Daily Reflections November 17, 2017
In the sixth chapter of Amos the prophet continues his warning of judgment on Israel but focuses on the notable, wealthy leaders of the nation. Because of their status, these men have not felt the wrath of God in his judgments as harshly as the common person. And because of this, they feel secure and complacent against anything truly coming against them. They are deceived as they use their resources to make their situation seem like it is less than damning. They eat, drink, and merrily turn their eyes from the coming judgment of their people.
This has direct implication for leaders and pastors, and I think can also be applied to leaders of a family home. The office that God has given you is not to be exalted above rebuke and to live in a way that disregards the welfare of the people you are entrusted with. Protect yourself from putting yourself in a position that does not feel the same weight of God’s hand as the other members under your care. Remove any pleasures that would cause you to be blinded to the warning and chastising of God. Just as the prophet warns, leaders will be judged harshly for this arrogant and selfish living.
The people of Israel, especially the leaders, had thought that they were blessed by God and thus God would not cause them harm. They assumed that God was bound to them and they could sit comfortably even though they were pridefully boasting in their own strength. But the prophet asserts that God would take away all that they hoped in and fully lavish his wrath on them.
To think that Israel could experience the blessing of God while they opposed him and his law was foolishness. They have been hardened against God and would not receive the blessings from him in that state. This should make us ponder what we experience today. God has not changed and mankind has not changed. There are many who do not understand when they live in unrepentant sin and instead of fruit in their life they find disaster. But they boast in their perfect church attendance, tithing record, or serving position and assert that God is going to get them through it. If that is you then you have hardened yourself to the chastisement of God and foolishly expect God to be blessing you in your sin. Humble yourself, repent of your sin, and turn to God as your only hope. Only then will there be any hope of blessing..
Yours in Christ,
Associate Pastor Evan Webster
The first chapter of Luke’s gospel is brimming with hope and excitement. In the first few verses we are told that Luke has written his gospel in an orderly fashion with the purpose to provide certainty concerning the things taught about Jesus. Luke’s account, therefore, begins at the very beginning. Before Jesus is even born we are told about the angel’s announcement that both Elizabeth and Mary will bear a child, and that both of these children will forever change the world. In our reading this morning (vv. 39-80) we encounter the joyous hope and praise of the parents to be.
The Magnificat is Mary’s hymn of praise to God for what He has done both for her and the entire nation of Israel. God visited Mary despite her humble estate and chose her for a task that would result in all future generations recognizing her as blessed. It is likely that some Protestant believers are slightly uneasy with this idea. The Roman Catholic Church has done great harm to our understanding and appreciation of Mary by exalting her to a position which the Bible does not. As a result, many Protestants choose to say very little about the Mother of Jesus.
Mary, however, is worth giving some of our attention to as she models for us beautiful obedience to God. Her response to the angel in v.38 is truly remarkable. Her whole world has just been turned upside down and her life will never again be the same, and yet she says,
“Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”
As the Magnificat continues, Mary transitions her praise to focus on what God is doing for the nation of Israel as a whole. She praises God that the birth of her child will bring about both God’s justice and mercy. The promises given to Abraham and his offspring are finally going to see fruition in the person of Jesus Christ. However, before the arrival of the Messiah, the Jews would have been anticipating the return of Elijah to herald in this new age of God’s redemptive history. Luke is aware of this fact and he is therefore careful to include these details. Earlier in the chapter, he already ascribed the role of Elijah to John the Baptist (compare Malachi 4:5-6 with Luke 1:16-17).
When Zechariah’s lips are unlocked we learn more about the exciting things God is beginning to do in the midst of His people. We once again hear that God is going to keep his promises and save Israel from its enemies.
This was the major anticipation of the Jewish people in the early first century and they were very excited for it. What was not anticipated was the way that the Messiah was going to handle the even larger issue of sin. Victory over the enemies of God would come, but first the true enemy of all humanity must be dealt with. We catch a glimpse of this in Zecharaiah’s prophecy where we are told that John the Baptist will bring “knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins.” As Luke unravels the rest of his gospel we are going to see how all of this unfolds. While the joyous hope of these parents will certainly come true, it will be done in a way which no one was anticipating.
Director of Youth Ministries Ryan Shevalier