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1 Hear this word that Yahweh hath spoken against you, O children of Israel, against the whole family which I brought up from the land of Egypt, saying,
2 You only have I known of all the families of the earth: therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.
God has spoken of the punishment of the nations around, as they have related to His purpose and His people. But Israel is very different. They are the center of the purpose: infinitely closer and more intimate to God. God says (Rom. 1:20) that because of the obvious manifestation of Himself and His power and divinity in all the works of creation around us, all mankind are without excuse for not recognizing Him (how stupid is the folly of Evolution!).
So all are guilty to a degree, and He punishes in various ways, as He sees fit, and as His purposes require. But Israel stands alone as specially chosen and brought near and taught and favored and loved. Their sins were against light and love. Here is where the comparison with ourselves enters. We few have been chosen from the earth's teeming and perishing millions to be called near to God, and shown the way of life and joy, and flooded with His personal love.
God does not call all. He calls as he sees fit, for His Own glory and purpose. But when He calls, tremendous responsibilities are involved, and tremendous opportunities. Life can never be the same again. We are no longer of the nameless multitude who live and die like animals, in ignorance. We must stand before Christ, and either be accepted forever into the Divine family, or pay the dread price of the rejection of the love of God. To us, as to Israel, He says-
"You only have I known . . . therefore I will punish you for all your sins."
The way of righteousness is always presented as the only way of happiness and pleasure and true freedom:
"There is no peace to the wicked"
- and God makes sure there will not be. The disobedient may seem to prosper, but they never know true peace and joy, and the final bitter reckoning is never far away. This is the great lesson of Amos: the great, simple, eternal lesson of all Scripture-
"Seek God-and live" (5:4).
Bro Growcott - Seek the Lord, and Ye Shall Live
3 Can two walk together, except they be agreed?
A man of the world and a man of God could not work in common, as regards principles of action and aims of life, without either the man of the world giving in to the man of God, which is improbable; or the man of God becoming corrupted by the man of the world, which is more likely.
The principle applies in all connections where the will of one man is put in the power of another. The friends of God are "not of the world", They are commanded to "come out from among them, and be separate". There are matters in which all are tied together in a common interest, such as the passengers in the same ship or the residents in the same village or town.
Saints must live with, and in many matters co-operate with sinners, so long as God tolerates the sinners; but as regards the main purposes and friendships of life, it is safe and indeed (in the case of true saints) an inevitable rule, to refuse putting the neck in the same yoke with those who are unbelieving or unloving or disobedient towards God.
Law of Moses Ch 32
At the beginning, we have no "agreement" or affinity with God. His is the mind of the Spirit, while we are wholly the mind of the flesh, and these two are at enmity, and are foolishness one to the other (Gal. 5:17; 1 Cor. 2:14).
But gradually, by the constant study of and meditation upon His Word, we come to assimilate to the intelligent mind of the Spirit, and lose the stupidity of the natural man. We are, as the Scriptures say-
"Renewed-transformed-in the spirit of our minds" (Eph. 4:23).
We enter more and more into the boundless, timeless Divine viewpoint. We put off, little by little, the corrupt, narrow pettiness of the flesh, and interest in fleshly things. Spiritual, eternal things become increasingly more important and more real to us.
This is a lifelong process: a constant, daily, essential process - if we are to be among the very, very few accepted at Christ's coming. This is the whole purpose for which we are given our present lives: to squander them on anything else is to guarantee failure.
Bro Growcott - Seek the Lord, and Ye Shall Live
6 Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid? shall there be evil in a city, and Yahweh hath not done it?
The introduction of sin into the world necessitated the constitution of things as they were laid in the beginning. If there had been no sin there would have been no "enmity" between God and man; and consequently no antagonism by which to educe good out of evil. Sin and evil are as cause and effect. God is the author of evil, but not of sin; for the evil is the punishment of sin.
"I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things" (Isaiah 45:7). " Shall there be evil in a city and the Lord hath not done it" (Amos 3:6)?
The evil then to which man is subjected is the Lord's doing. War, famine, pestilence, flood, earthquake, disease, and death, are the terrible evils which God inflicts upon mankind for their transgressions.
Nations cannot go to war when they please, any more than they can shake the earth at their will and pleasure; neither can they preserve peace, when He proclaims war. Evil is the artillery with which He combats the enemies of His law, and of His saints; consequently, there will be neither peace nor blessedness for the nations, until sin is put down, His people avenged, and truth and righteousness be established in the earth.
This is the constituted order of things. It is the constitution of the world; and as the world is sin's dominion, or the kingdom of the adversary, it is the constitution of the kingdom of sin.
Elpis Israel 1.4.
7 Surely Adonai Yahweh will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.
In ages past, God has had among the nations a people of his own. These are wise in the wisdom of God, and venerate His word above all things. Though not His counsellors, he has graciously condescended to inform them what He intends to do before it comes to pass.
This revelation is made that his people's faith may be confirmed and enlarged; and that in every generation they may know the times and seasons to which they stand related. Knowing the signs they are enabled to discern the times; and while consternation and dismay cause men's hearts to fail, they are courageous, and rejoice in perceiving the approach of the kingdom of God. This is the proper use of the prophetic word.
