Monday, January 14, 2008

LET US CHOOSE TO REST

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A Reflection on Amos 3:1-5:17
by Laura Springer, M.Div.

From the beginning, God expected his people to evidence the covenant by their obedience (Deut 27:26). The blessings of obedience and the curses of disobedience were clearly laid out (Deut 28:1-68). Many of the Torah[1] laws concern treatment of fellow Israelites and strangers. Both are to be treated with justice and love. Other laws concern the worship of God. Israel has transgressed the covenant in her treatment of others (Amos 4:1) and in her worship (Amos 4:4-5).

Amos' prophecy proclaims the earned results of the people's choices. The people have transgressed the covenant, refused God’s grace, and ignored his sovereignty. God’s judgment of Israel followed many years of grace, in which he provided multiple opportunities for repentance.
Yet each opportunity was scorned (Amos 4:6-11). Israel had rightfully earned God’s judgment, for she had ignored the sovereignty of the only Creator and Lord of all. The ax is about to fall and all Israel can do is prepare to meet God, who comes in judgment not in deliverance.

Jesus, the Messiah who fulfills the old covenant and inaugurates the new, expects his followers to observe his instructions (Matt 28:16-20) as evidence of the new covenant in his blood. While blessings and curses are not spelled out in the detail we find in Torah, there are surely temporal consequences to our behavior. Obeying Jesus’ commands--taking his yoke (Matt 11:25-30)--brings rest. Might it be that disobeying Jesus brings unrest?

If our experience of his rest is influenced by our obedience, we ought to take seriously our obedience. Jesus keeps covenant. He is gracious and he guards his glory. If we continually trample his glory, there will be consequences. Let us choose, rather, to rest in his grace.
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[1] The Torah contains the first five books of the Old Testament: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. See a Wikipedia article on Torah here or a Bible.org article here.

Originally posted as CONSEQUENCES on Laura's Writings.