Friday, April 3, 2020


WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday April 5, 2020

Over 234,000 readers worldwide
larrydalexander.blogspot.com

A JUST SERVANT
(The LORD’s chosen servant)
(Isaiah 42:1-9)

   The prophet Isaiah was born in Jerusalem into the family of Amoz, a relative of the royal house of Judah. He spent his early years as an official of King Uzziah (Azariah), who reigned over Judah for 52 years (2 Chronicles 26:3). In the year that King Uzziah died of leprosy (2 Kings 15:5), around 740 B.C., Isaiah received his calling from GOD in a stirring vision while visiting the Temple in Jerusalem (Isaiah 6).
    Isaiah was married to a woman described only in his book as “the Prophetess” (Isaiah 8:3). He fathered two sons with her who are given two highly symbolic names. “Shear-jashub”, his first son, whose name means “a remnant shall return”, prophesies “the return of the Jews to Judah, after their deportation and captivity in Assyria” (722 B.C.). The second son, “Maher-shalal-hash-baz”(the longest word in the bible), whose name means, “swift spoil, speedy prey”, prophesies “the doom of Damascus and Samaria, and the destruction of Syria and Israel, who had formed an alliance against Jerusalem.
   Isaiah’s connection with the royal family may explain how he was always able to enter into the presence of the kings of Israel, seemingly, at will. His active ministry spanned over 60 years, from around 740 B.C. to, at least, 701 B.C., and possibly until as late as 690 B.C. He lived through a succession of political crises, including the intervention of Assyria (2 Kings 16:5), the Syro-Ephraimitish War, which began in 734 B.C. (2 Kings 15:37-16:9), the fall of Samaria in 722 B.C. (2 Kings 17:5-6), the siege of Asdod by King Sargon in 711 B.C. (Isaiah 20:1), and the attempted invasion by Sennacherib of Assyria in 701 B.C. (2 Kings 19).
    In the Book of Isaiah, the phrase “servant of the LORD” usually refers to “the nation of Israel”. However, the servant Israel, at this point, had failed miserably to answer her charge and mission that had been given to her by GOD.
    Another famous phrase that refers to Israel is “GOD’s chosen people, or, nation”. It is a phrase which takes on three separate meanings, neither of which is what most people think they are. Contrary to popular belief, it does not mean that the Jews are “people of special privilege” as much as it means that they are “people of special responsibility”. The Jews were chosen by GOD to perform basically three duties, and they are:

·         To bring GOD’s Word to the world and exhibit it through their behavior.
·         To bring GOD’s Law to the world and incorporate into their community and society.
·         To bring GOD’s SON into the world so that HE might communicate to humanity how to live obediently as “human beings” under GOD, and to offer mankind salvation through HIS vicarious sacrifice on the cross at Gologtha.

    The Jews, as a nation, had, at that time, already failed miserably to perform the first two, of those divinely appointed duties. Their continued sin and disobedience had severely separated them from GOD, and their lifestyles and society had begun to, more resemble the pagan nations around them, than it did the ideology that GOD had commanded them to follow. And now, they were only 700 years away from the third and final part of their mission of fulfilling their responsibility to their FATHER GOD in Heaven (birthing JESUS into the world).
    JESUS, our LORD and SAVIOR, would soon be born into world through the Davidic line of the Jewish nation. HE would be, to the world, what the entire nation of Israel in general, had failed to be, since its inception. They had never fulfilled their responsibility to be an example of GODly behavior here on earth.
    Here in Isaiah 42, the MESSIAH is “the SERVANT of GOD”, of which the prophet Isaiah speaks. Here he is prophesying of the “coming”, or “first advent”, of our LORD and SAVIOR, JESUS CHRIST into the world to be the “gentle servant of hope”, WHO would bring “full justice” to all who have been wronged. HE would bring “truth” and “righteousness” throughout the world, and all men would wait for HIS instructions (v.14).
    In this passage we see that JESUS would come to complete the mission that Israel had proven itself to be incapable of completing. In verses 5-7 Isaiah tells us that the coming SERVANT would have a goal to become “a light to the world”. GOD would give this SERVANT to HIS people to guard and support them, and, to be a “personal” confirmation of HIS Covenant with them.
    JESUS, the GREAT SERVANT, would guide “all nations” to GOD the FATHER, and HE would open the eyes of the spiritually blind, freeing them from their incarceration in sin, and thereby, releasing them from the darkness of a sinful existence. And the LORD warns us in verse 8, that, HE will not cede HIS glory to any man, nor, any carved idol made from the hands of men, anywhere in the world.
    Isaiah 42:1-4 is the first of four passages in his book that have famously become known as “Servant’s Songs”. The others are Isaiah 49:1-6, 50:3-9, and 52:13-53:12. These verses serve to emphasize again and again, “the qualities of servanthood” that every Christian must aspire to embody and exemplify throughout all the days of their Christian Walk.
    The successful servant is upheld and chosen by GOD, and they are endowed with the HOLY SPIRIT to strengthen, council, and guide them. They must be humble and sensitive to the degree that they realize that, even “those whom society rejects as having no value”, are “worth saving” to GOD.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander





