The Lord reigns over all, and one day He will return to judge the world with justice. (Acts 17:31) And it tells us here that heaven and earth, the sea and fields… even the trees will rejoice at His coming. But they all may be singing already, for in Psalm 65:9 it says, “You care for the land and water it; You enrich it abundantly.” And because of God’s wonderful care for the earth, starting in verse 13 of Chapter 65, it says the grasslands of the desert overflow, the hills are clothed with gladness, the meadows are covered with flocks, the valleys are mantled with grain, and they all shout for joy and sing. So just imagine, every crash of waves on the shore, every rustle of leaves or ripe grain in the field could be the earth’s way of praising God…we just don’t know the song.
Amos came from humble shepherd roots when God thrust him into the role of prophet to the kingdom of Israel. This was during the time Israel was enjoying a peak in their material and political success, and so hearing Amos denounce their prideful smugness was treasonous. To them, the day of the Lord would be a day of total triumph over all their enemies… for don’t you know, we’re the chosen race, and God’s superior group here on earth! But Amos was warning them that because of their unbelief and wickedness, the day of the Lord would be a day of judgement instead. Anytime elitism rears its ugly head…God’s judgement will follow.
If I would take to heart this verse and Matthew 7:2, “For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged…” you’d think I would stop judging others. It’s not that I voice my opinion loudly and rudely or treat others with contempt to their face…no, my condemnation is silent, covert, and secretive. But regardless, yes, I still judge, and judge harshly…quickly jumping to conclusions before actually hearing all the details. Other times, I form an opinion when I really have no right to…or I pass a verdict just for sport. Either way, it’s wrong and something I really need to work on…how about you?
We probably all know a person who has fallen away. Someone who consciously rejected the spiritual enlightenment they had once received…who had tasted of God’s goodness, but chose instead to abandon their faith. And when we intentionally reject Jesus Christ, we’re essentially saying that His sacrifice on the Cross meant nothing. For when anyone falls away, they have turned their back on God’s truth and can only then look forward to His final judgment.
For many, God is this tyrant sitting up in heaven taking great delight in causing good people grief and suffering. But this Scripture tells us quite the opposite. God’s desire is that no one perish…but with this Scripture also comes responsibility and accountability on our part. II Peter 3:9 tells us, “The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” So what’s God promise in this verse? His promise is the Day of the Lord…or Judgement Day. God gives each one of us ample opportunity to turn our lives around… but it’s our decision though whether we respond or not.
Rebellion is not a learned behavior…we are hard-wired to be defiant. Just ask any mom contending with her toddler! With independence and autonomy comes rebellion and disobedience. Fast forward to adulthood and we see people resisting and defying authority everyday…refusing to accept what they perceive as control over themselves. For many, this extends into their view of who God is and the refusal to accept Him, His laws, and His correction. Rebellion against God is futile vanity that will only lead to judgment someday.
In Jeremiah 17:10 it says, “I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve.” Not only will our actions and behaviors be judged…but what we think and have allowed our minds to be filled with will be judged also. Foolishly believing all fanciful and provocative daydreams are secret, is proven wrong by this scripture…as is reasoning that how we silently judge others will never be found out is wrong too, for it will.
Last night our small group Bible study had quite a lively discussion on discrimination within the Church. We tend to be most comfortable at Church when everyone looks and acts like us. Our prejudice surfaces when someone outside that “mold” ventures into the Sanctuary seeking the Lord. Yes, they may not look like you…they may not have the same values or mores…but they are still a Child of God searching for the truth. We need to extend to them the same love that Jesus did…not judging, but supporting and encouraging as the Holy Spirit moves in their life.