Week 28 Devotion
This week we will be reading quite a bit and will be jumping around between 5 different books. So this week I want to spend most of my time on this devotion introducing you to the books we will be reading and reminding you of what is going on in Israel that has led to this series of events.
When the book of Kings opened up everything seemed to be going fine. Solomon was on the throne and God had not only granted peace in Israel but had made Solomon the wisest man in the world. The Temple was constructed and all the surrounding nations were in awe of how God had blessed Israel. Then the wheels fell off.
Solomon was seduced into idolatry and when he died the peace, wisdom, and faithfulness of the people almost completely died with him. The nation split into two and one king after another ascended to leadership only to guide the people into sin and idolatry.
Then last week in 2 Kings 15:29-31 we read that the tribe of Israel was overrun and captured by the Assyrian army led by king Tiglath-pileser. God’s chosen people are now in exile in Assyria. And into this historical context, God speaks through His prophets to rebuke the people, to call them to repentance, to comfort them with a word of future peace, and to show them that God’s plan is still in place.
This is a very troubling time to be an Israelite, but as we read between the lines we see that God is up to something.
Let’s Meditate on the opening of the book of Isaiah…
Ray Ortlund introduces the book of Isaiah in this way:
The book of Isaiah answers this question: When the people of God stop living like thepeople of God and join the pagan nations in their lifestyles of sin and denying God, what happens then?Is God himself defeated in his purpose to bring his glory into this world of evil? No. God will restore his people, display his glory and win the nations through a better servant, the Messiah.And we, the people of God, enter into the gracious purpose of God through our repentance. We participate by going down low enough to be useable in the hands of the Redeemer.
This book is very relevant for our day. In our day there are many who have rejected the message of Christ and many others who have abandoned true Biblical Christianity for something that better appeals to their modern sensibilities. But through it all the Church is still present and the gospel message is moving. Churches are being planted, others are growing deeper, the message of the gospel is going out and bearing fruit. All around us we see signs of redemption and signs of coming judgment. This is only one of the reasons that the book of Isaiah is so important for us today.
Let’s Discuss the book of Amos…
In Amos’ day, the nation of Israel had no reason to expect that God’s judgment was coming for them. Prosperity, peace, and power were notable features in the society of Israel at this time. The rich were affluent enough to own several houses apiece (3:15) each furnished with the best the world had to offer (6:4) and they did not deny themselves any luxury. Businessmen saw their profits increase, property owners were finally cashing in, political leaders were able to enjoy peace and stability that were carried over from the days of Solomon. The economy was strong, the market was booming and the people loved it.
But there is usually an ugly side to such affluence and in this case, it took on many forms.
There was an ugly side to how the rich treated the poor. The rich were getting richer but the poor were being ignored and left to be broken. The poor were being taken advantage of and were shamelessly oppressed by those with wealth and power. There was no middle class, you were either uber rich or hopelessly poor. And the poor suffered at the hands of greedy men and starved while godless women lived it up in their summer home near the lake.
There was also an ugly side to their religion. The worship of God was ongoing and the ritual law was meticulously followed but the hearts of the people were hard and wicked and had long since turned from the true nature of religion. The people had become experts at going through the motions of worship. Everything looked good on the outside but behind the scenes, they were a heartless people interested in personal profit rather than the glory and fame of God.
A third ugly aspect of their society was that Counterfeit religions had been established centuries earlier and the length of their tradition had only expanded their practice. False gods were being worshiped in temples and shrines set up by Jeroboam. The worship of God was mingled with the worship of idols. God’s people were reveling in their sin and the tide of God’s anger was about to be unleashed upon them. This is the warning Amos was sent to deliver.
Amos 1:1 The words of Amos, who was among the shepherds of Tekoa, which he saw concerning Israel in the days of Uzziah king of Judah and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel, two years before the earthquake.
2 And he said: “The Lord roars from Zion and utters his voice from Jerusalem; the pastures of the shepherds mourn, and the top of Carmel withers.”
Let’s pray about what we read in the book of Micah…
The prophet Micah is very similar to the books of Amos and Isaiah because this book is written at the same time and is addressing the very same issues. The themes of the book are judgment and forgiveness, but the overall context seems to pull heavily in the direction of justice. One of the key phrases from the book of Micah is:
Mic 6:8 He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
And this is important for us to hear today because, in every age, God wants His people to be faithful to Him and to respond to His love by showing love to others, by pursuing justice, by practicing kindness, and by walking humbly with God. This same calling applies to us today.
So let’s read through the book of Micah and take seriously the warnings of judgment and allow them to lead us to confess our sins to God in prayer. Let’s also take seriously the promises of forgiveness and understand that ultimate forgiveness belongs to those who trust in Christ by faith. Then finally, let’s pray that we would be people who live in response to God’s love in such a way that we walk humbly with God, that we love kindness and that we do justice.