Readings for November 12, 2017 – Third Sunday before Advent and Remembrance Sunday
Monday, November 6: Amos 5:18-24 (NIV)
Intentional about meeting God – but on His terms, not ours
Looking towards the day of the Lord is a reality check for us. The prophetic word asks, where is the desire for justice, for righteousness, to flow again?
18 Woe to you who long for the day of the Lord!
Why do you long for the day of the Lord?
That day will be darkness, not light.
- The Israelites in their arrogance looked for the Lord’s encounter as their affirmation. The Day of the Lord in the OT was an encounter with God in which He would intervene, either to praise or to bring judgment. The thought of possible judgment for sin was not in their thinking.
19 It will be as though a man fled from a lion only to meet a bear,
as though he entered his house and rested his hand on the wall
only to have a snake bite him.
- Illustrations of the dangers of false security.
20 Will not the day of the Lord be darkness, not light –
pitch-dark, without a ray of brightness?
- Amos begins to confront the over-confident attitude of the Israelites.
The Day of the Lord is first mentioned in Amos, although the idea was much older. It looked back to Gideon’s victories over the Midianites Judges 7 or David’s over the Philistines 2 Sam. 5:17–25. Israel was looking for Yahweh to deliver them from their surrounding enemies and establish them securely as His holy people – forever. They were His chosen people; this, they thought, was sufficient as a guarantee of His favour. They celebrated these past victories in public celebrations and feasts and this built up an expectation of what God would do for them in the future.
- But the flaw was their double-mindedness. They celebrated the NAME of Yahweh, but paid no attention to the NATURE of Yahweh and following His precepts. The worship was therefore insincere and unacceptable. So the Day of the Lord, the visitation of the Lord, was going to be for them judgment, darkness not light, unless they changed their ways to “hate evil, love good, maintain justice in the courts” and humbly ask for the mercy of the Lord God Almighty Amos 5:15.
21 “I hate, I despise your religious festivals;
your assemblies are a stench to Me.
22 Even though you bring Me burnt offerings and grain offerings,
I will not accept them.
Though you bring choice fellowship offerings,
I will have no regard for them.
23 Away with the noise of your songs!
I will not listen to the music of your harps.
24 But let justice roll on like a river,
righteousness like a never-failing stream!”
- We put the headline first but psalms sometimes use a poetic form (called chiasmic) like tree rings which circle the ‘headline’ in the middle – here at v.24.
- Those who long for the ‘Day of the Lord’ seem to be saying “Come, Lord” as we might in church, expecting a good encounter. But the psalmist says, beware of making a false assumption. ‘The Day’ could be a painful encounter.
Intentional about meeting with God… in the right frame of mind?
The word through Amos sets a scene in which God Almighty, who is also God all-holy, has an expectation that we will seek Him as He is. But we start by expecting God to meet us where we are. The starting points are different.
The Father wants our worship in close relationship. He has no need of anything, no need of us, but He desires our response to His love.
We, however, come to Him with needs. We don’t feel good about ourselves, so we seek affirmation. We even delude ourselves that we deserve it!
To read that God may despise our carefully prepared Sunday worship is a shock. But what has He told us to attend to? If there are relationships which are not right, or we are in competition with the other churches, or we are sitting on reserves on deposit when the missions we have been given are crying out for support, He might rather we made that prayer of confession real and hold a meeting to decide to do something about it.
Otherwise we’ll be continuing to come to church to encounter God and His Spirit will be withdrawn. How long will our complacency last until we notice?
Go to this page for the complete week’s readings and discussion starters