Today’s Reading: Amos 1:1–4:5, Acts 8:26–9:19, Job 19:13–29
Today’s Theme: God, great and gentle
Today’s theme is about God’s greatness and gentleness which He shows to us and expects us to display to one another and to the world. We are to be like shepherds; keeping covenant, showing mercy, walking in honesty, loving and comforting one another, while pursuing social justice, in Jesus’ name.
The words of Amos, who was among the shepherds of Tekoa, which he saw concerning Israel in the days of Uzziah king of Judah and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel, two years before the earthquake. (Amos 1:1, ESV)
This gives us insight to the type of man that Amos was, Shepherds were hard working, humble men.
We are not all called to be Shepherds of God’s people, like Pastors (the word Pastor literally means shepherd), but we should have the qualities of shepherds. We should be hard working, humble people, whose lives do not lead people astray.
We all have people in our lives whom God has called us to shepherd, this could be our spouse, children, friends, colleagues, neighbours etc.
The Covenant of Brotherhood
Thus says the Lord: “For three transgressions of Tyre, and for four, I will not revoke the punishment, because they delivered up a whole people to Edom, and did not remember the covenant of brotherhood. (Amos 1:9, ESV)
This covenant of brotherhood is Amos’ way of summarising the long relationship of mutual cooperation between the city of Tyre and Israel, mentioned in the days of Kings David, Solomon and Ahab.
It reminds us that we have a duty of care to one another, in the body of Christ. We are brothers and need to cooperate with each other, especially in hard times.
Thus says the Lord: “For three transgressions of Edom, and for four, I will not revoke the punishment, because he pursued his brother with the sword and cast off all pity, and his anger tore perpetually, and he kept his wrath forever. (Amos 1:11, ESV)
A reminder for us as the Church, we must show mercy to each other and we should not fight each other, or like Paul said, we will devour each other (Galatians 5:15), and finally we should not bear a grudge.
Abortion, an abominable sin
Thus says the Lord: “For three transgressions of the Ammonites, and for four, I will not revoke the punishment, because they have ripped open pregnant women in Gilead, that they might enlarge their border. (Amos 1:13, ESV)
The great sin of abortion is nothing short of infanticide. The brutal and often selfishly motivated murder of a defenceless baby, either by force in times of war and persecution, or by “choice” in the corrupted “freedom” of the West.
Thus says the Lord: “For three transgressions of Judah, and for four, I will not revoke the punishment, because they have rejected the law of the Lord, and have not kept his statutes, but their lies have led them astray, those after which their fathers walked. (Amos 2:4, ESV)
If we lie and live in dishonesty, that very sin will lead us astray into deception and destruction.
Do not be dishonest and do not tell lies, it dishonours God and those you lie to. Inevitably, you will eventually be tripped up by your own lies and dishonesty.
Have the boldness in Jesus to be honest.
Don’t sell Jesus
Thus says the Lord: “For three transgressions of Israel, and for four, I will not revoke the punishment, because they sell the righteous for silver, and the needy for a pair of sandals— (Amos 2:6, ESV)
Judas did this to Jesus in the NT.
We must guard against this in our own lives, we should not sell or betray Jesus for our own selfish desires.
As Christians we should also be concerned with the needs of those in poverty, we should not sell them out for our own comfort, by spending our money only on ourselves. Give to their needs through charities like Compassion.
We don’t get to redefine
“But you made the Nazirites drink wine, and commanded the prophets, saying, ‘You shall not prophesy.’ (Amos 2:12, ESV)
Redefining what God ordained (like the Nazirites vow in the passage) and intended, is open rebellion.
For example: Marriage cannot be redefined, in fact, redefinition of a word is foolish to the senses, and a word means what it means and cannot mean anything else.
Marriage is more than a word, it is an actual thing, it is tangible. It is and cannot be changed.
This and every other truth and reality established by God, cannot be redefined by man.
Man cannot help
Flight shall perish from the swift, and the strong shall not retain his strength, nor shall the mighty save his life; he who handles the bow shall not stand, and he who is swift of foot shall not save himself, nor shall he who rides the horse save his life; (Amos 2:14–15, ESV)
When God’s judgement is poured out, human strength and ability cannot aid us.
We need to remind people of this reality, when sharing the good news.