                                
                                           LARRY DALEXANDER- Official Website



   
   
        


Friday, March 27, 2020


WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday March 29, 2020

Over 233,000 readers worldwide
larrydalexander.blogspot.com

THE NEED FOR JUST LEADERS
(A warning to Church leaders)
(Malachi 2:1-9 and 3:1-7)

   One hundred years after King Cyrus decreed to allow the Jews to return to their homeland of Jerusalem from Babylon, GOD sent his prophet Malachi to deliver a six-part message, to a now restored community, that had become dangerously low on spiritual vitality.
    It was Peter C. Craigie who wrote; “When people cease to care, then religion, morality, social customs and values, all cease to function as “mortar”, that holds together a society, and maintains ancient faith”.
    Nehemiah and Ezra had already begun to install some necessary religious and political reforms, and now, Malachi’s task would be to direct the people of Israel to focus on their individual spiritual problems, or, sins. Also, there were some very basic problems concerning the priesthood of Israel, whose corrupt activities and neglect of GOD’s Temple had become shameful, not only to the people on earth, but also, to GOD in Heaven.
    In the book of Malachi, the prophet challenges the people about their lack of relationship and obedience to GOD. It is never an easy task to deal with indifference, or its consequences, or a gradual slide towards an unstructured existence, much like the one we live in today.
    Malachi is the last of the twelve “so called” minor prophets, and the final book of the Old Testament in its present order. It brings to an appropriate end, our reflections on the messages of the prophets of ancient Israel. For instance, one can hardly read Malachi 3:1 without being reminded of the ministry of John the Baptist. It prompts us to recall his immortal words of being “a voice crying in the wilderness” seeking to “make straight, the way of the LORD”.
    In the biblical Greek, the word used for “messenger” is “aggelos” (ang-el-los), and “it describes one who brings news or tidings by divine order from GOD”. In Malachi 3, the word “messenger” takes on a three-fold emphasis. There we see the messenger, Malachi, announcing the coming of the messenger John the Baptist, who announces the coming of our LORD and SAVIOR, JESUS CHRIST, the ultimate MESSENGER.  
    In this powerful book of Malachi, we see the Old Testament coming to a dramatic conclusion with a vivid warning of a “coming ME$SSIAH” WHO would convict Israel of her sins with HIS unprecedent “in-dept teaching style”, and unique behavior and obedience toward GOD.
    Over in Malachi 2, verses 1-9, we first see a warning from GOD to the priests of Israel; “Listen you priests; this command is for you! Listen to ME and take it to heart. Honor MY name, says the LORD Almighty, or I will bring a terrible curse against you. I will curse even the blessings you receive. Indeed, I have already cursed them, because you have not taken MY warning seriously”.
    The priests of Israel were appointed from the tribe of Levi and were charged with teaching GOD’s Law to the rest of the nation of Israel. Their failure to do so, over a long period of time, established their lack of reverence for GOD, and corrupted their heart, which naturally caused their teaching to be distorted. Instead of leading people to GOD, they began to, both, wittingly, and unwittingly, lead the people to sin. Accurate interpretation of the Scriptures does not so much depend of education as it does on personal dedication to, and love for, the Almighty GOD in Heaven.
