Feast of Dedication Devotion
Read: Amos Chapter Two
"Behold, I am weighed down by you,
as a cart full of sheaves is weighed down."
When God called Amos from his flocks and the sycamore groves to prophecy to the Northern Kingdom of Israel, he obeyed without hesitation. In humble submission to the call of God on his life, Amos packed his bags and traveled to unfamiliar territory to deliver an unwelcome message to a complacent and apathetic people. The voice of God roared from Zion, as Amos proclaimed God's word of judgment eight times. First, to the six Gentile nations of Damascus, Philistia, Tyre, Edom, Ammon (Amos 1:3-15), and Moab (2:2, 3); then, to the people of Judah and Israel, who could not believe the unthinkable would ever happen to the chosen people of God. God sees what the nations do and He judges them accordingly. "And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us..." (Acts 17:26, 27). The Gentile nations were judged for violating the laws of humanity, but Judah was judged for disobeying the law of God; as a result, they suffered the same punishment as the others with the dismantling of the defenses and riches they had put their trust in rather than God.
"For three transgressions of Judah and for four,
I will not turn away its punishment.
Because they have despised the law of the LORD,
and have not kept His commandments.
Their lies lead them astray,
lies which their fathers followed.
But I will send a fire upon Judah,
and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem."
(Amos 2:4, 5)
Amos then directed his attention to his primary audience, the northern kingdom of Israel, and addressed their many sins which violated their covenant relationship with God. Both Judah and Israel were in a special covenant relationship with God and therefore were held to a higher standard based on the revelation they had received from the Lord at Sinai. God's law clearly commanded Israel to help the poor, but instead they sold their debtors as slaves and oppressed the poor by denying them justice. In addition, they commitment abominable acts of immorality and idolatry, while pretending to worship and honor God (v. 7b, 8). As a result of their present terrible crimes against God's covenant, a terrible future awaited them. They had burdened the Lord with their many sins, and now they would suffer the burden of judgment. "Behold, I am weighed down by you, as a cart full of sheaves is weighed down" (v. 13). The Lord had loaded them with manifold benefits and blessings. He carried them on eagle's wings out of slavery and into the promised land, and had bestowed on them spiritual privileges as His chosen, holy nation. They were blessed with prophets, who were God's faithful spokesmen revealing the mind of God, and with Nazirites, uniquely dedicated to God, who were examples of purity and piety in a depraved age. Yet, they despised their birthright and sold their own people for pair of sandals. Now, nothing could save them "...in that day..." when God's hand of judgment fell upon them. They had polluted the land with their injustice, immorality, and idolatry, and soon the nation would be utterly swept away at the hands of the Assyrian army.
"For three transgressions of Israel, and for four,
I will not turn away its punishment,
because they sell the righteous for silver,
and the poor for a pair of sandals.
They pant after the dust of the earth which is on the head of the poor,
and pervert the way of the humble."
(Amos 2:6, 7a)
The people of Israel despised the law of God and gave their honor to idols. "Their lies led them astray..." (v. 4b). Even with the Lord's constant warnings of impending disaster and calls to repentance, the people refused to repent and reform their ways. Idolatry begins with deception. As soon as they began to reject the word, wisdom, goodness, authority, and sovereignty of God, they were easily led astray and began to worship false idols. They began to act like the pagan nations around them, and so the Lord treated them as such. Lies had become their refuge but would leave them without shelter from the coming storm. "For we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood we have hidden ourselves" (Isaiah 28:15b). Amos' message is an important reminder to believer's in every age to faithfully feast upon the Word of God each day, so that we will be nourished with God's truth and be strengthened to withstand the constant assault of lies and deception which permeate our culture and seek to take captive our minds for the purpose of leading us astray and ultimately destroying us. Let us instead remain steadfast in the faith, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:4, 5), and bringing glory and honor to the Lord with our every thought and action. May we walk with joy, "as children of the light," in the true light that has come into the world and gives light to every man (John 1:9), having nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather to expose them (Ephesians 5:11). May this season of the celebration of our dear Savior's birth be joy-filled and fruitful, as we continue our journey with our eyes fixed on Jesus and not on our circumstances. "These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full" (John 15:11).
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: