Family Bible Study lesson for April 28: Promise of Restoration
April 12 2002 by James Baldwin , Amos 8:11-12; 9:5-15

Family Bible Study lesson for April 28: Promise of Restoration | Friday, April 12, 2002

Friday, April 12, 2002

Family Bible Study lesson for April 28: Promise of Restoration

By James Baldwin Amos 8:11-12; 9:5-15

It was only after I became a parent that I learned the difference between punishment and discipline. As a child, the subtle distinction made little difference on my backside. As I became responsible for my own children's moral development, however, I discovered that punishment and discipline really do have a different focus.

Punishment is done as an expression of anger. Its goal is to inflict pain or regret, and thereby to change behavior. Discipline has the purpose of changing behavior, as well; but this goal is secondary to a more important one - restoring a right relationship with the parent (Heb. 12:5-11). God was preparing to discipline the people of Israel. His final word, however, was one of restoration and grace.

Severity of judgment (Amos 8:11-12) Amos uses a little prophetic license to communicate his message of judgment to the people of Israel. He takes a basket of ripe fruit (in Hebrew qayits) and turns it into a symbol of doom (in Hebrew qets). He transforms the Jewish notion of "the Day of the Lord" from a celebration of God's deliverance to a symbol of His destruction. He even takes the promise that we can never escape the presence of God (Ps. 139:7-12) and turns it into a threat (see Amos 9:2-4).

Perhaps the most frightening of God's judgments is His withdrawal from His people. In Amos 8:11-12 the prophet describes a time when people will seek a word from the Lord but will not be able to find it.

The only thing more frightening than "falling into the hands of an angry God," to use Jonathan Edwards' famous phrase, is for God to remove His hands altogether. Paul uses the term, "God gave them over ..." to their sinful choices to describe the dreadful consequences of sin (Rom. 1:24, 26,28).

Inevitability of judgment (Amos 9:5-10) Amos reminds the people of Israel that God has full authority and ability to bring judgment on their sins. He is Lord of all creation (Amos 9:5-6), and He is judge of all nations (Amos 9:7).

The house of Israel will not be spared because of their unique relationship with God. "All the sinners among my people will die by the sword," God proclaims.

Being among the people of God does not make us exempt from divine judgment.

Jesus tells a parable in which wheat and weeds are allowed to grow up side by side until the time of harvest (Matt. 13:24-30). Only then does the harvester separate the two - the wheat is preserved and the weeds are destroyed.

Jesus makes it clear that church membership and proper church talk alone will not qualify us for eternal life. "Not everyone who says to me 'Lord, Lord' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven" (Matt. 7:21).

Promise of blessings (Amos 9:11-15) In contrast to the rest of his message of coming destruction, Amos ends his preaching with a note of hope: "I will restore," "I will repair," "I will bring back," "I will plant." This dramatic shift in tone has led some commentators to suggest that a later writer who felt Amos' message was too harsh added these final verses. The words of grace, however, seem consistent with our earlier distinction between discipline and punishment.

God's ultimate desire is always to restore His people to a right relationship with Himself. If He cannot accomplish that with the entire nation, He will do it with a faithful remnant. This does not mean that the promises of judgment are empty threats.

We all know parents who threaten their children if they don't "straighten up," but who never follow through on their threats. Children quickly learn when parents "mean business."

The nation of Israel did experience nearly total destruction, yet it was through that nation that the Savior was born who would bring about all the promises of God. And even though full restoration of our relationship with God is available through Christ, it is only because He took upon Himself the judgment we deserved. "He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities" (Is. 53:5).

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4/12/2002 12:00:00 AM by James Baldwin , Amos 8:11-12; 9:5-15 | with 0 comments
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