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Friday, April 14, 2017

Certainty of God's Judgment

Introduction

In the first two chapters of Amos, Amos declared God’s charge and judgment to the people of Israel against Damascus/Aram, Gaza/Philistia, Tyre/Phoenicia, Edom, Ammon, Moab, and Judah. God did not leave the northern kingdom of Israel to revel in their supposed sanctity. He charged them with each of the sins of the earlier seven nations in the second part of chapter two. Israel was worse than the first six nations in their sin. God chose them to be His people, and they covenanted with Him agreeing they would worship and obey only Him, yet they turned repeatedly away from Him. Their sins were against the LORD God and other people.

Remember the sins of the earlier judgments. Damascus persecuted the Israelites. Gaza harassed them. Tyre betrayed their covenant of brotherhood with the Israelites. Edom fueled their anger continually against them. Ammon’s discontent with the land the LORD gave them made them greedy for the land of the Israelites. Moab disrespected Israel’s leaders and the leaders of other nations. Judah rejected the LORD their God. They were unfaithful to Him. God accused Israel of doing each of these in the second half of Amos 2.

From Amos 3 through Amos 6 Israel received five “words” or sermons of judgment from God regarding their lives. God expanded for the Israelites what they did that broke their covenant with Him and upon whom His judgment would fall. Neither rich nor poor, countryman nor city dweller would avoid His judgment. God’s judgment would certainly occur.

A Call to Hear

Amos began the next five sections of his speech with a call for the Israelites to hear. He said in 3:1,

“Hear this word which the LORD has spoken against you, sons of Israel, against the entire family which He brought up from the land of Egypt.” [NASB]

The word Amos chose from the Hebrew vocabulary to begin this “call to hear” was familiar to the tribe of Israel. Moses used the same word throughout the exodus wilderness experience. The word “hear” comes from the Hebrew word shama’. It means to perceive, hear, listen to, and obey. For the Israelites, hearing required more than being near the speaker and more than listening. It required a response to what the speaker said. Amos told the Israelites to listen to the LORD’s words and obey them. In this age, people do not listen well and often turn away to do what they want, a response the speaker did not intend to occur. For Hebrews, hearing should have led to obedience. In this verse, Amos called and commanded the people of Israel to listen to and take note of the word of the LORD. He declared the words he spoke were not his own, but the words of God. Amos called them to remember and return to obedience to the LORD.

In this verse, Amos ensured the Israelites realized the words he spoke came from the LORD and required obedience to Him. He said the LORD uttered these words as judgment against them. Amos declared this judgment to the northern kingdom. By stating “the sons of Israel”, Amos declared the LORD’s judgment came against all the descendants of Jacob. This included the southern kingdom of Judah. He affirmed this by saying, “against the entire family He brought up from the land of Egypt.” This judgment of God applied to each descendant of Jacob in both the northern and southern kingdoms. No Israelite escaped God’s judgment because each of them rebelled against the LORD and the covenant with Him.

By reminding the Israelites of God’s hand who delivered them from captivity, Amos recalled for them God’s choosing them from all the people and nations of the earth. He relayed this to the Israelites with verse two. Amos stated in verse two,

“You only have I chosen among all the families of the earth; therefore, I will punish you for all your iniquities.” [NASB]

God chose the people of Jacob. The word “chosen” comes from the Hebrew word yada’. It means to know so one can perceive, recognize, admit, and confess. God made Himself known to the people of Jacob. He revealed Himself to them by choosing them as His people. These words reminded the Israelites of God choosing Abraham in Genesis 18:19 when He said,

“For I have chosen him so that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice so that the LORD may bring upon Abraham what He has spoken about him.” [NASB]

These words reminded the Israelites of their covenant with the LORD when He spoke to their ancestors in the wilderness as recorded in Exodus 19:5. At that time the LORD said, “Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine.” Deuteronomy 4:32-37 and 7:6 record God’s choice of the descendants of Abraham as His chosen people, a people holy to Him.

The people of Israel remembered their calling and God’s choosing of them with Amos’ proclaiming of God’s judgment in these verses. Amos captured their attention with the first brief judgment in chapter two. He intentionally sought the Israelites’ attention in Amos 3:1. Now they remember who rescued them from Egypt and led them to Israel, and who called them to be His chosen people. Amos had their attention. He would proclaim God’s judgment as read in Amos 3:2b. Amos said God would punish the Israelites “for all their iniquities.” As a people from the line of Jacob, they knew God punished for unfaithfulness to Him and His laws. Their ancestors experienced it in the wilderness when their faith was too small to enter the Promised Land. They experienced it when they made a golden calf at Mount Sinai. The Israelites experienced it when God allowed their enemies to take their land on the eastern side of the Jordan, and when their enemies kidnapped their people and sold them as slaves. The people of Israel knew God would punish them for their sins. They had history with the LORD, both a history of blessing and of punishment. The Israelite’s faithfulness to their covenant with God vacillated.

