Old Testament: Amos 1:1-3:15
Amos 1:1-3:15 I Am Lion, Hear Me Roar
Amos was a fig-picker and a shepherd by trade (cf. 7:14). He wasn’t a professional prophet like others but was drafted into service for Yahweh.
Amos traveled up to Beth-el in the northern kingdom to preach to them. He was rejected as a southerner from Judah and had to return to write his messages down. He gave his messages during the reign of Jeroboam II, king of Israel. He preached repentance and judgment. Unlike the other prophets, he began with oracles against the foreign nations and then ended with prophecies against Israel and Judah. The most famous sayings from Amos are found in Amos 3:3, 8; 4:1, 28; 7:7-8, 14.
In chapter one, Yahweh roars like a lion against the nations neighboring nations of Damascus, Gaza, Tyre, Edom/Temmon, and Ammon. We love when God picks on others. Not so much when He points out our faults.
In chapter two Amos pronounces judgment on Moab, Israel, Judah and the inhabitants of Judah before the Israelites, the Amorites. The Amorites made the holy Nazirites, who drank wine, drink wine (v. 16). Verses 14-16 were fulfilled when the Assyrians attacked Israel in 722 B.C.
Chapter three is an oracle against all twelve tribes (v. 2). Verse 3 mentions that two people will not meet without an appointment. We won’t usually read our Bibles unless we have the discipline and set a time with God.
Yahweh is portrayed as a lion who will rip and eat his prey in v. 4, 8 and 12. Christ is the lion of the tribe of Judah (cf. Rev. 5:5, the devil is only like a lion, 1 Pet. 5:8). You don’t want to make Yahweh mad. He only leaves the ear or a couple legs when He’s done eating. As a shepherd, Amos, most likely found the remains of several sheep found in that condition (v. 12).
New Testament: Revelation 2:1-17
Revelation 2:1-17 A Church And An Age Is The Same To God
John was told to write about the things he had seen. That was chapter one. Now he writes about the things “which are,” about the seven churches. Then in the rest of the book he’ll write ,”the things which will take place after these things” (Rev. 1:19). The seven churches were in Asia-minor, present-day western Turkey. They were in the shape of an arc that would have represented the mailman’s course from city to city.
The seven churches were 1) seven actual churches 2) seven metaphorical churches representing the personalities of various churches throughout the ages 3) each church represented an age of the church presented consecutively and chronologically. I was amazed when I first started teaching church history how the seven churches paralleled the church ages. Every church history book I surveyed seemed to break church history into seven or eight church ages that paralleled the characteristics of each church age. (Even if eight ages were expounded in a book, it was very easy to squish two into one and still have seven ages.)
John first wrote to the church of Ephesus. The church there reminds me of the Bible church movement of which I am a part today. They had “lost their first love” (v. 4). They had lost their heart. They were “heady” and legalistic just like the church in the first century. They had good doctrine and had persevered through trials (v. 3). But they had forgotten that the Christian life is about loving the Lord. They stood against an early group of heretics called the Nicolaitans. They may have been the direct opposite of the Ephesians, antinominans who had advocated immorality and licentiousness. If they got back on course, the Lord would allow them but Adam and Eve could not have, food from the “tree of life” (v. 7) in Heaven.
The second church John addressed was in Smyrna. It is here where the parallel with church history may be most pronounced. Smyrna was known for its martyrs as was the church in the second-third century. There were only two churches whose sins were not addressed. Smyrna was one and Philadelphia was the other. God says He knows their tribulation (v. 9a). However, He says they were “rich” spiritually (v. 9b). John warns them that they will have to suffer for “ten days” (v. 10). No one seems to know what the “ten days” were but the Smyrnans probably did. Whatever it meant, it indicates that their suffering would be temporary and would have an end. Weirsbe is fond of saying that ” . . . when His people are in the furnace, the Creator keeps His eye on the clock and His hand on the thermostat. He knows how long and how much, and He is always in control” (cf. commentary on Genesis, p. 25).
Their promise is that they will survive the “second death,” when the unsaved will be thrown in the lake of fire (cf. Rev. 20:14).
