We all have had the experience of knowing we made a serious mistake when it is too late to correct the mistake. Once in graduate school, the final examination allowed the students to select one of several questions. The examination was to fully answer the question selected. After writing furiously for over two hours, I suddenly realized that I had begun my answer at the wrong place. With only 15 minutes left, I tried to connect my answer to the correct beginning. I knew I was not successful, and my examination grade proved it. I realized my mistake much too late.
The mistake may be made in a project, in a situation, or in a relationship. It may be job-centered, family-centered, friend-centered, or congregation-centered. Ask a divorced person when the killing mistake occurred in the non-existent marriage, or former close business partners who became alienated, or former good friends who are no longer acquaintances, and all of them will likely be able to identify the too late moment.
It is chilling to know that even in the closest relationship, a too late moment can come. To me, the most horrifying thing regarding such moments is that always we seem to know when those moments occurred looking back. Rarely do we see such moments coming. In fact, we are often surprised when they occur.
We need to understand that we can produce such moments in our relationship with God through our attitudes, our behavior, and our priorities. God is incredibly patient. He is incredibly kind, forgiving, and merciful. However, we can heap such abuse on our relationship with God that we drive God from us. There is a difference between ignorance resulting from a lack of exposure to knowledge and rebellion that proceeds from an I dont care attitude. One did not know any better, but the other acted out of a defiant attitude. Even people often are sympathetic to those who did not know, but have a different attitude regarding those who are defiant.
Generations before, their forefathers knew the attitudes and lifestyle of the Kingdom of Israel were ungodly. Though there had been a time of knowledge and understanding, their forefathers failed miserably to pass that knowledge and understanding on to their children. Instead, following generations cultivated a do not care attitude toward God that was communicated well. The result: abuses of God constantly multiplied and grew increasingly serious.
God tried to call their attention to what was happening, but Gods efforts failed. God told their forefathers prior to entering Canaan the consequences that disobedience would produce (read Deuteronomy 28).
God planned to send a locust swarm to eat the vegetation just as the seed sprouted. Amos saw how horrible the consequences would be. He pled with God not to destroy the Kingdom of Israel, and God changed His mind. Yet, the Kingdom of Israel neither heard nor learned anything. Nothing changed.
The Lord intended to send a fire that would produce major destruction. Amos saw Gods intent, and he pled with God not to destroy the Kingdom of Israel. God did not follow through with His intent. The people did not change their attitudes or behavior.
Then God measured them with a plumb line. What they were would determine Gods actions. Amos was silent. It was too late to plead with God. The wickedness of Israel was beyond the pleas of a righteous man.
The Kingdom of Israels reaction was the opposite of repentance. The high priest of Bethel told the king that the words of Amos were undermining the confidence of the nation. The high priest even told Amos to return to his own kingdom and prophesy. He was neither wanted nor needed in Bethel (a worship center in the Kingdom of Israel).
Amos told the high priest (Amaziah) that Amos was doing only what God told him to do. The day would come when the high priests wife would be a prostitute, his children would be killed, his land would be sold, and he would die in a gentile country as an exile.
Just as ripe fruit marked summers end, the Kingdom of Israel was facing her end.
Desperate times were surely upon the Kingdom of Israel! Their wickedness brought those days upon them! They, not God, were responsible for what would happen!
Among the lessons to be learned, three are chillingly obvious: (a) A too late moment in our relationship with God can come because of our abuse of God. (b) If it arises, all God has to do is to let us face the consequences of our attitudes and behavior. (c) God is under no obligation to protect the people He loves if those people reject Him.
For Thought and Discussion
1. What experience do many of us have in common?
2. In what ways can this mistake be made?
3. Most people can recognize the too late moment when?
4. Christians need to understand what about the too late moment?
5. Discuss the difference between the ignorance from lack of exposure and the ignorance of rebellion.
6. In what way did the Kingdom of Israels forefathers fail miserably?
7. Discuss Deuteronomy 28.
8. God planned to bring enormous destruction on the Kingdom of Israel how? Why did God change His mind?
9. Discuss Gods use of the plumb line.
10. What did the high priest of the kingdom of Israel tell the king?
11. What did the high priest tell Amos?
12. State five things Amos told the high priest.
13. State three lessons we should learn from todays lesson.
Link to Teacher's Guide Lesson 10
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