    GOD says in verse 5 that the purpose of HIS Covenant with the Levites was to “bring life and peace”. However, this Covenant hinged very greatly on “their continued love and reverence HIM”. Their job was to pass on the “truth of GOD’s Word” that they received directly from HIM, and to be a living example of how GOD wanted HIS people to live, here on earth. They were to live “good” and “righteous” lives before GOD, and, the people of Israel. And now instead, they were leading the people to Hell with their corrupt behavior and teaching.
    The priests of Israel had strayed away from the path that GOD had put them on (v.8), and their guidance, like in today’s “Church Age” had caused many people to stumble into sin. They had corrupted the very Covenant that GOD had made with them, and, as a result, they had become despised in HIS eyes, and humiliated in the eyes of the people (v.9).
    In Malachi 3, verses 5-7 the LORD says that HE will “put those corrupt leaders on trial”, and that HE HIMSELF will be a ready witness against all “sorcerers” (corrupt religious leaders) “adulterers” (those who follow them) and “liars” (all who refuse to hear the truth of HIS Word, or, are offended by HIS Word).
    GOD also says the HE will speak against all those employers who cheat their workers of their wages, and all those who oppress widows and orphans and refuse to react positively to their needs. GOD says HE will also witness against all those who deprive foreigners (non-Jewish residents) of justice, because by doing so, they show a lack reverence for HIM.
    The second coming of our LORD and SAVIOR, JESUS CHRIST, as it is foretold in this passage, will be one of purification. Here we are presented with the image of a refiner’s fire (Vs.2-3) that will remove the impurities of the Levite priests and make their sacrifices to GOD once again acceptable (v.4).
    The only way GOD can be near to us, is for us to make up our minds to live a ‘righteousness-seeking life”, humbly under HIM. The reaction of the people here in this passage is one of “feigned shock” when Malachi talks about “the people returning to GOD”. Here they question, “What do you mean by, “return”? Who left?
    It is much like the Church today, here in this, the 21st century. It is full of people who honestly believe that they are “saved”, despite all the evidence of their continued sin, in and outside the Church. Very little attention is given to the paying of tithes that are “earmarked by GOD” to support all those who are willing to work in the Church full time, and all those orphans and “true widows” who come to the Church (Storehouse) for their human needs.
    The spirit of our “willingness to give sacrificially from the heart” (not for self-promotion), will take “the curse” that GOD mentions in these passages (Malachi 2:2 and 3:9) off the money and things that we keep for ourselves here on earth, and, at one and the same time, JESUS says, “will store up treasures for us in Heaven” (Luke 16:9).

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander





                                
                                           LARRY DALEXANDER- Official Website






Friday, March 20, 2020


WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday March 22, 2020

Over 233,000 readers worldwide
larrydalexander.blogspot.com

AN ARGUMENT AGAINST CORRUPTION
(The LORD’s judgment against corrupt leadership)
(Micah 3 and 6:6-8)

