… I will not revoke its punishment, Because… (1:3).
Okay, I admit it. Today, was a jolt; like when you forget to heat up the water and are blindsided beneath the force of a cold shower. And I confess, I wasn’t at all ready to step out from under the cascading warmth of “the better things” in Christ revealed in the book of Hebrews. But today reminded me afresh of His amazing gift of Grace that stays His hand of wrath that we all deserve.
And as we force ourselves to stand under the cold hard truth that flows from the message He sent through Amos, and face the prophecies of His Irrevocable Punishment, we will find ourselves washed anew in the amazing message of His Grace.
Amos was among the sheepherders of Tekoa, a small town in Judah, a nobody of sorts, and chosen by God to deliver a message no one wanted to hear and sadly, most chose to reject.
From NIV Study Bible:
Though his home was in Judah, he was sent to announce God’s judgment on the northern kingdom (Israel)… According to the first verse, Amos prophesied during the reigns of Uzziah over Judah (792–740 b.c.) and Jeroboam II over Israel (793–753). The main part of his ministry was probably carried out c. 760–750. Both kingdoms were enjoying great prosperity and had reached new political and military heights (cf. 2 Ki 14:23—15:7; 2 Ch 26). It was also a time of idolatry, extravagant indulgence in luxurious living, immorality, corruption of judicial procedures and oppression of the poor. As a consequence, God would soon bring about the Assyrian captivity of the northern kingdom (722–721).
Israel at the time was politically secure and spiritually smug. About 40 years earlier, at the end of his ministry, Elisha had prophesied the resurgence of Israel’s power (2 Kin13:17-19), and more recently Jonah had prophesied her restoration to a glory not known since the days of Solomon 2 Ki 14:25). The nation felt sure, therefore, that she was in God’s good graces. But prosperity increased Israel’s religious and moral corruption. God’s past punishments for unfaithfulness were forgotten, and his patience was at an end—which he sent Amos to announce.
The dominant theme [of the book of Amos] is clearly stated in 5:24, [But let justice roll out like waters, And righteousness like an ever-flowing stream] which calls for social justice as the indispensable expression of true piety. Amos was a vigorous spokesman for God’s justice and righteousness, whereas Hosea emphasized God’s love, grace, mercy and forgiveness. Amos declared that God was going to judge his unfaithful, disobedient, covenant-breaking people.
Eight times the Lord asserted that His Punishment would be Irrevocable; and eight times He went on to explain exactly why He had reached this point of voicing His intent, “I will not revoke its punishment.”
As the first six threats of His coming judgment were pronounced, the people’s attention was most certainly captured, as these Punishments were directed towards Israel’s enemies. Perhaps in their own smug, yet false, sense of security, they might have even enjoyed hearing the details of His Irrevocable Punishment that would come crashing down upon their heads. After all, many of their offenses that earned His Irrevocable Punishment had been against the people of Israel.
And maybe they more than enjoyed hearing it, perhaps they were even cheering God on as He named each nation and the offenses that had solidified their future.
… I will not revoke its punishment, Because… (1:3, 6, 9, 11, 13; and 2:2).
The offenses of Damascus: they crushed and shredded His people in Gilead (1:3).
The offenses of Gaza: they led an entire population into exile (1:6).
The offenses of Tyre: they did not remember the covenant of brotherhood (1:9).
The offenses of Edom: they stifled their compassion while their anger raged and their fury remained unchecked (1:11).
The offenses of Ammon: they were barbarically merciless to the most innocent and vulnerable for selfish gain (1:13).
The offenses of Moab: they were driven by unquenchable hatred and vengeance, even after the death of their enemy (2:2).
And up to this point, the people of Israel were quite possibly thinking that Amos was a pretty spot-on prophet who boldly spoke out against their enemies and of God’s Irrevocable Punishment headed their way.
But suddenly, the message made a sharp turn and the finger of accusation landed squarely on the people of God. And the charge against God’s people was even greater than the self-professed enemies of God, for their crimes were not against their fellow man but against Holy God Himself.
And although they had His Law and His Prophets, although they knew of the testimonies from their forefathers of God’s great deliverance and salvation, their willful corruption demonstrated they had actually become the enemy of God; and nothing the foreign nations had done to them could compare with the ways they had mistreated the Lord God.
And though He had proven His power, extended His mercy, and sent them His Word, they stopped up their ears, refused to accept His Truth, and broke His covenant as they chased after the gods of the nations and the wealth of the world.
And now, the hammer would come down, and God’s people would reap what they had sown, His Irrevocable Punishment.
… I will not revoke its punishment, Because… (2:4, 6).
The offenses of Judah: they rejected the Law of the Lord, did not keep His statutes, and followed after lies (2:4).
The offenses of Israel: they sold the innocent, mistreated the poor and the helpless, denied justice to the oppressed, and dishonored the Holy Name of God by their perverse immorality (2:6-7).
Consider His Irrevocable Punishment
Today we are faced with the saddest of realities: sometimes it’s just too late to change. And while the patience of God truly is beyond anything anyone deserves, today we see that His patience has limits. And while we’ve read often of the words God gave to other prophets to share His warning so that “perhaps” they would repent and return (Jeremiah 26:3; 36:3; Ezekiel 12:3), today is not one of those days.
And it will be too late when His Irrevocable Punishment goes forth like a roaring lion and tempestuous storm, annihilating everything in their path.
This is what he saw and heard:
“The LORD’s voice will roar from Zion and thunder from Jerusalem!
The lush pastures of the shepherds will dry up;
the grass on Mount Carmel will wither and die,” (1:2 NLT).
His will eliminate inhabitants and kings and fortresses, with absolutely no hope of escape from His crushing and Irrevocable Punishment.
Look, I am about to crush you in your place
as a wagon full of sheaves crushes grain, (2:13 HCSB).
How do we respond to His Irrevocable Punishment?
Like I said, definitely not a feel-good day. Except, in light of the book of Hebrews, we will find more than a mere glimmer of goodness! For His Irrevocable Punishment did in fact come, and it was laid on the Sinless Son of God. And when we place our faith in His once for all sacrifice for our sins, we are saved from the annihilation of His judgment and brought into the eternal security of His Salvation. Such amazing grace!
For it was fitting for us to have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens; 27 who does not need daily, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the sins of the people, because this He did once for all when He offered up Himself, (Hebrews 7:26-27).
But the truth is, sometimes it can be just too late to change. The Bible clearly teaches salvation is found in no one else. Jesus is the Only Way to the Father; there is salvation in no other name.
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me,” (John 14:6).
And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved, (Acts 4:12).
The Bible also tell us that there is a day appointed for each one of us when we will stand before Him in judgment.
And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, (Hebrews 9:27).
It is only as we place our faith in Jesus, Who bore His Irrevocable Punishment for our sins, the Punishment we deserved, that we will be justified before Him on the day of judgment.
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? 33 Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; (Romans 8:31-33).
Oh, such amazing grace! Such an amazing gift! Oh that we would spend the rest of our days unable to contain our gratitude and praise for His indescribable gift that has spared us from His Irrevocable Punishment.
Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! (2 Corinthians 9:15).
And beyond being thankful, let us be His messengers, like Amos. Oh, let us not waste today.
But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin, (Hebrews 3:13).
Lord, we thank You for Your grace and Your patience. We know that the promise of Your return is coming and that Your heart is for all to come to repentance before it is too late. Lord, we pray for those who have yet to surrender in faith to Your message of Grace. Lord, please use us to encourage others that none will be so hardened as to miss Your grace and left to stand on their own to face Your Irrevocable Punishment.
The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance, (2 Peter 3:9).