“You only have I known of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities. (Amos 3:2, ESV)
God’s relationship with Israel is special, so their judgement is more severe. This can be true in our lives too, because the Father chastens the son He loves.
Walking in agreement
“Do two walk together, unless they have agreed to meet? (Amos 3:3, ESV)
Unity and agreement is necessary in any partnership, whether it be marriage, ministry or business. Ask God to help you to walk in agreement with your partners today.
Sovereign over disaster
Is a trumpet blown in a city, and the people are not afraid? Does disaster come to a city, unless the Lord has done it? (Amos 3:6, ESV)
This brings perspective to all “natural disasters” – God is sovereign over all nature.
“For the Lord God does nothing without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets. (Amos 3:7, ESV)
God reveals His secret to those in relationship with Him and in particular, His ministers, like the Prophets. We have seen this in the Bible, throughout church history and in our own church too.
The Lion’s roar
The lion has roared; who will not fear? The Lord God has spoken; who can but prophesy?” (Amos 3:8, ESV)
The preached word from our Pastors comes with the strength and power that it does, because it is a proclamation of the Lion’s roar… Hallelujah!
The ignorance of sin
“They do not know how to do right,” declares the Lord, “those who store up violence and robbery in their strongholds.” (Amos 3:10, ESV)
Jesus points to this condition when He said “Father forgive them for they don’t know what they do”. We must pray for those in sin, recognising that they do not always comprehended the gravity of their sin, but are walking in deception themselves.
In the darkness of sin there is ignorance, while in the light of the gospel there is truth.
Fight Social Injustice
“Hear this word, you cows of Bashan, who are on the mountain of Samaria, who oppress the poor, who crush the needy, who say to your husbands, ‘Bring, that we may drink!’ (Amos 4:1, ESV)
Social injustice is a stench before God. As the church, one of the reasons we exist is to establish God’s kingdom and shine the light of the gospel, which includes reaching the least, providing for their needs and showing them the love of God.
Yes our faith is also a social movement, bringing life, freedom and truth to all people, in Jesus’ name.
And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. (Acts 8:31, ESV)
This is the attitude we should all have, we all need instruction in the word, which is why God gave us teachers and Pastors.
Christianity in Africa
And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him. (Acts 8:38, ESV)
Christianity came to Africa long before European colonization.
Many black power advocates say that Christianity is a “white” imported religion. This is foolishness, it in fact originated in Israel and spread throughout the Middle East before it came to Europe, and as we see from this account, came to the continent now known as Africa, in the days of the Apostles.
and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. (Acts 9:2, ESV)
‘The Way’ was one of the early names for us as Christians. The title is a good one because it points to the fact that our lives were marked by following a certain path.
God, great and gentle
And falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” (Acts 9:4, ESV)
Here we see the awesome power of God displayed like at the burning bush, yet the words of Jesus are so gracious.
God is Sovereign in electing the chosen, but also gentle in the way He draws.
This is a paradox, the vision was bold and full of authority, while the call was loving and heartfelt.
But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. (Acts 9:15, ESV)
God, in His sovereignty, chose Paul to accomplish His purposes, it was all pre-planned.
You are not Paul, but God has a pre-planned purpose for your life too.
Equipped for ministry
So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 9:17, ESV)
No one is ready for ministry without being filled with the Holy Spirit.
My breath is strange to my wife, and I am a stench to the children of my own mother. (Job 19:17, ESV)
Sometimes we forget that Job’s trial would have put tremendous strain on his marriage. Pray for marriages under strain from difficult circumstances today.
Comfort one another
All my intimate friends abhor me, and those whom I loved have turned against me. (Job 19:19, ESV)
The emotional pain of Job’s plight was severe too. We must comfort one another in times of trial.
The incarnate redeemer
For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. (Job 19:25, ESV)
Job wants a record of what has happened because he knows he has a redeemer who can help his cause. Again, this shows that the OT understanding of God was not Unitarian (one person only).
There is hope in God
And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, (Job 19:26, ESV)
Job has a glimmer of hope here, this is his heart of faith and trust in God.
Don’t be spiteful
be afraid of the sword, for wrath brings the punishment of the sword, that you may know there is a judgment.” (Job 19:29, ESV)
This is in line with when Jesus told us we should not judge one another in hypocrisy and spitefulness.
Most of the above post is a copy of the original notes from the same date in 2014.
The Gospel Coalition on Acts 9