Feast of Dedication Devotion
Read: Amos Chapter Six
"For behold, the LORD gives a command:
He will break the great house into bits,
and the little house into pieces.
Do horses run on rocks?
Does one plow there with oxen?
Yet you have turned justice into gall,
and the fruit of righteousness into wormwood"
(Amos 6:11, 12)
The Lord's prophet, Amos, whose very name means "burden-bearer," was deeply burdened by the message the Lord had given Him to bring to His own people Israel. He wept over the land as he presented his heart-wrenching lament, grieving over Israel as if the nation were already dead. "I will take up a weeping and wailing for the mountains, and for the dwelling places of the wilderness a lamentation, because they are burned up, so that no one can pass through..." (Jeremiah 9:10a). Their wealth and prosperity had blinded them to their true spiritual poverty and their need for God's salvation. They clung to a false sense of security, foolishly believing they had need of nothing (Revelation 3:17); while their complacency led them to believe that God was also indifferent and would not respond with either a blessing or punishment. "But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation" (Luke 6:24). Just as God presented His people with blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience (Deuteronomy 28), and the Lord Jesus presented blessings and woes to His disciples as they anticipated the kingdom, Amos presented woes to both Zion and Samaria because of their indifference to God's Word and the imminent judgment that hung over them.
"Woe to you who are at ease in Zion,
and trust in Mount Samaria,
notable persons in the chief nation,
to whom the house of Israel comes!"
The most notable men among them assured them that the nation was safe and secure, and the people believed them. They foolishly trusted the political "experts," statistics, and the polls, rather than the word of the Lord. The Lord's extraordinary favor and blessing upon His people from the time of the nation's birth would make them a leader of the nations, an act solely of God's grace; however, their pursuit of life, liberty and happiness would require wholehearted allegiance to the Lord as the source of all their blessing and prosperity. "The LORD will open to you His good treasure, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season, and to bless all the work of your hand. You shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow. And the LORD will make you the head and not the tail; you shall be above only, and not be beneath, if you heed the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you today, and are careful to observe them. So you shall not turn aside from any of the words which I command you this day, to the right or the left, to go after other gods to serve them" (Deuteronomy 28:12-14). Amos administered an eye exam to the foolish people who arrogantly overvalued themselves and viewed their position as if they had perfect 20/20 vision, when in reality their perspective had been completely clouded and distorted by their own pride. While the people were busy focusing on the national leaders and the economy, the Lord was examining the heart of His people which was far from Him. They had replaced their faith in the Lord with reliance on others, and the result would be a shameful end to God's "holy nation." "For pass beyond the coasts of Cyprus and see, send to Kedar and consider diligently, and see if there has been such a thing. Has a nation changed its gods, which are not gods? But My people have changed their Glory for what does not profit. Be astonished, O heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid; be very desolate," says the LORD. "For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, and hewn for themselves cisterns - broken cisterns that can hold no water" (Jeremiah 2:10-13).
"Woe to you who put off the day of doom,
who cause the seat of violence to come near...
who drink wine from bowls,
and anoint yourselves with the best ointments,
but are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph."
(Amos 6:3, 6)
Israel's God was the only true, living God, and yet they were the only nation that exchanged their God for others. Their affections were divided; yet they still believed they were too strong for destruction to fall upon them any time soon. They laughed at the possibility of national disaster. The irresponsible leaders, who should have been warning the people of approaching danger, where tragically leaving the people utterly defenseless. They were too distracted by the pursuit of their own interests and too busy satisfying their own pleasures to be concerned with the real problems of the nation. The nation was in turmoil and distress, but still they were "not grieved for the affliction of Joseph." Just as Belshazzar and his leaders were indulging in a sumptuous feast (even though they knew that the city was surrounded by an army) the night the city of Babylon fell to the Medes and Persians (Daniel 7), so also the leaders who lived in luxury would be the first ones to lose their liberty when the nation was overtaken. "Therefore they shall now go captive as the first of the captives, and those who recline at banquets shall be removed" (Amos 6:7). God would personally see to the destruction of Samaria and her proud inhabitants. The people who had believed that judgment could not come to them, would now be fearful of what further disaster God might bring upon them. "Hold your tongue! For we dare not mention the name of the LORD" (v. 10b). God's punishment of Israel would fit its sin of pride. "Yet you have turned justice in to gall, and the fruit of righteousness into wormwood" (v. 12b). Their perversion of justice as the people of God made no sense, and so they would be utterly astonished when God would allow the unthinkable to happen by sweeping His chosen people off the promised land they had polluted rather than preserved. From border to border they would be tormented and suffer disgrace and defeat (v. 14). The Lord had exposed the corruption in the hearts of His people and delivered His message of judgment through His servant Amos. "And it shall come to pass at that time that I will search Jerusalem with lamps, and punish the men who are settled in complacency" (Zephaniah 1:12). The stipulations of God's covenant had not changed, though the hearts of His people had. Only a humble dependence upon God and true repentance would guarantee His help and blessing. Sadly, it is often necessary that the people of God experience trials in order to wake us up out of our complacency and shake us out of our own self-sufficiency. "Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good" (Romans 12:9). May we remember that we are as dependent upon God and held accountable to God today, as His people were in Amos's day, and so respond to the grace and goodness of God with humbled, repentant hearts, and a renewed commitment to greater faith, trust, and obedience as we "continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name" (Hebrews 13:15) for His benevolent acts of lovingkindness. "Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men! For He satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness" (Psalm 107:8, 9).
"Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God:
on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness,
if you continue in His goodness.
Otherwise you also will be cut off."
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!