Feast of Dedication Devotion
Read: Amos Chapter Five
"But let justice run down like water,
and righteousness like a mighty stream."
Amos's first message to the northern kingdom explained his prophetic call from the Lord (Amos 3); his second message addressed the sins that were destroying the nation (Amos 4); and his third message was a lamentation over the death of the nation of Israel (Amos 5). "The virgin of Israel has fallen; she will rise no more. She lies forsaken on her land; their is no one to raise her up" (v. 2). Amos had the ears of the people, but ultimately the Lord wanted their hearts. Three times, Amos called God's stubborn, foolish people to give attention to the Word of God. "Hear this word!" (3:1; 4:1; 5:1). "God, who at various times and in various way spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds...See that you do not refuse Him who speaks" (Hebrews 1:1, 2; 12:25a). He pleaded with them to turn from their idolatrous ways and return to the Lord, and he demonstrated their need of repentance with his own cries of lamentation, but they remained unresponsive to the words of truth coming from the prophets' mouth. They couldn't see their true condition as they lounged in their ivory palaces and feasted on the abundance of food that lavished their banqueting tables. Their stomachs were full and their ears were closed. While Amos was singing a funeral dirge over the nation, the people were preparing for their next feast, unconcerned that by their faithlessness and disobedience they had turned the land of their inheritance into their burial ground. "So you shall say to them, 'This is a nation that does not obey the voice of the LORD their God nor receive correction. Truth has perished and has been cut off from their mouth. Cut off your hair and cast it away, and take up a lamentation on the desolate heights; for the LORD has rejected and forsaken the generation of His wrath" (Jeremiah 7:28, 29).
"Seek Me and live...Seek the LORD and live,
lest He break out like fire in the house of Joseph...
You who turn justice to wormwood,
and lay righteousness to rest in the earth!
Seek good and not evil, that you may live;
so the LORD God of hosts will be with you,
as you have spoken.
Hate evil, love good; establish justice at the gate.
It may be that the LORD God of hosts
will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph."
(Amos 5:4b, 6a, 7, 14, 15)
The prophet continually exhorted the people to heed God's word, but the people persistently disobeyed the voice of the Lord. If only they would "Seek the LORD" they would escape the violent death that awaited them, and instead experience true revival and live. "Incline your ear, and come to Me, hear, and your soul shall live...Seek the LORD while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD and He will have mercy on him, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon" (Isaiah 55:3, 6, 7). Amos pleaded with them to turn from their evil ways so they might avoid the judgment that was coming, but they closed their ears to his lamentations and refused to be told their sins. "They hate the one who rebukes in the gate, and they abhor the one who speaks uprightly" (Amos 5:10). Soon their places of feasting would become places of sorrow, and they too would take up the song of lament and be wailing in distress. The Day they expected to be filled with light and triumph, would instead be a terrible day of darkness and ruin when the Lord would visit His people with judgment (Amos 5:18-20). "In that day they will roar against them like the roaring of the sea. And if one looks to the land, behold darkness and sorrow; and the light is darkened by the clouds" (Isaiah 5:30).
"In all the vineyards there shall be wailing,
for I will pass through you," says the LORD."
How necessary are God's judgments to wake men from their slumber that they may reform their ways, humbly repent, and be lead back to a right relationship with the Lord. God had rejected Israel's hypocritical worship as mere lip service. He despised their feast days and refused to accept their meaningless offerings. "Though you offer Me burnt offerings and your grain offerings, I will not accept them..." (v. 22). They worshiped according to the letter but not the spirit of the Law; therefore their hearts were far from the Lord (Isaiah 29:13). They filled their empty worship rituals with a noisy tumult of sounding brass and clanging cymbals (1 Corinthians 13:1), which the Lord dismissed, calling instead for the "honest tumult of the rolling waters of justice and the perennial stream of righteousness." "But let justice run down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream" (Amos 5:24). The Lord has called His people to the highest devotion from which the heavenly streams of His kindness flow to the earth and cause the earth to flourish. "..that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast" (Ephesians 2:7-9). By His atoning sacrifice, our Lord has lifted us up out of the polluted waters of mere ritualism, which calls for an endless flow of sacrifices, into the realm of pure worship where justice and equity continuously flow and righteousness runs its perpetual course. "For I desire mercy and not sacrifice, and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings" (Hosea 6:6). As we heed the Lord's exhortation from His Word today, let us pray for wholehearted devotion and pure worship to pour from the hearts and lips of all God's children, for that is what pleases the Lord and delights His heart. "He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?" (Micah 6:8).
"But let him who glories glory in this,
that he understands Me,
that I am the LORD, exercising kindness, judgment,
and righteousness in the earth.
For in these I delight," says the LORD."
The Feast of Dedication
The Feast of Dedication is a memorial feast of the dedication of the new altar and the purging of the temple by Judas Maccabeus in December, 165 B.C. after it had been profaned by Antiochus Epiphanes, as prophesied by Daniel (Daniel 11:31). Today the Feast of Dedication (see John 10:22-38) is known as the Festival of Lights or Hanukkah. In commemoration of God's plan of complete restoration for His people through His Son Jesus Christ, an additional "feast" is provided each day of this journey to be enjoyed with your family. As we celebrate this week of the Feast of Dedication and light the candles on our tables, may the light that is within us grow ever brighter as we feast upon the Word of God and share His love with others. Continue today's journey with a time of prayer and blessing for the whole family with the devotional link below. May your home in this season be filled with the sweet fragrance of Christ and may every heart overflow with His joy and be permeated with His peace as we celebrate the birth of our Savior!