Amos 6-9, Psalm 127
Billy Graham said, "I remember hearing a professor say that during His earthly ministry Jesus probably repeated Himself more than five hundred times. In college I had a professor who deliberately repeated himself three times. He said that the people in the first two or three rows will get the message the first time. The second time the people in the middle of the lecture hall will get it. The third time the people in the back will get it. And the ones in the front row will never forget it. We need to keep that fact of human nature in mind as we share God's love with the people He puts in our path." As we continue to walk through the messages of both the major and the minor prophets, the messages that these prophets were projecting to the people were very repetitive. When these messages were delivered some would pause and pay attention, but many were so wrapped in their daily lives that they barely took notice and ignored the prophet's message. Notice that throughout, God never changed His message in order to be more relevant. He never compromises His Word. The prophet may change and the illustrations may change, but the message never changes. As we see the emergence of churches which seek to become more relevant to the culture we now find ourselves we should beware, because for many of these churches the message and the purity of God's Word is being compromised in order to be relevant. This was never and will never be God's way to reach people.
There are many reasons why people choose to ignore the prophet's message. We read in Amos 6:3-6, "Woe to you who put far off the day of doom, Who cause the seat of violence to come near; Who lie on beds of ivory, Stretch out on couches, Eat lambs from the flock And calves from the midst of the stall; Who sing idly to the sound of stringed instruments, And invent for yourselves musical instruments like David; Who drink wine from bowls, And anoint yourselves with the best ointments, But are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph." These people of affluence (and many in that society were prosperous) cared only about their material blessings and their own little circle of life. They cared little for others and especially cared little for those who were struggling. Today, with people unable to pry their eyes from their cell phones and desktops the problem of self-centeredness and caring little for others is rampant. I am convinced that even within my hospital I could be lying on the floor clutching my chest and the majority of those passing by would literally walk over me unable to un-glue their eyes from their I-phones. He goes on to explain in Amos 8:4-6, that much of their blindness was because their focus was on how to increase their prosperity, "Hear this, you who swallow up the needy, And make the poor of the land fail, Saying: "When will the New Moon be past, That we may sell grain? And the Sabbath, That we may trade wheat? Making the ephah small and the shekel large, Falsifying the scales by deceit, That we may buy the poor for silver, And the needy for a pair of sandals-Even sell the bad wheat?" The Lord has sworn by the pride of Jacob: "Surely I will never forget any of their works." Prior to 1969 stores were closed on Sunday, so people would honor God that day and not focus on making money. By the mid-70's practically all stores were opened afraid of losing money to the competition. Consider Thanksgiving, where many stores now open on the actual day afraid of losing money.
God's repetitive messages to them and us are out of love. Most, unfortunately are so wrapped up in their own little worlds that they will not listen to God's Word. But we, His faithful, must continue on with His message to a blind and deaf world. Like the prophet we must never compromise His message, even slightly, in order to be more engaging or relevant. God's Word is God's Word. We are not to add to it or subtract from it. One of the main reasons for the One Year Bible Challenge is to familiarize everyone with the entirety of God's Word. The New Testament is not more important than the Old Testament. Though we may personally have favorite books and verses, to be well rounded to His complete message we need all of it. Like Billy Graham said in the opening portion of today's post, we need to be repetitive. God's Gospel message of redemption and love is never changing and always available. We need not worry if the person we are telling we have already told ten times before. Maybe it will be the eleventh time when it finally takes root. Someone said that for many they will need to hear the gospel message on average 8.9 times before allowing it to take root. We are all commissioned by Jesus Himself to be His messengers of the Gospel in Matthew 28:18-20. So may we all uncompromisingly and consistently approach each day with the desire to reach out to even one person who doesn't yet know Him. Take comfort in the words of Isaiah in 55:11, "So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it."
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley: