In spite of all that God had done to turn Israel around, she would not turn. She refused to heed the warnings of the prophets, so God sought to wake her from her spiritual slumber through war and natural calamities.
“But I gave you also cleanness of teeth in all your cities and lack of bread in all your places, yet you have not returned to Me,” declares the LORD. “Furthermore, I withheld the rain from you while there were still three months until harvest. Then I would send rain on one city and on another city I would not send rain; one part would be rained on, while the part not rained on would dry up. So two or three cities would stagger to another city to drink water, but would not be satisfied; yet you have not returned to Me,” declares the LORD. “I smote you with scorching wind and mildew; and the caterpillar was devouring Your many gardens and vineyards, fig trees and olive trees; yet you have not returned to Me,” declares the LORD. “I sent a plague among you after the manner of Egypt; I slew your young men by the sword along with your captured horses, and I made the stench of your camp rise up in your nostrils; yet you have not returned to Me,” declares the LORD. “I overthrew you, as God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, and you were like a firebrand snatched from a blaze; yet you have not returned to Me,” declares the LORD” (Amos 4:6-11).
Each of these warnings had the capability of destroying Israel. Each at one time or the other brought the nation to the brink of devastation. Yet, in every instance, even while they were in the fire, God reached His hand into the blaze to snatch them out. Yet, Israel did not, and would not return to God. Israel believed that they stood by their own power and by their own strength, and not by the hand of God.
“Yes, God had sent them,” declared the prophets. But was this His whole arsenal? On the contrary, they were only His warning shots. Because they refused to pay attention to these warnings Israel (and later Judah) would be meeting God in judgment.
“Therefore thus I will do to you, O Israel; because I will do this to you, prepare to meet your God, O Israel” (Amos 4:12).
What a horrible thought: To be forced to stand before the judgment seat of God after having lived a life in total rebellion to His ways. It’s like having the FBI at your door in the middle of the night prepared to knock it down. All of your personal documents and recordings are suddenly in the hands of the law to determine if you will go to jail for the rest of your life.
Though these words were spoken to the people of God under the Old Testament, it would do each of us well to consider this as our warning too, because individually each one of us will eventually be called to the bar of God to meet Him in judgment. This being the case, lets carefully consider the prophet’s admonition as though it were directed to us personally – “prepare to meet your God.”
Do we think often and do we think seriously about God – about His nature, His holiness and His demands? The one that we must all eventually stand before in judgment is unlike any other. Amos brought this out to Israel in words that immediately follow the admonition to “prepare to meet your God.
“For behold, He who forms mountains and creates the wind and declares to man what are His thoughts, He who makes dawn into darkness and treads on the high places of the earth, the LORD God of hosts is His name” (Amos 4:13) .
The judge of the world is the creator of all things, and though He also has revealed His own thoughts to man (through the prophets), He can also reveal to us what we are thinking; and I believe that this is what the prophet means when he says that God “declares to man what are his thoughts.” God knows what we have thought in the past and He knows what we are thinking now. This has also been revealed by the New Testament prophet in Hebrews 4:12-13
“For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do”.
We can appeal the judgments of man up to the Supreme court, but with God, there is no appealing his judgment. For all practical purposes, God is like our supreme court__His judgment is final! The judgment of God will be without question, for unlike any other who may pass judgment upon us, He knows the thoughts and intentions of our hearts. Does such knowledge have any effect upon you? It ought to!
“All souls are Mine,” says the Lord (Ezek 18:4), thus He “your” God (and mine) whether we acknowledge Him or not. We belong to Him and for our own sake must understand that we are never away from His presence. The Psalmist understood this and so must we.
“Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in hell , behold, You are there” (Ps 139:7-8).
That fact that we would deny Him does not change the fact that He is still watching and noting our deeds for judgment. “‘Can a man hide himself in hiding places, so I do not see him?’ declares the LORD” (Jer 23:24).
For too many of us, death will be our first introduction to God. This is not because God did not make Himself known to us, but because they ignored Him in life. Though God requested an audience with them in life, they refused. Even so, God will have His audience with us.
The unprepared will meet with God just as certainly as the prepared will. The scriptures teach that an interview with God is inevitable. If we have done right during our life, we have nothing to fear, but if we have done evil, we have the God to fear. “It’s a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb 10:31).
“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (2 Cor 5:10).
God does not want you to come ignorant and unprepared. He sent His prophets, and later His Son and the apostles, telling men to prepare.
“Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead” (Acts 17:30-31) .
The need to prepare to meet God is clearly recognized by all who understand what will happen when we meet.
“And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds” (Rev 20:12).
So we must warn these people! We must tell them about Jesus, we must tell them about what he has done for them and what they must do in response to his word – believe that he is the Christ, the Son of God and confess such before men (Rom 10:9,10), repent of their sins and be baptized (immersed) in water for the remission of their sins (Acts 2:36-38). Without these things, they will be unprepared for their meeting with God.
Each of us must prepare to meet God in judgment. Those who are not prepared “will go away into eternal punishment” (Matt 25:41), “will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power” (2 Thess 1:9). Israel and Judah were both admonished to make preparations to meet God in the judgment, but neither one did. Today, you too have been admonished. What your answer is will determine where you will spend your eternity__heaven or hell.