Pastor Wade's Blog

The Best of Times- The Worst of Times

Charles Dickens summarized the conditions of France at the time of the French Revolution with his opening statement in his book, The Tale of Two Cities: “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.”  That is much like the condition we are living in America – the best of times and the worst of times.

However, this was not a situation that originated in France. In fact we can trace it back, at least, to the ten tribes of Northern Israel. The Old Testament prophet Amos conducted his ministry in such an environment as Dicken’s described and one much like ours at the present in America. The climate of Amos’ day was one of great prosperity and religious fervency, but also a time of religious hypocrisy, moral perversity, and social inequity. It was a time of national security in which Israel never felt safer within her borders. 

The message of Amos, though humbling and frightening, is also a message filled with hope. The Prophet does not just point out the flaws and failures of his country but directs them toward biblical solutions.  His message stands as a continual rebuke to formalism, materialism, sensualism, and relativism. He calls for repentance, a commitment to obedience, and a compassionate working out of our faith in daily life which will produce genuine productivity.

The Nations Forsaken Sovereign

The people of Amos’ day underwent a change of loyalties due to their change of lords. When a nation experiences a change of lords or religious faith, there will inevitably follow a change of the laws that govern them. The burning issue of Amos’ day was that of authority or Lordship. Whose laws were to govern the nation. All laws are but reflections of the religious faith of the people who comprise that nation.  Just as was true in the times of Amos the prophet, likewise the question of all questions in this hour in America is, “Who is in charge?”  Who is lord and sovereign?  Is it men? Is the government God or is there a God in Heaven who rules over the affairs of men, personally, intimately, actively, presently, pervasively, and continually?

It is obvious that there has been a change of loyalties in this country. The shift has occurred very subtly and slowly, but very successfully.  We have been unloosed from the moorings of our godly heritage. We have changed lords and loyalties and the result is we are seeing it reflected in our laws.

  1. J. Rushdoony pointed out the myth of neutral or value free law: “Behind every law system there is a god.  If the source of law is the individual, you make up your own rules, then you are the god of that system.  If the god of that system is the courts, then they are the source of law and there is none higher in their opinion.  If there is no higher law than man, then man is his own god.”

Apostasy – Apathy  - Amalgamation 

The first indicator of apostasy is religious syncretism. This the leveling of all faith persuasions. All religions are supposedly equal. In Amos 5:26 the people are charged with apostasy, which is a willful and deliberate rejection of the person of God and a turning to self-made gods whose power is demonic in nature.

When men turn from the true God, the result is a turning to occultism, Satanism, and demonism in a quest for power.

In Amos 6:1, we see the people had become apathetic. “Woe to you who are at ease (or complacent and apathetic) in Zion.”Zion here represents the people of God and the place of God’s manifest presence.

Despite their apathy and apostasy, attendance at the religious services had never been better. However, Amos 8:1 reveals the attitude that prevailed in the hearts of those who were in regular attendance. “When will the new moon be over that we may sell grain and the Sabbath be ended that we may market wheat, skimping the measure, boosting the price, cheating with dishonest scales, buying the poor with silver and the needy for a pair of sandals, selling even the sweepings with the wheat?” Religious fervency was nothing more than a mask for their hypocrisy.

There was apathy, apostasy, and an amalgamation of all religions which resulted in an attack upon the those who held to the true faith. We read in  Amos 7:12“Amaziah said to Amos the prophet, “Get out you seer (you prophet or preacher.)  Go back to the land of Judah.  Earn your bread there and do your prophesying there. Don’t prophesy anymore at Bethel because this is the king’s sanctuary and the temple of the kingdom.”  In other words, “Get out.  We don’t want to hear what you have to say.”

Religious syncretism degenerates into moral relativism. In the days of Amos, the rich were oppressing the poor, the courts were controlled by bribes, and political leaders were emphasizing military might over godliness as a means of security. Money-making and personal covetousness ruled all: the men lived for their offices (Amos 8:5), the women lived for excitement (Amos 4:1), and the rulers lived for frivolity (Amos 6:1-6).

