Thursday, December 8, 2016

THREE SINS, EVEN FOR FOUR (PART 4)



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In Christ, Mark
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
** Follow The Christian Walk on Twitter @ThChristianWalk
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The scriptures. May God bless the reading of His holy word.

This is what the Lord says:

“For three sins of Edom, even for four, I will not relent. Because he pursued his brother with a sword and slaughtered the women of the land, because his anger raged continually and his fury flamed unchecked, I will send fire on Teman that will consume the fortresses of Bozrah.”

Amos 1:11-12

This ends today’s reading from God's holy word. Thanks be to God.

It started in a way that seemed innocent at first. A woman named Rebekah had been pregnant for some time and the time had come for her child to be delivered. What a shock it must have been to her and her husband, Isaac, when two children were born, two sons one after the other with the second child holding onto the heel of his brother. The firstborn son, firstborn by a matter of moments, was named Esau while the younger was named Jacob. It was a special moment for the parents but little did they know that these two brothers would one day be at war with one another.

It all got started when the youngest son, Jacob, spurred on by the urging of his mother, deceived his father to bless him with the birthright which was supposed to belong to his brother. Jacob would go onto have his name changed to Israel as he fathered twelve sons who would serve as progenitors of the twelve tribes of Israel. On the other hand, Esau would move south of Israel and settle in the hill country of Seir which would be called Edom (meaning “red”) (Genesis 36:1-9), symbolic because Esau had been tabbed with the name given his talent for making a special red stew (Genesis 25:30). Esau would become the founding father of the Edomites who would be consistently at war with Israel, perhaps never forgetting how Esau had been wronged by his brother.

The scriptures tell us that one of the first contentious meetings between the Israelites and Edomites came as the people of God were in their exodus from Egypt and heading to the Promised Land. While traveling what was known in the day as the King’s Highway, a trade route that passed through Edom, the Edomites refused to allow the Israelites to pass through their land, rejecting them by force. Of interest, the Israelites were forbidden by God to despise the Edomites due to the fact that they were related through the biological brotherhood of Esau and Jacob (Deuteronomy 23:7).

Later, the Edomites would battle against Saul during his reign as Israel’s first king and David, Saul’s successor, won victory over them, making them subject to him (2 Samuel 8:14). This would remain in place through the rule of David’s son, Solomon, but afterwards, the Edomites won their freedom and remained that way until attacked by the Assyrians, attacks that damaged the nation but did not eliminate it. We know this because the Edomites were still in existence when the Greeks and then Romans came into power, although during that period they were referred to as the Idomaeans. Of note, a prominent Idomaean was placed in power as king over Judea during the Roman empire during the time around Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem. You may know him as he is mentioned in the Bible as none other than Herod the Great, the man who asked the wise men to tell him where Jesus was so he could go and worship him (he really wanted to kill him as Jesus was being referred to as the Messiah, the prophesied King of the Jews). When the wise men failed to do as Herod asked, the king had all children 2 and under slaughtered in Bethlehem and the surrounding vicinity with the intent of killing Jesus, unknowing that Joseph and Mary had been warned to flee to Egypt for safety by an angel (Matthew 2).

Indeed, the hatred and anger toward Israel by the Edomites/Idumaeans extended well into the days of Jesus, all a result of the brotherly conflict and associated resentment between two Israelites brothers.

With all this as a backdrop, look again at our verses for today as we look at the sins of Edom that were mentioned by the Lord as well as His associated judgment upon them for those sins:

This is what the Lord says:

“For three sins of Edom, even for four, I will not relent. Because he pursued his brother with a sword and slaughtered the women of the land, because his anger raged continually and his fury flamed unchecked, I will send fire on Teman that will consume the fortresses of Bozrah.”  Amos 1:11-12

When we know the history of the relationship between Israel and Edom, it’s easier to understand the Lord’s charge, that Edom had displayed a continual anger and unchecked fury against Israel and pursued his “brother with a sword” and “slaughtered the women of the land”. This summation of some of the atrocities committed by Edom pointed toward this coming punishment God was sending:

“I will send fire on Teman that will consume the fortresses of Bozrah.”