   The prophet Micah was a contemporary of the prophet Isaiah, and he preached to both, northern Israel, and Judah, in the 8th century B.C. Micah lived in the small town of Moresheth, about 25 miles southwest of Jerusalem. His message from the LORD was not only directed to the people of Jerusalem, but also to the people of northern Israel’s capital city, Samaria, as well.
    Micah was a “pre-exilic” prophet who prophesized during the reigns of kings Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah. His book contains three messages which begins with the words “listen to what the LORD has to say to the nations!”. And although he clearly mentions the destruction of northern Israel by the Assyrians in 722 B.C., his main focus was on the people of the southern kingdom of Judah, who saw themselves as being “more GODly” than their relatives to the north. History now tells us that they too, were ultimately captured and destroyed in 586 B.C. by Nebuchadnezzar and his Babylonian forces.
    GOD’s standard of measurement for our lives has always been predicated upon the wording of the Mosiac Covenant which HE has made with all those who desire to be HIS people. We are expected by GOD to live according to the laws that are stipulated in that Covenant, which includes the Ten Commandments. GOD says that, if we obey them, blessings will come, and if we disobey them, curses will come (Deuteronomy 28:15-68).
    Micah’s messages denounced the oppression by the wealthiest citizens of Israel, upon the poor and economically challenged sectors of its population. He also denounced the pride, greed, corruption, arrogance, and religious hypocrisy that had begun to prevail among the leadership of Israel in those days.
    The leadership of Israel, who were supposed to know right from wrong (one of the qualifications necessary to be in leadership in those days, and should be now), were acting like wild beasts, who devoured the people’s flesh and broke their bones. Instead of practicing truth and justice, they, instead, hated “good” and loved “evil”.  
    “Justice” has to be the main concern of government, and it should be contextually fair to both, the rich, and, the poor. The imagery that Micah gives us in verses 1-4 of chapter 3, of the, “tearing of flesh from the poor”, vividly and graphically communicates how corrupt government officials use their position for personal gain, rather than in service to the people who elect them. And after perpetrating all this evil upon the people, they have the audacity to turn around and ask the LORD for HIS help in times of trouble (v.4).
    The LORD says to false prophets in verse 5; “You are leading MY people astray! You promise peace for those who give you food, but you declare war on anyone who refuses to pay you” (NLT).
    In the Hebrew, the word used for “peace”, “shalom” (shaw-lome), means more than just “the absence of war”. It also means “good health, wholeness, and security”. While the false prophets lied to Israel about her “spiritual condition”, true prophets of GOD, like Micah, spoke out strongly for the “justice” that is needed to bring true peace to the souls of men, through their recognizing and repentance of their sins against GOD.
    Whenever religious leaders turn a blind eye towards corruption in society against the people of GOD, they too, become responsible for their pain. In the book of Micah, in chapter 6, verse 6-8, the prophet tells us what we can do to make up for the things we have perpetrated against the LORD our GOD. It is not the sacrifices from our corrupt lives, or songs from our corrupt mouths that GOD is seeking in order to gain HIS atonement. In verse 8 Micah closes out this chapter with his, now famous, exaltation that was given to him from the mind of GOD. There he so poetically states; “No, O people, the LORD has already told you what is good, and this is what HE requires: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with GOD”. Amen.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander





                                
                                           LARRY DALEXANDER- Official Website



        

Friday, March 13, 2020


WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday March 15, 2020

Over 232,000 readers worldwide
larrydalexander.blogspot.com

CONSEQUENCES FOR INJUSTICE
(The LORD’s second reply to Habakkuk)
(Habakkuk 2)

