Walking in the footsteps of faith

30 12 2011

DAY ONE HUNDRED AND NINETY-EIGHT : Amos 5 v. 1 – 27; Romans 4 v. 1 – 15; Psalm 86 v. 1 – 10

AMOS
A Lament And Call To Repentance – Amos cries out a lament, as if at a funeral for all Israel:
‘Fallen is Virgin Israel, never to rise again, deserted in her own land, with no-one to lift her up.’
Amos says that the Sovereign Lord announces that cities of thousands will be reduced to hundreds, cities of hundreds will have only tens. But there’s still a chance:
‘Seek me and live’
they are to turn away from the false gods of Bethel and Gilgal (they will be destroyed completely)
‘Seek the Lord and live’
or the devouring fire will sweep through the house of Joseph.
The Lord sets himself as the creator of all, with the power to turn day into night, who summons the waters of the sea, who can destroy strongholds, against the people of Israel, who have turned justice into bitterness, chucked their righteousness in the gutter, and who have despises those who speak the truth.
God is angered by their trampling of the poor, so God says they will no longer live in their posh stone mansions, and they will not drink the fantastic wine produced by their lush vineyards.
‘For I know how many are your offences, and how great your sins’ :
– oppressing the righteous
– depriving the poor of justice
– making the wise stay silent, instead of confronting evil
‘Seek good, not evil, that you may live. Then the Lord God Almighty will be with you, just as you say He is.’
They are to turn from loving evil, to rather hate evil and to love good. Then the Lord God Almighty may show mercy on the remnant of Joseph.

God foresees and foretells
~ wailing on the streets
~ anguished cries in public squares
~ farmers weeping
~ mourning will get louder and more intense
~ wailing in the vineyards
”for I will pass through your midst’ says the Lord.’

The Day Of The Lord – the coming day of the Lord (‘the earliest discussion of an important theme among the prophets. The people evidently expected a time when God would deliver them from all their enemies, but Amos condemns their faulty expectations’) will not be good news for Israel in the state Amos is addressing:
– it will be darkness, not light
– like fleeing from a lion, into the grasp of a bear
– like having a snake bite you in the safety of your own home
– it will be pitch-black, with no ray of brightness
‘I hate, I despise your religious feasts; I cannot stand your assemblies.’
The offerings they bring are unacceptable to God, their songs are just noise to Him, because of the unrighteous, unholy lives.
‘But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!’

Rather than remember God’s faithfulness, and celebrate continually the deliverance God brought Israel (through the wilderness, from Egypt), they have built altars to false gods, raised up ‘the shrine of your king’. God will send them into exile.
‘He is the Lord, whose name is God Almighty.’

(‘as successive prophets spoke, it became clear that there would be a whole series of ‘days’ when God’s judgment and intervention would be seen. Such ‘day’s’ included the fall of Jerusalem, the return from exile, the coming of Christ, and the giving of the Holy Spirit. Each of these leads us closer to the final day when all things will be consummated (2 Thess. 1 v. 9, 10) – The Wesley Study Bible).

ROMANS
Abraham Is Justified By Faith –  Paul goes right back to Abraham to back up his argument. He quotes ‘Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness’ (from Gen. 15 v. 6).
The argument is that if a man earns his wages, then they can’t be seen as gift, but obligation.
If, however, it’s not through works, but through trust, then ‘his faith is credited as righteousness’.
Paul also quotes Psalm 32, to show that David too knew how blessed he was to know the gracious forgiveness of sin (rather than by any works).
And to add weight to the argument that God favours neither the circumcised or uncircumcised, Abraham had righteousness credited to him BEFORE he was circumcised.
‘So, then, he is the father of all who believe but have not been circumcised, in order that righteousness might be credited to them.’
He is also the father of all who are circumcised, but ‘who walk in the footsteps of the faith’ Abraham exercised pre-circumcision.
Not through law, but through faith-righteousness, was it that Abraham received the promise to become heir of the world.
‘Where there is no law, there is no transgression’; again, the law points out the sin, but does not provide the antidote.

PSALM (one of David’s song)
My Lord, my God,

hear my prayer and answer me
be my guard – I devote my life to You
be my God – I put my trust in You
be merciful to me – I call out to You all day long
 be my joygiver – I lift up my soul to You
My Lord, my God.

You are forgiving, You are good
You are abounding in love, You delight to hear prayers for mercy
You answer when I cry out to You with my troubles

There is no god like You, my Lord, my God
There are no deeds to compare with Yours
Every nation will worship You
Everyone will glorify Your name
For You are great, and Your works are amazing,
You are the only true God,
My Lord, my God.

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