As we study the book of Amos, we need to look at a word Amos spoke as a messenger of the LORD when proclaiming His charge against the Israelites. We need to understand it well to see how it applied to the Israelites and how it applies to us today. The word “iniquity” that Amos used is an old-fashioned word. God said He would judge the Israelites for their iniquities. What are iniquities? Amos only used this word in this one place in his prophecy. This word comes from the Hebrew word ‘avon. ‘Avon means perversity, depravity, iniquity, and guilt. “Perversity” is a deliberate desire to behave unreasonably or unacceptably. It means intentionally breaking the laws of the land and morality, and for the Israelites, it meant intentionally breaking God’s laws to whom they covenanted faithfulness. “Depravity” means moral corruption and wickedness. “Iniquity” means immoral or grossly unfair behavior by one person toward another. It is a wicked act or thing. Finally, “guilt” means having committed a specified or implied offence or crime. The word Amos used, ‘avon, means doing intentionally unreasonable or unacceptable behavior against the laws of the land, against morals, and against God’s laws, be it a specific or implied offence or crime.

After reading of the abridged list of crimes God accused the Israelites of in Amos 2, we understand “iniquities” better. Israel’s immorality incorporates each of the plaques of the first seven prophecies against other nations and people. Upon studying the next several chapters of Amos, we will understand very well Israel’s iniquities. Many of Israel’s acts against God, His laws, and people were deliberate. They were unacceptable and unconscionable, immoral according to God, unfair and wicked toward others, and were specific offences/crimes according to God’s laws to which they covenanted themselves. The Israelites performed all the sins for which God judged the other seven nations.

·         Do you listen when God calls to you?
·         What sin do you habitually do that causes you not to hear God? Lying? Abusing prescription drugs? Drinking to inebriation? Sleeping around? Gossiping?
·         Maybe you think your sin isn’t too bad. Surely all those other people are worse than me, you think.
·         Every sin, whether we think it small or large, separates us from God.
·         What will it take for God to get your attention? Do you really want that to happen?

Relationships of Cause and Effect

In verses three through seven, Amos showed causes and effects of actions. He related them to the causes and resultant actions of the LORD, which we will learn brought about Israel’s judgment. God’s actions are a certainty. What He says, He does.

In verses three through six, Amos used four different cause and effect relationships-appointments, lion’s roar, trapped bird, and trumpet blast-to which the people could relate. In verse seven Amos stated a personal certainty of God’s messengers. Each of the first four causal relationships led the listener to understand the relationship between God and His messenger of verse seven. One thing caused another. God’s speaking to a prophet would cause the prophet to proclaim God’s word. God’s announcement of His judgment would certainly herald His punishment upon the people. He roars before He causes or lets something happen. The people, His people, would know His will, thoughts, and judgment because of the message He gives His prophets. This line of thought led to Amos’ final statement of cause and effect, which occurs in verse eight.

Mutual Agreement

In Amos 3:3, Amos began the causal relationship analogies to help the Israelites understand God’s judgment of them. He said,

“Do two men walk together unless they have made an appointment?” [NASB]

One word in this verse is important to understand well. The word “together” comes from the Hebrew word yachdiy’el. It literally means “my God is unity.” As it applies to two Israelites, it means the two men united together in a brotherhood created by being in a covenant with the LORD God. These two men united because of their planned meeting. Additionally, their unity occurred because God chose both of them to be of His people. They had common morals and laws from a shared faith and covenant with the LORD God. Their covenant with the LORD sealed the agreement of these two men. The LORD was a witness to their agreement. These two Israelite men walked together just as God walked with Adam in the garden, as He walked with Abraham, His friend, and as He walked with the Israelites from Egypt. They united in faith, laws, morals, and purpose. They had like minds. Just as God chose His people, so He met with them and relayed His word, laws, precepts, and commandments. Both God and His people united in agreement of this covenant. Just as God is faithful to His covenant with people, He is faithful to His character, too. He is truth and righteousness. What He says will occur, happens.


