|Posted by Asa on March 16, 2015 at 4:40 PM|
I've just been reading Amos 1-5 about God's judgements & all that He has done (ch. 4) including giving them a lack of bread, withholding rain from them so that they lack water, sending locusts to devour their vineyards & trees, killing the young men, taking their horses captive, overthrowing them as in 'Sodom and Gomorrah' & warning of how He will send fire on them. It even begins in chapter 1 by saying this was said '2 years before the earthquake', so why would I title this 'God's Great Grace'? How could I have been overwhelmed by God's mercy reading these 5 chapters about His judgement?
Well, firstly, each judgement is sent for at least 4 great transgressions on each city including worshipping false idols, men & their dads sleeping with the same girl, murdering each other without compassion & selling their poor for pairs of sandals etc. So God has a reason for His judgements. But His mercy is more clearly seen in what he says...
In chapter 5, starting in verse 4, He starts by saying to these people, "Seek Me and live"! He says it many times. 'Seek Me' basically is the action but the purpose for it is powerful...'and live'! He is basically crying out to them with the primary aim and hope that they would live! This shows that God doesn't punish for the purpose of satisfying His desire to, but for the purpose of being righteous. He says "let Justice run down like water, and righteousness like a might stream"! He wants them, despite their rejection of Him, to live! In God's righteousness are found both justice & mercy. So what proves that He leans towards being merciful is found in His 4 words, "Seek Me & live". He is holding out & offering life over judgement, because He calls out for them to live.
This is also seen in what God reveals as the reason for His judgements. He says, "I gave you cleanness of teeth in all your cities, and lack of bread in all your places; yet you have not returned to Me". He begins with a mercy, then mentions a judgement & then the shows the righteousness of that judgement. He desired for them to 'return' to Him. I mentioned earlier that He chooses between Justice & Mercy, yet even His justice is full of mercy as He shows that through His judgements, He desires for them to 'return' to Him. In other words, to 'live'.
Many times in Isaiah 9 & 10, the sins of the people of Israel are mentioned followed by the words, 'for all this His anger is not turned away, but His hand is stretched out still'. WOW!! The sad thing is, they did the religious acts out of obligation like offering sacrifices but 'also carried Sikkuth' their 'King' (pagan god), & their other 'gods' & 'idols' which they made for themselves as seen in verse 26! They don't deserve life. Yet His hand is stretched out. Still. So if at the beginning you questioned and wondered 'why should they die for their sins?', remember these words from Ezekiel 33:11...
"As I live," says the Lord God, "I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?"
See 'Is Hell Fair?' for more on this topic.