Warning: Danger Ahead!

Bible Reading: Amos 1; 2; 3; 4

"You only have I chosen of all the families of the earth; THEREFORE I will punish you for all your sins. Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so? Does a lion roar in the thicket when he has no prey? ...Does a trap spring up from the earth when there is nothing to catch? ...Surely the Sovereign Lord does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets.... The Sovereign Lord has spoken--who can but prophesy?" (3:2-8).

Amos uses several rhetorical questions here to make his point that God always sends warning before he sends judgment. The Israelites loved to boast of all their religious activity, all the while sinning freely (4:4-5). God tried to warn them of the consequences of their behavior. He put up many warning signs: famine, drought, diseased crops, plagues, and wars. His audience was even sometimes specific: "I sent rain on one town, but withheld it from another. One field had rain; another had none and dried up" (4:7). Yet, they ignored every warning. Each time, God sadly observed, "yet you have not returned to me" (4:6-11).

Many people picture God sitting up in heaven, carefully observing the earth and sadistically waiting for any opportunity to drop the hammer. God is motivated, however, not out of vindictiveness, but out of a heart of love and compassion. "The Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in." (Pr. 3:12; Heb. 12:6). It is BECAUSE God loves us that he disciplines us, but not until he has first given us warning. As he carefully observes his children, he urgently warns when we begin to stray down a path of destruction. His spirit speaks to our conscience and earnestly pleads with us to turn around and follow him. His desire is not to drop the hammer, but that we would "return to him." When he puts up a STOP sign or a road block, he wants us to apply the brakes and ask him for directions. Just as a loving father warns his child about his behavior, God warns us, "If you don't stop that, you'll get in trouble." "If you do that, this is what will happen." Do we turn a deaf ear to his warning and a blind eye to our sin attraction, all the while appeasing our conscience through church involvement and good works?

Because the Israelites ignored all of God's warnings, making judgment inevitable, God said, "...Prepare to meet your God, O Israel. He who forms the mountains, creates the wind, and reveals his thoughts to man [WOW!], he who turns dawn to darkness, and treads the high places of the earth--the Lord God Almighty is his name" (4:12-13)

Am I prepared to meet my God? When I consider meeting God face to face, does it invoke a sense of dread or excitement? Fear or joyful anticipation? Will I be meeting my foe or my friend? My judge or my redeemer? Will the heart of my Father be filled with disappointment or delight?