Roaring Lion

Just as Amos 3:3 showed a cause and effect relationship when two Israelite men agree to meet together, Amos 3:4 shows a causal relationship between a lion and its roar. Amos stated in verse 4,

“Does a lion roar in the forest when he has no prey? Does a young lion growl from his den unless he has captured something?” [NASB]
The word “lion” used in this verse comes from the Hebrew word ‘ariydatha. It means “the lion of the decree.” This means the lion of the roar, the one who has not yet captured the prey, but announces his arrival to hunt. It notes, too, the lion roared when he captured his prey. It’s a warning and declaration. This “lion” also references the Lion of Judah connoting the Lord God. The Lord roars and His children would come trembling, Hosea said in Hosea 11:10. Just as the king of the jungle roared when he searched for and captured his prey, the Lord would roar as He brought justice upon His people and their enemies. What He pronounces will happen.

Besides the first part of this verse, Amos continued by saying the young lion growled when he captured something. The word “growl” comes from the Hebrew word nathan, which means to produce, utter, and publish. The young lion uttered aloud, growled, that he captured something. He growled to testify to his claim of capture, his greatness and might over his prey, those of lesser might and power.

Just as lions roar and know from whom their prey comes (it comes from the LORD - Psalm 104:21), so Israel should know from whom their blessings come and with whom they made covenant – the LORD God who is just and right. When God roars because His people rebel, His people tremble. Next He roars His judgment and growls when it occurs. He would allow His people to be like a lamb carried off and torn apart by a wild animal. God is King of heaven and earth, like the lion is king of the beasts, and like man has dominion over all things on earth. Still, both lion and man receive their power from the Lord who made them. Israel was less powerful than the LORD. Their disobedience caused His judgment which brought their punishment. The Israelites’ punishment occurred when the LORD allowed their enemies to defeat them. The LORD roared; His judgment occurred and His prophet listened to and foretold it. The prophet could not withhold what the LORD proclaimed. “Hear this word which the LORD has spoken against you,” Amos told the Israelites in verse one. What God says will certainly occur.


Trapped Bird

The third cause and effect relationship Amos proclaimed to the Israelites related to the trapping of a bird. In Amos 3:5, Amos stated,

“Does a bird fall into a trap on the ground when there is no bait in it? Does a trap spring up from the earth when it captures nothing at all?” [NASB]

The Israelites would understand about trapping birds. Birds were sacrifices in the LORD’s temple and for idol worship. They were food, too. People of the time knew about striker-bar traps that released a net to capture birds when the bird took the bait. It caused the bird to fall to its death. The word “fall” in this verse comes from the Hebrew word naphal, which means to fall, be cast down, and to fall into the hands of the person who set the trap. To set the trap, a person must decide to catch a bird and bait the trap. The cause of the entrapment was two-fold: the person set the trap, and the bird took the bait. The desires of the bird seduced him to choose the temptation and not heed caution. It succumbed to the entrapment. In this verse, a cause and effect relationship occurs-bait led to temptation then action by bird, its entrapment, and finally its justice.

The bird represented Israel who chose to seek what other nations had. They were discontent with what the LORD gave them. The Israelites chose to stray from safe and blessed choices provided by God. They became trapped in their iniquities; the trap set by Satan. God called to them many times through His prophets to turn from their wicked ways, but they returned continually to the ways of other nations. This time, He said, He would not save them from entrapment by their enemies. God allowed the trap to snap and keep the Israelites as captives to mete out His judgment of and punishment on them. A bird is not above harm, like Israel is not above God’s judgment just because He chose them to be His people. Just as a bird’s temptation can trap and make him captive, so Israel’s punishment would come because of their iniquities and rebellion against God. Their sins caused their captivity. God would allow their captivity. Their enemies could reach and harm them if God allowed. The LORD’s judgment would occur because of Israel’s iniquity. His actions of righteousness and justice come from His character.

Blown Trumpet

After speaking about the relationship between two men in agreement, a lion and its prey, and a trapped bird, Amos spoke about a trumpet’s blare in a city. He said in verse six,

“If a trumpet is blown in a city, will not the people tremble? If a calamity occurs in a city has not the LORD done it?” [NASB]

A trumpet’s blare occurred in the Old Testament days to signal warning of imminent enemies and to herald celebration and excitement. In this verse, Amos said the trumpet’s blare would cause the people to tremble; their enemies had come. Jeremiah 4:5, 4:19, 4:21, & 6:1, Hosea 5:8, and Zephaniah 1:15 prophesied the trumpet signaled an enemy’s approach and imminent danger. It caused anguish and agony in the heart. It was a battle cry to embolden the approaching soldiers and terrorize the people within fortified walls.