   In Habakkuk 2, verses 1-5, as Habakkuk awaits in a “watchtower” (“mismeret” in the Hebrew) for an answer from the LORD to his second complaint in chapter 1, the LORD tells Habakkuk to write HIS answer in large, clear letters on a tablet so that even a man who is running by can read it, and pass the message on to everyone he meets.
    The LORD warns Habakkuk that the things HE planned will not happen right away, however, slowly but surely the time nears when the vision HE shows him will be fulfilled. And if it seems too slow, just be patient, because it will surely come to pass.
    The LORD then tells Habakkuk to look around at all the confident, arrogant faces of those who trust in themselves, even though their lives are crooked. By contrast, those who are humble and righteous will simply “live by faith”, “depending only on GOD” for their survival.   They will be faithful to GOD, and because of their faith and patience, they will live eternally with GOD at the end of this earth’s history. Those who trust in themselves, on the other hand, will die by their own hand, and join satan in the pits of Hell following the “White Throne Judgment”.
    Verse 5 describes wealth as being “treacherous”, and the arrogant as being “never at rest”, or, “never satisfied”. It is a comparison that pits these two together, with “greed and death”. Wealth and arrogance combined together, are like greed and death, and neither one, is ever satisfied. 
    The consequences for injustice in devastating, and in verses 6-20, Habakkuk gives us a vivid description of the coming judgment of the Almighty GOD in Heaven, upon those who have profited by unjust means. Here the LORD warns us, through Habakkuk, of how terrible it will be for those who gather wealth by wicked methods of operation.
    In this passage the prophet Habakkuk tells the wicked, unjust operators of Israel, that, “their wealth can never buy them security from GOD’s powerful wrath”. Even the materials used to build their houses, which GOD HIMSELF created, will cry out against them, because of their evil gains. GOD has never made a mineral, or natural resource on this earth that is stronger than HE is.
    The people of Israel had built cities, including Jerusalem, with money gained by murder, corruption, and all manner of evil. Here in this passage GOD solemnly promises, that, “the wealth of those who cheated to gain it, would, ultimately turn to ashes”. All those who work hard doing evil in order to prosper, and ignoring their service to GOD, will ultimately find that their hard work was all in vain.
    There will come a day when our jobs that we worshipped, and ignored GOD to perform, and our houses, cars, and all “the things that have stolen our hearts”, and taken the place of GOD in our lives, will be taken away, or rendered meaningless and useless, to save us from HIS judgment. All that will be left is what man had in the beginning, “the Word of GOD the CREATOR”, WHO will ultimately judge us, “according to our reaction to human need”.
    When all is said and done, the day will have finally arrived, when all the earth will be filled, just as the waters fill the sea, with an overwhelming awareness of the glory and presence of the Almighty GOD in Heaven, WHO is our SAVIOR, through JESUS CHRIST, our LORD. And all the earth will be silent before HIM (v.20b).
   
A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander





                                
                                           LARRY DALEXANDER- Official Website


 

Friday, March 6, 2020


WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday March 8, 2020

Over 231,000 readers worldwide
larrydalexander.blogspot.com

A PRAYER FOR JUSTICE
(Calling to GOD for help)
(Habakkuk 1)