Here, two main cities within Edom are mentioned, representing the overall destruction and damage God was about to bring on the Edomites for their sins, not just the ones mentioned but all their sins. As you may recall from our prior three devotions in this series, the Lord’s allusion to many sins is found in this expression:

“Three sins, even for four.”

And as with Aram, Philistia, and Phoenicia before, the many sins of the nation were not going to go unchecked. Rather, God showed He would not hesitate to hold any nation accountable for their wickedness and willful rejection of Him and His will. The same will apply for any other countries today who choose to not get along but rather opt to always remain in conflict with one another. In the end translation, I think we can see the Lord favors peace and that will only come when every nation chooses to allow itself to be guided by the Prince of Peace.

Amen

In Christ,

Mark

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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

THREE SINS, EVEN FOR FOUR (PART 3)



Can I pray for you in any way? Send any prayer requests to OurChristianWalk@aol.com.

In Christ, Mark
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
** Follow The Christian Walk on Twitter @ThChristianWalk
** Like posts and send friend requests to the author of The Christian Walk, Mark Cummings on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/mark.cummings.733?ref=tn_tnmn
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The scriptures. May God bless the reading of His holy word.

This is what the Lord says:

“For three sins of Tyre, even for four, I will not relent. Because she sold whole communities of captives to Edom, disregarding a treaty of brotherhood, I will send fire on the walls of Tyre that will consume her fortresses.”

Amos 1:9-10

This ends today’s reading from God's holy word. Thanks be to God.

First it was Aram. Next it was Philistia.

These were the first two nations called out by God for judgment as we saw in our first two devotions in this eight devotion series. In both incidences, as we will see in each message, the nations mentioned have committed multiple sins against God symbolized by one simple statement:

“For three sins, even for four.”

Today, we find God turning his attention toward Phoenicia and the city of Tyre. Look at these two verses in our continuing study of Amos, Chapter 1:

This is what the Lord says:

“For three sins of Tyre, even for four, I will not relent. Because she sold whole communities of captives to Edom, disregarding a treaty of brotherhood, I will send fire on the walls of Tyre that will consume her fortresses.”  Amos 1:9-10

Phoenicia was located along the Mediterranean Sea and bordered Israel to the northwest. Given its proximity to the sea, Tyre and its sister city, Sidon, to the north became vast centers of commerce and trade.

How important was Tyre in relation to the Israelites?

So important that we find the scriptures telling us about a deal that was brokered between the two nations after Solomon assumed the Israelite throne from his father, David. Look at the following:

When Hiram, king of Tyre, heard that Solomon had been anointed king to succeed his father David, he sent his envoys to Solomon, because he had always been on friendly terms with David. Solomon sent back this message to Hiram:

“You know that because of the wars waged against my father David from all sides, he could not build a temple for the Name of the Lord his God until the Lord put his enemies under his feet. But now the Lord my God has given me rest on every side, and there is no adversary or disaster. I intend, therefore, to build a temple for the Name of the Lord my God, as the Lord told my father David, when He said, ‘Your son whom I will put on the throne in your place will build the temple for My Name.’”

“So give orders that cedars of Lebanon be cut for me. My men will work with yours, and I will pay you for your men whatever wages you set. You know that we have no one so skilled in felling timber as the Sidonians.”

When Hiram heard Solomon’s message, he was greatly pleased and said, “Praise be to the Lord today, for He has given David a wise son to rule over this great nation.”

So Hiram sent word to Solomon:

“I have received the message you sent me and will do all you want in providing the cedar and juniper logs. My men will haul them down from Lebanon to the Mediterranean Sea, and I will float them as rafts by sea to the place you specify. There I will separate them and you can take them away. And you are to grant my wish by providing food for my royal household.”