Amos further stated in verse six, if the calamity of an opposing army came against them, it occurred because the LORD allowed it. Nothing occurs without the LORD God allowing it and knowing about it. Calamity according to Isaiah 14:24-27 was the enemy’s crushing of Israel. They crushed, trampled, and took away their freedom. So when the trumpets’ blare sounded and calamity came, God allowed it as punishment on His people due to their iniquities. It was punishment of them by the LORD, as verse two states.

God gives blessings. He also takes His hand of protection off His people, which causes curses-allowing the enemy of His people to confront and overtake them. The Lord brings prosperity and allows disaster. He does all things. The people He chose as His people were not greater than Him and were not above His judgment and discipline. The Israelites’ iniquity created the necessity for His judgment. His mercy prevailed over hundreds of years, now judgment would come, Amos said, because the LORD effected it. The Israelites’ sin created the need for God’s judgment to come upon them.

There is a relationship between sin and judgment, and between righteousness and blessing. God explained this in Deuteronomy 28. The trumpet blare caused the Israelites’ terror to rise. The LORD’s announcement of judgment caused His messenger to speak. His punishment caused the trumpeters to blow their horns. What God says will certainly occur. When He speaks judgment, the punishment will happen. God does not change; He is true to His character.

Revealed Message of God

Amos brought this subsection of chapter three to a close with verse seven. In verse seven Amos proclaimed,

“Surely the Lord GOD does nothing unless He reveals His secret counsel to His servants the prophets.” [NASB]

This final causal relationship comes before Amos’ imperative statement to the Israelites. We must note at the beginning of the verse, the Hebrew word translated as “surely” also means “since” or “because”. It then could say, “Since the Lord God does nothing unless He reveals His secret counsel to His servants the prophets.” It could be the dependent clause to verse eight, which explains the cause and effect of His revelation to His messenger, Amos.

Notice in this verse Amos used two names for the God of Israel. He called Him Lord-Adonay-meaning “my lord” and giving reverence to Him. Amos called Him GOD-Yehovah-meaning “the existing One,” the One who is, was, and always will be. He offered reverence to the Lord acknowledging Him as the one true God.

This one almighty and true God does nothing without revealing it to His servants first. He gives warning and advice before He acts. People must learn to shama’ (hear) Him, acknowledging Him with reverence and listening to Him intending to obey. A long history exists of God speaking to His servants before acting for or against His chosen people. Consider Genesis 6:13 when the LORD gave His secret counsel to Noah before the flood. Remember the story in Genesis 18:17 about the intimacy God had with Abraham. Understand Jeremiah’s comment in Jeremiah 23:22 when he said God commanded the prophets and priests to speak His words to the people. Consider Daniel 9:22 when God counseled Daniel. Remember John 15:15 Because of Jesus' relationship with His disciples, He revealed to them things that would happen. The things God reveals are His secret counsel. Paul spoke of them in Ephesians 3 as His mystery and plans that He reserves for those who know Him intimately.

God’s servants cannot keep to themselves His revealed word. As Amos proclaimed in verse eight, he could not hold it to himself. Amos recognized God’s greatness and his own finiteness. He recognized his smallness and awe that so great a God would speak to him and call him to proclaim His words. The words Amos spoke most assuredly came from the LORD and he could do nothing except obey Him. This relationship between God and messenger (prophet) is another cause and effect relationship. It speaks of an obedient servant of God who hears, shama’, (as Amos stated in verse one) and responds with obedience. God’s revealing His message caused Amos to speak.
One final note, each of the analogies is a progression of relationship with the Lord. Consider our points to ponder with the questions below.

·         Do you regularly meet with God? God wants to meet with you regularly like the two men who made an appointment to be together.
·         Do you hear His words and revere Him and heed Him? God roars like a lion and you cannot deny His existence and power.
·         Do your thoughts and actions get you ensnared in the traps Satan sets around you? Are you like the bird caught in the trap baited with temptation?
·         Are you heeding the herald of God’s judgment and turning back to Him? Do God’s trumpet calls cause you to look to Him, or run in fear and become a captive to your enemy?
·         Have you received a word from God lately? When did you last stay in and pray through His Word so you could understand and obey His teaching?

Proclamation!

