God, Prophets, and Hard-hearted People

The One Year® Chronological Bible, NKJV (Tyndale, 2013), June 21

imagesMany people struggle with an erroneous picture of the God of the Old Testament as they consider the judgment stories of the Bible. They fail to consider the stubborn and rebellious heart of man—the hardened condition to which God finally responds in judgment.

Throughout Israel’s history God responds to the sin of His people by warning them through the voice of His prophets, “Surely the Lord GOD does nothing, unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7). Jesus summarizes the prophets from A to Z, “that the blood of all the prophets which was shed from the foundation of the world may be required of this generation, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah . . . ” (Lk. 11:50-51). Abel’s sacrifice spoke of the seriousness of sin that required death and substitutionary atonement. His brother Cain killed him foreshadowing the sinners’ resistance toward God’s prophets.

The voice of the prophets echoes throughout the Divided Kingdom, and their blood flows to the ground. Rejected prophets. Rejected warnings from God. Amos, a simple farmer-turned-prophet, joins their number.
Amos lists the sins of Judah that have activated their judgment (2:4):

  • They have “despised the law of the LORD.”
  • They “have not kept His commandments.”
  • They have been led astray by false gods
  • Then Amos addresses the sins of Israel (2:6-8)
  • They abuse the righteous and the poor and they deny them justice (6)
  • Sexual sin (7)
  • Idolatry (8)

Israel continues to rebel against God in spite of His numerous attempts to get their attention through famine, drought, pestilence, sicknesses, and warfare (4:6-13). The LORD urges Israel, “Seek me and live” (5:4). “Seek the LORD and live” (5:6). “Seek good and not evil, that you may live” (5:14). “Hate evil, love good; establish justice in the gate. It may be that the LORD God of hosts will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph” (5:15). God waits. He will send more prophets. He will respond to Israel’s stubborn resistance. Eventually, the northern kingdom of Israel will succumb to the lure of sin, reject the LORD in finality, and be deported and scattered by the Assyrians. “He who is often rebuked, and hardens his neck, will suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy” (Prov. 29:1).

Questions from today’s chronological Bible reading (Amos 1:1-6:13):
What is the turning point in Judah’s demise?
How has Judah’s spiritual declension affected their interaction with one another? What does this reveal about the root cause of social brokenness?
How does Amos’ message parallel the blessing and cursing of Israel in Deuteronomy 28?
What does Amos’ message in chapter 5:18-6:14 reveal about Israel’s religious practices?