STUDY IN AMOS 4:11-13 –
HAVE LAWYERS TAKEN OVER THE WORLD?
It seems like everything I do these days has some type of TERMS I have to agree to. I just opened today’s mail and with no surprise, plenty of JUNK MAIL.
Somebody will send a credit card application and all over the front page, in big 2-inch letters–tells me about all the money they’re going to give me.
But then at the bottom or on the back, it gives the TERMS & CONDITIONS. Of course, you have to have a magnifying glass to read the print. The only reason they put the terms therein the first place is because the LAWYERS make them. That said, they still try to hide them as best as they can.
Whether you’re buying anything, getting a job, or entering a contract–TERMS have to be agreed to.
Did you know that God has “terms” as well?
Except, God isn’t a lawyer–He sets His terms up front.
The problem comes in when we try to meet God on our own TERMS instead of on His.
That’s what ISRAEL did in our study in AMOS. God’s chosen people wanted a RELATIONSHIP with God, but wanted it on their TERMS.
God speaks through AMOS and reviews His case against ISRAEL.
AMOS reviews the ways ISRAEL tried to meet God on their own TERMS, in spite of His continual persuasion.
Even though times have changed, human nature hasn’t and neither has God’s CHARACTER.
There are still TWO WAYS to prepare to meet God–
Either try to do it on our terms or His. We’ll meet Him either way. Either we’ll meet Him in JUDGMENT or in ETERNAL RELATIONSHIP.
MEETING GOD ON OUR TERMS –
ISRAEL tried to meet God on their terms because they BEHAVED on their own terms.
“HEAR THIS word, you cows of Bashan who are in the mountain of Samaria, who oppress the poor, who crush the needy, who say to their husbands, Bring and let us drink!”
GOD’S description called them “COWS”, not “BULLS.”
BASHAN is a hilly area overlooking Samaria and was known for its cattle. If McDonald’s had been around back then, they would have marketed “Bashan burgers” and not “Black Angus.”
BASHAN COWS were well fed, spoiled and fat!
THE IMAGE GOD USED TO DESCRIBE THE ISRAELITE WOMEN –
In the original Hebrew language, the feminine structure of the verse makes it clear, God is talking about the WOMEN OF ISRAEL.
Throughout history, in every society, WOMEN are the main stabilizing forces. The decline of any society can be seen in the way the women act.
WOMEN are typically more stable, more moral, more obedient to laws, more kind and merciful to the poor and needy.
That was what was happening in ISRAEL. The women had turned away from their values; they had usurped their roles in the home by now demanding to be waited on.
CAUSE & EFFECT–
The words in AMOS 4, are not just a JUDGMENT on the women. It’s a JUDGMENT on Israel as a whole because women acting that way is an EFFECT– it’s not a CAUSE.
The cause is from men and society as a whole, turning away from God.
The Genie Is Out of The Bottle…
RADICAL FEMINISM will not go away until Christ returns, ushering in proper balance between men and women.
When JESUS sets up His government–“until the times of restoration of all things” will begin (Acts 3:21), then He will declare the eternal end to the “battle of the sexes.” Then it will not be a woman’s world–but a God’s world!
Look what’s happening in my country…
AMERICA began to turn away from God in the mid 1800s. The educated elite began to BELIEVE IN DARWINISM and began to question the Bible and tear it down.
THAT WAS THE BEGINNING OF THE DISEASE–
Now fast forward to today. Women in America no longer value their KINDNESS and MERCY. We lift up cutthroat, catty corporate executives and political figures as role models. And, from an early age, girls are encouraged to be tough and aggressive instead of KIND AND MERCIFUL.
Just like ancient ISRAEL, that’s just one of the first symptoms of a disease that has been eating away at our society for a long time. It is a DISEASE called… wanting to behave on our own terms.
But not only did ISRAEL BEHAVE on their own terms, they WORSHIPPED on their own terms.
AMOS 4:4-5 (NIV):
 “Go to Bethel and sin; go to Gilgal and sin yet more. Bring your sacrifices every morning, your tithes every three years.
 Burn leavened bread as a thank offering and brag about your freewill offerings–boast about them, you Israelites for this is what you love to do,” declares the Sovereign LORD.
BETHEL and GILGAL –
Both Bethel and Gilgal originally had been wonderful places of WORSHIP for God.
BETHEL was the place where Abraham set up and altar to God–Jacob saw the LORD there and also one of the places SAMUEL judged.
BUT over the years, the people corrupted the place of worship. Jeroboam set up the golden calf and that marked the beginning of a long history of idolatry and false worship there.
