Feast of Dedication Devotion
Read: Amos Chapter One
"The LORD roars from Zion,
and utters His voice from Jerusalem;
the pastures of the shepherds mourn,
and the top of Carmel withers."
On the surface, it seemed things couldn't be better for the nation of Israel. Both of the northern and southern kingdoms were enjoying a time of great prosperity under the leadership of King Jeroboam II (792 to 753 BC) and King Uzziah (792 to 740 BC), respectively. They were financially, politically, and militarily sound and secure - or so they thought. Society was changing rapidly,but, sadly, so were the hearts of the people. The more wealth they accumulated, the more land they amassed, and the more the upper classes indulged in extravagant living, idolatry and immorality. The result was a decay in spiritual life among the people, as greed and injustice thrived beneath the surface. The nation lived under a false sense of security, believing that, as God's chosen people, they were under His gracious hand of protection; but they failed to discern the Lord's hand of discipline in the repeated warnings He had given them through drought, famine, and plagues. Their hearts had grown cold and callous towards the Lord as their affections were given to lesser things, and their ears turned deaf to His repeated calls to return and repent. Despite His many attempts, the people would not be humbled.
"The words of Amos, who was among the sheepbreeders of Tekoa,
which he saw concerning Israel in the days of Uzziah king of Judah,
and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel,
two years before the earthquake."
It was time for the Lord to roar, and He had just the right man for the job. Amos was a sheepbreeder and a tender of sycamore figs from Tekoa, in the southern kingdom of Judah, whom the Lord called out from the fields to be His spokesman to announce His judgment on the northern kingdom of Israel. The wealthy upper class had expanded their businesses and their landholdings at the expense of the nations' peasant class, completely dismantling the foundation of their society and leaving behind a growing poor population whom they abused, exploited, and sold into slavery. Unless they would heed this call to repent and reform their unjust and unrighteous ways, the nation would be destroyed. When Amos began his roll-call of judgment against the enemies of Israel, no doubt the people of Israel were glad. Little did they know the announcement of imminent judgment that was coming to them at the hands of their pagan neighbors. If only they would listen as Amos pronounced doom upon Damascus, Philistia, and Tyre, and repent themselves before destruction came to their own door! "Thus says the LORD: "For three transgressions of Damascus, and for four, I will not turn away its punishment, because they have threshed Gilead with implements of iron. But I will send a fire into the house of Hazael, which shall devour the palaces of Ben-Hadad..." (vv. 3, 4). Though the Lord is long-suffering, His patience eventually runs out, and He sends His fiery judgment to purify His people and the land.
"But, beloved, do not forget this one thing,
that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years,
and thousand years as one day.
The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness,
but is longsuffering toward us, no willing that any should perish
but that all should come to repentance."
(2 Peter 3:8, 9)
As we have journeyed through the Word of God in this Year of Divine Government, feasting month by month on rich portions of God's Word, in the books of Ecclesiastes, the Gospel of John, Habakkuk, Ezra, Micah, Daniel, Job, Joel, and now in Amos, the Lord has been reminding us through His Word and through world-wide events that He is all-soveriegn and governs all nations, calling all to account, including His own people. He has been graciously turning the table over in our hearts, awakening and satisfying our spiritual appetite to strengthen us to be burden-bearers like Amos, who will not be corrupted by the constant ebb and downward flow of an immoral culture, but rather be like those who we read about in Daniel who will shine like the stars forever and ever (Daniel 12:3), standing as light-bearers of God's truth and penetrating the spiritual darkness of a spiritually-bankrupt and perverted world. As we come to the end of this extraordinary year with our eyes fixed on the Great Light of the World in the Christmas season - the Dayspring from on high who has visited us (Luke 1:78) - may we allow the One who is able to sympathize with our weaknesses (Hebrews 4:15), and who is the true tender of fruit, to tend to our hearts as He sees fit, so that we will bear much fruit to the Father's glory (John 15:8), and show ourselves to be disciples of Jesus Christ. "You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. These things I command you that you love one another" (John 15:16, 17). Let us pray for our journey these next 8 days - the Lord has placed a rich, substantial portion upon our plate in this season to prepare us for the New Year ahead. Blessings for the journey!
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 below. May your home in this season be filled with the sweet fragrance of Christ, and may every heart overflow with His joy and peace as we celebrate the birth of our Savior: