Today’s selected reading continues in the Old Testament prophetic book of Amos, and more specifically, is found in the second chapter of the book. What we read within this particular passage of Scripture is but a continuation of that which we read in the previous chapter. If you turn and direct your attention back to the previous chapter of the prophetic book of Amos, you will quickly discover that immediately after the Spirit of the Lord provides a brief introduction to the entire prophetic narrative, the Lord seems to get down to business and address the prominent nations, lands and peoples during the days of Uzziah king of Judah, and during the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash king of Israel. When this prophetic narrative begins, it begins by acknowledging two distinct monarchs who each sat upon thrones in their respected kingdoms. On the one hand we have Uzziah reigning as king upon the throne of David in the city of Jerusalem, while on the other hand we find Jeroboam son of Joash reigning upon the throne in the capital city of Samaria. Perhaps the single greatest reality I find to be both disturbing and alarming within the very first verse of this chapter is that it brings us face to face with a striking reality concerning the nation and kingdom of Israel—the reality that it was a divided nation. It’s interesting and worth noting that the prophets not only prophesied during days and times of idolatry, immorality, iniquity and the like, but they also prophesied in the midst of a divided nation and kingdom. Immediately following the reign of Solomon son of David king of Israel, the nation and kingdom of Israel was divided in two—a northern and southern kingdom. WHEN PROPHETS ARE APPOINTED DURING DAYS OF DIVISION! WHEN PROPHETS ARE RAISED UP DURING TIMES OF DIVISION! If you study and examine the reign of Saul king of Israel, you will discover that there was a single prophetic voice and ministry that was present during that reign—that of the prophet Samuel. IF you study and examine the reign of David king of Israel, you will discover that there were two prophetic voices that were raised up during those times—the prophet Nathan and the prophet Gad. When you look to and examine the reign of Solomon son of David king of Israel, you will notice that this same Gad was the prophetic voice that was present during his reign. Upon the division of the nation and kingdom of Israel, we notice the ministry of the prophets increasing within the land—both within the northern and southern kingdoms. Within the northern kingdom of Israel we discover the prophets Elijah and Elisha as the prophetic voices during their respected generations, while within the southern kingdom of Judah we notice a vast array of prophetic voices and ministries. Within the southern kingdom of Judah we discover prophetic ministries of men such as Isaiah, Jeremiah, Joel, Amos, Hosea, and the like. There were those prophets who prophesied during times of a unified kingdom, there were those prophets who prophesied during times of a divided kingdom, and there were other prophets who prophesied during times of a captive nation, kingdom and people. Still there were other prophetic voices that were raised up during the days and times of a returned and restored people to and within the inheritance given them by the Lord.
I am convinced that before we even begin to examine the transgressions that begin to be listed in the prophetic book of Amos—transgressions that begin with the third verse of the first chapter—we must first acknowledge the fact that the nation and kingdom of Israel had been divided. I am utterly and completely convinced that the same type of reality we found within the nation and kingdom of israel is the same type of reality we find present within our nation. Though our nation isn’t divided between a northern and southern kingdom, we are nonetheless, and have nonetheless been divided. One needs only to look upon and examine the history of our nation, and one will clearly witness the deep division that has been present within it for centuries. The division we are witnessing within our nation is not a new manifestation, nor is it a new reality, but is instead that which has been perpetuated throughout the years. One of the most significant times when the deep division that plagues our nation comes to light the most is during the campaigns of political figures who all vie and lobby for the highest political office—not only within this nation, but within the earth itself. Consider the fact that during Presidential campaigns and Presidential nominations, we come face to face with the deep division that is so prevalent within our nation and country. A little over a month ago we witnessed a historic solar eclipse that was coined as an eclipse that was specific and exclusive to the United States of America. It’s worth noting the path of the solar eclipse within, upon and over our nation began in the northwest and charted a path from the northwest to the southeast. In all reality, one might very well say that the path of the solar eclipse essentially divided this nation in two. Please note that I am in no way suggesting that the eclipse itself divided this nation, but merely that its path seemed to draw a line within, throughout and across this nation. We dare not forget that there have been times in the past when our nation was in fact divided—especially during the times of the Confederates and the Union. There was a specific time within our history when our nation was deeply divided, and when we were actually engaging in warfare and conflict with and against each other. There was a point in history when one was either in strong support of the Union within the new America, or one was in support of the Confederate in the new America.
If you study the history of the nation of Israel immediately following the division of the nation and kingdom, you will quickly notice that they almost immediately encountered and experienced a civil war among themselves. If you journey to the twelfth chapter of the Old Testament book of First Kings, you will find the events which immediately took place after Rehoboam heeded the counsel and advice of those that were closer in age to him than his father’s advisors. Beginning with the sixteenth verse of the twelfth chapter we read and find these words—“So when all israel saw that the king heartened not unto them, the people answer the king, saying, What portion have we in David? Neither have we inheritance in the son of Jesse: to your tents, O Israel: Now see to thine own house, David. So Israel departed unto their tents. But as for the children of Israle which dwelt in the cities of Judah, Rehoboam reigned over them. Then king Rehoboam sent Adoram, who was over the tribute; and all israel stoned him with stones, that he died. Therefore king Rehoboam made speed to get him up to his chariot, to flee to Jerusalem. So Israel rebelled against the house of David unto this day. And it came to pass, when all israel heard that Jeroboam was come again, that they sent and called him unto the congregation, and made him king over all Israel: there was none that followed the house of David, but the tribe of Judah only. And when Rehoboam was come to Jerusalem, he assembled all the house of Judah, with the tribe of Benjamin, an hundred and fourscore thousand chosen men, which were warriors, to fighter against the house of Israel, to bring the kingdom again to Rehoboam the son of Solomon. But the word of God came unto Shemaiah the man of God, saying, Speak unto Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, king of Judah, and unto all the house of Judah and Benjamin, and to remnant of the people, saying, Thus saith the Lord, Ye shall not go up, nor fight against your brethren the children of Israel: return every man to his house; for this thing is from me. They heartened therefore to the word of the Lord, and returned to depart, according g to the word of the Lord” (1 Kings 12:16-24). This passage found within the book of First Kings is actually quite telling and revealing, for it reveals how immediately after the nation and kingdom of Israel was officially divided, and after the northern ten tribes appointed Jeroboam son of Nebat as king over them, Rehoboam sought to make war with and war against the entire northern kingdom of Israel. It’s quite astounding and remarkable that almost immediately after the nation and kingdom of Israel had been divided—divided by the Lord nonetheless—that a single king sought to incite a war against his own brethren in an attempt to bring the nation back under the control of the house of the David. Were it not for the word and intervention of the Lord released in the earth during that time, Rehoboam might very well have engaged in a civil war against the northern kingdom of Israel. One can and will never know what the outcome to such an event could have been, but the mere fact that a nation could be divided within itself and actually engage in conflict and warfare against each other is quite alarming and disturbing. I can’t help but think of another nation that was divided—not between north and south, but between east and west—which was the country Germany. At one point Germany itself was divided, and there was even a wall built within the nation that separated east from the west. Even to this day there is another land that is divided, for if you journey to the continent of Asia, you will notice the land of Korea divided between two distinct nations and peoples—North Korea and South Korea.
A DIVIDED KINGDOM BREEDS WARFARE! A DIVIDED NATION BREEDS CONFLICT! A DIVIDED NATION BREEDS ANIMOSITY! A DIVIDED PEOPLE BREEDS STRIFE AND BATTLE! If there is one thing a divided nation reveals and proves, it’s that division has always and will always breed strife and conflict. I can’t help but be reminded of the words of James within the epistle He wrote that is found within the New Testament—“From whence come wars and fightings among you? Come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God? Do ye think that the Scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up” (James 4:1-10). I am also reminded of the words which the apostle Paul wrote which are recorded for us in the third chapter of the first epistle he wrote to the Corinthian congregation—“And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ, I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal? Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? I have planted, Apollo’s watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that plenty there any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase. Now he that planters and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour. For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building. According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise master builder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is” (1 Corinthians 3:1-13).
I began the previous section making several declarations concerning the reality that division more often than not breeds conflict, strife, animosity and hostility. I would take this even further and emphatically declare that division is also the breeding ground of violence—violence that manifests itself with various weapons which are used to help confirm and further express the views and opinions of men and women. Pause for a moment and consider the tremendous conflict that surrounded the nation and country of Germany when it became divided between east and west. Consider the conflict, the hostility, the animosity that ensued within that nation when even its very capital was divided in two, and thus bore the names “East Berlin,” and “West Berlin.” Consider the fact that there was a point in time when that nation was so deeply divided—not between the north and the south, but between the east and the west. Consider our own nation, and how war, conflict, animosity, and hostility surrounded that division, as there was in fact a Great War that took place within our nation which was known as “the American Civil War.” There was a point in time within our nation and country when we weren’t divided between east and west, but between the north and the south, as you had the confederates facing the union in direct opposition to each other. YOU ARE FIGHTING THE WRONG ENEMY! WE ARE FIGHTING THE WRONG ENEMY! One of the greatest tragedies and travesties surrounding the conflict that was found within Germany, as well as within the United States, and even now between North and South Korea, is that division always has us fighting and engaging the wrong enemies. There is a tremendous danger and dilemma when we allow fights and quarrels among ourselves. There is a tremendous danger when we allow difference of opinions, difference of thoughts and beliefs to divide us—and not only divide us, but bring us to the point of hostility and animosity between our brothers and sisters. I am convinced that what we are witnessing within this nation right now—division between political parties, division between religions, difference between races, difference between ethnicities, difference between economic classes, and the like—is nothing short of a distraction from the real struggles and conflict this nation has faced and experienced. A nation has always and is only as strong as the unity that is found within it, and if we are being honest with ourselves, we cannot, we dare not, we must not speak of this nation as being the “United” States of America, for the division within our nation has reached a head. It is absolutely unmistakable that this nation faces external threats from nations outside its borders—everything from radical Islamic nations, to Russian conspiracy, to North Korea, and tensions between America and Korea. One thing I have to admit is that division has always and will always distract us from the true and ultimate focus within the world today. What good is a nation fighting within, amongst and against itself against external forces, enemies, conflicts, adversaries and the like? I am utterly and completely convinced that the division we are witnessing within this nation right now has most certainly come to a head, although it is by no means anything new. We dare not forget that there was a point in time when our nation was so divided between and among the states and colonies that an actual war broke out on this soil.
NORTH AND SOUTH KOREA! EAST AND WEST GERMANY! UNION AND CONFEDERATE AMERICA! THE NORTHERN KINGDOM OF ISRAEL AND THE SOUTHERN KINGDOM OF JUDAH! If you study and examine each of these examples within history, you will quickly notice that at the very heart of each of these examples is conflict, strife, tension, animosity, hostility, and the like. If you examine Korea—both North Korea and South Korea—you will notice that there is not only tension between North Korea and America, but there is also tension between North Korea and South Korea. There is even a specific line that is drawn between the two nations that is heavily fortified on both sides. The nation of South Korea continues to face and live in constant and continual fear because of the leader over North Korea, and fear of an invasion or strike against their land at any point in time. We are living during such turbulent times right now that we are not only witnessing conflict and tension between nations within the earth, but conflict, tension and strife within nations themselves. Korea is the only land right now that is still divided—both by land and by name—and North Korea poses such a tremendous threat to various nations and countries within the earth. In all reality, North Korea is really only at odds and in the midst of conflict with one nation in particular—the United States of America. There are clear and apparent tensions that mark and surround this nation—both internal tension, strife and conflict, as well as external tensions between the United States of America and Russia and North Korea. A NATION AT ODDS WITHIN ITSELF! A NATION AT ODDS WITH THE NATIONS ROUND ABOUT IT! The United States of America is in a very precarious position, for not only are we at odds within ourselves, but we are also at odds with the nations and lands round about it. It’s worth noting and pointing out that ancient Israel found itself in the very same place, for not only was Israel at odds within itself at times—as there was apparent and palpable conflict between the northern and southern kingdoms—but there were multiple times when Israel and Judah were at odds with the nations round about it. While the Lord didn’t divide the nation and kingdom during the says of Solomon, He did raise up adversaries against Israel during the days of Solomon. What began as the raising up of external adversaries and enemies from outside the nation would eventually culminate and manifest itself in internal division as the nation and kingdom would be divided in two between the north and the southern. The words of James reveal something absolutely telling and revealing concerning the division that takes place among us, and that is that division has always and will always serve as the breeding ground for tension, for strife, for conflict, for animosity, and for hostility. Germany was divided between east and west, and it was done so during a period of time when the world was thrust into a global conflict. The United States is divided between itself right now, and I can’t help but get the strong sense that we are dangerously close to another world wide conflict. There is a part of me that can’t help but wonder if the nations of the world aren’t watching the events that are unfolding within this nation—especially the tremendous conflict, strife, hostility and animosity that is and has been present among us for quite some time.
When I read the opening two verses of the first chapter of the prophetic book of Amos, I can’t help but be completely and totally caught up in the words which are found in the first two chapters. Within the first two verses we not only discover a nation and kingdom divided within itself, but we also notice an event which was about to take place in the midst of that land—namely, an earthquake that would be felt within both kingdoms and nations. A DIVIDED NATION! A PHYSICAL CALAMITY! THE ROARING OF A LION! I read the words which are found in the first two verses and I can’t help but see the tremendous connection between these three realities, and how they all seem to intersect between and with each other. I do not believe it is any coincidence that we find a nation and kingdom divided, a natural calamity taking place within the earth and being felt in both kingdoms, but also the Lord’s presence in the midst of it all. I can’t help but wonder if what we are witnessing within these first two verses isn’t a picture of what we are witnessing within our nation during this generation and in the midst of these Last Days. It is quite obvious and clear to any who are watching and paying attention that this nation is and has been deeply divided within itself and between its members. What’s more, is that in recent weeks we have witnessed two major hurricanes strike two southern states within this nation with such devastating force. A DIVIDED NATION AND NATURAL DISASTERS! I can’t help but wonder if the first warning and message of the Lord doesn’t come within and in the midst of the division itself, and then transitions and moves to natural disasters and calamities. I can’t help but wonder if what we aren’t noticing is the replaying of what we witness within the first few verses of the prophetic book of Amos, as we not only find ourselves divided as a nation, but we have also witnessed devastating natural events which have left thousands displaced from their homes, families and neighborhoods. If there is one thing I am convinced of, it’s that we must ask ourselves if we are listening to and paying attention to the roar of the Lord from Zion, and the uttering of His voice from Jerusalem. I am convinced that the first warning comes within the division itself, and the conflict, tension, hostility and animosity that surrounds that division. I am further convinced that what we find manifesting itself after that division—perhaps even in the midst of, and side by side with the division—is some form and some type of natural disaster and calamity that strikes the land. The nation and kingdom of Israel was divided in two, and the prophetic ministry of Amos began two years before the earthquake struck the land. THE DIVIDING OF THE NATION, THE APPOINTMENT OF THE PROPHETIC MINISTRY, AND THE NATURAL DISASTER THAT FOLLOWS! I am convinced that the division we witnessed within this nation was in and of itself a deep warning to this nation from its early days—a warning that needs to continue to be heeded and paid attention to. I am convinced that the division we witnessed within Germany, as well as the division we continue to witness within and upon the Korean Peninsula needs to serve as a powerful prophetic warning and word of caution within this generation.
