September 11, 2015

Unity of the Scriptures motivates me . . .

Amos 6:1–7:17, Acts 10:1–33, Job 20:12–29

This devotional series shows how the Old and New Testaments in the Bible connect. They are united in what they say. Even though written by dozens of men, the ideas and principles do not vary. Each of the three passages for today agree on at least three truths.

The first is that many sinners hate the message and try to destroy the messengers. Amos was a farmer sent by God to tell His people that judgment was coming and they needed to repent. He interceded with the Lord, but God who knows hearts planned drastic measures. Then the priest Amaziah told the king about Amos and told Amos, And Amaziah said to Amos, “O seer, go, flee away to the land of Judah, and eat bread there, and prophesy there, but never again prophesy at Bethel, for it is the king’s sanctuary, and it is a temple of the kingdom.” (Amos 7:12–13) This priest knew that Amos was in danger.

Amos boldly answered, “I was no prophet, nor a prophet’s son, but I was a herdsman and a dresser of sycamore figs. But the Lord took me from following the flock, and the Lord said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel.’ Now therefore hear the word of the Lord. “You say, ‘Do not prophesy against Israel, and do not preach against the house of Isaac’ . . . . your land shall be divided up with a measuring line; you yourself shall die in an unclean land, and Israel shall surely go into exile away from its land. ” (Amos 7:14–17) He was in danger, but he continued to speak God’s words to the sinning nation.

Second, true prophets never fudge the truth. Amos didn’t. Job’s ‘friends’ were not as concerned with the truth. They offered Job advice that God later said was “not right.”
One of those ‘not right’ messages was that the wicked do not prosper, that they are miserable and in constant torment. Bildad gave several so-called examples and applied them to Job. One fate of those who prospered but were wicked (supposedly Job) was, “He will give back the fruit of his toil and will not swallow it down; from the profit of his trading he will get no enjoyment. For he has crushed and abandoned the poor; he has seized a house that he did not build. “Because he knew no contentment in his belly, he will not let anything in which he delights escape him. There was nothing left after he had eaten; therefore his prosperity will not endure. In the fullness of his sufficiency he will be in distress; the hand of everyone in misery will come against him.” (Job 20:18–22)

Job responded by saying this was not true; the wicked often prosper and are happy and contented in their prosperity. Only if the Spirit of God convicts them will they question the importance of their riches.

This is reality. Christians cannot claim that those who do not believe are miserable. Eventually, they will be but not necessarily in this life. We cannot assume otherwise and must come to grips with the truth that believing in God is not about how it makes us feel. Both believers and nonbelievers can be rich or poor, happy or sad, content or frustrated. Faith in Christ is not about externals, but about truth and a relationship with Him.

Third, even ‘pagans’ can respond to God. In the OT, outsiders came to faith. In the NT, this also happened. At first, the church was almost 100% Jewish, but God made it clear that “whosoever will may come.” Acts tells the story of Cornelius, a wealthy Roman centurion, “a devout man who feared God with all his household, gave alms generously to the people, and prayed continually to God.”

God sent a vision so he would listen, and then another vision to Peter so he would receive a Gentile. Then God put the two men together and Cornelius described his vision: “Four days ago, about this hour, I was praying in my house at the ninth hour, and behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing and said, ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard and your alms have been remembered before God. Send therefore to Joppa and ask for Simon who is called Peter. He is lodging in the house of Simon, a tanner, by the sea.’ So I sent for you at once, and you have been kind enough to come. Now therefore we are all here in the presence of God to hear all that you have been commanded by the Lord.” (Acts 10:30–33)

Peter spoke and this ‘pagan’ believed the truth. This also happened in the OT.
Clearly, some will reject the Word of God eternally. Sometimes God’s people even turn their backs on truth for awhile. Many hate both the message and the messenger. However, rejection does not mean I or any of God’s people should stop telling people about Jesus.

Neither can I assume that everyone is miserable without Christ, but I can assume that God can reach any heart of His choice. My job is to continue sharing what I know, trusting Him to use truth according to His plans and by the power of His amazing grace.

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