9 “Yet it was I who destroyed the Amorite before them,
Though his height was like the height of cedars
And he was strong as the oaks;
I even destroyed his fruit above and his root below.
10 “It was I who brought you up from the land of Egypt,
And I led you in the wilderness forty years
That you might take possession of the land of the Amorite.
11 “Then I raised up some of your sons to be prophets
And some of your young men to be Nazirites.
Is this not so, O sons of Israel?” declares the Lord.
12 “But you made the Nazirites drink wine,
And you commanded the prophets saying, ‘You shall not prophesy!’
God’s anger burns against Israel because they have forgotten. They have forsaken the One True God who rescued them and preserved them. There are many times in reading the story of Israel through the Old Testament that we see time and again the nation neglecting God, despite all He has done for them. We shake our heads at their idiocracy, their flagrant disregard for who He is, and constant “falling away” despite all He does for them. Then I stop and think about how often I do the very same thing.
The story of ancient Israel is but a representation of those of us who are in Christ today. He calls us His people, just as He did them before Jesus came to earth. They didn’t always behave like God’s people and today, neither do we. Our actions and words betray the very things we claim to believe in, calling ourselves Christians but looking nothing like Christ. We have no excuse other than being enticed by the lusts of this world. In James 1, the author discusses the testing of our faith:
14 But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. 15 Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. 16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. 17 Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. 18 In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures.
Our weakness is sinfulness and our strength is in Christ. With the Holy Spirit living in us, we have no excuse to give into these worldly passions except that we decide to do things our own way instead of His. I’m sure when the recipients were reading Amos’ letter and they got to this part, they were wondering, “wow, how did we ever get to this point?” It’s a slippery slope my friends. It starts with something little and the next thing you know, you are in the middle of a scandal or some other sort of mess that you have no idea how to get out of. Can you imagine what it was like that Israel shut up their prophets and forced their clergy to get drunk? It seems a bit ridiculous even today for such things to happen, but this is where they ended up because they slowly slipped away from God.
I always try to remember the introduction to Peter’s 2nd letter. He details the slippery slope of faith, hope, and love. He details for us how to grow in faith and a closer relationship with God (the opposite of what we read previously). It’s a path that the world constantly works to knock us off of, but we must remain steadfast if we want to realize a solid relationship with God:
2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; 3 seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. 4 For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. 5 Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, 6 and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, 7 and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. 8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins. 10 Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; 11 for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.
Which slope will you choose: the one towards the Kingdom of God or the one towards defilement and death?