The results of a recent national survey concluded that “this study is a disturbing portrait of a nation without a common morality…Americans are making their own rules and laws.” 

Moral relativism leads inevitably to extreme materialism. Amos 3:15: “I will tear down the winter house along with the summer house; the houses adorned with ivory will be destroyed, and the mansions will be demolished.” A great number of the Israelites were so wealthy they had a winter and summer home. The fact that their homes were inlaid with ivory reveals that they were mansions.

The Nations False Security

  1. Israel trusted in their Religious ActivityAmos 5:21-23, “I hate, I despise your feasts, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; and the peace offerings of your fattened animals, I will not look upon them. Take away from me the noise of your songs; to the melody of your harps, I will not listen.”
  2. Israel trusted in their Military Capability – Amos 6:1b, “…and to those who feel secure on the mountain of Samaria,“

Since their religious activity was fervent (never mind that it was hypocritical) and their military was strong, they felt secure in their position among the nations.

For the most part, masses of Americans believe that our strength is in, and our trust should be in big government. We believe that government somehow has the unlimited capacity that only God possesses. When people reject the Lordship of Christ’s rule, they place their hope in an earthly ruler whom they expect to satisfy their wants. The people begin to see the nation’s problems as being political in nature rather than ethical, so they believe that they can steal by the ballot box what they are unwilling to work for. This disastrous idea has resulted in government of the people, by the people and for the people, becoming government over the people in the name of the people.

The Nation’s Fatal Sentence

Amos 4:12, “Therefore this is what I will do to you Israel and because I will do this to you, prepare to meet your God, oh, Israel.” Judgment came to this prosperous nation despite her ivory palaces in which the finest of wine was always flowing; despite her powerful military; despite her fervent religious activity. The Assyrians invaded under the guidance of God and destroyed their cities, taking multitudes prisoner. They marched the prisoners back to Assyria in the manner declared by Amos.

Is America under the judgment of God? I am not a prophet nor the son of one, but it sure appears that because of apathy, apostasy and spiritual amalgamation, God has given us over to the fruit of our choices. 

The Faithful Solution

David Chilton wrote: “Amos never appealed to socialism or statism for the answers. He never said that it was wrong to make a profit, or unjust to have possessions. He did not try t incite envy by comparing the incomes of the rich and the poor and then assuming that the wealth of the rich was unjust. He did not ask for that foreign aid to be sent to those heathen nations that were about to become impoverished through God’s judgment on their godliness. Neither did he request state intervention into the market. Instead he named their sins: extortion, partiality in court, falsifying weights and measures, debasing the currency, disobedience to the Poor Laws, false advertising, fornication, religious syncretism and hypocrisy, etc.” He confronted them with the truth of God’s Word and called them to repentance.

Amos 5:4,14,15,24: The direction given, but unheeded by Israel was,  “Seek Me.” In other words, don’t seek the answer in political and religious institutions, venerable traditions, religious rituals, or military might. “Seek God!” This means “REPENT”! The essence of repentance is not in things done or not done but in an attitude toward a person and that person is God!  Then he says in verse 14:  “Seek good and evil.  Hate evil and love good.”  In verse 24 he says, “Let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never failing stream.”

What is the answer for America?  SEEK GOD!  The future of this country will not be determined by government, politicians, educators or scientists. The future of this country rests at the feet of the people of God – the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ. As the church goes, so goes the nation. We must return to the faith of our fathers. We must get on our knees in humility, in prayer, in contrition, confession and repentance. We must forsake our sins! We must go back to the Cross! We must go back to the Incarnate Son of God Who was cursed, condemned, crucified for man the creature’s sin.  The crisis is acute; the danger is imminent; and time is running out!  Something miraculous must happen in the hearts and souls of Americans before it is too late.

The choice is clear.  It’s repent or perish, revival or ruin, Christ or chaos. “Seek ye me, says the Lord!”

 

servicetimesbackground

Join us Sunday at 

10:30am