John is told to write to the “angel” of the third church Pergamum. The angel could be a guardian angel or the pastor. I like the latter idea since I’m a pastor. Jesus had a “double-edged sword. Of course, He was a double-edged sword (cf. John 1:1 and Heb. 4:12 and do the math!).
Jesus knew Pergamum was undergoing hardship. He knew Satan was living in the town (v. 13a). Antipas, one of their own, was martyred as a result of satanic oppression (v. 13b). Though the church was able to hang tough during that prosecution, they held to the teaching of Balaam. Balaam, as you might recall, was a “pay-for-pray prophet” in the Old Testament (cf. Nu. 22:7, 17). The Pergamumites were encouraged to eat unclean meat and engage in immorality (v. 14). There were also some Nicolaitans allowed in the church (thought they had been kicked out of the Ephesian church, see above).
The Pergamumites were encouraged to change their minds and actions (v. 16a, “repent” literally means, “change of mind”). If they didn’t take care of things, Jesus would personally take care of the heretics there (v. 16b).
Pergamum was promised some “hidden manna,” a “white stones” with their new names written on it (v. 17). Manna is reminiscent of the manna in the wilderness indicating in this age that Christ is sufficient for all our needs. A white stone was used to indicate the innocence of a man at a trial. It would be symbolic of our purity before God who sees Christ in our place.
The Pergamum church represented the third church age during the fourth through sixth centuries. The church melded with the world under the Roman Emperor Constantine. Some really good doctrine was formulated though some really bad doctrine was imported through the writings of Augustine.
Psalm 129:1-8 Foe Be Gone A Song Of Trust By Anonymous
Proverbs 29:19-20 Words
Remember that a slave in Old Testament times was not like the antebellum United States. Many were nannies, teachers, lawyers and professionals. Do you have a job? Do you feel like a slave to the company? See?
Actually, a slave was able to indenture him or herself to the family they serve (see Take “Awl” Of Me). But that person needed a good model to learn their trade. They needed to have experience and expertise in addition to just information (v. 19).
Solomon warned us, just a few days ago in the December 6 reading, that it is important to stay calm before speaking (v. 20, cf. Prov. 29:6, Excuse Me!). In verse 20, Solomon reminds us to think before speaking. Self-control is the last attribute mentioned as the fruit of the Spirit (cf. Gal. 5:22-23). Perhaps, since it’s listed last, it may be the last attribute we perfect.
Choose Life: Scripture: Revelation 2:4 NASB “It’s Jesus, Stupid!”
“‘But I have this against you, that you have left your first love.” Revelation 2:4
I love the Bible. I love pastoring a church where the Bible is the center of everything. But what I’ve noticed in many Bible churches is that they are usually pinheaded legalists. They know doctrine. They know Scripture, Old and New Testament. They know their dispensations. They hold to the fundamentals of the faith. The problem is that they get proud of themselves and forget that the Christian life is about the Lord!
When Bill Clinton first won the presidency, he claimed it helped him to keep a sign in front of him that said, “It’s the economy, stupid!” It helped him become Commander in Chief.
The Ephesians forgot that they were supposed to be centered on Christ. He was to be their priority. Doctrine was important and expelling heresy was important but Christ was to be supreme. When He is first in our lives, we have His love and our doctrine will be pretty good.
Perhaps, we should all have signs that say, “It’s Jesus, stupid!” and put them around our homes and work areas.
We need to remember that our love for Jesus should always be first!
If you do, you will find that you are choosing life (Deut. 30:19)!
Is Jesus the priority in your life today? Can you think of anything else that take precedence over Christ? If something just popped into your mind, you might be guilty.
You could pray this prayer, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way” (Ps. 139:23-24).
We should always be listening to God and checking to make sure we’re putting Him first.
That is the sure way to blessing!
The purpose of Choose Life is to pick a positive help out of the One Year Bible (OYB) reading plan for the day. There is always something positive in the Word of God to cheer us and give us strength. For more on today’s reading, check out my One Year Bible blog: I Am Lion, Hear Me Roar