Amos 5 & Luke 1

Amos

Chapter 5

    Hear this word that I take up over you in lamentation, O house of Israel:

    “Fallen, no more to rise,
        is the virgin Israel;
    forsaken on her land,
        with none to raise her up.”
    
    
        For thus says the Lord GOD:

    “The city that went out a thousand
        shall have a hundred left,
    and that which went out a hundred
        shall have ten left
        to the house of Israel.”
    
    
        For thus says the LORD to the house of Israel:

    “Seek me and live;
        but do not seek Bethel,
    and do not enter into Gilgal
        or cross over to Beersheba;
    for Gilgal shall surely go into exile,
        and Bethel shall come to nothing.”
    
    
    Seek the LORD and live,
        lest he break out like fire in the house of Joseph,
        and it devour, with none to quench it for Bethel,
    O you who turn justice to wormwood
        and cast down righteousness to the earth!
    
    
    He who made the Pleiades and Orion,
        and turns deep darkness into the morning
        and darkens the day into night,
    who calls for the waters of the sea
        and pours them out on the surface of the earth,
    the LORD is his name;
    who makes destruction flash forth against the strong,
        so that destruction comes upon the fortress.
    
    
    They hate him who reproves in the gate,
        and they abhor him who speaks the truth.
    Therefore because you trample on the poor
        and you exact taxes of grain from him,
    you have built houses of hewn stone,
        but you shall not dwell in them;
    you have planted pleasant vineyards,
        but you shall not drink their wine.
    For I know how many are your transgressions
        and how great are your sins—
    you who afflict the righteous, who take a bribe,
        and turn aside the needy in the gate.
    Therefore he who is prudent will keep silent in such a time,
        for it is an evil time.
    
    
    Seek good, and not evil,
        that you may live;
    and so the LORD, the God of hosts, will be with you,
        as you have said.
    Hate evil, and love good,
        and establish justice in the gate;
    it may be that the LORD, the God of hosts,
        will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.
    
    
        Therefore thus says the LORD, the God of hosts, the Lord:

    “In all the squares there shall be wailing,
        and in all the streets they shall say, ‘Alas! Alas!’
    They shall call the farmers to mourning
        and to wailing those who are skilled in lamentation,
    and in all vineyards there shall be wailing,
        for I will pass through your midst,”
                                                                                                                                                                    says the LORD.
    
    
        Woe to you who desire the day of the LORD!
        Why would you have the day of the LORD?
    It is darkness, and not light,
        as if a man fled from a lion,
        and a bear met him,
    or went into the house and leaned his hand against the wall,
        and a serpent bit him.
    Is not the day of the LORD darkness, and not light,
        and gloom with no brightness in it?
    
    
    “I hate, I despise your feasts,
        and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies.
    Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings,
        I will not accept them;
    and the peace offerings of your fattened animals,
        I will not look upon them.
    Take away from me the noise of your songs;
        to the melody of your harps I will not listen.
    But let justice roll down like waters,
        and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.
    
    
“Did you bring to me sacrifices and offerings during the forty years in the wilderness, O house of Israel? You shall take up Sikkuth your king, and Kiyyun your star-god—your images that you made for yourselves, and I will send you into exile beyond Damascus,” says the LORD, whose name is the God of hosts.

(Amos 5 ESV)


Luke 

Chapter 1

Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.

In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, of the division of Abijah. And he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years.

Now while he was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty, according to the custom of the priesthood, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense. And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. And Zechariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great before the Lord. And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb. And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.”

And Zechariah said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.” And the angel answered him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time.” And the people were waiting for Zechariah, and they were wondering at his delay in the temple. And when he came out, he was unable to speak to them, and they realized that he had seen a vision in the temple. And he kept making signs to them and remained mute. And when his time of service was ended, he went to his home.

After these days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she kept herself hidden, saying, “Thus the Lord has done for me in the days when he looked on me, to take away my reproach among people.”

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin's name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”

And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

(Luke 1:1-38 ESV)

Silence the Skepticism

Terry Evans

 

There is nothing that is impossible with God. Creation and the whole science of biology bow before the Creator who does what He wills when He wills. God has placed His sovereign stamp upon His people through the supernatural elements that accommodate His unfolding plan throughout human history. An impossible birth initiates the promise of a Savior (Isaac). An impossible birth prepares the path of the Savior (John the baptist). And an impossible birth executes the Incarnation of the Savior (Jesus). God's people are a chosen people indeed. 

Too often, my rational and skeptical mind refuses me the hope of a miracle. I don't necessarily doubt what God can do, but I do sometimes doubt what He might do. But who has known the mind of the Lord that he can determine what God might or might not do? Sometimes we need God's Word to graciously silence the skepticism within us before we misspeak concerning the will of God. Lord, help my unbelief.

May God grant me a heart that says, "I am your servant. May things be as You say no matter how they may seem." May I look beyond the limits of impossible in order to experience more of God's awesome power. May I not allow science or circumstances to limit my expectations of what God might do.