Saturday, January 15, 2011

Eye time, heart time

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Amos 5:1-15

TO CHEW ON: "For thus says the Lord to the house of Israel:
'Seek Me and live;
Do not seek Bethel,
Nor enter Gilgal
Nor pass over to Beersheba;
For Gilgal shall surely go into captivity
And Bethel shall come to nothing." Amos 5:4b-5.

If you want to see God's heart laid open, His love exposed and vulnerable, read the prophets. Here he speaks through Amos — who wasn't a professional prophet at all but a shepherd who prophesied to the northern kingdom of Israel between 760 and 750 B.C. during the reigns of Uzziah in Judah and Jeroboam II in Israel.

Amos's invitation — no his plea, to his hearers is from God: "Seek Me and live." Then God, in a sort of imaginary discussion with them and anticipating what they will reply, answers their objection:

"Do not seek Bethel" (about 10 miles north of Jerusalem, the southern boundary of the northern kingdom and where Jeroboam I had set up a golden calf idol); "Nor enter Gilgal" (the ancient shrine connected with Joshua and Saul); "Nor pass over to Beersheba" (a place of pilgrimage where Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob all worshipped God).

It seems God was saying, I don't want your rote religious forms or rituals based on the encounters that your ancestors had with Me in the past. I want you to seek Me and to have that relationship with Me now.

What's involved in seeking God?

  • Moses in Deuteronomy and Jeremiah talk of seeking God whole-heartedly, i.e. making our search for God our heart's focus - Deuteronomy 4:29; Jeremiah 29:13.
  • The psalm writers talk of seeking God's face - Psalm 27:8; 105:4. When we seek someone's face, we look into their eyes to establish that one-to-one connection. We study their expression to see whether they are happy or sad, pleased or displeased with us.
  • Here Amos connects seeking God with life, bringing to mind the opposite possibility, that not seeking God leads to death.
  • Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount gave seeking God priority over even getting our basic needs met - Matthew 6:31-33.

Like the Israelites would answer God's "Seek My face" with "But I go to Bethel, Gilgal, and Beersheba," we could say, I come from a line of believers. I go to church, give money to charity, help the poor. Those things are good. Part of seeking God is doing the stuff - 2 Chronicles 14:4.

But there is more. There's the relationship. That's what God wants with us. Eye time. Heart time.

PRAYER: Dear God, how blessed am I to worship You, a God who pursues a relationship with me. Please help me to clear up any barriers to our relationship. Amen.

MORE: "How I Long For You" by Hillsong

Bible Drive-Thru

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...