It was thus that the ancients used it, and were enabled to live in advance of their contemporaries. This appears from the exhortation of the apostle who says,
"We have a sure word of prophecy, whereunto you do well to take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place until the day dawn, and the day-star arise in your hearts: knowing this first that no prophecy of scripture originates of one's own prescience. For prophecy came not at any time by the will of man; but the holy men of God spake being moved by the holy spirit " (2 Pet. 1:19-21).
Some were not unmindful of this exhortation, which is as applicable to us as to them; for the day has not yet dawned, nor has the day-star arisen. Were it not for the prophetic word, the "heirs of the kingdom" would be in as outer darkness as gaol-chaplains, who burn the flesh to cure the soul; or administer the "sacrament" to gallows-thieves about to die!
The sure prophetic word is itself a shining light, but, having been "put under a bushel," mankind are left enshrouded in Egyptian night. "Be mindful," saith the scripture, "of the words spoken before by the Holy prophets;" and on the ground that this was the case, the apostle adds,
"Therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness" (2 Pet. 3:17).
The words of the prophets to which he referred, related to the destruction of the Hebrew commonwealth. His brethren were acquainted with these prophesies, and therefore knew what was about to happen, though not the day or the hour. Hence, this knowledge was to be their caution and security against being led away by the spiritualizers of the time, who wrested the scriptures to their own destruction (v. 16).
From these premises we may conclude, that as the Lord has also revealed what is to come to pass in these latter days, it is both our duty and privilege to make ourselves acquainted with it, that our faith may grow and be strengthened; our affections be detached from the fleeting present, and set more firmly on things to come; that our minds may be fortified against error; and that we may be prepared to meet the Lord as those who have kept their garments, and shall not be put to shame (Rev. 16:15).
Elpis Israel 3.1.
The world is a dark place, and its inhabitants blind as bats. But the light of prophecy shines in this dark place, and will shine until the day dawns and the glorious "Day Star" arises with healing in his beams.
The student of prophecy, unlike the floundering politicians and statesmen of the age, can penetrate futurity, and by the indications already abroad, can discern the coming storm. The warning voice has been lifted up, but men, intoxicated with antediluvian stupidity, give no heed to it. They dream of peace and prosperity, and of a long perpetuity to their institutions, when there is no peace, no prosperity, but sudden destruction at the door...
And yet such is the fatuity of men, they will not repent of their deeds, and give glory to God by submitting to the Son, whom he has appointed heir and governor of all things. They will not recognize his power, who is ruling the nations with a rod of iron, breaking up their establishments and subduing all things to himself. Alas! Woe to the world because of offences, for the day of vengeance is at hand!
The Apostolic Advocate, Dec 1834
8 The lion hath roared, who will not fear? Adonai Yahweh hath spoken, who can but prophesy?
How quick we are to recognize and fear and guard against natural dangers: but how slow to recognize, and even slower to do anything about, the much more terrible spiritual dangers that threaten us!
God had roared from Zion in His displeasure. To the ear of faith it was as real and near and terrifying as the nearby roar of the springing lion in the darkness. Would Israel have the wisdom to fear? They were too busy with their present prosperity, which seemed so real and important and lasting. But in less than forty short years the whole nation was cruelly herded away as slaves in a foreign land. *
9 Publish in the palaces at Ashdod, and in the palaces in the land of Egypt, and say, Assemble yourselves upon the mountains of Samaria, and behold the great tumults in the midst thereof, and the oppressed in the midst thereof.
Verse 9 calls for the heathen nations to assemble to view the wickedness of Israel. That is, Israel's sins were such as to shock even the godless Gentiles. This is a strange, and yet sadly familiar phenomenon. Doubtless this too is of God: those who despise His love He gives over to a "reprobate mind." We remember Paul's words to Corinth-
"Such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles" (1 Cor. 5 :1).
I was deeply impressed in WWII how much more fair and considerate and patient and sympathetic - even under the great stress of national peril - some draft boards were with brethren than some brethren are with each other. Like Israel with the Law, to have the Truth without the spirit of the Truth seems to engender pride, self-satisfaction, and bitterness and contempt for others.
The Catholic Church, directly descended (though apostate) from the apostolic Ecclesia, has the most vicious history of cruelty and corruption and wickedness in all human records. The flesh is an evil, deceitful, hateful thing; and men who have been called of God, unless they are transformed to holiness, tend to degenerate to demons. It is so easy, as Paul says, to use the liberty of Christ as a cloak of maliciousness. Doubtless this is Divine judgment upon abused enlightenment and privilege. *
15 And I will smite the winter house with the summer house; and the houses of ivory shall perish, and the great houses shall have an end, saith Yahweh.
Luxury, self-indulgence by abuse of Divine blessings, and lack of consideration for others, are the sins with which Israel is charged. How the flesh loves these monuments of unfaithful stewardship! **Bro Growcott - Seek the Lord, and Ye Shall Live