Saturday, May 4, 2013

"Seek the Lord and Live! (Amos)"

An audio overview of the lesson by Raul Diaz.

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Here is the Script:

Lesson 5 April 27–May 3 Seek the Lord and Live! (Amos) Memory Text:

 “Seek good and not evil, that you may live; and thus may the Lord God of hosts be with you, just as you have said!” (Amos 5:14, NASB).

 The following statement from Ellen G. White perhaps give us the key thought for this week’s – maybe the whole quarter’s – lesson. Let us read,

 Had Israel been true to God, He could have accomplished His purpose through the nation’s honor and exaltation. If Israel had walked in the ways of obedience, He would have made them ‘high above all nations which He hath made, in praise, and in name, and in honor.’ ‘All people of the earth,’ said Moses, ‘shall see that thou art called by the name of the Lord; and they shall be afraid of thee.’ ‘The nations which shall hear all these statutes’ shall say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’ Deut. 26:19; 28:10; 4:6. But because of their unfaithfulness, God’s purpose could be wrought out only through continued adversity and humiliation.”—Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, p. 28.

 In this quote Ellen White essentially is saying, “It did not have to be that way!” Amos was called to deliver this message to the Israelites. Basically, your behavior demonstrates a deeper problem: ye … “have not returned unto me, saith the LORD” (Amos 4: 11). This helps us understand the Lord’s invitation,

 Amos 5:4 For thus saith the LORD unto the house of Israel, Seek ye me, and ye shall live:
Amos 5:5 But seek not Bethel, nor enter into Gilgal, and pass not to Beersheba: for Gilgal shall surely go into captivity, and Bethel shall come to nought.
Amos 5:6 Seek the LORD, and ye shall live; lest he break out like fire in the house of Joseph, and devour it, and there be none to quench it in Bethel…
 Amos 5:14 Seek good, and not evil, that ye may live: and so the LORD, the God of hosts, shall be with you, as ye have spoken.

 The Hebrew word translated there as “seek” in reality means, “pay attention to Me,” or “inquire of Me.” “I am not far away from any of you" (Acts 17:27). I am not in hiding. You do not have to go to other gods. I am available to you.” God represents Himself as standing on Main Street at the Mall. Far from staying in some lonely place where only a few can find Him, He says He is going door to door, “constantly knocking” (Rev. 3:20). But, we do not answer or take our time to answer and when we reach the door is too late. (Song of Songs 5: 2 - 6). So, when all else fails to get our attention God has to use adversity and humiliation.

But, we must stress again, that God does this because He loves us. He says in Revelation 3: 19, Revelation 3:19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Ellen White states in this subject,

 “God speaks to his people in blessings bestowed; and when these are not appreciated, he speaks to them in blessings removed, that they may be led to see their sins, and return to Him with all the heart.” PP 470.

 Now, let’s be very clear on this: Whether it’s blessings given or removed, whether it’s discipline given or protection from Satan’s decided attacks on us, everything God does is a revelation of His love for humanity. Even “God’s wrath” of letting them go at the time of the final judgment is a revelation of God’s love. All that God does reveals love.

 The author of our lesson states,

 Biblical prophets did not teach that God’s punishment is for punishment’s sake itself. Behind almost all the warnings is the call of redemption. Though the threat of exile was imminent, the Lord encouraged the remnant with the promise of restoration to the land. The remnant would enjoy the renewal of the covenant. Those who experience the judgment would see God acting to save and restore.

 This book is preserved for our benefit. We too can fall in the same trap the Israelites had fallen into. And, just as the Israelites rejected the prophetic word so can we also reject it. And, we will treat the Lord’s messengers the same way the Israelites treated Amos. Today, those speaking the uncomfortable truth are often accused of teaching heresy. Ellen White states on this,

 As the light and life of men was rejected by the ecclesiastical authorities in the days of Christ, so it has been rejected in every succeeding generation. Again and again the history of Christ’s withdrawal from Judea has been repeated. When the Reformers preached the word of God, they had no thought of separating themselves from the established church; but the religious leaders would not tolerate the light, and those that bore it were forced to seek another class, who were longing for the truth. In our day few of the professed followers of the Reformers are actuated by their spirit. Few are listening for the voice of God, and ready to accept truth in whatever guise it may be presented. Often those who follow in the steps of the Reformers are forced to turn away from the churches they love, in order to declare the plain teaching of the word of God. And many times those who are seeking for light are by the same teaching obliged to leave the church of their fathers, that they may render obedience. {DA 232}

 Many sincere Adventists have been forced out of their local congregations because the brethren do not like what they heard. As you can see the book of Amos is relevant to us today. The question is, will God have to resort to adversity and humiliation to get our attention, so we can turn back to Him and inquire of Him. He stands at the door and knocks(Revelation 3: 20), will we let Him in ?