The Shaking & the Fire: The Invitation to Return

Today’s selected reading is found in the Old Testament prophetic book of Amos one of the herdmen of Tekoa, which he saw concerning Israel during the days of Uzziah king of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash king of Israel. More specifically, today’s passage is found in chapters one through nine of this Old Testament prophetic book. TWO YEARS BEFORE THE EARTHQUAKE! THE LORD WILL ROAR FROM ZION, AND UTTER HIS VOICE FROM JERUSALEM! THE HABITATIONS OF THE SHEPHERDS SHALL MOURN! THE TOP OF CARMEL SHALL WITHER! I WILL NOT TURN AWAY THE PUNISHMENT THEREOF! BUT I WILL SEND A FIRE UPON…AND IT SHALL DEVOUR! ISAIAH, HOSEA, AMOS! THREE PROPHETIC VOICES AT THE TIME OF SHAKING! “Can two walk together, except they be agreed? Will a lion roar in the forest, when he hath no prey? Will a young lion cry out of his den, if he have taken nothing? Can a bird fall in a snare upon the earth, where no gin is for him? Shall one take up a snare from the earth, and have taken nothing at all? Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid? Shall there be evil in a city, and the LORD hath not done it? Surely the LORD God will do nothing, but He revealeth His secret unto His servants the prophets. The lion hath roard, who will not fear? The LORD God hath spoken, who can but prophesy?” INTRODUCING: THE ADVERSARY! INTRODUCING: A NEW ADVERSARY! AN ADVERSARY UNLIKE ANY YOU’VE SEEN BEFORE! WHEN TRANSGRESSIONS ARE LINKED TO ALTARS! THE PUNISHMENT OF TRANSGRESSIONS LEADS TO THE VISTATION OF ALTARS! THE PUNISHMENT OF TRANSGRESSIONS, THE VISITATION OF ALTARS! “YET HAVE YE NOT RETURNED UNTO ME, SAITH THE LORD!” I HAVE WITHHELD THE RAIN! I HAVE SMITTEN YOU WITH BLASTING AND MILDEW! I HAVE SENT AMONG YOU THE PESTILENCE! I HAVE OVERTHROWN SOME OF YOU!

For thus saith the LORD unto the house of Israel, Seek ye me, and ye shall live: But seek not Beth-el, nor enter into Gilgal, and pass not to Beer-sheba: For Gilgal shall surely go into captivity, and Beth-el shall come to nought. Seek the LORD, and ye shall live; Lest he break out like fire in the house of Joseph, and devour it, and there be none to quench it in Beth-el. Ye who turn judgment to wormwood, and leave off righteousness in the earth, seek Him that maketh the seven stars and Orion, and turneth the shadow of death into the morning, and marketh the day dark with night: that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth: The LORD is His name: That strengthneth the spoiled against the strong, so that the spoiled shall come against the fortress” Seek good, and not evil, that ye may live: and so the LORD, the God of hosts, shall be with you, as ye have spoken. Hate the evil, and love the good, and establish judgment in the gate: It may be that the LORD God of hosts will be gracious unto the remnant of Joseph” “I hate, I despise your feast days, and I will not smell in your solemn assemblies. Though ye offer me burnt offerings and your meat offerings, I will not accept them: neither will I regard the peace offerings of your fat beasts. Take thou away from me the noise of thy songs; for I will not hear the melody of thy viols”

“Then Amaziah the priest of Beth-el sent to Jeroboam king of Israel, saying, Amos hath conspired against thee in the midst of the house of Israel: the land is not able to bear all his words. For thus Amos saith, Jeroboam shall die by the sword, and Israel shall surely be led away captive out of their own land”

“Also Amaziah said unto Amos, O thou seer, go, flee thee away into the land of Judah, and there eat bread, and prophesy there: but prophesy not again any more at Beth-el: for it is the king’s chapel, and it is the king’s court. Then answered Amos, and said to Amaziah, I was no prophet, neither was I a prophet’s son; but I was an herdman, and a gathererer of sycamore fruit: and the LORD took me as I followed the flock, and the LORD said unto me, Go, prophesy unto my people Israel”

“Behold, the days come, saith the LORD God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD: and they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, and shall not find it”

THE SHAKING & THE FLAMES! THE SHAKING & THE FIRE! When you come to this particular portion of Scripture you will find the word of the LORD coming unto Amos who was among the herdmen of Tekoa. It would be during the days of Uzziah the king of Judah as well as during the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash king of Israel that the word of the LORD would come to Hosea. What I find to be truly astonishing about the opening verse of this prophetic book is not necessarily that the word of the LORD would come unto Amos in the northern kingdom of Israel, but that the word of the LORD would come unto him at the same time two other voices were prophesying in the midst of the land. If you read the opening verse of the prophetic book of Isaiah you will find that he prophesied during the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah kings of Judah, and would prophesy in the southern kingdom of Judah. If you journey to the opening verse of the prophetic book of Hosea you will find that Hosea the son of Beeri prophesied during the same time period—during the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah kings of Judah, as well as during the days of Jeroboam son of Joash king of Israel. It’s one thing for one warning to be sounded, and for one alarm to be going off, however, it is something else for multiple alarms and warnings to be sounding and going off at the same time. If you consider the words which are found within the opening verses of the prophetic books of Isaiah, Hosea and Amos you will find that the LORD had indeed raised up three prophetic voices at the same time in the midst of the land, while two were found in the northern kingdom of Israel, and one was found in the southern kingdom of Judah. You cannot read these three prophetic books and not get the awesome and powerful sense that the word of the LORD was being spoken at the same time by the mouth of three different individuals. The opening verses of these prophetic books reveals the LORD raising up His servants the prophets which would prophesy the word of the LORD unto His people in the midst of the northern kingdom of Israel, as well as the southern kingdom of Judah.