In this way Hiram kept Solomon supplied with all the cedar and juniper logs he wanted, and Solomon gave Hiram twenty thousand cors of wheat as food for his household, in addition to twenty thousand baths of pressed olive oil. Solomon continued to do this for Hiram year after year. The Lord gave Solomon wisdom, just as He had promised him. There were peaceful relations between Hiram and Solomon, and the two of them made a treaty. 1 Kings 5:1-10

Relations were good between the two nations at this point as they made a treaty with one another, a treaty often referred to as “a treaty by brotherhood”. It would endure through the reign of Ahab who the scriptures tell us did evil by marrying Jezebel, the daughter of Ethbaal, king of the Sidonians. This was followed by Ahab worshiping and serving the false god Baal (1 Kings 16:31-33). His adoption of worship practices forbidden by God led to this statement in the same scripture passage:

“Ahab did more to arouse the anger of the Lord, the God of Israel, than did all the kings of Israel before him.”

Not good.

Before I go any further, we need to keep this in mind about Tyre because it’s very central to understanding the magnitude of what God is promising to do in judgment.

The city was really divided into two parts. The first was a rocky fortress on the mainland referred to as “Old Tyre” and the second was the city itself which was on a well fortified island approximately one half mile from the coast. The location of Tyre made it nearly impregnable but as we know, nothing can resist the power of the Lord when He brings it upon any person or nation.

And the power of God was about to be leveraged against the center of commerce and trade, mostly because their commerce and trade involved human trafficking. The Lord indicted the city for the following:

“She sold whole communities of captives to Edom, disregarding a treaty of brotherhood.”

Tyre was no better than the nation of Philistia that we looked at yesterday. They didn’t just barter a few people away but rather “whole communities of captives”, assumedly pawning those people off into slavery in direct violation of the treaty struck by Solomon many years prior. And so God took action and promised the following punishment:

“I will send fire on the walls of Tyre that will consume her fortresses.”

Tyre would come under siege and attack by Nebuchadnezzar and his Babylonian forces for nearly 13 years but the city’s downfall wouldn’t occur until the Greeks, under the leadership of Alexander the Great, assaulted it. Today, the once mighty island is just a place of desolate ruin and it has been that way for more than 2,000 years, destroyed just as God had promised.

A once mighty and prosperous city was reduced to rubble. This is what can happen when sin takes root anywhere and God becomes an afterthought. Tyre’s wickedness, underscored by its pervasive idolatry, was well known and well prophesied against by no less than five of God’s messengers (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Amos, and Zechariah) and yet the city and nation persisted in its transgressions, leaving God no choice than to get their attention in a powerful, unpleasant way. Any nation or city today had better take note because if God did it in Old Testament times, He will most surely do it today as well for He has never changed; He hates sin, even more when it’s three times, even for four.”

Amen

In Christ,

Mark

PS: Feel free to leave a comment and please share this with anyone you feel might be blessed by it.

Send any prayer requests to OurChristianWalk@aol.com

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

THREE SINS, EVEN FOR FOUR (PART 2)



Can I pray for you in any way? Send any prayer requests to OurChristianWalk@aol.com.

In Christ, Mark
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
** Follow The Christian Walk on Twitter @ThChristianWalk
** Like posts and send friend requests to the author of The Christian Walk, Mark Cummings on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/mark.cummings.733?ref=tn_tnmn
** Become a Follower of The Christian Walk at http://the-christian-walk.blogspot.com
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The scriptures. May God bless the reading of His holy word.

This is what the Lord says:

“For three sins of Gaza, even for four, I will not relent. Because she took captive whole communities and sold them to Edom, I will send fire on the walls of Gaza that will consume her fortresses. I will destroy the king of Ashdod and the one who holds the scepter in Ashkelon. I will turn my hand against Ekron, till the last of the Philistines are dead,” says the Sovereign Lord.

Amos 1:6-8

This ends today’s reading from God's holy word. Thanks be to God.

