In Amos, we see the character of God as both loving and holy, simultaneously. We know from the Bible that God is two things: God is Holy, and God is Love. We also know that He is never just only one of those things in isolation. He is always both “Holy” and “Love” in perfect completeness and cooperation all the time. God is not just Holy. Neither is He just Love. God is both: Holy-Love.
We see in the Prophesy of Amos how God’s character impacts His relationship with His children. He loves them completely and perfectly. He is also holy, and expects holiness of them. This is not a new development in the time of Amos. God has always been this way.
In the previous post, we focused in on the Prophesy of Amos and on the people’s repeated disobedience of God. We saw His holy-love that burned with righteous anger against the people’s disobedience because He loved them so, so dearly… In today’s post, we will survey just a few more short Scriptures where God shows us that His discipline is an affirmation of our adoption into His family – that we are His true children, and that His holy-love is for us and for our good. God disciplines those He loves.
17 Blessed is the one whom God corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty. 18 For he wounds, but he also binds up; he injures, but his hands also heal.
11 My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, 12 because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.
Did you have an authority figure in your life – maybe a parent or grandparent – who just really had no rules at all? Or the rules they did have were a joke, because there were no consequences to breaking them? Or if not you, maybe you had a friend whose parents basically let them do whatever they wanted?
- What was that like for you?
- What was that relationship like?
- Was there love? Trust? Respect?
- Could you feel their best interest in mind for you?
- That they were looking out for you – trying to protect you?
- Trying to help you mature and grow, mentoring and coaching and loving you into your best future?
Or did you or a friend have a parent or grandparent who had rules, and they always threatened discipline if you disobeyed, but they never followed through on their threats? How did you feel about that relationship?
Or did you or a friend have a parent or grandparent like my Poppa, who had rules, threatened you with discipline if you disobeyed, and then followed through with those threats when he had to?
Some of you may have had an angry or abusive authority figure in your life… someone who took discipline too far, who did not punish you out of a place of love and wanting the best for you, but they disciplined you out of some other place of personal darkness…
All these varied experiences with all different kinds of authority and rules and discipline – good… bad… negligent… abusive… – how have these earthly examples of discipline left you feeling about God’s authority and rules and discipline?
God’s heart for His children is so beautiful, even in the midst of His anger and disappointment over their wicked disregard of His love and holiness. Read Amos 5:4-6, 14-15.
4 Now this is what the Lord says to the family of Israel: “Come back to me and live! 5 Don’t worship at the pagan altars at Bethel; don’t go to the shrines at Gilgal or Beersheba. For the people of Gilgal will be dragged off into exile, and the people of Bethel will be reduced to nothing.” 6 Come back to the Lord and live! Otherwise, he will roar through Israel like a fire, devouring you completely. Your gods in Bethel won’t be able to quench the flames… 14 Do what is good and run from evil so that you may live! Then the Lord God of Heaven’s Armies will be your helper, just as you have claimed. 15 Hate evil and love what is good; turn your courts into true halls of justice. Perhaps even yet the Lord God of Heaven’s Armies will have mercy on the remnant of his people.
If God disciplines you for something, it is because He loves you. He is justified in His righteous anger against our unfaithfulness, but the truth is, we deserve so much more punishment than we ever bear. They say grace is getting good that we do not deserve, and that mercy is not receiving bad that we do deserve. We have been shown so much mercy.
Even when we are disciplined by God, though, Hebrews 12:7-11 says:
7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? 8 If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. 9 Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! 10 They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
And finally, as Jesus was sharing His messages with the 7 churches in Revelation, He said in Revelation 3:19:
19 Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent.
Let’s take a few moments of silent prayer together. I will guide you through a time of listening to God, and responding to Him… Let’s start with thanks:
- Let’s thank God for adopting us as His own children…
- For inviting us into the intimacy of relationship between a loving Father and His beloved kids…
- It may sound weird to say this, but – thank Him for His discipline…
- Thank Him that He treats you as a beloved child, and not as an illegitimate kid that He cares nothing about…
- Next – and this may be hardest of all – invite His discipline…
- open yourself up to any correction or rebuke He may have for you today…
- Now, just listen for Him… Hear Him… What is He saying…? How is He leading…?
Finally, hear His words of loving affection and reassurance from Psalm 103:8-13:
8 The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. 9 He will not always accuse, nor will He harbor His anger forever; 10 He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. 11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him; 12 as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. 13 As a father has compassion on His children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him.