THE ALARMS BEFORE THE FIRE! THE ALARMS BEFORE THE SHAKING! THE WARNINGS BEFORE THE FIRE & THE SHAKING! I sit here today thinking about and considering the opening verses of the prophetic book of Amos, and I am immediately struck first and foremost by the awesome reality that the first and opening verse of this prophetic book describes how Amos would prophesy the word of the LORD two years before the earthquake. This is actually quite astonishing to think about and consider, for the opening verse of this passage of Scripture reveals the prophetic word of the LORD before the shaking would occur in the land, and even before the fires would begin burning upon the earth. Upon reading the words found in the first and second chapters you will find Amos prophesying concerning Israel and Judah, as well as the nations, peoples and lands surrounding them such as Edom, Ammon, Moab, and others. In the first and second chapters of this prophetic book you will find repeatedly mentioned the declaration of the LORD that he would kindle a fire upon the walls and into the houses of these nations and lands—including Judah—which would devour everything in their path. In the first and opening verse of this passage of Scripture we find the prophet Amos speaking of an earthquake that would strike the land, while in the first two chapters of this prophetic book we find Amos speaking of the LORD kindling and sending a fire upon the walls of these nations and lands which would burn and devour everything in their path. It is necessary that we pay close and careful attention to this, for what we have directly in the opening chapters of this prophetic book are multiple alarms being sounded at the same time—the alarm of the word of the LORD, the alarm of the shaking, and the alarm of the devouring. Within the opening chapters of this prophetic book we find the warning of the word of the LORD, the warning of the earthquake, and the warning of fires burning and devouring in the midst of the land.

As surely and as certainly as there were the warnings and alarms of the prophet, the earthquake and the fires, we must also recognize that at the same time the prophet Amos was prophesying in the northern kingdom of Israel, so also would Hosea the son of Beeri prophesy according to the word of the LORD. It would be during the days of Jeroboam son of Joah king of Israel the LORD would raise up two prophetic voices which would prophesy the word of the LORD, which would proclaim the heart and mind of the LORD before the fires began burning, and before the earth began shaking. We dare not miss  and lose sight of this awesome and incredible truth, for in days leading up to judgment the LORD has never been, nor will He ever be silent. There is a tendency to think and consider that judgment somehow comes suddenly and without warning, and yet the underlying truth of the matter is judgment never comes without warning, and never comes without the sound of the alarm. The judgment and wrath of the LORD has never and will never come without a prophetic voice and presence in the midst of the land, and in the days leading up to the great judgment upon the house of Israel we find the LORD raising up Hosea the son of Beeri, as well as Amos of the herdmen of Tekoa. At the same time in the days leading up to the judgment and wrath of the LORD there would be two alarms sounding at the exact same time, as Amos and Hosea would prophesy within this northern kingdom of Israel that had long been on a downward spiral away from the true and living God. In all reality, the northern kingdom of Israel turned their backs on the living God during its initial days of being a kingdom within the earth, as Jeroboam the son of Nebat would set up twin calves made of gold which he would set up in the northern and southern most parts of the kingdom. What’s more, is that Jeroboam the son of Nebat would drive out the priests and Levites who ministered before the LORD, and he would set up and establish his own priests which would minister before these golden calves, and within the new religious system he had established in the midst of the land. As if this weren’t bad enough, Scripture reveals in the book of Second Chronicles that it was at this time the priests, the Levites, and all those who had set their hearts to seek the LORD would leave their inheritance and possessions in the land of Israel behind and journey to Jerusalem and the land of Judah where the Temple was, and where they could worship the LORD freely in His sacred courts.

From the time of Jeroboam the son of Nebat to the time of Jeroboam son of Joash the northern kingdom of Israel would be on a continual and downward spiral away from the LORD of hosts, and two of the greatest sins found in the midst of the land were the twin calves of gold which Jeroboam son of Nebat had set up, as well as the worship of Baal. What’s more, is that if you study and examine the men which sat upon the throne in the northern kingdom of Israel and reigned as kings, there would not a single king who would do that which was right in the eyes of the LORD. We know that Jehu fulfilled that which was prophesied concerning him from the prophet Elijah, but aside from Jehu fulfilling that which the word of the LORD had spoken concerning there would not be a single righteous king to sit upon the throne in the midst of the land. What we find in the prophetic book of Amos is the LORD raising up a prophetic voice in the midst of the land—and not merely a prophetic voice, but a prophetic voice that would cry out against the false religion and idolatry that took place in the land, as well as the various other transgressions of Israel such as causing the Nazarites to stumble, commanding the prophets not to prophesy, ignoring the poor, and living in a continual state of complacency and ease within the land. It would be during the days of Uzziah king of Judah and Jeroboam the son of Joash king of Israel the LORD would raise up Amos as a prophetic voice unto the inhabitants of the land, and Scripture reveals how this prophetic voice would be raised up two years before the earthquake, and before the LORD would send fire upon the walls and houses in the land at that time. What’s more, is that the prophetic word which Amos would speak would begin with Damascus and Syria, and historians and archeologists seem to agree that the earthquake that would strike the earth during the days of Uzziah king of Judah and Jeroboam king of Israel would have its epicenter and originate within the region of Syria and Lebanon. What would be the first nation and kingdom that would be addressed by the prophetic word of the LORD would indeed be the source of the earthquake that would strike the earth during those days.

