Amos 4:2, 12, 13
(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)
I once delivered a funeral message with the same title as this Gem. The man who had passed was a church member, but he was not active, and his reputation was not the best. I thought and prayed concerning what I would say to the grieving family and friends gathered for the funeral. I wanted to leave them with something appropriate for the occasion, yet challenging to their spiritual condition, for I knew that many of those listening had never accepted Jesus as Savior. As I prayed, the Lord gave me this idea and title for an appropriate message: Prepare To Meet Your God! At first I thought it was not applicable for a funeral, for this passage from Amos chapter 4 concerns God’s judgment on Israel because of unbelief! But as I thought and prayed about it, I came to the conclusion that these three verses, 2, 12 and 13 from Amos chapter 4, were exactly what needed to be said, but with a positive emphasis!
The LORD God has sworn by His holiness:...“Therefore thus will I do to you, O Israel; and because I will do this to you, prepare to meet your God, O Israel!” For behold, He who forms mountains, and creates the wind, who declares to man what his thought is, and makes the morning darkness, who treads upon the high places of the earth — the LORD God of hosts is His name.
Amos was not your typical prophet in ancient Israel. He was from the southern kingdom of Judah, but was sent to the northern kingdom of Israel with a message of either repentance or doom! The northern kingdom and the southern kingdom had split in 930 BC, and the northern kingdom (Israel) followed a path of idolatry and rebellion against God for the next two plus centuries! In 722 BC, Assyria conquered Israel, and deported the Jews to other lands within the Assyrian empire! Amos prophesied in the city of Bethel around 755 BC, 33 years before the Assyrian invasion. Jeroboam II was then king of Israel. This is how II Kings 14:23 and 24 summarizes his reign:
In the fifteenth year of Amaziah the son of Joash, king of Judah, Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel, became king in Samaria, and reigned forty-one years. And he did evil in the sight of the LORD; he did not depart from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat [the first king of the northern kingdom], who had made Israel to sin.
Bethel, where Amos was sent to prophesy, was one of the centers of idolatrous worship of a golden calf made by Jeroboam I about two hundred years before. The city was located about ten miles north of Jerusalem. The other center of golden calf idolatry was the town of Dan, twenty miles north of the Sea of Galilee.
How else was Amos untypical as a prophet?
- He was not trained in a school for prophets.
- He was a farmer, herding sheep or goats.
- He tended sycamore fig trees.
✡ These were not the figs so many people enjoy today. It was probably the Egyptian fig, the tree that can produce up to seven crops per year. The round fruit, when ripe, is sweet and seedless, but small (perhaps an inch in diameter). But the figs will not ripen unless an incision is made by an iron hook. Once in- cised, ripeness occurs within three days. ✡ Amos was a fig slicer! It was a lowly class of laborer, and always needed!
But God called Amos to preach to the northern tribes of the kingdom of Israel. And he obeyed!
- Amaziah the priest of Bethel became incensed at Amos’ prophetic proclamations of judgment.
✡ He told King Jeroboam II, “For thus Amos has said: ‘Jeroboam shall die by the sword, and Israel shall surely be led away captive from their own land.” (Amos 7:11). ✡ Then, most likely with the king’s blessing, Amaziah came back and told Amos: “Go, you seer! Flee to the land of Judah. There eat bread, and there prophesy. But never again prophesy at Bethel, for it is the king’s sanctuary, and it is the royal residence.” (Amos 7:12 and 13).
- Amos’ answer? – Amos 7:14 through 17:
I was no prophet, nor was I a son of a prophet, but I was a herdsman and a tender of sycamore fruit. Then the LORD took me as I followed 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 spout against the house of Isaac.” Therefore thus says the LORD: “Your wife shall be a harlot in the city; your sons and daughters shall fall by the sword; your land shall be divided by survey line; you shall die in a defiled land; and Israel shall surely be led away captive from his own land.”
But let’s get back to our featured Scripture from Amos 4:12 (the second half of the verse): “…because I will do this to you, prepare to meet your God.” In its context, this is a negative announcement, because we are naturally all sinners! And we don’t have to do anything to receive a negative reception when we meet our God! We have broken God’s commands one way or another. So all sinners are under His condemnation! Here are some Scriptures that speak of this natural sinful condition before the Lord:
- We are all counted as sinners before God:
✡ Psalm 51:5 (Good News Bible) – “I have been evil from the day I was born; from the time I was con- ceived, I have been sinful.” ✡ Isaiah 53:6 – “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one to his own way....” ✡ Proverbs 14:12 (Bible in Basic English) – “There is a way which seems straight before a man, but its end is the ways of death.” ✡ Jeremiah 17:9 – “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” ✞ Romans 3:10 and 23 – “There is none righteous, no not one....for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” ✞ Romans 8:7 and 8 (Good News Bible) – “...people become enemies of God when they are controlled by their human nature; for they do not obey God's law, and in fact they cannot obey it. Those who obey their human nature cannot please God.”
- What is the result of a negative reception before God?
✡ Isaiah 13:11 – “I will punish the world for its evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; I will halt the arrogance of the proud, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible.” ✡ Isaiah 57:20 and 21 –“But the wicked are like the troubled sea when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. ‘There is no peace’ says my God, ‘for the wicked.’ ✡ Isaiah 64:6 – “But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; we all fade as a leaf, and out iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” ✞ Matthew 25:41 – “Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels....” ✞ Revelation 21:8 – “But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”
Now let’s look at Amos 4:12 as a positive announcement! I have made it a positive announcement by changing one word, ‘by’ to ‘for’: “…because I will do this…[FOR] you, prepare to meet your God.” What has the LORD done FOR us so we can prepare to meet…our God? Everything that was needed!
- If you want a positive reception when you meet your God, then prepare! Meet and receive the Son of God now!
✞ John 5:24 (Contemporary English Version) – Jesus said, “I tell you for certain that everyone who hears My message and has faith in the One who sent Me has eternal life and will never be condemned. They have already gone from death to life.” ✞ Ephesians 1:6 and 7 – “...He [the Father] has made us accepted in the Beloved [His Son Jesus]. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgive- ness of sins, according to the riches of His grace ....” ✞ I John 5:11 and 12 – ...God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son [Jesus]. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life.
- I think that the one best descriptive verse of what the Lord has done for us is II Corinthians 5:21: “For He [the Father] has made Him [Jesus, the Son] who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.”
✞ He took our sins upon Himself, paying for them com- pletely before God (see I Peter 2:24; I John 2:2).
✞ He offers us His own perfect righteousness to wear as a robe forever before the Father (see Isaiah 61:10; Zechariah 3:1-5).
- We, before God, are forever “…accepted in the Beloved [Son Jesus]…” (Ephesians 1:6) as much as He is accepted by the Father!
So the good news is: We indeed can…
Prepare to meet our God!
And be welcomed into His eternal presence!