Feast of Dedication Devotion
Read: Amos Chapter Seven
"Behold, I am setting a plumb line
in the midst of My people Israel;
I will not pass by them anymore."
Amos was grieved over the message of judgment that he was called to bring to Israel. He loved the Lord, and he loved his nation; however, as God's anointed prophet, he had the difficult task of proclaiming a message of punishment, which he struggled to accept himself, to a people who didn't want to hear what he had to say. The Lord revealed His plans to His servant ahead of time (Amos 3:7), not just so he would proclaim it, but also, so he could pray about it; and that is exactly what Amos did. Unlike His disobedient people who refused to hear the word of God, the Lord had the ear of His servant, Amos, who was obedient to all that the Lord told him to do. As the Lord's chosen intercessor, Amos was also called to stand in the gap in prayer on behalf of the people of Israel. It is true that the people had been unfaithful to the Lord and deserved to be punished, but Amos knew from the visions of the locusts and the fire, which the Lord had given him, that the land would be desolated, and the people would be devastated, so he petitioned the Lord to rescind His decree on the basis that the people were powerless to withstand the calamity. "For the LORD will judge His people and have compassion on His servants, when He sees that their power is gone, and there is no one remaining, bond or free" (Deuteronomy 32:36).
"O Lord GOD, forgive, I pray!
Oh, that Jacob may stand, for he is small!"
So the LORD relented concerning this.
"It shall not be," said the LORD."
(Amos 7:2b, 3)
The Lord answered Amos's prayer affirmatively. In an act of His sparing mercy God halted His wrath; but then revealed to His servant how completely crooked His people were. "Thus He showed me: Behold, the Lord stood on a wall made with a plumb line, with a plumb line in His hand...Behold, I am setting a plumb line in the midst of My people Israel; I will not pass by them anymore" (vv. 7, 8). God's law is His plumb line. He had set the plumb line of His revelation in the midst of His people from the beginning, and He expected His people to remain true to His standards and build the nation accordingly. Now He was stretching out the plumb line to show how far they had deviated from His truth and righteousness. "I will make justice the measuring line, and righteousness the plummet" (Isaiah 34:11). This time, Amos would not be allowed to intercede. The Lord purposed to execute judgment on His people. He had stretched out His plumb line and carefully evaluated the hearts of His people and found that they were completely out of plumb. His holy household had become completed crooked and warped. His people had stepped so far outside the bounds of His holy law that the building could no longer stand. All that could be done now was to tear the whole building down to the foundation. Truth requires that all the faulty walls of falsehood be stripped. The Lord had chosen His people from all the peoples of the earth to be an example of His holiness, truth, and purity - but they had abandoned their tools of righteousness long ago and allowed the building to decay and the land polluted. Instead of being an implement for building, God's plumb line would be used to test His people and bring about their destruction. "...Thus says the LORD God of Israel: 'Behold, I am bringing such calamity upon Jerusalem and Judah...I will stretch over Jerusalem the measuring line of Samaria and the plummet of the house of Ahab; I will wipe Jerusalem as one wipes a dish...So I will forsake the remnant of My inheritance and deliver them into the hand of their enemies...because they have done evil in My sight, and have provoked Me to anger..." (2 Kings 21:13-15).
"I was no prophet,
nor was I a son of a prophet,
but I was a sheepbreeder
and a tender of sycamore fruit.
Then the LORD took me as I followed the flock,
and the LORD said to me,
'Go, prophesy to My people Israel.'
(Amos 7:14, 15)
The people were worshiping contrary to God's law since the days when the kingdom divided and Jeroboam I, the first king of Israel, set up his new religious institutions and started a new religious order that did not include the Levites. Jeroboam I established his own deviant religion and an apostate priesthood that led to religious confusion and apostasy. In Amos's day, Jeroboam II continued to follow in the footsteps of the first king of Israel rather than call for religious reformation. "And he did evil in the sight of the LORD, and he did not depart from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who had made Israel sin" (2 Kings 14:23). As part of the apostate priesthood, Amaziah, was not a true servant of God, and therefore was not interested in hearing the words of God from the mouth of His true prophet, Amos. The Lord had given Amos a message to deliver that Amaziah the priest regarded as a political threat. "The high places of Isaac shall be desolate, and the sanctuaries of Israel shall be laid waste. I will rise with the sword against the house of Jeroboam" (Amos 7:9). Instead of presenting the words of Amos as a prophecy from God to the king, he told Amos he wasn't welcome and commanded him to return home to Judah. "But never again prophecy at Bethel, for it is the kings' sanctuary, and it is the royal residence" (v. 13). Amos explained to Amaziah that he was not a hired prophet; his father was not a prophet, nor had he been trained in prophecy. He was a sheepbreeder and tender of sycamore fruit when the Lord "took" him and sent him to announce judgment on Israel (vv. 14, 15). Amos had a divine commission, and he obeyed the Lord, unlike the disobedient people of Israel. He sought the Lord, not a prophetic calling. He was a true prophet who served the true King without fear of what men could to do him; just as the future apostles of the Lord Jesus would do. "So they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said to them, "Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard" (Acts 4:18). Amos was not hired by man; he was called by God to declare the word of the Lord to "a crooked and perverse generation" (Philippians 2:15). Before he was called to be a prophet to the nations, Amos had spent his days sitting in the sycamore trees of Tekoa, piercing the fruit of the sycamore fig in order that it would ripen properly. Today, the Lord has commissioned us as His followers to "go and make disciples of all nations" (Matthew 28:19). We have been called to faithfully carry His Word and wield it as the mighty double-edged sword that it is, so that it can do the necessary piercing of the hearts of all men, ripening them and making them spiritually fruitful, and so "accomplish what [He] pleases, and...prosper in the thing for which [He] sent it" (Isaiah 55:11). The Word of God is God's plumb line that He holds up before all generations to test the hearts of men. "For the Word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart" (Hebrews 4:12). The Lord purposes, through His Word, to show us how far we have strayed from His holy commands. He gives us opportunity to acknowledge the height from which we have fallen, calling us to repent and return to our First Love, so we can do the first works and keep our light shining brightly upon the stand, and so radiate His pure light and love for all to see (Revelation 2:4, 5). As we continue to light the candles of the Menorah during the Feast of Dedication this week, may the Holy Spirit continue to illuminate our hearts by the light of the Word of God, igniting within us deepening love and intimacy to God, so that we will be emboldened to let His light shine all the more brilliantly through us in these last days, presenting to the world an undiminished view of the infinite perfections of the majesty and glory of our ever-present and faithful Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, bringing glory and honor to His name. "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven" (Matthew 5:16).
"Your mercy, O LORD, is in the heavens;
Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.
Your righteousness is like the great mountains;
Your judgments are a great deep;
O LORD, You preserve man and beast."
(Psalm 36:5, 6)
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!
"You are the light of the world...Let your light so shine before men,
that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven."
(Matthew 5:13, 16)