Tuesday, April 23, 2013

“Lord of all Nations (Amos) ”

Second Quarter 2013 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
“Lord of all Nations (Amos) ”
For the week of Apr 27, 2013
Lord of All Nations (Amos)
For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many....nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom....And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come. Matt 24:5-14.
I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, [that] the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. Rev. 3:18.
No doubt about it - we are living in times when the prophecy of Christ found in Matthew 24 is finding stark fulfillment. Offense, betrayal, hatred, and lawlessness are coexistent with claims of an emerging new age in which “god” is in everyone, just waiting to be expressed. However, the god of this world has no desire to solve the sin problem.
We serve a personal, sovereign God who loves justice and mercy, and who promises to set right the rebellious wrongs of humanity. Like Judah and Israel of old, we might be glad as we hear the voice of Amos proclaiming God’s justice against the wickedness and oppression of the world. 
But we can also tremble as we read the list of besetting sins in chapters 2 and 3 that we would by parallel apply to ourselves as spiritual Israel today:
  • Despising the law and breaking the commandments
  • Following lies about God and His will
  • Practicing greed and avarice
  • Perverting the way of the humble
  • Winking at sexual immorality
  • Closing our ears to the prophet
  • Promoting unhealthy lifestyles
Yet as the called out remnant at the end of time, we have a responsibility to minister to the spiritual and physical needs of all humanity in spite of ourselves. Isaiah 58 gives us a broader definition of what it means to be Sabbathkeepers in the end of time.
Clearly we cannot accomplish the Lord’s work for the world in this time without the cleansing, enduring love coming from heart appreciation of the gospel. When we can let the “light of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” shine in and through us, then our light can “break forth as the morning,” bringing a healing righteousness to ourselves and the world. We desperately need what the Laodicean Messenger prescribes!
We might individually ask ourselves - How much am I giving to lift the oppression of those weighed down with sin? Do I have a practical Christianity that is and extension of God’s love to me? Am I lifting others up with the blessings I have received?
We have been richly blessed with a picture of the love of God without precedent in human history. Mercy and Justice have kissed at the cross. How can we be silent and passive in the light of such love?  We are to prepare to meet our God, and not come empty-handed, but with friends and loved ones to swell the chorus, “Just and true are Thy ways, Thou King of saints!”
Rather than taking a fortress mentality like the Edomites (the land of Esau), rejoicing that we are not in the captivity of others while we look on their afflictions from a distance, we are to get out there and help in this work. 
O Lord, save us from pride and inactivity, and fulfill your word in us!
But on Mount Zion there shall be deliverance, And there shall be holiness; The house of Jacob shall possess their possessions.
The house of Jacob shall be a fire, And the house of Joseph a flame; But the house of Esau [shall be] stubble; They shall kindle them and devour them, And no survivor shall [remain] of the house of Esau," For the LORD has spoken. Obadiah 1:17,18
All those prophesyings, and the history of Israel, are put in the Bible for the warning of the people who live in the last days of this word's history. And the instruction of God is there for the people in the last days-to turn to God that they may be saved from actual ruin. That is why those things are put there. So that Amos and Hosea are just as much present truth to-day, to you and to me, and to everybody in the world, as they were to the people in the ten tribes in the day that they wrote. (March 14, 1897 ATJ, GCDB Q41.4)
 The situation now is the same as it was in the days of Amos. There are judgments waiting to be poured out, not upon one nation only, but upon all nations. Men put far away the evil day, and there are many at ease in Zion. "When they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them . . . and they shall not escape." 1 Thess. v. 3. Some are scoffing at the promise of His coming, and "as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away: so shall also the coming of the Son of man be." Matt. xxiv. 38, 39. God's servants should now be proclaiming His Word, calling on men to "fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment is come," to recognise God in His works and receive life and righteousness at His hands, that the prophecy of Amos may be fulfilled to them, "I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be plucked up out of their land which I have given them, saith the Lord thy God." (September 1, 1898 EJW, PTUK 547.5)
God is the ruler over all things, and the prophecies are but the declarations of His purposes. Every great purpose of God in His works for the salvation of men has been made known before the time for its accomplishments. "Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but He revealeth His secret unto His servants the prophets." Amos iii. 7. He reveals them for the instruction of men, that they may be wise and may know what to do when the time for action arrives. God's great plan for the redemption of men has never from the first moment of its inauguration been standing still. It has been moving steadily forward, and is moving forward to-day. Satan at every step has been opposing the work, and as these opposing forces have met, a crisis has been the result. Then those who were zealous for the glory of God, and whose zeal was according to knowledge, have improved the opportunity to do an important work for God, and have made their names prominent among those who have been counted as His servants. But those who have not "had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do," have thereby failed to relate themselves properly to the work of God, or have stood in opposition to it, and their lives have been dismal failures; for the great purposes of Omnipotence must move forward to their completion, and if a man will not fill the place into the work which God has designed for him, the loss is his, and the honour that might have been his is given to someone else. (October 5, 1893 EJW, PTUK 420.1)
Who will speak of the wonderful love and power of God? Are there any special ones of His followers who are privileged to tell of His goodness, while others must keep silence? Hear what is written: "The Lord God hath spoken, who can but prophesy?" Amos iii. 8. Evidently none can help speaking His word, save those who have not heard it. Jeremiah once, because of the criticism of men, thought he would not make mention of the Lord any more; but he said, "His word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay." Jer. xx. 9. And so when the apostles were even commanded not to speak any more in the name of Jesus, they said "We cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard." Acts iv. 20. And so it will always be; none will keep silence except those who have not known the voice of God speaking to them. 
"Let those refuse to sing,
Who never knew our God;
But servants of the Heavenly King
May speak their joys abroad." 
(December 28, 1893 EJW, PTUK 609)
-Todd Guthrie