In our first devotion of this eight devotion series, we saw God declaring judgment on the nation of Aram, long time enemy of His people. Today, we find Him turning His attention toward Philistia and its people known as the Philistines. Look again at His words here:

This is what the Lord says:

“For three sins of Gaza, even for four, I will not relent. Because she took captive whole communities and sold them to Edom, I will send fire on the walls of Gaza that will consume her fortresses. I will destroy the king of Ashdod and the one who holds the scepter in Ashkelon. I will turn my hand against Ekron, till the last of the Philistines are dead,” says the Sovereign Lord.  Amos 1:6-8

You may remember that the Philistines were as famous for being the enemies of Israel as the Arameans were. In fact, perhaps one of the best known battle stories in the Bible had the Israelites going up against a Philistine giant named Goliath, a giant that no Israelite was brave enough to face until a young shepherd boy named David came on the scene and struck the giant dead with a single smooth stone cast with deadly accuracy from David’s sling.

The Philistines had interesting ties to Israel as their descendants could be traced back to Noah’s son Ham who was one of the survivors of the great flood. They would go on to settle in the land of Canaan but conflict was guaranteed after God delivered His people from Egypt and gave them the very land the Philistines occupied. You’ll remember that God commanded the Israelites through Joshua to drive out every other group who may be living in the land but the Israelites disobeyed that command and allowed the Philistines to remain and paid the price afterwards through consistent warring with them, warring that persisted until God brought punishment upon Philistia, punishment we find prophesied in our scripture passage for today.

You see, the Philistines, like the Arameans, had committed many sins before God, underscored by the Lord who said they had committed “three”, “even for four”. These sins weren’t just isolated to one part of Philistia. No, it was widespread as God called out four of the five major Philistine cities: Gaza, Ashdod, Ashkelon, and Ekron; only the city of Gath went unmentioned.

What transgressions were committed by the Philistines?

God tells through His prophet that they “took captive whole communities and sold them to Edom”. In other words, the Philistines had used God’s people for commerce much like they might sell a herd of cattle to another nation for prophet. Obviously, the Lord was not going to stand for any nation who intentionally participated in the enslavement of His people.

How would God respond to such atrocity?

He vowed to act in the following ways:

1. He would send fire on the walls of Gaza, fires that would consume the city’s fortresses.

2. He would destroy the rulers of Ashdod and Ashkelon.

3. He would “turn His hand against Ekron”.

4. He would not change His mind in doing what He promised to do.

5. He would make sure judgment was thorough, not stopping it until “the last of the Philistines” was dead.

It all added up to bad news for Philistia and God’s promise of consequences became reality when the Assyrians attacked Philistia, devastating the nation but not finishing it off. That happened when the Babylonians emerged on the scene as the new powers to be dealt with. No remnant of the Philistines would be left as King Nebuchadnezzar eradicated Israel’s enemy once and for all.

Hindsight being twenty-twenty, I’m sure the Philistines would have reconsidered opposing the people of Israel, the people who had the God of all creation in their corner, the very God the Philistines had sinned against, not just once but three, even four times. If they had, they may still be around today.

Perhaps as we look at God’s consequences imparted on nations who sinned mightily against Him and His people we should consider the ways our nations are conducting business today. Are governments intentionally taking actions that are harming their people or the people of other nations? Given that God is a God of perfect judgment, all nations should pause before committing any atrocities against any group of people because as we have seen in the case of the Arameans and Philistines, He can and will take action.

Tomorrow, we see Him extend His judgment to the nation of Tyre in part 3 of this series. .

Amen

In Christ,

Mark

PS: Feel free to leave a comment and please share this with anyone you feel might be blessed by it.

Send any prayer requests to OurChristianWalk@aol.com

Monday, December 5, 2016

THREE SINS, EVEN FOR FOUR (PART 1)


Can I pray for you in any way? Send any prayer requests to OurChristianWalk@aol.com.

In Christ, Mark

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

** Follow The Christian Walk on Twitter @ThChristianWalk

** Like posts and send friend requests to the author of The Christian Walk, Mark Cummings on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/mark.cummings.733?ref=tn_tnmn

** Become a Follower of The Christian Walk at http://the-christian-walk.blogspot.com

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The scriptures. May God bless the reading of His holy word.


This is what the Lord says:


“For three sins of Damascus, even for four, I will not relent. Because she threshed Gilead with sledges having iron teeth, I will send fire on the house of Hazael that will consume the fortresses of Ben-Hadad. I will break down the gate of Damascus; I will destroy the king who is in the Valley of Aven and the one who holds the scepter in Beth Eden. The people of Aram will go into exile to Kir,” says the Lord.


