“Because your sins are so many and your hostility so great, the prophet is considered a fool, the inspired man a maniac…God will remember their wickedness and punish them for their sins” [Hosea] “An enemy will overrun the land; he will pull down your strongholds and plunder your fortresses” [Amos].
I have been blessed. I have been reading the Old Testament with an interest I have never felt before. I have been stopped in the past with the boring nature of the details of laws, the recounting of endless genealogies and the cycle of sinful people, God’s admonitions, God’s punishment, repentance and then more sin.
Now I have a deeper appreciation.
I am reading in Hosea and Amos right now and I am amazed at the warnings of God.
He basically tells the people of Israel and Judah that they are going to suffer for their sinning. God is warning them about what is going to happen. As you read the Old Testament, the warnings are repeated over and over. I don’t know how many ways God can tell a people that suffering is going to come…
And still they ignore the warning.
What is the meaning for us today?
Today, we are living in New Testament times and the question arises: how could a good God send people to hell?
Paul Little has a very direct and clear answer. “God sends no one to hell. Each person sends himself “[Little, 113].
Ezekiel 33:11 “As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, people of Israel?”
God does not want people to suffer. God wants people to “straighten up.” God wants people to “get it right.”
We need to believe it when God says in Jeremiah 29:11 “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”
God has invested so much in us, trying to tell us what He wants, trying to instruct us in how to live life and knowing that we cannot give Him what He wants, God has given us the way to be forgiven, redeemed, cleansed and “made fit for heaven.” All we have to do is accept God’s gift.
Mr. Little states “God has no option but to give us our choice.”
Matthew 23:37-39 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’”
2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
We force His hand by our disobedience. As we see signs of a decaying standard of Godly living all around us in our culture, what are we going to do in response? Are we going to join the people who are disobeying God’s commands? Are we going to stand strong and try to do our best to push back the un-Godly trends that others are following?
You know the answer.
It is in your Bible. He expects it. You had better try to do it.
If you don’t…well it is clear about what is going to happen.
From Amos: “I will crush you as a cart crushed when loaded with grain. The swift will not escape, the strong will not muster their strength and the warrior will not save his life…even the bravest warriors will flee naked on that day.”
That day when we will feel God’s wrath, that day when we bring punishment on ourselves.