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1004. The Cost of Prosperity

A biblical flashback shows what prosperity can do to an ungrateful nation.

IT’S WORTH CONSIDERING

Sycamore Fig Tree

Throughout the Old Testament, a common theme was evident in each of the prophets’ messages: judging is coming. This was true for Amos, a Judean herdsman and a tender of sycamore figs. God called him to deliver a message to the people of Israel to the north. It was a time of great prosperity and military strength. Instead of glorifying God for His goodness, the people had grown calloused toward their God and had indulged in greed, immortality, and all sorts of injustice. The “good life” had caused the people to turn their backs on their God and to develop a false sense of security.

The prophet’s message of coming destruction and his call to repentance was, to say the least, not well received. The people of Israel were growing weary of his “incessant negativity” and warnings. At that time, Assyria, Babylon, Syria and Egypt were relatively weak compared to Israel’s strength. They concluded that there was nothing to worry about. Yet Amos continued to predict the downfall of Israel. His prophecy came true just over thirty years later in 722 B.C. when the Assyrians conquered Israel and took them into captivity.

 AS I SEE IT

As you read the book of Amos, Israel’s sins are illuminated: empty ritualism, oppression of the poor, idolatry, deceit, self-righteousness, arrogance, materialism, and callousness. In His mercy, God offered to relent of the coming destruction if the people would repent and turn back to their God. In light of all that God had done for them from the time of Abraham, it’s hard to understand how they could turn on Him like that…or is it?

According to a recent ABC poll, 83% of Americans identify themselves as “Christian.” Without getting into what it really means to be a Christian, just think about that for a moment. Now think about the state of our nation and the direction it’s going. America was once like Israel in the days of Amos-strong and prosperous, clearly the leader of the world. Today, not so much. What happened?

Oddly enough, God is using a man like Donald Trump to turn things around. Things are changing. The economy has made a tremendous recovery. Our respect around the world is returning, and Americans are more hopeful than we’ve been in a long time. Yet moral depravity is on the rise. Perversions have become popular.

Let’s assume that things will continue to improve economically. Will America return to God and thank Him for giving us another chance and blessing us with prosperity? We’ll see. However, if prosperity increases, so will the threats from our enemies. We will need God’s protection more than ever. At this point, North Korea, Iran, Russia, China, and Radical Islam are poised to challenge our peace and way of life, some by outright warfare. Others by more subtle means. I fear that we are far from understanding the seriousness of our situation.

Will we become like Israel in the days of Amos? It’s up to those with spiritual vision to be the watchmen on the wall, to spread the warning that it all could come tumbling down in an instant if we take our blessings for granted and forsake the One responsible for every good thing we enjoy. We must not grow weary in doing good and in proclaiming the gospel, the only message that brings real and lasting hope. When our Lord returns, will He find us faithfully completing our mission, or will we be too busy enjoying the good life to be bothered?

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ON THE LIGHTER SIDE

A farmer counted 196 cows in his field.  But when he rounded them up, he had 200.

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