Amos 1:3-5


This ends today’s reading from God's holy word. Thanks be to God.


Yesterday, we opened up our study of Amos with a look at the prophet’s background (shepherd/sycamore-fig tree farmer), his birthplace (Tekoa), and the place in history where his prophecies took place before the first words of the messenger were shared, words that declared God roaring and thundering in advance of bringing His judgment.


So who would on the receiving end of that judgment?


We will find out over the next eight devotions as God provides a series of nations who would face His wrath and why. Today, we begin with the nation of Aram and its capital of Damascus. Look at these words again from Chapter 1:


This is what the Lord says:


“For three sins of Damascus, even for four, I will not relent. Because she threshed Gilead with sledges having iron teeth, I will send fire on the house of Hazael that will consume the fortresses of Ben-Hadad. I will break down the gate of Damascus; I will destroy the king who is in the Valley of Aven and the one who holds the scepter in Beth Eden. The people of Aram will go into exile to Kir,” says the Lord.  Amos 1:3-5


Note here that the scriptures validate God as the one doing the talking. The prophet might be the one speaking out but he is only sharing the Lord’s words and those words open with a saying we will see common to each devotion in this series. “Three sins, even for four.” In essence, the statement means that the sins of the focus audience, Aram in this case, were many. Not that the number mattered because to God one was too many and as we see in our passage, there as really only one sin mentioned.


What had the Arameans done that got them in trouble?


Well, it was no secret that the nation of Aram had been an enemy of Israel for a long time. During David’s reign as king, they attacked twice and were defeated both times, the second resulting in being enslaved to the Israelites into the reign of David’s son, Solomon. After that, they continued to take every opportunity to make war with the Israelites. The Old Testament contains the following list of such clashes:


1. A battle against the northern kingdom of Israel during King Ahab’s reign, a battle won by the Israelites (1 Kings 20).


2. A second battle during Ahab’s rule, one that saw him killed (2 Chronicles 18).


3. A raid of Israel in which the Arameans attacked the capital of Samaria (2 Kings 6:8).


4. A fight during King Joram’s time on the throne in which the king was wounded (2 Kings 8:28).


5. A war waged against the southern kingdom of Judah in which the Arameans wounded King Joash (2 Chronicles 24:23-25.


6. Assisting the Babylonians when they warred against Judah and destroyed Jerusalem (2 Kings 24:2).


Yes, the Arameans had a track record of atrocities against the Israelites and God adds one more in our scripture passage, calling them out for threshing Gilead “with sledges having iron teeth”. The brutality of the Aramean killing of God’s people was illustrated by using the vision of a farmer wielding a sledge to thresh the wheat, the sledge having very sharp teeth to cut through the grain. The imagery here was the Arameans easily slashing through God’s people with little impunity.


For the murdering of His people, God assured the people of Aram that He would do the following:


1. Not relent.


2. Send fire on the house of Hazael (the king of Damascus who oversaw the atrocities) that will consume the fortresses of Ben-Hadad.


3. Break down “the gate of Damascus”.


4. Destroy the king who is in the Valley of Aven and the one who holds the scepter in Beth Eden.


5. Send the people of Aram into exile to Kir.


The Arameans played a role in the destruction of Judah and the subsequent exiling of the Israelites to Babylon. Now they would get a taste of their own medicine, not only facing the same level of devastation but also captivity as the people of Aram would get to feel the pain that the Israelites had while in the midst of God’s judgment.


In the end translation, the nation of Aram had consistently and persistently went to war with the Israelites but in essence, they were going to war against God too, sinning against Him “three, even for four”.


That was a war that they were doomed to lose, a war which they did lose.


Tomorrow, we find God turning His attention to Philistia and her transgressions.


Amen


In Christ,


Mark

PS: Feel free to leave a comment and please share this with anyone you feel might be blessed by it.

Send any prayer requests to OurChristianWalk@aol.com