With verse eight, Amos brings together each of the causal analogies of verses three through seven. He proclaimed in verse eight,

“A lion has roared! Who will not fear? The Lord God has spoken! Who can but prophesy?” [NASB]

Amos called God a lion in his opening statement to the Israelites in Amos 1:2. He said the lion roared from His seat in Zion and from Jerusalem where His temple was. God’s roar from His judgment seat and from His throne would cause things to happen. The mighty roar of a lion strikes fear into the hearts of beasts and man. God’s roar would cause fear and terror because no man or creature would deny recognizing His righteousness and might. Only people blinded by darkness and deaf to His voice of truth because of their iniquities would not recognize, revere, stand in awe, and fear. The chosen people of the LORD, the descendants of Israel, because of their history with Him should recognize Him and tremble at His words.

Amos declared three times in this short prophecy that the Lord God has spoken. He declared, promised, and warned that God’s judgment was for their iniquities in Amos 3:1, 3:8, and 5:10. Amos said, God spoke against the Israelites and reproved them in these verses. Because of the awesome of the LORD, Amos had to prophesy His words. He said, “The Lord God has spoken! Who can but prophesy?” Amos felt overwhelmed and compelled to speak God’s words. He could do nothing but prophesy. Just as Jeremiah felt compelled to speak God’s judgment in Jeremiah 20:9, so Amos had to speak in Amos 3:8. Jeremiah could not hide the LORD’s words inside himself because it was like a fire shut up in his bones. He had to speak. Luke said in Acts 4:10 they (the disciples) could not help speaking about what they saw and heard. A true child of God must speak what He told them. God’s majesty and power overwhelm them and compel them to speak.

Just as two men agree to meet, a lion roars before and after he captures his prey, a bird falls into a trap when desire overcomes reason, and a trumpet sounds when trouble comes, so the LORD’s speaking causes His servant to proclaim His words. Because a cause and effect exists with all things, the unfaithfulness of the Israelites to their covenant with God caused God’s characteristic of righteousness to judge and punish them. Israel’s sins caused God’s judgment to fall upon them, to trap them in their own snare. God makes His actions known before He makes them happen. He discloses what He will do. God’s proclamation presages His action. God will certainly cause His judgment to occur.

“A lion roared! Who will not fear?” God’s judgment will come upon Israel.

·         Have you ever felt overawed with God’s Word as you studied and prayed over it?
·         Has God taught you something new that so compelled you to share what you learned so others would learn too or so they could encourage and celebrate with you?
·         Have you kept your mouth closed to what God taught you?
·         We must be able to say like Amos said. We cannot, but tell other people what God has done and taught us.

Recap

Amos did not want to bring sad tidings to his brothers of the northern kingdom, but he could not help but prophesy what God told him about their approaching judgment. God impelled Him. Amos gave them four cause and effect relational analogies to understand why God’s judgment would come on them. This was to prepare them for the full pronouncement of God’s judgment in the final seven verses of chapter three and in chapters four through six.

Amos used the cause and effect relationship between four common things in Israelite life, things they would understand. He used a technique like Christ, who taught in parables using activities of the time. Amos reminded them two men did not meet unless they agreed upon an appointment together. They had things in common like their faith and moral code. When they agreed to meet, each understood what that meant. The two would come together to discuss something of mutual importance. God met with many ancestors of the Israelites and wanted to continue to meet with His chosen people because their mutual covenant united them in agreement and bond. Israel agreed to meet with God regularly, but they fell away from Him.

Amos used the relationship of a lion’s roar and his hunt for prey. The lion announced he would be hunting. The other animals knew doom would fall upon at least one of them. With this Amos reminded that a young cub growls when it captures its meal while ripping it apart. It warns others not to try to take his meal from him and announces his prowess in hunting. The LORD roars like a lion to warn enemies of His children to stay away or as warning to His people to return to Him. When the Israelites did not return to the LORD, He roared His judgment upon them for their unfaithfulness. When the enemies captured His people, God roared His warning to them that He would fall upon them as a lion on a lamb. Nothing would remain but an ear or part of a leg.

Another causal relationship Amos used while speaking to the Israelites was of the bird and snare. Just as a bird succumbs to temptation and takes the bait within a snare, so Israel took the bait and would become entrapped by their enemies. God would allow it. The Israelites could have sought their blessings from the LORD instead of wanting what other nations had, but they walked away from the LORD. He would allow their enemies to overcome them and take them captive. Sinning causes judgment to occur, not because God wants it to happen, but because of His righteousness and His love for His children.

