Return to God Amos 4:6 CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO
Israel had forsaken the Lord for their idols. And so the Lord brought trouble to them to get them to repent and return to God. He brought them hunger from a lack of food, yet they did not return to God [Amos 4:6]. He sent them drought and yet they didn’t return to God [Amos 4:7-8]. He smote them with blasting, mildew and the palmerworm to destroy their crops and yet they didn’t return to God [Amos 4:9]. He sent them pestilence and war and yet they didn’t return to him [Amos 4:10]. He even sent such destruction like the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah and rescued some of them like plucking a firebrand from the burning and yet they didn’t return to God [Amos 4:11].
So, he warned them to “prepare to meet thy God,” [Amos 4:12]. He was saying if you guys won’t get your lives straightened out after all this trouble, then I’m coming down there myself. Prepare to meet thy God. He reminded them that he is The LORD, the God of hosts; not some man-made God or idol [Amos 4:13]. He’s the one who formed the mountains, created the wind, declares your thoughts, makes the morning dark [Second Advent], and treads upon the high places of the earth. Their gods were not anything like him.
And if you think about it, when he came, he didn’t come with destruction. He came as the Lamb of God to extend them mercy. He came to take away their sins. He brought healing, not disease. Instead of pouring out his wrath on them he took God’s wrath for them. He tried the approach of supreme mercy knowing that “the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance,” [Rom 2:4]. And instead of returning to God, they killed him.
This same God who sent myriad problems to Israel to get them to repent will send trouble your way to get you to return to God. I’m not saying that all the trouble that comes your way is an attempt by the Lord to get you to repent. Christians suffer for a variety of reasons. But there are times that the trouble in your life is directed specifically by the Lord to get you to return to God. And when that trouble comes you need to repent and turn to God. His desire is to extend you mercy.
Return to God when:
You encounter successive problems in your life – In Amos 4 Israel endured one bad problem after another. The Lord was really trying to get their attention. At first they may not have realized that the Lord was bringing the trouble. Like today, most people would simply call these “natural disasters” not “acts of God.” Each successive problem seemed to be more severe than the trouble before it. And even so, Israel refused to get right with God. Pay attention to the Lord when you see trouble in your life, particularly successive or compounding problems. When things just don’t let up, the Lord may be trying to get you to return to him.
The preacher addresses these problems in preaching – Amos had been preaching to Israel about the trouble that they were having. Look at Amos 4:1-3 or Amos 3:1-3. The Lord had been dealing with them through his words and his preacher and they were not “getting” the message. How often the preaching of the word has been directed by the Lord right at you and you just miss it, thinking all is okay between you and the Lord. Listen to the preaching of God’s words and when you hear him talking to you about sin in your life, return to God. He can talk to you in the privacy of your own home through these words but you need to be reading and heeding them. Today if the Lord is talking to you through these words, you need to return to God.
God is behind the trouble you’re having in your life – People are certainly not reluctant to blame God for misfortune in their lives. They often ask, “Why is God allowing this to happen to me?” There is a sense that either God should have prevented the trouble or that he should intervene now on their behalf to make it go away. It appears that Israel didn’t associate their disasters with the Lord. Daniel certainly connected the trouble that Judah experienced at the hand of Nebuchadnezzar with the transgressions of Israel [Dan 9:8-15]. He knew exactly why he and the Jews had been taken into captivity and why they were suffering at the hand of the Chaldeans. Check your own trouble and see who is behind it. And when you know that God is behind the trouble in your life you need to return to God.
You have a personal meeting with God – the Lord said, “Prepare to meet thy God.” Israel met Jesus face to face and his message was simple. Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand. Yet they didn’t return to him. One of the worst and best days of your life is the day that you have a faceoff with God. Bless the Lord he’ll put the fear of God in you in a way that you will never forget. In his mercy and forgiveness he will be kind to you if you return to God. But in his wrath he can destroy you if you turn away from him. The next time Israel sees God face to face, they will cry out to the mountains and rocks to fall on them to hide them “from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb,” [Rev 6:16]. He came in mercy the first time but he is coming in wrath the next. He made the mountains, created the wind and knows your thoughts. Your sin is so vile to him and your refusal to return to him is going to be your destruction. Today God is meeting with you. You are no match for him. Return to God.
Conclusion: so often we often invitations for the lost to get saved and we want anyone lost here today to be saved, indeed. But Christian, some of you have been on the outs with God and he has been trying to get your attention through the trouble in your life and through the words of God. It is time for you to return to God. I’ve been down this road and I can tell you returning to God is not just a cursory trip to the altar. It certainly starts here but it is a gut wrenching, life changing episode that gets you back on track with the Lord where you remain. Return to God.