Advent Thursday 1
Amos 2:4-5: “Thus says the Lord: For three transgressions of Judah, and for four, I will not revoke the punishment; because they have rejected the law of the Lord, and have not kept His statutes, but they have been led astray by the same lies after which their ancestors walked. So I will send a fire on Judah, and it shall devour the strongholds of Jerusalem.”
Before Amos gets to the primary target of his challenging prophecies (the northern nation of Israel), he has a word for his own land and people, the southern kingdom of Judah. His people believed themselves to be spiritually exceptional, the keepers the truest truths, the practitioners of the most correct ways of worship.
His brief word hits them right in their pride: You, Judah, have rejected the word of God, and have rejected its direction for your lives. So you, too, will suffer consequences for your faithlessness.
This gets me. It hits close to home. Now, I know that everyone thinks their version of the truth is right. Otherwise, they wouldn’t believe it. I, too, think I believe in true things, especially when it comes to the things of faith. I describe my beliefs in rich terms like “historically orthodox,” “conservative,” and “historically/grammatically correct.” When comparing my theology to others, I refer to those guys as the ones who have slipped and strayed. How I’d hate to hear God say to me, “Bill, you’ve rejected my truth, and have not followed my precepts.” Ouch.
The first count: Judah’s belief has been corrupted. They’ve rejected God’s revealed laws, and have fallen for “the same lies” that mankind has bought for generations. Same old same old. As the proverb says, “There’s a way that seems right to a man, but that way leads to death” (Prov. 14:12). Human, uninspired thinking always sinks from the gravitational pull of this “way that seems right”. Like Judah, we are all vulnerable to these well-worn lies … but we have to, in essence, defy gravity. To do this, we have to remain disciplined being taught and trained by the truth. Judah slipped. So do I.
The second count: Not only had Judah’s doctrine slipped, but their actions had, too. They believed wrongly, and therefore acted wrongly. Interesting … in our relativistic 21st century culture, we are charged to not only let people believe what they want, but to honor their beliefs. But the word tells us that not all beliefs are true, and that, if our world wants to live well, we need to believe well.Beliefs don’t stay put between our ears. Conduct necessarily follows. Led astray by lies, we then fail to keep statutes. We may want freedom of thought, but no one wants lawlessness.
Every Sunday at our church we are obliged by the liturgy to recite a classical creed – either the Apostle’s or the Nicene. These are ancient, brief summaries of our foundational beliefs. Sometimes the group readings seem perfunctory. Some find them awkward. But, especially during Advent, I find the exercise vital! I must be tethered to the truth! If I’m to do the scriptures, I have to believe them correctly. And when Jesus comes, I want Him to find me embracing His laws, and keeping them!
He’s coming. Revelation 19:13 says He will be “clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God.” Do you believe this Word? Do you do this Word? Are you ready for this Word?