impending storm June 26 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading: 2Kings 14:23-28; Amos 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Self-Indulgence - An Impending Storm

We are in the hurricane season where there are tornados, large hail, damaging winds and floods. We watch the weather anxiously, wondering if we might be hit next, and if we can we prepare. However, there are some who are complacent. They ignore the ominous dark clouds. They may think the storm has never hit them before so they will go on living their lives without a care. There are other kinds of impending storms - a big stock drop on Wall Street, a marriage in trouble, a lawsuit, bankruptcy, and other ominous things. Still some are complacent. Though they may not realize it, many people in this world have a shaky security. Stocks, bonds, insurance, equity, property, position, and rich inheritances are things that many people count on to secure their lives. When they feel secure, many no longer fear the LORD. They may go to church and make a show of their religion, but they do not truly serve the LORD. They no longer care about the poor. They live self-indulgent lifestyles. Does this describe any of us? Does God care? Will he judge us? Let’s find out.

The northern tribes of Israel and the southern tribes of Judah were experiencing the benefits of the long prosperous reigns of King Jeroboam II (north) and good King Uzziah (south). The surrounding nations were weak in military strength, so the whole area around Israel was at peace. Peace brought prosperity. Unfortunately, prosperity brought a self-indulgent lifestyle and abuse; the rich got richer and the poor got poorer. In these two nations injustice reigned, slothful living was the norm (both physically and spiritually), and people had a false sense of security with no need for God, or so they thought.

Two years before a mammoth earthquake rocked the Middle East in 760 B.C.*, Amos prophesied of God’s wrath, in which he was compared to a lion ready to pounce on the nations surrounding Israel and Judah. Israel's neighbors acted directly or in complicity with other nations against her. It is true that Israel was wicked and the surrounding nations were allowed to be God’s disciplining arm, but these nations were still responsible for their vile acts against Israel, his chosen people. For most of them, judgment came when Assyria and (later) Babylon raked through their land, burning their towns and cities, savagely killing their people, plundering them, and exiling many in captivity.

After speaking judgments against the surrounding nations, the prophet Amos, pronounced seven of the harshest judgments against Israel.

This is what the LORD says: “For three sins of Israel, even for four, I will not turn back my wrath. [1]They sell the righteous for silver, and the needy for a pair of sandals. [2] They trample on the heads of the poor as upon the dust of the ground and [3] deny justice to the oppressed. [4] Father and son use the same girl and so profane my holy name. [5] They lie down beside every altar on garments taken in pledge. [6] In the house of their god they drink wine taken as fines, and [7]… you made the Nazirites [devoted followers of God] drink wine and commanded the prophets not to prophesy” (Amos 2:6-8,12, NIV).

Israel was God’s family, his spiritual progeny.

Hear this word the LORD has spoken against you, O people of Israel-- against the whole family I brought up out of Egypt: “You only have I chosen of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your sins.

See the great unrest within her and the oppression among her people. They do not know how to do right,” declares the LORD, “who hoard plunder and loot in their fortresses.” Therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says: “An enemy [Assyria in 722 B.C. and Babylon in 586 B.C.] will overrun the land; he will pull down your strongholds and plunder your fortresses," (Amos 3:1-2, NIV; for an explanation of the name Sovereign LORD see more...).

While Israel laid in ease, living a self-indulgent lifestyle, she did not know that she would be devoured as lamb by a wolf so that very little remained. God had already disciplined Israel with plagues of draught, famine, hunger, slaughter in military battles, and even with fire, but Israel was proud and obstinate and did not repent. Therefore Amos prophesied that only one-tenth of Israel would remain after their enemies ravaged them (Amos 5:3). What were they to do about it? How could they avert judgment?

This is what the LORD says to the house of Israel: “Seek me and live; do not seek Bethel, do not go to Gilgal, do not journey to Beersheba [places of worship of the false gods of Baal and Ashteroth set up by King Jeroboam, son of Nebat]. For Gilgal will surely go into exile, and Bethel will be reduced to nothing.” Seek the LORD and live, or he will sweep through the house of Joseph [another name for the northern kingdom of Israel] like a fire; it will devour, and Bethel will have no one to quench it,” (Amos 5:4-6, NIV).

Are some of us obstinate Christians? Do we refuse to repent? If God judged Israel for her wickedness, do we think we will escape? We must, like Israel, repent, seek the LORD and live (more...).

Israel felt secure because she was religious, i.e., she had a religious heritage. God, however, hated Israel’s religious practices. In Amos 5:21-24 God says,

I hate, I despise your religious feasts; I cannot stand your assemblies. Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Though you bring choice fellowship offerings, I will have no regard for them. Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps. But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream! (NIV)

In summary, God said to Israel: You worship me in ceremonies, but in daily practice you worship other gods and do not act with righteousness and justice. You lie in the comfort of your prosperity and are complacent. You do not care about me or justice for the poor or righteousness. Does this describe any of us? If Israel was judged for such things, are we so arrogant and self-assured that we think we could escape? There is an impending storm of judgment for such people. If we are irreverent in the way we live, we must take this warning seriously - we must repent and seek the LORD or be judged. He offers us forgiveness, peace, and spiritual life (more...). If we are reverent, however, let this be an encouragement for us to keep seeking the LORD, to not live a self-indulgent lifestyle, and to act with justice and mercy so that we might live and prosper.

Lessons to live by:

  • If we are not careful to fear the LORD, riches can tempt us to live a self-indulgent lifestyle, for which God judges his people.
  • God wants us to be kind to the poor and to act with justice and mercy.
  • God is not impressed with religious ceremonies; he wants a real relationship with us (more...).

*Insights from The Bible Knowledge Commentary of the O.T., by Walvoord and Zuck, ©1985, pp. 1425-1426

Bible Memory Verse: Micah 6:8 “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (NIV)

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