   The Scriptures mention nothing about the ancestry or place of birth of the Old Testament prophet Habakkuk (Huh-BAK-uhk). His name means “embraced by GOD”, and history tells us that he was both a poet and a prophet. His hatred of sin often compelled him to cry out to GOD for justice. Ironically, that same sense of justice also led to Habakkuk’s foolish challenge of the LORD’s plan of judgment on the nation of Judah, where HE would use the evil pagan king, Nebuchadnezzar and his Babylonian forces to ultimately annihilate Judah in 586 B.C.
    The book of Habakkuk deals with the age-old problem of evil and human suffering in the world. Each chapter presents a very striking contrast, and in the first two chapters, Habakkuk’s complaining, and questioning technique is actually used to drive home a powerful message concerning the coming judgment of the Almighty GOD in Heaven.
    This terse book begins with a cry of woe, as Habakkuk sees injustice running rampant in the nation of Judah, and the people who were seeking righteousness, being overtaken by the wicked. The law seems powerless to stop this madness, and it also seems that the LORD HIMSELF has abandoned HIS chosen people to these evil circumstances.
    Many of the earlier prophets had also seen the societal injustices in Judah, and vehemently spoke out and objected to them. However, years ago, while still under the 55-year reign of King Manasseh, the father of Josiah, the nation of Judah had become committed to the idolatry and evil practices of the pagan nations around them. Those prophets were not able to convince the people to abandon those practices, any more than Habakkuk would be able to, with his warnings in his day.
    Like Isaiah, Hosea, Micah, and Zephaniah, Habakkuk ministered during the reign of King Josiah, Judah’s last GODly king. Josiah came to the throne at the incredibly young age of eight, and with the help of his queen mother, he was able to grow up with a moral compass to guide him. As a result, when he was older, he initiated many religious reforms, and a spiritual revival, in an attempt to move the people of Judah, back towards GOD.
    Sadly, Josiah was not able to root out all of the deeply entrenched evil that had dug its way into Hebrew society, and Habakkuk pleaded with GOD for an explanation as to why HE had allowed this wickedness to persist, and the innocent to suffer for all those years. He wanted to know why GOD would use a less righteous people (Babylon) to punish, what he considered to be, a more righteous nation (Judah). And even though there was already a precedent established with the downfall of northern Israel to the Assyrians in 722 B.C., Habakkuk was still troubled by what he felt was an overbearing moral issue.
    In fact, even today, that is a concern about GOD that still troubles a lot of Christians, that age-old question of, “Why HE allows evil to exist and prevail in the world”. However, the answers we find in this message of Habakkuk, clearly shows us that no one, good or evil, can escape the disciplining hand of GOD, when HE decides to apply it.
    Here in Habakkuk chapter 1, taking up at verse 5, the LORD replies to HIS prophet’s complaint by telling him HE will use the nation of Babylon, a superior military force, whose own strength is their god, to devastate the nation of Israel, and, the rest of the world as they knew it at that time  (Vs.5-11).
    The Babylonians, who literally enjoyed cruelty and violence, would sweep across the land, building dirt ramps up against “walled cities”, including Jerusalem, and dragging all of their brightest, and most prominent young citizens back to their own land, and re-training them all to serve King Nebuchadnezzar in his kingdom.
    This chapter ends as it began, with Habakkuk firing off a series of complaints in the form of questions for the LORD. Habakkuk felt that there were so many more unrighteous people outside of Israel than there were within, and he couldn’t seem to bring himself to understand why GOD was using one of those nations to punish them, a seemingly more righteous nation.
    Habakkuk seemed to miss the fact that, “to whom much is given, much is required”. GOD expects much more (in the form of our behavior) from those who pledge themselves to HIM, than HE does from those who pledge themselves to the world, and its material gods.
    In Deuteronomy 28, GOD specifies a number of punishing disasters that HE would use to discipline Israel, if they fell out of line with HIS laws and precepts. Habakkuk has to know that “defeat in war” is one of those forms of punishment (Deuteronomy 28:25-29). And so, without further hesitance, Habakkuk accepts the LORD’s devastating announcement regarding Judah (v.13a). For he knows now that the LORD’s punishment with this coming invasion will not spell the end of the Hebrew nation.
    However, Habakkuk saw a more profound problem if the wicked Babylonians succeed in destroying Jerusalem, and their gods then being exalted over the GOD of Israel. There would be “no moral governor” supervising the affairs of mankind, anywhere on earth. Through GOD’s punishment, Habakkuk reasoned, HE would seem to be allowing the wicked to prosper, and thus raising doubt in the minds of HIS OWN people about HIS very existence and superiority.
    In the Hebrew, the concept of the word “listen”, “shama”, (pronounced “shaw-mah”), means more than just “hear”. In the biblical sense, when GOD says “listen” it implies that we respond intelligently and understand HIM through our GOD-given human properties. GOD always hears and understands our righteous prayers. And the more we “listen”, and get to know HIM, the better we will understand “what to pray for” and “how to pray”, to HIM.
    We should always pray that we will accept GOD’s Will being done in our lives on earth, just as it is always done in Heaven, because of the obedience to HIS Will that is found there. Sometimes GOD’s Will may be something that we don’t perceive as being right in our own sinful eyes, however, we must accept the fact, like Habakkuk did, that “GOD is always right”.
    GOD is always about “justice”, and when HE disciplines us, HE does it in righteousness, which is the only way that HE operates. Bless the LORD our GOD, WHO can only make “right decisions”. That is why we should worship and praise HIM every day, “through our behavior, publicly and privately”, and not just “with our lips in public only”. And the GOD WHO always hears and answers the prayers of “those who are seeking righteousness”, will surely bless us with answers that will put us back into, and keep us safely, within the boundaries of HIS Will.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander





                                
                                           LARRY DALEXANDER- Official Website


 
  

Friday, February 28, 2020


WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday March 1, 2020

Over 231,000 readers worldwide
larrydalexander.blogspot.com

A CALL TO ACCOUNTABILITY
(Warning of the coming judgment)
(Amos 5:18-26)