What makes the opening verses of the prophetic book of Amos so incredibly powerful and captivating is when you consider how in the first verse of the opening chapter we find Amos speaking of the words which he spoke two years before the earthquake, and in the second verse we find Amos declaring how the LORD will roar from Zion, and will utter His voice from Jerusalem. This is actually worth noting and mentioning, for there appears to be this intrinsic link and connection between the roar of the LORD out of Zion, His voice speaking and going forth from Jerusalem, and the shaking of the earth. What we find in the second verse of the opening chapter of the prophetic book of Amos is something worth considering, for what we find here is the declaration that the LORD will roar from Zion, and the LORD uttering His voice from Jerusalem, and then two years later the earth itself will begin to shake. I can’t help but see a direct correlation and connection between the LORD as a lion roaring out of Zion, and the earth shaking in response to His voice speaking. One might wonder if the LORD shakes in response to the roar of the LORD, or if the roar of the LORD actually causes the earth to shake and tremble in response. We know that shaking and trembling was in numerous occasions a natural reaction to encountering a divine messenger of the LORD, or even the LORD Himself. There are countless times within Scripture when men would shake in the presence of the LORD, and even shake at the sound and noise of the LORD speaking before and unto them. What’s more, is that in the Old Testament book of Exodus—specifically in the nineteenth and twentieth chapters—we find the glory and presence of the living God descending upon Horeb in the wilderness of Sinai, and how the entire mountain would shake, tremble and quake violently under the weight of the glory of the LORD, as well as the sound of His voice speaking unto Moses from the midst of the thick clouds and darkness. With this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found within these two chapters, as I am convinced they help set the stage and tone for what we find in the prophetic book of Amos:

And it came to pass on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the people that was in the camp trembled. And Moses brought forth the people out of the camp to meet with God; and they stood at the nether part of the mount. And mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire: and the smore thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly. And when the voice of the trumpet sounded long, and waxed louder and louder, Moses spake, and God answered Him by a voice. And the LORD came down upon mount Sinai, on the top of the mount: and the LORD called Moses up to the top of the mount; and Moses went up. And the LORD said unto Moses, Go down, charge the people, lest they break through unto the LORD to gaze, and many of them perish. And let the priests also, which come near to the LORD, sanctify themselves, lest the LORD break forth upon them. And Moses said unto the LORD, The people cannot come up to mount Sinai: for thou chargedst us, saying, Set bounds about the mount, and sanctify it. And the LORD sdaid unto him, Way, get thee down, and thou shalt come up, thou, and Aaron with thee: but let not the priests and the people break through to come up unto the LORD, lest He break forth upon them. So Moses went down unto the people, and spake unto them” (Exodus 19:16-25).

And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off. And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, lest we die. And Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that His fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not. And the people stood afar off, and Moses drew near unto the thick darkness where God was” (Exodus 20:18-21).

AND WHOLE MOUNT QUAKED GREATLY! ALL THE PEOPLE THAT WAS IN THE CAMP TREMBLED! WHEN THE MOUNTAINS QUAKE AND THE PEOPLE TREMBLE! It is worth taking a look at and considering the words which are found within these two passages of Scripture, for what we find within them is a powerful picture of the mountain of Horeb quaking violently—not only because of the tremendous weight and pressure of the presence and glory of the LORD upon it, but also because of the voice of the LORD that spoke unto Moses from the top of the mount. These two passages are worth examining, for what we find within them is a tremendous picture of an entire mountain in the midst of the wilderness of Sinai shaking and quaking because of the glory and presence of the LORD descending upon it, and the people themselves trembling because of the sight upon the mount, and the sound coming from the mount. Please don’t miss the awesome truth surrounding the LORD’s descent upon Horeb in the wilderness, as well as His voice thundering from the top of the mountain in the midst of the thick clouds and darkness, for when we come to the prophetic book of Amos we find the prophet not only speaking of the LORD roaring from Zion, but also the earthquake that would take place two years after he prophesied according to the word of the LORD. Within the first chapter of the prophetic book of Amos we find Amos emphatically declaring the LORD would roar from Zion, and would utter His voice from Jerusalem, and also the earthquake that would occur in two years time, thus indicating the awesome reality of the LORD speaking, and when the LORD speaks there is a great shaking and trembling that takes place. I cannot help but see a direct connection and link between the LORD roaring from Zion and uttering His voice from Jerusalem, and the earth shaking and quaking before Him. It is truly something worth thinking about and considering how the prophet Amos would begin prophesying the word of the LORD, and would do so two years before the earthquake would strike the land. Stop and think about this for a moment, as within this first and opening chapter of the prophetic book of Amos we find the word of the LORD being proclaimed by Amos, we find the LORD roaring from Zion, and we find an earthquake that would strike the land two years from the time the word of the LORD would begin to be proclaimed.

