Reading Time: 6 minutes
A couple of months ago, I felt the Lord leading me to turn the pages of my Bible to those of the minor prophets in the Old Testament. Though minor, maybe in pages and prestige, they are anything but minor in their words. I've been blown away at how I see myself within their verses and urge you to see yourself there as well. The first feeling will be that of defensiveness and desire to pull away, but like I pleaded with you in the last post, don't go just yet. There is good news, there is hope, if we seek it. And we have a promise to find it, but first we must do some hard work. We have to first admit, that yes, I see myself here before something new can begin.
Hosea means salvation and was written to show us God's love for His sinful people. We may be familiar with the story of Hosea and Gomer (the prostitute he was told to take as his wife) but keep going beyond that story and we see even more ways that God's people turn away from Him, and what is to come.
The times of Hosea were filled with people being ruled under wicked kings, heavily taxed, and worshipping idols. The poor were also being oppressed and there was a total disregard for God. Hosea begins with teaching of the justice to come and ends with teaching that blessings come with repentance.
Joel (Yahweh is God) is written to warn and tell of God's judgment to come, but also to plea the people to return to God.
The times of Joel? Kings (and a Queen) power hungry and lacking spiritual guidance. At the start, a plague of locusts come and leave, and come again. Joel urges the people to grieve over their sin, to repent and lament, and then do it all over again. It ends with a promise of restoration and vindication, but not without the judgment of God.
Amos may come from the Hebrew word meaning, "to carry." His words were written to announce God's judgment, as the people had become complacent, (still) worshipped idols, and (still) oppressed the poor.
Israel was enjoying peace and prosperity at this time, but the people had grown selfish and materialistic. There were the very rich and the very poor, those in the former ignored the needs of the latter. The people were self-centered and indifferent towards God. Amos listed out the sins and judgements of the surrounding nations, his people thinking they were in the clear. But then, for Israel:
"For three sins of Israel, even for four, I will not relent. They sell the innocent for silver, and the needy for a pair of sandals. They trample on the heads of the poor as on the dust of the ground and deny justice to the oppressed. Father and son use the same girl and so profane my holy name. They lie down beside every altar on garments taken in pledge. In the house of their god, they drink wine taken as fines." - Amos 2:6-8
They were not without sin either. And neither are we today.
So what would the prophets say of us today? What would they urge us to do?
Perhaps from Hosea, we hear how God saves and gives to us. But we cannot ignore that we have squandered and become proud. We ask for help and then say it isn't good enough. We put our trust in men and powers and stuff and circumstances that are not God.
"I cared for you in the wilderness,
in the land of the burning heat.
When I fed them, they were satisfied;
when they were satisfied, they became proud;
then they forgot me."
"You are destroyed, Israel,
because you are against me, against your helper.
Where is your king, that he may save you?
Where are your rulers in all your towns,
of whom you said,
'Give me a king and princes?'"
Hosea 13:5-6; 9-10
What does Hosea urge us to do? Return.
"Return, Israel, to the Lord your God.
Your sins have been your downfall!
Take words with you
and return to the Lord.
Say to him:
'Forgive all our sins
and receive us graciously,
that we may offer the fruit of our lips."
From Joel we hear and see the cycle of sin and we cannot ignore it.
"Hear this, you elders;
listen, all who live in the land.
Has anything like this ever happened in your days
or in the days of your ancestors?
Tell it to your children,
and let your children tell it to their children,
and their children to the next generation."
What does Joel urge us to do? Return.
"'Even now," declares the Lord,
"return to me with all your heart,
with fasting and weeping and mourning."
Rend your heart
and not your garments.
Return to the Lord your God,
for He is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and abounding in love,
and He relents from sending calamity.
Who knows? He may turn and relent
and leave behind a blessing...
...everyone who calls
on the name of the Lord will be saved...
there will be deliverance."
Joel 2:12-14, 32
Don't Miss the Promise After the Return
And from Amos we are reminded over and over and over how the Lord will not relent in His judgment. Yet, we still do not return to Him!
"The Lord roars from Zion
and thunders from Jerusalem...
I will not relent..."
Amos 1:2-3, and 6 and 9 and 11 and 13 and 2:1 and 4 and 6.
God urges us to seek Him and live! To seek good and not evil, to hate evil and love good. He knows our offenses, our pride, our complacency. We cannot ignore that we are to be judged for it and we will be.
But there is an epilogue that we cannot miss. A promise that follows our return. Restoration.
"Seek me and live," the Lord says (5:4, 6). Though He knows "how many are [our] offenses and how great [our] sins." (5:12) How we oppress and judge and deprive..."the eyes of the Sovereign Lord are on the sinful kingdom...I will destroy it...yet I will not totally destroy...I will give the command, and I will shake the people..." (9:8-9)
"I will restore...repair...rebuild..." (9:11)
"...I will bring my people Israel back from exile.
'They will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them.
They will plant vineyards and drink their wine;
they will make gardens and eat their fruit.
I will plant Israel in their own land,
never again to be uprooted
from the land I have given them."
Amos 9: 14-15
Do you see yourself here? If you don't, you may not see any need for a Savior. Oh, but I see myself here. And it makes me rejoice even more in Christ who came to usher in this new era of return and restoration. I see myself and my land all over these pages. My prayer, "Come, Lord Jesus. Restore us and repair us." All of this world will be rebuilt one day, but in order to rebuild, the old foundation must be torn away so the new can be laid.
Reading and listening to the pleas of Hosea and Joel and Amos, will you help make way for the new foundation? Make space for the Savior to come in and start laying new rocks for you to stand on. May your life be one that helps hold up the others during rebuild.
He's tearing down and tilling the ground, will you let Him? Leave behind the old foundation.
Return to God, let Him restore you and begin the rebuild.
"He who was seated on the throne said, 'I am making everything new!' Then he said, 'Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.'" - Revelation 21:5
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