Both BETHEL & GILGAL has historically been places of WORSHIP. But over the years, the WORSHIP had become empty and even despicable to God.
The people were going through ALL the motions, even going over and above–bringing SACRIFICES much more than required.
They TITHED much more often than was required.
Their outward shows of RELIGION were over and above.
Most would say that would be a good thing. Well, not if their heart was in the shape theirs was in.
Because they came to offer sacrifices just as a show, their SACRIFICE didn’t indicate a HEART CHANGE.
THE FREEWILL OFFERINGS were proclaimed and published as mandatory; they were no longer FREE! They were under obligation.
They were worshipping, but on their own terms–they didn’t worship with a changed and contrite heart or out of a FREE LOVE of God.
They did it for show!
Doesn’t that sound like the church today? We want to WORSHIP Him on our terms. We want to come to church to make us FEEL GOOD, or get our batteries recharged.
Or, we come to church out of some sort of OBLIGATION.
We look for a church that will meet our needs or will suit our personal tastes.
If the ‘musk’ isn’t the way we like it, we leave. We have become consumers rather than worshippers.
And when everything falls in line of our needs, we smile and sing, “Praise God from whom all blessings flow.”
ISRAEL tried to meet God on their terms…
They BEHAVED on their terms and they worshipped on their terms and NOT what God wanted of them.
And it’s not what God wants of us either.
But God doesn’t force us to do anything. Just like He didn’t force ISRAEL to change. He didn’t force them–He persuaded them to meet Him on His terms.
GOD’S WARNINGS ON HIS TERMS (AMOS 4:2-3):
GOD’S TERMS and ISRAEL’S TERMS–
What our God’s Terms?
He tells us in VERSE 2: “The LORD GOD has sworn by His HOLINESS that behold, the days shall come upon you when they shall take you away with hooks and the last of you with fish-hooks.”
His terms are HOLINESS–it’s TERMS He swears by.
JESUS summed up GOD’S TERMS in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:48):
“Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father
which is in heaven is perfect.” ~ King James Bible
The AMPLIFIED bible adds brackets to end of this verse. I believe it clarifies the verse even more:
[that is, grow into complete maturity of godliness
in mind and character, having reached the proper
height of virtue and integrity].
THAT’S GOD’S TERMS–THAT’S WHAT HE DEMANDS
And ISRAEL didn’t even come close.
BUT GOD, in His GRACE, warned them every step of the way. He WARNED them that their disobedience would bring JUDGMENT.
God changes the picture here…
It goes from picturing the WOMAN OF ISRAEL as fat and happy cows…to picturing them as FISH ON A HOOK.
I know what happens when I’ve gone fishing to a nearby lake and caught fish. I hooked it and drag it out of the place where it was comfortable (You place the fish in an environment that is harsh and hostile to it).
In a few short years, ISRAEL went from unprecedented economic and military prosperity to being drug into captivity like FISH on a stringer.
Has GOD given us warnings?
GOD’S TERMS OF PERFECTION –
His terms of perfection are the same as they have always been. Along with His TERMS OF PERFECTION, He has given His PROVISION OF GRACE.
GRACE that our IMPERFECTIONS are covered by the BLOOD of His Son JESUS CHRIST.
He takes away our SIN and gives us HIS PERFECTION–HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS. But He only does that when we TRUST Him as our LORD & SAVIOR!
The Bible is full of WARNINGS when we refuse His warnings and rebel.
- WHEN WE BEHAVE ON OUR TERMS…GOD WARNS ON HIS TERMS.
- WHEN WE WORSHIP ON OUR TERMS…GOD WARNS ON HIS TERMS.
GOD ALSO PERSUADES ON HIS TERMS –
AMOS 4:6-11 (NAS bible):
 “But I gave you also cleanness of teeth in all your cities And lack of bread in all your places, Yet you have not returned to Me,” declares the LORD.
 “And furthermore, I withheld the rain from you While there were still three months until harvest. Then I would send rain on one city And on another city I would not send rain; One part would be rained on, While the part not rained on would dry up.
 “So two or three cities would stagger to another city to drink water; But would not be satisfied; Yet you have not returned to Me,” declares the LORD.
 “I smote you with scorching wind and mildew; And the caterpillar was devouring Your many gardens and vineyards, fig trees and olive trees; Yet you have not returned to Me,” declares the LORD.
 “I sent a plague among you after the manner of Egypt; I slew your young men by the sword along with your captured horses, And I made the stench in your camp rise up in your nostrils; Yet you have not returned to Me,” declares the LORD.
