The meaning of the Hebrew names for these four men all affirmed God’s sovereignty, mercy, and grace for His people. But the new names they were given by the Babylonian chief official sought to undermine and degrade this. For their new names were deliberately drawn from the Babylonian false religions, gods and idols, and erased any trace of God from them. Even today we have the challenge of believing what God calls us vs what the world calls us. The world will call us fat, dumb, ugly, stupid and old….while the Lord will call us loved, free, healed, whole, and His. The world is all about demeaning and humiliating…while God is all about lifting us up. So just remember this…no matter what the world calls you…the Lord named you first, and that name is all that matters.
Within this verse is a perfectly simple but totally effective description of the Trinity. The Trinity being three persons in one Godhead… Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. First, we are called or summoned to salvation through the the Gospel Message by the Holy Spirit as we are wooed or drawn in. For the Holy Spirit shows us very plainly our shortcomings and convicts us… so that we may be saved. Next, we need to grasp just how greatly valued, esteemed, and loved we are by God the Father. For who else would give His only Son to die on a cross for all that we might have eternal life? (John 3:16) Finally, know you belong to Jesus who watches over you to keep you safe. (John 17:12) So just think of it…we are His and He is ours, and no one can ever snatch us out of His hand. (John 10:28)
The Nation of Israel was enjoying a time of prosperity…but with this great prosperity came great division between the rich and poor. And because of it, the people became self-reliant, prideful, and walked away from God. Amos’s message to the people was that of denouncing their privileged life-style that exploited the poor, and calling them to repentance. He warned them of the consequences of their complacency in not doing what was morally right and just for all. Amos was a contemporary of the Prophet Isaiah who wrote in Isaiah 1:17, “Stop doing wrong, learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of fatherless, plead the case of the widow.”
These verses are comparing eternal life to eternal punishment, the corrupt nature of sinful man, and the decision all of us have to make. On one side, we have the world telling us that’s it’s all about what we want and desire…while on the other side, Galatians 5:24 tells us, “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature…” But what does that mean and how do we go about it? To crucify our sinful nature we must put to death our worldly affections and lusts…but how? Through our daily increasing love and faith in Jesus Christ, the things of the world will start to no longer hold their allure over us.
Human emotions can be all over the place…from jubilation to despair. But when your trust is firmly fixed on Jesus, the highs and lows aren’t as severe. For when your faith is based on Him and what He can do and not on fate or luck…you can face any bad news with confidence that Jesus will see you through. This is shown to us in Psalm 112:7, “He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast in the Lord. His heart is secure, he will have no fear.” Thank you Lord for that certainty we can have.
I don’t know about you, but I need to be reminded of this daily! It’s brought even clearer to me in I Samuel 17:47, when it says, “It is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s.” But how many times have I marched out into battle with a toothpick thinking I was somehow “helping God”? I’ve found one of the greatest Psalms during these times of fear and despair is Psalm 91…it’s a wonderful antidote against that overwhelming feeling of dread, and can help me then refocus my mind where I can – Face Fear with Faith in my heavenly Father.
In these Scriptures Paul is speaking to Gentile Christians…then and now. For in this man-centered world we are cut-off from the promises of God…or as Paul wrote, “without hope and without God.” But we have been brought near to God by the sacrificial death of His Son, Jesus Christ…who gave His life as a atonement so we may have the gift of eternal life. God’s compassion was evident to fallen man when we read Isaiah 65:1 which says, “I revealed Myself to those who didn’t ask for Me; I was found by those who didn’t seek Me.” We were once expelled from the dominion of God, banished and living in exile when Jesus came and paid the price…reconciling us back to God and destroying the barrier that sin had created.
As I studied this verse I discovered that the Hebrew word for afraid, Yare, has two separate meanings. The first is the negative emotion of fearful…while the second is the positive emotion of reverence and awe for God. So what David is explaining here is that in the time of fear he consciously shifted his mind from one meaning to the other… from dwelling on a negative emotion to focusing on a positive one. So instead of standing on the shifting sands of fear and anxiety David planted his feet firmly and confidently on the solid rock of Christ.
It was not unusual for God to speak to Old Testament prophets such as Isaiah, Jeremiah, or Ezekiel… by beginning His warning with, ” Stand up and speak to the people.” That’s what the job of the watchmen was all about…to keep guard and then to lift their voices when danger approached. Fast forward to today. As a follower of Christ, do you realize you too are a watchman to this broken world? The Lord has called you to stand up and speak to the lost, warning them of the impending danger if they continue to ignore Jesus Christ and the gift of salvation.
I had the “Rules of the Road” booklet for the State of Illinois out the other day when I thought to myself, “My goodness! Driving a car sure has lots of rules and regulations tied to it!” The same goes for the Old Testament Laws spoken of here…all 613 of them. In this verse Paul was quoting Deuteronomy 27:26 and basically telling us that it’s impossible to keep all 613 Laws perfectly. So what are we to do? We’re doomed before we even try. Enter Jesus Christ, who came to redeem us from the judgement and punishment of this curse, for it tells us in Galatians 3:13 “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law by becoming a curse for us…” In other words, our inability to keep all the Laws was overcome by the blood of Jesus Christ on the Cross.