   The events in the Book of Amos take place during one of the most prosperous times in northern Israel’s history. Their dynamic King, Jeroboam II, had led the nation to successful victories over their hostile neighbors in war, and as a result, had won control of the lucrative trade routes that now poured tremendous wealth into Samaria, northern Israel’s capital.
    It was a golden age for the wealthy who built grand homes and proud public facilities near the worship centers of Bethel and Dan. Even the fertile land of northern Israel presented bumper crops, year after year, in those days. Unfortunately, beneath the glitter, glamor, and prosperity of this golden society, lay the dark tragedy of social injustice and economic disparity.
    The rich in Israel, at that time, had little regard for GOD, nor, any of HIS sacred laws. The poor in Israel, were mercilessly oppressed by merchants who regularly used unjust weights and measures in the marketplace, and, by the judges (“dayyaneh Gezeloths”) in the court system, whose justice was for sell to the highest bidder.
    And so, it is against this backdrop of “prosperity” and “wickedness”, that we find the Prophet Amos, a farmer from nearby Judah, being called by GOD to deliver a series of resounding messages to his wayward kinsmen of northern Israel. In this deeply penetrating prophesy, Amos exposes the very underbelly of this, seemingly, upright society.
    Here in Amos chapter 5, we see a continued denunciation by GOD, through Amos, of the legal injustice that is being perpetrated by “robber judges” who sold their court decisions to the wealthy, and, against Government workers who overtaxed the poor. Here Amos also cites the landlords who overcharged for rent in subpar housing, while all the time they claimed to be children, or followers of GOD. All this displays the kind of “religious hypocrisy” that we still see in today’s society (Vs.10-13).
    In verses 14-15 we see that the possibility still exists for the people of Israel to separate themselves from these evil practices. Here Amos urges them to repent and begin to do that which is good and just and right in the eyes of the LORD. However, history now tells us that they, instead, chose to continue on in their sin and revelry.
    In verses 16-17, Amos concludes this, his third message of his prophecy to northern Israel, by returning to his opening plea, and reminding the people of the severe death penalty that is inevitable, if they failed to heed GOD’s warnings.
    Over in the New Testament, JESUS was still warning the people of Israel to discontinue the “hypocrisy” of “religious pretense” and “public show” (playing church) that had become so deeply engrained in their worship services in the church (Matthew 6:5-8, and Matthew 23). Here in verses 21-24, we see Amos reminding the Israelites of that same fatal flaw.
    Like the Christian Church today, the Israelites of the 8th century B.C., and in the 1st century, had developed a tendency to live in “religious hypocrisy”. GOD’s anger has always been directed largely at those of us who choose to live in such a manner. It is this kind of “empty worship” that GOD simply will not tolerate, and especially from Church leadership.
    GOD makes it quite clear, throughout the history of HIS Word, that HE strongly detests our “showing off in public”, while continuing to live an unGODly life in private. HE will not ever accept our tithes and offerings, and nor will HE accept our hymns of praise, and in fact, songs from the disobedient are like “noise to HIS ears and HE simply will not even listen to such “melodic hypocrisy”. Amos tell us here that GOD, instead, wants to see “a mighty steam of justice” flowing from among us, and a “river of righteous living” that will never run dry (Vs.23-25).
    Money and riches are not intrinsically evil. However, too often wealth promotes “self-indulgence”, and makes us “indifferent” toward others. Remember, JESUS, WHO was GOD’s greatest human representative on earth, ever, also preached and clearly understood the dangers of prosperity better than anyone ever has. HE taught that, the more we gain in life, the more we need GOD, not the opposite. When the Israelites were poor, they were humble and full of worship. However, the fuller their pockets became, the emptier their worship became.
    To go with everything in life, we need GOD, and with wealth and prosperity, we need HIM all the more. It is very possible to be wealthy, and also have a heart for GOD, and King David, the first GODly king of Israel, stands as a wonderful example of this. However, history also tells us that “most people refuse to pursue, both, GOD, and money. In fact, it is overwhelmingly proven throughout world and Church history that most people will choose “empty worship and prosperity”, over GOD.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander





                                
                                           LARRY DALEXANDER- Official Website