The final analogy Amos used was of a trumpet blast upon city walls. It causes terror he said. The blast could herald celebration and joy, but Amos said in this situation it heralded approaching enemies. The battle cry resulted in the Israelites’ enemies overthrowing them. A trumpet’s blare causes mental anguish which then leads to physical anguish and captivity. God would herald His judgment like a trumpet’s blare pierces the air. He would not punish before telling the people. The LORD is not unreasonable or unjust, like the gods the Israelites and the surrounding nations served. God is not capricious.

Amos ended this section of chapter three with a final imperative of excitement and testimony. When God speaks, His servants-His prophets-must proclaim what He said. They cannot run from it. This imperative burns within their souls and hearts. Jeremiah compared it to a burning fire in his bones. Amos had to proclaim God’s judgment against Israel. His God and his heart of love for his brethren required it.

What the Israelites did caused the necessity for the loving Father to punish them. He announced His judgment upon them before He enacted it. Most assuredly His judgment would occur. His steadfastness and righteousness required it.

“A lion roared! Who will not fear?”

God’s judgment would come upon all people of Israel as the continuation next week of this Bible study will lead us to know. It would especially come down upon the rich and the leaders of the society.

Conclusion

How often do we think God is nowhere around us when we face difficulties? God does not leave His children. When difficult circumstances hit us, we have two things we need to consider. Has God allowed this bad situation in my life because of my sin? Or, has God allowed this so I can grow to be more like Him while using His power and strength to walk through it?

If we determine the bad situation came because of sin in our life, we must confess, repent, and return to a right relationship with Him. God told Solomon this in 2 Chronicles 7:13-14. He said,

“If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people, and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” [NASB]

No harm comes against God’s children that He has not allowed. We see this throughout the history of Israel. God did not trick the Israelites into sinning. They fell to the bait of temptation Satan put there. Yet God promised to hear, forgive, and heal their land. He offers forgiveness, healing, and reuniting with Him if we repent and return to Him. The Lord never leaves or forsakes us. He is true to His character and to us, His children.

If we determine God allowed the bad situation to grow us in Christlikeness because we are followers of Jesus Christ, we can know and believe He will strengthen and protect us during those times as we walk through them with Him. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 10:13,

“No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man, and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide a way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” [NASB]

Peter wrote of this same thing in 2 Peter 2:9. He said,

“The Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment.”

Unbelievers receive punishment for sin. God hopes His righteousness, mercy, and love will bring them to a repentant, right relationship with Him. Believers experience difficult times so they can grow in their relationship with God by walking through it with His power and strength and claiming the hope they have in Him.

The children of God experience Him in blessings and trials. Through both, their relationship with Him grows as they grow stronger in their faith. God will never leave or abandon His children to the whims of Satan, but provides a way to endure and get through everything tossed at them. We can know of God’s will for each situation by His revelation through His Word and His messengers. Just as the Israelites could remember the cause and effect relationship of appointments, roaring lions, trapped birds, and trumpets’ blasts, they could understand their rebellion against God and His laws required judgment and punishment.

We, too, can know these causal relationships. Just as God’s righteousness requires judgment, His love brings mercy and grace. We, as children bought through the blood of Jesus Christ, the once-for-all sacrifice for our sins, received God’s love as mercy and grace and experience His hope for eternal communion with Him. With God we can go through anything with hope and faith, realizing God’s love, and growing in our relationship with Him. We can say with Paul in Romans 8:31, 35, & 37,

31“What then shall we say to these things? (difficulties) If God is for us, who is against us?” 35 “Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation or distress or persecution or famine or nakedness or peril or sword?” 37 “But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.” [NASB]

We can join David in proclaiming Psalm 27:1,

“The LORD is my light and salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the defense of my life: whom shall I dread?”

As we prepare to read and study God’s judgment against Israel remembering a cause and effect relationship exists between judgment and sin, we must look to our own hearts and lives, recognize our sin, and repent. God announces to each of us when we have strayed from Him. He lets us know before He punishes us for our disobedience. God does not enjoy disciplining His children, but His love for us is too great to allow us to stray from Him and come to harm. As a loving parent must discipline his child to teach life survival skills, so the Lord must teach His children survival skills in a world of darkness due to Satan’s snares.

What will you take from this lesson?
Will you hear God’s voice then walk back to your life of sin?
Or
Will you hear His voice and return to a right relationship with the Lord?
Don’t be like Israel was.
God makes us aware of our sin before He judges.  
Prepare to hear God, repent, turn to Him, and obey.
Our obedience to God comes from hearing Him.
Our salvation from trials comes from holding on to Him as our strength.