorching drought be necessary for people to turn back to Him repenting and renewing their relationship with Him?

These are valid questions. What will it take before you realize you are not a god? When will you come before God recognizing He is the One God, the Provider, Protector, and Savior of you and all who believe in Jesus Christ? He is God and you are not.

Recap

Amos prophesied to Israel for a reason. A writing of his prophecies, as God’s servant, exists for a reason. The reason for both is the same. God issued His charge and judgments against the first six nations because of crimes against other people either neighbors or relatives because of their sins against one another. He issued a charge and judgment against Judah because of their sins against Him. Yes, the first six nations’ sins against people were against God’s laws and they worshiped false gods, but the Israelites were the people who knew and agreed by covenant to obey and live by God’s laws making Him their one and only God. Any sin is a sin against God. The people of a nation who do not know Yahweh as their God would not acknowledge a sin against Him, only a sin against humanity. Judah, as God’s people, would acknowledge His laws and recognize their sin against Him. Israel, too, would recognize it.

Through the recitation of the prophecies on the first seven nations, God sought to help the Israelites recall their covenant with Him. He wanted to prick the consciences of the Israelites hoping to draw them back to seek Him, repent, and return to a right relationship with Him.

Conclusion

As people who still have the Amos prophecies almost 2,800 years later, a reason exists even now for its being here and being relevant for us. God covenants today with His people. It’s the new covenant through the blood and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ. These prophecies are relevant for non-believers today, too. Moral laws still exist. Governments protect people and their property. Law codes written down explain them. What Aram, Philistia, Phoenicia, Edom, Ammon, and Moab did then is against the law in most nations around the world today. What Judah and Israel did to rebel against God’s laws, God still considers rebellion today. He covenants with His children, believers in Jesus Christ. They are more accountable to God because of the new covenant they have with Him than people who do not know Him, just as Judah and Israel were more accountable for breaking His laws than the other six nations.

Just as before, God gives grace. He continues to give it because of His love for us. God wants no person to perish, but to have eternal life, peace, and hope with Him. Peter said this in 2 Peter 3:9 when he wrote,

“The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish, but for all to come to repentance.” [NASB]

It may seem God does not see the wrong we do, or He does not care because He does not stop us from doing it again and again, but that is erroneous thinking. God cares. He is waiting on you to turn to Him for the strength to resist the temptation to sin. When we sin, we build a wall between ourselves and God. With each sin the wall gets higher. God can break the wall down, but He gave us free will. We must want to avoid the sin that traps us and builds the wall. Satan wants us to build the wall and not have a relationship with the Lord. Because of His love for us, God does not let us continue in sin. He is righteous and will judge sin. Sometimes He intervenes and stops our sinning by His means, like He did with Judah and Israel. Other times God intervenes by cutting the life of the person short because He knows the person will not change and He does not want more people to get hurt.

How do we flee from the temptation that leads us to sin? How do we gain the power to resist it? Can we get the upper hand on this and not become like the Israelites? James made an excellent point in James 4:7-10. He said,

“Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord and He will exalt you.” [NASB]

James made it simple in this passage.

·         Follow God and obey Him that will make you resist the devil and he flee from you.
·         Come near to God in relationship, building it stronger each day with prayer, Bible reading and study, and worshiping with other believers. He will draw near to you.
·         Cleanse your hands and purify your hearts by confessing your sins daily and letting God wash you clean from the stain and guilt of it. This keeps walls from being built in your relationship with Him.
·         Humble yourself before God knowing He is Almighty and you are merely creation of His hands.

Follow-Obey-Build Relationship with God-Repent-Recognize He is Almighty.

What separates you from God today?

Repentance and returning to God bring refreshing and peace.


Don’t be like Judah.