Some people are just hardheads. It takes a disaster to get their attention. You know the kind. They are people who have no insurance until they collide with a $75,000 luxury car. Then they wish they had a policy. Or how about the person who drives around with the “check engine” light on. Suddenly the motor seizes and becomes an expensive boat anchor – then they get the message. Some people just will not listen.
God’s people have been that way a few times too. In the days just before Israel (northern 10 tribes) went into Assyrian captivity the prophet Amos warned that God had tried and tried to call them back to faithful service but they had refused.
In Amos 4:6-11 the prophet listed 5 specific ways God called Israel back. 5 ways which they rejected.
- He brought famine upon the land (vs.6),
- He brought drought upon the land (vss. 7-8),
- He brought disease upon their plants and vegetation (vs.9),
- He brought death upon the people (vs. 10), and
- He overthrew their cities (vs.11).
The result of their hard hearts brought them face to face with an angry Lord, “prepare to meet your God” (vs. 13)! His words of doom are unmistaken: “Fallen, no more to rise is the virgin Israel…” (5:2). And, “the city that went out with a thousand shall have a hundred left and that which went out a hundred shall have ten left to the house of Israel” (vs. 5:3).
History records the horrible downfall of the north. A small remnant was all that remained of the once proud people of Israel. As a nation they simply vanished.
Some 3,000 or so years removed from their fate we still find people who resist God in spite of his warnings and chastening. We seem to bumble through life ignoring struggles that should point us toward the Father while taking personal glory in our tiny achievements. We trust in ourselves and not God. Our world suffers through every imaginable tragedy yet we still ignore the Creator. How can we be surprised at anything that happens?
Amos still held out hope for Israel. Until the moment of their exile God awaited their hearts. In chapter 5 he says, “Seek me and live…” (vs. 4) and “Seek the Lord and live…” (vs. 6). Those words ring true today also. God waits for his people to reach out to him and be blessed. Like ancient Israel we can choose to ignore or accept his offer.
When Israel ignored God’s calls they were essentially banished into captivity and never returned. (Remember that it was Judah or the southern 2 tribes that returned after Babylonian captivity – the north never did.) What will be our estate if we ignore his warnings now? Not national captivity – although nothing is beyond possible. If we ignore his warnings now, after he has given us his Son, we can expect only the most severe punishment.
Let us hear his call for return and redemption now before it is too late!