THE PROPHET(S), THE EARTHQUAKE, THE FIRE(S)! The more you read and consider the words found in the opening chapters of this prophetic book the more you will encounter the tremendous reality that two years before the earthquake would strike the land the LORD would raise up prophetic voices in the midst of the land to sound an alarm in the ears of the inhabitants. It is true an earthquake would strike the land two years after Amos began prophesying the word of the LORD, and it was true the LORD would kindle a fire in Israel, in Ammon, in Moab, in Edom, in Damascus, and in Philistia, however, before those fires would be kindled and would begin devouring the wall of these places the LORD would sound the warning through His prophetic messengers. I have already written it, but feel it is necessary to write it again—for in the days leading up to judgment and wrath being poured out in the midst of the earth the LORD is never without His voice being heard, nor is He without those mouthpieces and vessels who will prophesy and proclaim His words in the midst of the land. In all reality we can say that the prophetic words which were spoken through Hosea and Amos were meant to alert the inhabitants of the land to the tremendous iniquity, idolatry and immorality that was within the land. The house of Israel was nation and people living on the brink and the cusp of the judgment of the LORD of hosts, and it would be their sins which had been in existence from the days and time of Jeroboam son of Nebat until the time of Jeroboam son of Joash that had caused them stare down the barrel of the judgment and wrath of the living God. The words which were spoken through Hosea and Amos were meant to sound an alarm and warning in the ears of the inhabitants of the land, and if those warnings and alarms weren’t heeded or listened to then the LORD would unleash greater judgments and wrath within and upon the land. Scripture speaks of pestilence, famine, the sword, and even various other means of the LORD bringing judgment upon His people, and what we must recognize and understand about these is that they are directly linked—and more often than not a direct response of neglect and rejection of the prophetic words and voices which have been raised up in the midst of the land.

Perhaps the most telling and striking feature of the prophetic book of Amos is that this herdsman of Tekoa in the northern kingdom of Israel was taken from among the sheepfold and raised up to be a prophetic voice two years before the earthquake would strike the land. It would be through the prophet Amos the LORD would seek to warn the northern kingdom of Israel of the dangerous and destructive path they were on, and emphatically declare unto them the certain and imminent captivity they were facing. Through the prophet Amos the LORD would declare how He would bring fire upon the walls of the nations and lands surrounding Israel, and how He would not turn away the punishment which had been reserved for them. As a direct response—not only to continued iniquity and transgression, but also the rejection of the prophetic voice and message, the LORD would send an earthquake upon the land which was meant to awaken a nation and people. The LORD would first speak through His servants the prophets, and when those voices were ignored, despised and rejected, the LORD would use nature itself to speak unto His people and to give warning. If there is one thing we must realize and recognize concerning the LORD of hosts, it’s that He can indeed and can in fact use nature itself to execute His judgments upon nations, peoples and lands. The LORD can send pestilence, famine, drought, earthquakes, locusts, hail, and the like to warn a people of impending judgment and wrath, and we see this present within the history and narrative of the house of Israel. The LORD would raise up prophetic voices, and would even raise up prophetic voices which would be speaking side by side and at the same time. It would be during the days of Uzziah king of Judah and Jeroboam son of Joash Hosea and Amos would prophesy in the northern kingdom of Israel, and Isaiah would prophesy in the southern kingdom of Judah. THE LORD IS NEVER WITHOUT WITNESS, THE PEOPLE ARE NEVER WITHOUT WARNING! We must recognize the awesome and incredible truth that the LORD of hosts sends His servants to warn and speak to His people concerning their iniquity, immorality and idolatry, and when their words and warnings go unheard, ignored, and rejected, the LORD will use nature itself as a means of speaking to and warning His people and/or a nation, kingdom and empire.

Although in the opening two chapters of this prophetic book we find Amos releasing a prophetic word against nations such as Edom, Moab, Ammon, Damascus and Philistia, the prophetic narrative found within this book deals exclusively and primarily with the northern kingdom of Israel and its capital city of Samaria. When you read the words found in this prophetic narrative you will find Amos prophesying unto the northern kingdom of Israel with one of the main and underlying transgressions against the living God was the idolatry that was committed within the land. It is important for us to understand that idolatry would be a transgression and sin of the children of Israel as a whole since the time of the wilderness, as it would be at the base of Horeb Aaron would fashion a golden calf which the people would worship while the LORD was atop the mountain before them. Idolatry would be prevalent among the children of Israel during the days of Joshua the son of Nun, and in fact before his death we find him challenging the people to choose between the gods on the other side of the flood and the gods of Egypt or the living God. We know that idolatry was a tremendously dangerous sin during the period of the judges as the children of Israel would form and fashion their own graven images and idols, and would also worship the foreign and strange gods of the nations round about them. We know that it was Solomon the son of David who had built the Temple of the LORD who himself engaged in worship of the false gods of the nations round about Israel, as his heart was turned away from the LORD and after strange gods by his wives. What’s more, is that we know that it was during the days of Jeroboam son of Nebat the two golden calves were formed and set up in the northern kingdom of Israel, which caused the house of Israel to commit sin and transgression before the LORD. What’s more, is we know that it would be during the days of Ahab and Jezebel that Baal worship would be at its height and zenith in the midst of the land, of which the prophet Elijah challenged atop mount Carmel. It would be atop Carmel in the land of Israel Elijah would challenge the religion of Baal with its false prophets, and it would be during the days of Jehu and Elisha Jehu would once more slaughter all the prophets and priests of Baal and would eradicate its worship from the midst of the land.