 “I overthrew you as God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, And you were like a firebrand snatched from a blaze; Yet you have not returned to Me,” declares the LORD.
GOD JUDGED the world in a flood and He will judge the world with fire. Everything in between… is His PERSUASION.
In VERSE 6, He PERSUADED Israel with famine.
“CLEAN TEETH” wasn’t a compliment on their dental hygiene. It meant they had no food to dirty their teeth with.
In VERSES 7-8, God gave them drought to try to PERSUADE them to turn to Him.
In VERSE 9, He gave them, as the Amplified Bible reads…”BLIGHT”.
DEFINITION OF BLIGHT=  “Any of numerous plant diseases resulting in sudden conspicuous wilting and dying and the effects thereof…”  “An agent or action that harms or ruins the VALUE or success of something” (See footnote [i] ).
In VERSE 10, He gave them PESTILENCE and WAR to persuade them…
AND in VERSE 11, A Supernatural DEFECT…
Many of the things we see as TRIALS as given to us persuades us, to return to Him.
Look at AMERICA as an example –
- After the Civil War there was a national REVIVAL.
- After the Great Depression, there followed national REVIVAL.
After most great times of TROUBLE & TRIAL, there has been periods of a national return to the LORD. Until recently.
Even after 9/11, Bible sales across America went through the roof! But there was a shifting between 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina.
When Katrina happened, there was a tremendous outpouring from the churches at first. But the people weren’t looking to God–they were looking to government to supply their needs.
God PERSUADED AMERICA to turn to Him, and as a whole…we didn’t.
INSTEAD, we turned to FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Assistance).
INSTEAD of REPENTANCE, we saw blame and cast it.
INSTEAD of falling on our knees and crying out for God to SAVE us as a country, the politicians cried out to the Casinos to save them.
God is persuading us today, just like He persuaded Israel in Amos.
GOD PERSUADES with clean teeth and tragedy.
The question is, are we LISTENING? Or, are we like ISRAEL?
ISRAEL tried to meet God on their TERMS–and they BEHAVED on their TERMS.
But God didn’t just let them go. He persuaded them on HIS TERMS…HE WARNED them on HIS TERMS.
FINALLY, We Can See the RESULTS of ISRAEL’S TERMS (AMOS 4:12-13):
 “Therefore thus will I do to you O Israel; and because I will do this to you, prepare to meet your God, O Israel!
 For behold, He Who forms the mountains and creates the wind and declares to man what is his thought, Who makes the morning darkness and treads on the heights of the earth–the Lord, the God of hosts, is His name!”
After I first read those verses in study, I started skimming back through verses 6-11; looking at the last phrase of each verse; looking at each of the five attempts God made to get ISRAEL’S attention.
They were answered the same way,
“Yet you did not return to Me.”
The people were going to come to God on their own TERMS.
- They wanted to be FAT & COMFORTABLE…
- They wanted to BEHAVE as they saw fit…
- They wanted to put an “I LOVE JESUS” T-shirt on and claim to be God’s children.
- They wanted to WORSHIP God, but they wanted to worship Him in a way that pleased them.
- They wanted to be ‘pumped up’; going to church, wearing the local professional team’s football jerseys and stocking caps, without any commitment to Christ.
Through ALL of that outward devotion, God leveled the same charge: “you have not returned to Me.”
ISRAEL’S TERMS were selfish and insufficient to meet God in relationship.
So the question is presented to the Church today.
What are we doing with God’s Grace?
Are you in rejection of it, behaving on your TERMS? Are you rejecting it by worshipping on your own terms?
Each one of us will meet God face to face one day. Are you going to do it on YourTERMS or on His TERMS?
If you do it on YOUR TERMS, Hebrews 10:31 says, “It is a fearful (formidable and terrible) thing to incur the divine penalties and be cast into the hands of the living God!”
BUT, if you meet Him on HIS TERMS, through the BLOOD of His Son Jesus Christ, this is the PROMISE found in Revelation 22:1-4:
How do you intend to meet God this day, this week, this month, this year?
ON YOUR TERMS OR HIS?
FOOTNOTES & CREDITS:
Footnote [i] : The Free Dictionary by Farlex.
PHOTOS: Google Images.
Bible Translations Used: Amplified bible except where noted.
Excerpts From Commentaries Used: Second Covenant Lawsuit – Amos 4:1-13; Cows of Bashan (Forerunner Commentary) – Bible Tools.