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Yet You Return Not To Him
Yet You Return Not To Him
Often times in the life of a rambunctious and lively child it is the highlight of his or her day to finally get the opportunity to go out in the bright sunshine and play. Typically the first thing that is done when he or she wakes up is to gaze out of the window, into the sky, in hopes of seeing the grand display of a promising sunrise. If the sun was visible and the sky was clear it would be a much-anticipated day. At times the gaze into the sky would reveal only storm clouds, and the presence of the sun would be but a fleeting and desperate hope. In like fashion, the child of God will at times gaze into the sky of his or her life only to find that the storm clouds are overshadowing the presence of the Son, but one must always remember that it is the Son that allows even the storm clouds to be seen. In Amos 4:6-13, the Northern Kingdom of Israel is given a reminder of five different storm clouds that were intended to point to the God who makes Himself known.
Having clean teeth is a desire of all people who appreciate cleanliness and first impressions; however, if clean teeth are the result of a lack of food, it quickly becomes a less important priority. Amos 4:6 records the following, “I gave you cleanness of teeth in all your cities, and lack of bread in all your places, yet you have not returned to Me, says the Lord. In this first storm cloud one is given a picture of the lack of food. One possibility is that this is referring to the famine mentioned in 2 Kings 8:1.It has been sad that “cleanliness is next to godliness”; however, cleanliness that is a result of disobedience is far from godliness! The sad result of “yet you have not returned to me” is the first mention of a chorus that would continue to play throughout this passage of scripture.
In the next storm cloud reminder, the picture of one portion of land flourishing and fruitful is compared to another piece of land that is barren and thirsty for water. Through the direction of His divine Providence, God would pour down a blessing of rain on the field of one’s neighbor, but withhold it from all those in immediate proximity. The dilemma with such a situation is obvious when considering the fact that agriculture was a major source of well being, and the expectation of a strong season of rain was well known and anticipated. Once again the chorus rings, “yet you have not returned to Me.”(Amos 4:8)
The third shadowing reminder is that of a combination of a devastating east wind as well as a devouring type of locust. Evidently, the insatiable appetite of the locust quickly met the crops that were able to defeat the rage of the wind. Once again God goes to the very heart of the people’s well being, and reminds them of who He is, yet they returned to Him not.
The fourth picture given is that of the stench of death. Death has a mysterious way of striking fear into the very heart of man, and often times it is this fear that causes men to seek the answers pertaining to eternity. It is amazing to consider the ability of one’s sense of smell. If given one last chance to remember the beauty of a rose, the most beneficial way to do so would most likely be to see it through the sense of smell. The latter part of Amos 4:10 records the following, “ I made the stench of your camps come up into your nostrils, yet you have not returned to Me”; even the despair of death would not turn the attention of God’s people back to Him.
The fifth calamity mentioned paints the picture of God pulling Israel from a blazing fire with one end already burning. This is reminiscent of the many times that God stretched out His hand of mercy to deliver His people, but it is most clearly seen through the eyeglass of the exodus. God, through numerous divine appointments and supernatural miracles, delivered His people from the fire of the Pharaoh …yet they would not return to Him. (Amos 4:11)
It is in Amos 4:12-13 that we are challenged to prepare for an inescapable appointment of judgment. If the works, grace, messengers and Word of God do not get our attention, God Himself will schedule an appointment based upon his calendar. The basis for this coming judgment is clearly based upon the fact that He and He alone is Creator and Sustainer of all that is. He who is the architect of the mountains, the author of wind, and sovereign over man has all authority to do as He pleases. How amazing that he is so long-suffering in His extension of grace towards us.
At times in history, God exercises His father like discipline on His children, and at times the discipline can be mistaken for the actions of a cruel Father. However, one must keep in mind the fact that the storm clouds of Gods discipline are not actually the storm but rather the warning of a storm to come. If God’s people could but realize that the very ability to see the storm cloud is a blessing of His presence, the despair of not seeing the Son would easily be replace by the assurance that behind every storm is the open arms of the Savior. The people to whom Amos was delivering this powerful message to were like a bent arrow, always having a potential to reach a destination, yet, never willing to turn to He who takes joy in using even bent arrows. God desires to be known, and has made it clear that His love and desire for our fellowship will at times be expressed in the form of a storm. May we be a people who are quick to embrace His graciousness and quick to return to Him.