It is important for us to think about and consider this narrative, for when we come to the days of a second Jeroboam who sat as king in the midst of the land we find the prophet Amos crying out against the idolatry that was still so pervasive and prevalent in the midst of the land. It would be Amos who would cry out against the altars which had been set up in the midst of the land of Israel, as well as the sins which were committed in Gilgal, Beer-sheba, Beth-el and Samaria. You cannot read the words found within the prophetic book of Amos and not encounter the underlying theme of idolatry in the midst of the land, and how the LORD raised up His holy servants Amos and Hosea to cry out against the idolatry and worship of strange and foreign gods together with the worshipping of idols and images. In the third chapter of this prophetic book we find Amos asking if two can work together unless they be agreed, if a lion will roar in the forest when he has no prey, if a young lion will cry out of his den if he has taken nothing, and if a bird can fall into a snare upon the earth where there was no gin. What’s more, is the prophet would go on to ask if a trumpet would be blown in the city and the people not be afraid, and if there would not be evil in a city which the LORD had not done. Amos would then go on to not only declare that the LORD reveals His secrets unto His servants the prophets, but he also went on to declare that the lion hath roared, and who will not be fear. Moreover, Amos would declare how the LORD had spoken, and who can but prophesy. It is this concept of the LORD roaring out of Zion, and the LORD uttering his voice from Jerusalem that must needs be carefully considered, for what we find in this prophetic book is the LORD speaking through His chosen servants Amos, Hosea and Isaiah, and then Himself roaring from Zion—a roar that would not only shake Israel and Judah, but which would also shake the nations and lands round about them. The LORD would roar from Zion, and that roar would be directly linked to the shaking of the earth, as there would be an earthquake which would take place during the days of Uzziah king of Judah, and Jeroboam king of Israel. What we must realize is that the LORD can indeed shake the earth and cause the earth to quake as a sign and portent of judgment. There is not a doubt in my mind that the LORD can and will do whatever is necessary to warn a nation and people—and will do so through sending His messengers—however, if those warnings aren’t heeded and are largely ignored, the LORD may use nature itself to speak directly to and warn a people and nation concerning their iniquity, transgression and sin before Him.

The more you delve into the Old Testament prophetic book of Amos the more you will encounter the tremendous reality that in the opening verses of the book we find the declaration that the words Amos prophesied took place two years before an earthquake would strike the land. History and archaeologists have agreed that such an earthquake did in fact take place, as I am absolutely convinced that the living and eternal God decided to shake the earth and cause a trembling in the land as a means to wake up the inhabitants of the land. What’s more, is that I firmly believe that the LORD can indeed, and the LORD does in fact send His servants the prophets and seers to stand upon the wall and warn the inhabitants of the land of danger coming, however, if the warnings and words of the prophets are ignored, despised and rejected, the LORD can indeed use other means to wake up His people and to alert them that something is drastically and something is seriously wrong. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this reality—particularly and especially when you look at our own nation at this time—for this year virtually began with a pandemic and was quickly followed by civil unrest which created an increased level and degree of damage within many of our cities throughout and across this country. What’s more, is that as you continue to progress through this year you will find that wild fires along the West Coast began saturating the headlines, as a good portion of the western United States—California, Oregon, and even Washington—is on fire. Add to this the continual threat of earthquakes which have always plagued the West Coast, and you will find the tremendous dangerous countless hundreds of thousands of Americans have faced—and still do and will continue to face in the coming days. Moreover, this has been an active hurricane season as well, and although there haven’t been any hurricanes that have matched the devastating nature of Katrina, Sandy, Maria, and others which have slammed into the coasts of the United States, there have been hurricanes which have caused damage along the Gulf Coast of the United States. It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we pay close attention to these realities, for they bring us face to face with the fact that the LORD doesn’t merely speak through His servants and messengers.

THE LORD CAN USE NATURE TO SPEAK TO NATIONS, PEOPLES, KINGDOMS, EMPIRES, AND THE LIKE! THE LORD CAN USE ENEMIES AND ADVERSARIES TO SPEAK TO NATIONS, PEOPLES, KINGDOMS, EMPIRES, ETC. Perhaps one of the most astonishing realities that surrounds the prophetic book of Amos is that in the opening chapter of this prophetic book we find the word of the LORD coming unto Amos two years before the great earthquake which would strike the earth during the days of Uzziah king of Judah. What’s more, is that within the opening two chapters we find the LORD speaking of and declaring how He would send fires upon Ammon, Edom, Moab, Damascus, Philistia, and even Judah because of the transgression and iniquity that had been committed in the earth. What’s more, is the LORD would also declare that the punishment thereof would not be turned away, and that it was most certainly on the horizon before the inhabitants of the land. The more you read and study the words found in the prophetic book of Amos the more you will encounter the tremendous reality that the LORD would indeed cause the earth to shake and tremble as a means to wake up His people concerning their iniquity, idolatry and immorality, but the LORD would also raise up an enemy and adversary upon the earth that would enter into and invade their coasts and borders. In fact, if you turn and direct your attention to the second half of the third chapter you will find an awesome and powerful declaration of the LORD raising up and sending an adversary in the midst of and upon the land. Although the LORD would not necessarily reveal who this adversary would be, the LORD was warning the people that there was coming an adversary and enemy which would come upon the land and would unleash a great devastation and destruction. Consider if you will the words found in the third chapter beginning to read with and from the eleventh verse:

Therefore thus saith the LORD God; An adversary there shall be even round about the land; and he shall bring down thy strength from thee, and thy palaces shall be spoiled. Thus saith the LORD; As the shepherd taketh out of the mouth of the lion two legs, or a piece of an ear; so shall the children of Israel be taken out that dwell in Samaria in the corner of a bed, and in Damascus in a couch. Hear ye, and testify in the house of Jacob, saith the LORD God, the God of hosts, that in the day that I shall visit the transgressions of Israel upon him I will also visit the altars of Beth-el: and the horns of the altar shall be cut off, and fall to the ground. And I will smite the winter house with the summer house; and the houses of ivory shall perish, and the great houses shall have an end, saith the LORD” (Amos 3:11-15).

YET HAVE YE NOT RETURNED UNTO ME! The further you delve into the prophetic book of Amos the more you will find that although the LORD warned the people through His servants the prophets, they would not hearken unto them, nor heed and listen to their messages. If there is one thing Scripture reveals it’s that the LORD can and will send His servants the prophets to both speak to and warn His people concerning their transgression, their evil, their sin and their wickedness. The LORD continually spoke through His servant Jeremiah declaring that He sent His servants the prophets rising early in the morning to speak in the hearing of the people of Judah and Jerusalem, and yet they refused to listen, hear and hearken unto the words that were proclaimed in their hearing. Scripture makes it very clear that if the words and message of the prophets are largely ignored, despised and rejected, and if the prophets themselves are the source of the wrath and rage of the people, then the LORD can and will use other means to sound an alarm, to speak to and warn His people, and even as signs of judgment. Much like the LORD sent His judgments and plagues in the midst of the land to cause His people to come forth out of the land of Egypt, the LORD would send His judgments within and upon the land of Israel and Judah that His people might be warned. The LORD would indeed send His servants the prophets, but the LORD might also at the same time the prophets are speaking and proclaiming the word of the LORD send His judgments within and upon the land. What we find in the prophetic book of Joel, as well as the prophetic book of Amos is that the LORD can and will send His judgments within and upon a nation and people as an additional witness and testimony against them. If there is one thing history has proven and revealed it’s that while the words and message(s) of the prophets can be largely ignored, despised and rejected, the people of the land tend to pay attention all the more when the LORD begins to bring His judgments in the midst of the land through elements such as pestilence, famine, earthquakes, drought, and the like. Remember how during the days of Elijah it didn’t rain for three and a half years according to the word of the LORD, and how the lack of rain would thrust the land into both famine and drought. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of the awesome and incredible reality that the LORD can indeed and can in fact multiply His judgments in the midst of nations as a means to sound an alarm in the ears of and before the people.

One of the greatest questions we must ask ourselves is whether or not we are listening, and whether or not we will listen when the LORD’s servants the prophets and seers speak and warn of our iniquity, our immorality and our idolatry. The question we must ask ourselves is whether or not we can and will listen to the words which the servants of the LORD can and will speak and proclaim in the midst of the land, and their warning of our transgression, our sin, and our wickedness. What’s more, is that we must recognize and understand that at the heart of the prophetic witness, and at the heart of the judgment(s) of the LORD is the call to return and to turn our hearts once more to the LORD. RETURN—it was the message proclaimed through the prophet Jeremiah, it was the message proclaimed through the prophet Joel, it was the message proclaimed through Isaiah, it was the message proclaimed through Hosea, and it is the message which is being proclaimed through Amos. What we find in the prophetic book of Amos, however, is that despite the LORD’s invitation of the house of Israel to return unto Him, and the turning of their hearts unto and before Him, they would not humble themselves before Him in His sight, and they would not turn themselves and their hearts to the LORD. What’s more, is that as you read the words found in the fourth chapter of the prophetic book of Amos you will find that the LORD would send His judgments within and upon the land of Israel, and yet despite His judgments which would be multiplied and manifested in the midst of the land, the people would not hear, and they would not return unto Him. THE DANGER OF NOT RETURNING! If there is one thing we must realize and recognize concerning the raising up and sending of the prophets, as well as the manifestation of the judgments of the LORD in the midst of the earth, it’s that the ultimate desire of the LORD is that His people return unto Him and turn their hearts once more unto Him. Although there might in fact be casualties as a direct result of the judgments of the LORD upon a nation, a people and the land, the ultimate desire and objective of the LORD is that His people turn their hearts once more unto Him, and that they return to Him. Please do not miss the awesome and incredible importance of this truth, for as you read the words found in the fourth chapter of this prophetic book you will find the LORD declaring through His servant Amos that despite everything He had done in the midst of the land, His people would not return unto Him. Consider if you will the following words which are found in this passage of Scripture beginning to read with and from the sixth verse:

And I also have given you cleanness of teeth in all your cities, and want of bread in all your places: YET HAVE YE NOT RETURNED UNTO ME, SAITH THE LORD. And also I have withholden the rain from you, when there was yet three months to the harvest: and I caused it to rain upon one city, and caused it not to rain upon another city: one piece was rained upon, and the piece whereupon it rained not withered. So two or three cities wandered unto one city, to drink water; but they were not satisfied: YET HAVE YE NOT RETURNED UNTO ME, SAITH THE LORD. I have smitten you with blasting and mildew: when your gardens and your vineyards and your fig trees and your olives trees increased, the palmerworm devoured them: YET HAVE YE NOT RETURNED UNTO ME, SAITH THE LORD. I have sent among you the pestilence after the manner of Egypt: your young men have I slain with the sword, and have taken away your horses; and I have made the stink of your camps to come up into your nostrils: YET HAVE YE NOT RETURNED UNTO ME, SAITH THE LORD. I have overthrown some of you, as God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, and ye were as a firebrand plucked out of the burning: YET HAVE YE NOT RETURNED UNTO ME, SAITH THE LORD. Therefore thus will I do unto thee, O Israel: and because I will do this unto thee, Prepare to meet thy God, O Israel. For, lo, He that formed the mountains, and createth the wind, and declareth unto man what is his thought, that maketh the morning darkness, and treadeth upon the high places of the earth, The LORD, the God of hosts, is His name” (Amos 4:6-13).