When I read the first two chapters of the prophetic book of Amos, I can’t help but see the Lord’s judgment upon the nations and kingdoms of the earth during the days of Amos. I am convinced that the division within the kingdom and nation of Israel, the earthquake which struck the earth, as well as the raising up of the prophetic ministry all worked together and served the purpose of the Lord in preparation for the Lord’s judgment upon the nations. I am convinced that what we are witnessing right now within these Last Days and within this generation is a powerful prophetic declaration and word of warning regarding the Lord’s preparation to judge the nations of the earth. It’s worth noting and pointing out within the first two chapters of the prophetic book of Amos that it first begins with the division of the nation and kingdom of Israel, continued with the earthquake which struck the earth, and was followed by the roaring of the Lord from Zion, and the uttering of His voice from Jerusalem. All of that would be followed by rapid fire and successive prophetic declarations concerning the nations that were present upon the earth during that time. What’s more, is that even with that being said, we must recognize and understand that neither Israel, nor Judah were exempt from the Lord’s judgment. It would have been one thing for the Lord to reveal and speak of judgment upon the nations and kingdoms which surrounded Israel and Judah while subsequently and simultaneously leaving Israel and Judah alone and out of the picture. The truth of the matter, however, is that the Lord included within the judgment upon and the judgment of the nations both the northern kingdom of Israel, as well as the southern kingdom of Judah. The reason I mention this is because I believe that what we are witnessing in these Last Days is the Lord’s preparation to judge the nations—and not only judge the nations, but to judge America itself. I do not for one minute believe that America can or will be exempt and immune from the Lord’s judgment upon the nations of the earth. I believe that America is going to be included in the Lord’s judgment upon the nation, and what we are witnessing right now is the repetition of the pattern of division, disaster and declaration. THE CYCLE OF DIVISION, DISASTER AND DECLARATION! I believe we are living within and during the days of division, disaster and declaration, as these three realities work together to bring the nations of the earth face to face with the tremendous word of warning and caution that the Lord is preparing to bring judgment upon the nations of the earth. In fact, there is a part of me that can’t help but wonder if war and conflict between nations within and upon the earth isn’t itself a direct manifestation of the Lord’s judgment upon the nations which have been directly involved.
I can’t help but read the first two chapters of the prophetic book of Amos and see that which begins with division, disaster and declaration, would eventually reach the point where the Lord pronounces judgment upon the nations of the earth. The prophetic book of Amos began with the division within the nation and kingdom of Israel, progressed to the disaster which struck the earth, and continued even further to the declaration of the Lord through the prophet Jeremiah. I believe with everything inside of me that what we are witnessing right now in this generation is a replaying of this very reality, as we find ourselves in the midst of division, disaster and declaration. The Lord of hosts is preparing to rise up and judge the nations of the earth, and the Lord is going to judge the nations for their own individual sins. One thing we realize when reading this passage of Scripture is that the Lord judged the nations of the earth one by one, but He didn’t judge a nation for another nation’s sins. The Lord wouldn’t judge Ammon for the sins committed by Moab, nor would He judge Edom for the sins of Damascus. The Lord wouldn’t even judge Israel for the same sins Judah committed, although there would certainly be some obvious connection and correlations. The first two chapters found within the prophetic book of Amos reveal the Lord’s judgment upon Damascus for its sins, Gaza for its sins, Edom for its sins, Ammon for its sins, Moab and its sins, as well as Judah and Israel for its sins. What is so incredibly powerful and revealing about this is that we dare not examine the sins of another while simultaneously neglecting and ignoring our own sins, iniquities, rebellions, immorality, wickedness, and the like. If there is one thing the division, the disaster and the declaration all prove and reveal, it’s that the Lord is releasing a prophetic warning and word of caution within the earth, and the Lord takes note of the transgression of nations, of peoples, of languages, of kingdoms, of tribes, of tongues, and the like. I am convinced that division is in and of itself a word of caution and word of warning. I am convinced that disaster is also a word of caution and word of warning. Take both of those and add to them the declaration of the word of the Lord from heaven as it is released within the earth through His servants the prophets, and you will find a powerful alarm and wake up call to nations of the earth collectively. I am convinced that we need to pay close attention to the first two chapters of this prophetic book and not only examine the sins of this nation as a whole, but the sins of us as individuals. What is the division, the disaster and the declaration revealing within your own heart and life? What warning and word of caution is the Lord speaking and revealing to you in this hour and in this generation?