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Beds of Ivory
If there’s one truth with which I’ve been impressed during this last month’s Digging Deep study, it is that a big part of God’s discipline involves punishment. If Hebrews 12 teaches anything, it’s that. There’s a big segment of the religious world in America today that rejects any notion, and certainly any practical life application, of God’s judgment. We don’t hear a lot of preaching about hell anymore. Students used to be punished at home when they were punished at school, but now teachers are the ones who are reprimanded by parents for administering the punishment. Criminal justice in our land has become diluted by lengthy appeals, legal loopholes and wresting, and jurors and justices who are sympathetic to the victim mentality. Strict judgment for wrongdoing–swift punishment for sin– is just not a concept around which Americans rally much these days.
I have attached below my version of the assigned chart from the book of Amos about sin and consequences in the delinquent nation of Israel as Amos portrayed the dismal picture given by the Holy Spirit. It was delivered in a day of peace and prosperity…and sin. It was difficult for Israel to believe that she was already teetering on the brink of destruction. She treated lightly the words of Amos. She was lying on a bed of ivory, stretching on a couch and eating lambs of the flock (6:4). Little did she know the lion was already roaring, just waiting for the pounce. Assyria, the sleeping giant, was soon to awaken and Israel would be forced into a mournful captivity. Much sorrow, loss and death would accompany the final days of the kingdom of Israel.
I’m very thankful that in a similarly complacent American society, I am a part of a victorious kingdom belonging to Jesus. Persecution for Christians, gross immorality in the society around me, a government determined to embrace homosexuality and deny religious freedom–none of these circumstances can bring break my spirit. I, like Habakkuk, pray to a God that, in His wrath, remembers mercy (3:2). He looks upon me, through the blood of His Son, Jesus, and sweetly remembers mercy. The lion is roaring today, too (I Pet. 5:8), but when He pounces, I will not be devoured. There is no condemnation to those who are in Christ (Rom. 8:1). Does he look at you and remember mercy?
Here’s the chart. Yours may look different. You may have chosen different details to include or thought of other modern-day applications. But I know you did not make the chart without becoming more acutely aware that our God exacts punishment for sin. Amos_chart