                     Five times within this particular section of Scripture the LORD declared unto the house of Israel that they had not returned unto Him. It would be one thing if the LORD had declared but once that His people had not returned unto Him, but these words were repeated five times within these eight verses. What’s more, is that this lack of returning unto the LORD was directly linked and connected to the judgments which He unleashed within and upon the land. You cannot read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture and not encounter and come face to face with the awesome reality that the LORD of hosts had indeed sent His judgments in the midst of the land as a means of inviting and calling the people to once more turn themselves to Him. It would be very easy to read the judgments which are mentioned here, and to automatically assume that the judgments of the LORD were intended to destroy the house of Israel, and yet I am absolutely and completely convinced that such a thinking is not only naïve, but it also incredibly incorrect and wrong. If there is one thing these words proves and demonstrates before and unto us who read them it’s that the judgments of the LORD would be used of the LORD to bring His people into a place of repentance before Him in the midst of the earth. We cannot read the words found within these passages of Scripture and not come face to face with the fact that the purpose of the judgments which the LORD brought upon the land was to call and invite the people to return unto Him. By nature of the LORD declaring unto the house of Israel that He did such and such, and yet despite His doing and performing that they did not return to Him, we must recognize that at the very heart of His judgment was the return of His people. THERE IS STILL TIME! The purpose of the judgments of the LORD were both a means to call and invite the people to return themselves unto Him, as well as a means of declaring unto them that there was still time left for them to return themselves and turn their hearts unto the LORD. Oh, the more I think about this particular section of Scripture the more I can’t help but be reminded of the words which the prophet Joel spoke during the days in which He was raised up of the LORD to prophesy unto the house of Israel and Judah. Consider if you will the words which are found in the second chapter of the prophetic book which bears his name:

                     “Therefore also now, saith the LORD, Turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: and rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: For He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth Him of the evil. Who knoweth if He will return and repent, and leave a blessing behind Him; even a meat offering and a drink offering unto the LORD your God? Blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly: gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children, and those that suck the breasts: let the bridegroom go forth of his chamber, and the bride out of her closet. Let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Spare thy people, O LORD, and give not thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them: wherefore should they say among the people, Where is their God? Then will the LORD be jealous for His land, and pity His people. Yea, the LORD will answer and say unto His people, Behold, I will send you corn, and wine, and oil, and ye shall be satisfied therewith: and I will no more make you a reproach among the heathen: but I will remove far off from you the northern army, and will drive him into a land barren and desolate, with his face toward the east sea, and his hinder part toward the utmost sea, and his stink shall come up, and his ill savour shall come up, because he hath done great things” (Joel 2:12-20).

                     TURN YE EVEN TO ME WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH FASTING, AND WITH WEEPING, AND WITH MOURNING! TURN UNTO THE LORD YOUR GOD! It is absolutely unmistakable to read the words found in the second chapter of this prophetic book and not come face to face with the fact that the LORD desires that His people turn unto Him with their whole hearts, and with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning. Even when you read the words which the LORD spoke unto Solomon when He appeared unto him in a dream during the night you will find Him speaking of His people which are called by His name would humble themselves, and pray, and seek His face, and turn from their wicked ways. There is absolutely no denying or mistaking the tremendous reality that at the very heart of the judgments the LORD brings upon the earth the underlying message is that of return and the turning of one’s heart unto the LORD once more. The words which you find in the fourth chapter of the prophetic book of Amos describe how the LORD sent famine, and drought, and the pestilence, and the sword, and various other judgments upon and within the land of Israel, and how the purpose of those judgments was to bring them into the place where they would repent before the LORD in sackcloth, in dust and ashes, and turn their hearts to Him once more. The judgments which the LORD raised up in the midst of, and upon the land were intended on calling the people back to the LORD with all their heart, with all their soul and with all their strength. Even more than all of this we must acknowledge the fact that at the very heart of what the LORD desires and is after is the heart, and the LORD desires that we worship Him with all our heart, that we love Him with all our heart, and that we turn to Him with all our heart. The LORD has always and will always be after the heart that is within a man, for it is the heart which the LORD desires above everything else. We can come before the LORD with our offerings, and with our gifts, and with our sacrifices, and yet that which the LORD desires above everything else is our heart. Even when we have turned ourselves from worshipping, serving and following the LORD, it is the heart the LORD desires to be turned back to Him. Oh that you and I would recognize that the LORD earnestly yearns for, longs for, and desires our heart, and it is our heart the LORD desires to be fully submitted and surrendered unto Him.

