Amos 9.1-4 – God is everywhere

Today in Amos we see a reminder of God’s omnipresence, His being everywhere. God is not localised to one place at one time, as you are or I am, so, as I am sitting at my desk right now I am not at home. If you are reading this at home you are not sitting in your office, you get the picture. But God is everywhere, all the time, we can never flee His presence (Psalm 139.7).

Amos is relaying the coming judgement of God, and paints a pretty thorough picture of all the places we cannot escape God; Sheol/hell and heaven (v.2), atop high mountains or at the depths of the ocean (v.3), and in captivity by enemies (v.4).

Obviously the context here is not wonderfully positive for the people; God is saying that there is nowhere to run to escape the judgement that is coming. But, if we consider His omnipresence from a different angle, we can view it as truly positive thing.

When we are struggling for motivation in the humdrum of daily life, God is there.

When we are pushed to the limit of frustration in our parenting, God is there.

When we are having some quiet alone time in prayer, God is there.

When we assemble as a church family to worship Him, God is there.

As with many things in the Christian life, God’s omnipresence is about perspective. If we are living contrary to the way He says we ought to be living, then His omnipresence will feel overbearing and ‘big brother’-esque.

But, if we are doing our earthly best to love Him with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength, if we are doing our human best to love our neighbour as ourselves (and relying on the indwelling Spirit to help us go beyond our human limits), then His omnipresence will be comforting, inspiring, motivating, and reassuring.

So, God is everywhere. How do you feel about that?

Amos 7.1-6 – Perspective

Recently I saw a really interesting video somewhere on the internet, and in it were sculptures that looked like one thing from one angle, but another from a different angle, like this; giraffes, or elephants?

Anyway, perspective is so important, isn’t it. When we have big decisions to make regarding our future, maybe you’re thinking of your next career move, or maybe you’ve been presented with two options at the job you’re at now, should we add more children/dogs/cats/horses/giraffes to our family (or whatever you like to fill your house with!)…whenever we have decisions to make, we should consider another perspective than ours.

We should consider God’s perspective.

Outside of time as we know and experience it, eternal, knowing all there is to know, God’s perspective is infinitely different and greater than ours.

Does He understand ours? Of course.

Do we understand God’s perspective? No!

Think of it like this; do you understand why your children shout/cry/meltdown? Of course.

Do they understand why that is the most frustrating thing in the world for you? No!

Our perspective, in that instance, is far greater than theirs. Multiply that by the biggest number you can think of and we still don’t come close to the difference between how we see things and how God sees things.

This is what the Lord God showed me: behold, he was forming locusts when the latter growth was just beginning to sprout, and behold, it was the latter growth after the king’s mowings. When they had finished eating the grass of the land, I said,

“O Lord God, please forgive!
    How can Jacob stand?
    He is so small!”
The Lord relented concerning this:
    “It shall not be,” said the Lord.

This is what the Lord God showed me: behold, the Lord God was calling for a judgment by fire, and it devoured the great deep and was eating up the land.Then I said,

“O Lord God, please cease!
    How can Jacob stand?
    He is so small!”
The Lord relented concerning this:
    “This also shall not be,” said the Lord God.

Here in Amos we see the different perspectives at play. Amos receives a vision (v.1) of locusts eating the grass of the land after the King had taken his royal tax, meaning Israel were left with nothing. His second vision was of judgement by fire (v.4). In both circumstances, Amos prayed fervently for the people of God (v.2, 5), and in both circumstances it seems as if God changes His mind (v.3, v.6).

So, does God change His mind?

The Word of God speaks to us about this in Malachi 3.6, James 1.17, and Numbers 23.19, and, simply, no, God does not change His mind. So what is happening here in Amos? “The Lord relented…”, Amos saw a vision, prayed, and then God relented…did He change His mind?

Again, no, this is an example of an anthropopathism, where in “…the feelings or thought processes of finite humanity are ascribed to the infinite God.”

So it appears to us, from our perspective, that God changed His mind, so that must be the case…it looks to us as if God changed His mind from our perspective.

From His?

I would offer that God was teaching Amos, Israel, and us by extension the power and importance of prayer.

In both instances, Amos sees the coming judgement, prays fervently, and then the Lord ‘relents’. What a boost to the prayer life of Amos, and what a testimony to share with people! Rather than get lost in endless debates about whether this was eternally predestined to actually happen or not, let us appreciate the key things here; prayer is powerful, prayer works, prayer is effective, and although it may seem like one thing from our perspective, remember, God’s perspective is far greater than ours, in the same way His ways are not our ways.

Point to ponder today – What in my life do I need to see from God’s perspective?

Revelation 18.9-14 – Sad for self-interest

Today two exclamations; one from the Kings of the earth, and one from an unnamed source;

9 And the kings of the earth, who committed sexual immorality and lived in luxury with her, will weep and wail over her when they see the smoke of her burning. 10 They will stand far off, in fear of her torment, and say,

“Alas! Alas!

You great city, you mighty city, Babylon!

For in a single hour your judgment has come.”

11 And the merchants of the earth weep and mourn for her, since no one buys their cargo anymore, 12 cargo of gold, silver, jewels, pearls, fine linen, purple cloth, silk, scarlet cloth, all kinds of scented wood, all kinds of articles of ivory, all kinds of articles of costly wood, bronze, iron and marble, 13 cinnamon, spice, incense, myrrh, frankincense, wine, oil, fine flour, wheat, cattle and sheep, horses and chariots, and slaves, that is, human souls.

14 “The fruit for which your soul longed

has gone from you,

and all your delicacies and your splendors

are lost to you,

never to be found again!”

The Kings stand far away from the judgement of Babylon as they watch the righteous judgement of the commercially immoral. They see the smoke of her burning, and weep and wail over it. They had lived in luxury with her, with Babylon, they had grown rich and prosperous due to the commercial immorality of Babylon, of the unbelieving world, and now they weep and wail because it is over. What God sees as immoral and deserving of judgement, the Kings of the earth see as great, and mighty. Quite the perspective difference!

The second lament, or the second exclamation is most likely the voice from heaven of v.4, and this voice says, in a nutshell, that the fruit for which your soul longed, which is the long list of absolute non-essential luxuries found in vv.12-13, all of this stuff and the people involved are never to be found again. The things we chase for material gain, for temporary pleasure, for commercial success are, as they say, going to hell in a handbasket.

As we progress to the last couple of chapters of Revelation we will see the reward for those who stay faithful and true to the testimony of Jesus. Here we see the other side of the coin, we see what happens if we focus on the wrong things, pursue the wrong things, desire the wrong things. Friends, the choice is ours. We can chase the treasures of the world, or, fix our minds on things above and store up treasures in heaven.

Perhaps Psalm 51.10-12 should be our prayer for right perspective today, it’s especially poetic in the King James Version;

10 Create in me a clean heart, O God;

and renew a right spirit within me.

11 Cast me not away from thy presence;

and take not thy holy spirit from me.

12 Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation;

and uphold me with thy free spirit.