So, exactly where are you headed these days?
While many of us have been “literally holding our breath” over the past few weeks – watching and waiting for the next and then the next crisis to unfold – know that our God is not in limbo or watchful suspense along with us. He is not holding His breath or withholding His Spirit and continues to breathe new life into His Creation through His Spirit and His Word. There is no doubt that God is still speaking at this very moment – even as “the final culminating events” within our lifetime manifest before our very eyes. . .
God is also not surprised by the world’s current dilemma of moral decay, deterioration, and human decline. We should know based on our study of prophecy and Scripture that He not only knows the future (the end from the beginning) –He has also made “provision” for it.
What is most easily missed during these eclipsing times of national and global calamity and uncertainty is “the pinpoint accuracy” of the Word of God. If we fail to “guard our minds and hearts” against the vicissitudes and cares of this life and world we will certainly miss “What the Spirit of the Lord is saying to His Church.” —That is, “what He is saying to all of us,” as His believing nation and people of God.
The Message & Warning of Amos: Coming 5 years ahead, “For such a time as this.”
It was either the day before or the day after the horrific church massacre in a Charleston, South Carolina when the Spirit of the Lord stopped me on a Thursday afternoon in June of 2015. I was given specific instructions to “suspend” my other activities and distractions for the day – and to deliver a message to an audience that was yet to be present. This audience certainly was not prepared or even willing to hear what the Lord would say.
The man Amos is often referred to as a prophet but, at first, he wasn’t one. The Word of God says that Amos was a simple “sheep breeder” who was also interrupted by God to deliver a message to an audience that was far away. He traveled from the south country to the north of the nation –-to Bethel to be rejected by a very “obstinate people.”
They would not receive God’s message or His messenger with welcome arms, or at all for that matter. They would instead “buck up” against this word from the Lord because it confronted their arrogant and idolatrous “religious” lifestyle. The leaders and people, therefore, rejected the prophet’s message and the God who sent it.
I was riveted – even if not surprised – “by the timing” of the message that God delivered in light of those tragic events that summer, and within the context of a prophetic book like Amos. Here we are, still running within God’s prophetic timeline, and still carrying “the kind of message” deserving of death from the hands of a “faithless generation.”
Warranting at the very least strong rejection and alienation from God’s stiffnecked people –still, yet, in all of GOD’S FAITHFULNESS, He teaches and requires us to remain faithful “to Him” and to Him alone.
God is the only One called: “He who is Faithful and True.” So also, we as His messengers are to remain faithful in times of controversy and danger, in good times and bad; on the mountaintop and in the valley.
This “sheep breeder” known as (the prophet) Amos was also an observer and farmer of “sycamore fruit.” In the Bible, this fruit tree has over time become somewhat known as a symbol of clarity. God had groomed Amos – as an observer of “fruit” – to know “times and seasons” and when situations had matured or “changed.” He was aware when the summer fruit was ready to be inspected, pruned, harvested, or even discarded. “As it is in the natural, so it is in the Spirit.”
I too believe in knowing God’s perfect will and divine timing for His harvest – and that those who are willing to truly “hear” His message will receive much clarity about what He is doing, not just in the world crumbling around us, but first concerning His own people. They will know how He is dealing with those spiritual institutions “created in His name” and that are supposed to represent places of pure worship of the True and living God. –Just as in the days of Amos and ancient Israel, God has something for us to hear today that is essential for our very survival and salvation.
A Pattern of Running Away from God… “What’s wrong with heading to Bethel?”
Early Encounters with God. Bethel in scripture.
We must understand that God knows the nature of His people, of all people, so He knows us. As a historical place to worship God, Bethel would stand out as one of the first places — as the “religious epicenter” for the people of Israel to meet God.
The very name itself in Hebrew means the “House of God.” It represents (from a historical reference) an enormous place of importance as the “physical” or earthly place (such as a church or temple today) where the people would go to have “divine encounters” with God as the actual “dwelling place” for His presence.
Bethel was also one of the first places of real religious “prominence and significance,” as the place of blessing and victory for the people of God.
It was known as the place for “supernatural experiences” with God. It was where the Ark of the Covenant was set up and one of the first places where the priests would offer sacrifices to God. Jacob’s famous “stairway to heaven” encounter with an angel would happen at none-other-than the place called, “Bethel.” The religious epicenter of Bethel would also be the place where Joshua camped and from there brought forth victory for the children of Israel.
Where there is corruption God’s judgment will always follow…
What was difficult during the time of Amos is even more difficult for us today as the end of the Church era is already here. Just as BETHEL would fade away as “the point of connection” between the people and God – so have our religious icons of worship today.
When God decides to move – to leave the building – few even realize He’s gone. He takes with him the “holiness” of His Presence, His real anointing, His manifold blessing, and His ordained provisions with Him. While the fires continue to burn in His name, “the God of the fire” is no longer there. There is always a reason for His departure (Ezekiel 10) and an even greater purpose in where He is going.
You see, Bethel had become corrupted as representing only an “external place” of meeting for the people and God. For now, we know that “God is a Spirit,” and those who worship Him must worship Him in Spirit and in Truth. When we mature and understand God’s greater plan, the Bethels of today are irrelevant to the progressive movement of the Spirit of God. His faithful remnant simply goes with Him. Spiritual maturity is not being where God used to be, but living daily where He is.
When God cuts off the Horns of the Altar: “They are no longer the place of Refuge and Mercy.”
Bethel “had become corrupted” by the worship of idols and other false gods – being done in the name and in the house of God. What had once represented a place of God’s presence and “place of meeting,” of blessings and manifestation, had now become a place of God’s fury and judgment.
History teaches us that God’s people do not surrender to His judgments or His chastening, but always attempt to deflect and escape them. They are destroyed because they do not realize that — there is no hiding place from God.
There is no place to run, and even as the people thought that they could escape God’s wrath by returning “to the place of meeting” — the physical location and familiar place where God used to be — they would find that this was the very place where God was going to deliver His blows of final judgment and destruction.