                     In the fourth chapter of the prophetic book of Amos we find the heart and underlying foundation of the judgments of the LORD which He brought in the midst of and upon the land being the return of His people, and the turning of their hearts to Him once more. The LORD did indeed and did in fact send His judgments within and upon the land, and the LORD did indeed bring the sword, the famine, the pestilence, the drought, mildew, and the blasting upon the land, and yet within and through the midst of all that the LORD desired that His people turn their hearts to Him once more. The LORD desired that His people realize the error of their ways, and that they would turn themselves to Him in prayer, in fasting, in weeping, and in mourning. The LORD desired that His people would repent themselves of their iniquity, their idolatry and their immorality, and the purpose of the judgments the LORD sent upon the land was for the sole purpose of bringing the people to the place where they would turn their hearts unto Him once more. For too  long their hearts had been turned away from Him, and for too long the people of Israel had turned their backs on the LORD while continuing to worship their images, their idols, and the false and strange gods of the nations round about them, and the LORD was calling them back to Himself. What’s more, is that when you come to the fifth chapter of this prophetic book of Amos you will find the LORD desiring more than simply His people returning unto Him, but also their seeking Him. Almost immediately within the fifth chapter of this prophetic book you find the word of the LORD being spoken by and through Amos and the awesome invitation that was given unto the house of Israel to seek the LORD. If in the fourth chapter the message centered upon the return of the house of Israel to the LORD their God, the message of the fifth chapter of this book was the seeking of the LORD. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the fifth chapter of this prophetic book beginning to read with and from the fourth verse:

                     “For thus saith the LORD unto the house of Israel, Seek ye me, and ye shall live: but seek not Beth-el, nor enter into Gilgal, and pass not to Beer-sheba: For Gilgal shall surely go into captivity, and Beth-el shall come to nought. Seek the LORD, and ye shall live; lest He break out like fire in the house of Joseph, and devour it, and there be none to quench it in Beth-el. YE who turn judgment to wormwood, and leave off righteousness in the earth, seek Him that maketh the seven stars and Orion, and turneth the shadow of death into the morning, and maketh the day dark with night: The LORD is His name: that strengtheneth the spoiled against the strong, so that the spoiled shall come against the fortress” (Amos 5:4-9).

SEEK YE ME! SEEK THE LORD! SEEK ME…AND YE SHALL LIVE! What a truly wonderful, powerful and incredible invitation the LORD was giving unto the house of Israel, for the LORD was calling and inviting them to seek Him—and not only seek Him, but also seek Him that they might live. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this awesome truth, for not only do we find the invitation of the LORD to seek Him, but we also find the end result of seeking Him, which was life. The LORD desired His people turn themselves unto Him once more, and the LORD also desired that His people seek Him that they might live. RETURNING AND SEEKING! I cannot help but find and see within this prophetic book an awesome and powerful truth that the LORD of hosts desired that the house of Israel turn themselves unto Him once more with all their hearts, and to turn unto Him with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning. What’s more, is the LORD called and invited the house of Israel to seek Him—and to seek Him that they might live. Please don’t miss this, for this is essentially the same invitation Moses the servant of the LORD gave to their fathers on the eastern side of the Jordan River, for Moses invited them to choose life and not death. Oh that would recognize and understand that the heart of the Father is that we experience life, and even Jesus Himself declared that He came to give life, and life more abundantly. Through Moses we find the LORD inviting the people to choose life over death, through Amos we find the LORD inviting the house of Israel to seek Him that they might live, and through Jesus His own Son He declared that He came to give them life and life more abundantly. Please do not miss the awesome truth behind this, for the LORD does not delight in the death of the wicked. We must realize and recognize that it has always been the desire of the LORD that we experience life, and even at the very heart of the garden of Eden in which Adam and Eve had been placed was the tree of life—the invitation of life if you will. The ultimate and underlying question we must ask ourselves is whether or not we desire life, and whether or not we will freely partake of it, or whether we will choose death—death that came from partaking of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the same fifth chapter of the prophetic book of Amos in verses fourteen and fifteen:

                     “Seek good, and not evil, that ye may live: and so the LORD, the God of hosts, shall be with you, as ye have spoken. Hate the evil, and love the good, and establish judgment in the gate: It may be that the LORD God of hosts will be gracious unto the remnant of Joseph” (Amos 5:14-15).

As I bring this writing to a close I find it absolutely necessary that we call and draw our attention to the two greatest realities and invitations that are found within the prophetic book of Amos—namely, seeking the LORD, and returning unto Him. There is not a doubt in my mind that during this generation and during these days we are being brought face to face with both of these calls and invitations of heaven, and absolutely everything we are witnessing, experiencing and beholding are powerful invitations from the LORD to turn ourselves unto Him—as a people, as individuals, and as a nation. There is a clarion call to carefully and thoroughly examine our hearts and our lives, and to truly see if we are walking in righteousness and holiness before the LORD. We have been given, and we are being given invitations to seek the LORD that we might live, and to turn our hearts to Him once again, and the underlying question is whether or not we are willing to truly turn ourselves unto the LORD with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning. Even with and even in the midst of everything we are facing and experiencing within this generation—and even within this year alone—we must realize and recognize that the LORD of hosts is indeed and is in fact calling us to seek Him—and to truly seek Him with our whole hearts, and with everything that is within us. We are being called to seek the LORD and to turn ourselves to Him that we might live, and that we not die. With everything that is taking place within this year alone we cannot deny the awesome reality that the LORD of hosts is indeed calling a people, and calling the nations of the earth to turn and return once more, and to seek Him that they might live and not die. The question I leave you with is whether or not you are willing to turn yourself fully and completely to the LORD, and whether or not you are willing to seek Him that you might live—and not just live here on the earth, but live in eternity in the glorious presence of the one true and living God.

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