Bible Order: Hebrews 1–6
Chronological Order: Titus 1-3
New Testament Only: Revelation 7:9–8:13
Prepare To Meet Your God
Let me begin by apologizing for missing yesterday’s post. I didn’t realize I had neglected to put the post up until I sat down to write this one. Somehow I thought I had done it when I hadn’t. At any rate, I have since posted a comment for yesterday’s reading which was the book of Joel. Today we begin Amos. I hope you don’t mind but I’m going to include Amos 5 in today’s commentary.
Amos was a prophet to the Northern Kingdom of Israel. He was what we might call in America a “back-woods preacher”. He came from Tekoa. Tekoa actually means “a camping ground”. It has never been anything more than a “whistle-stop” even to this day. Amos was a herdsman from some pretty rough territory whom God told to prophecy to His people. If you ever think you don’t have what it takes to stand up and declare the Word of God then you are not reading scripture very carefully. Amos was no slick, silver tongued, Madison Avenue type; nor was the Apostle Peter and any number of faithful Godly men for that matter. All that is required to be used by God to His purpose is right relationship with Him and obedience.
I want to share one little verse that jumped out at me and then jump to the end of today’s reading.
Amos 5:4 ESV
“For thus says the Lord to the house of Israel: “Seek me and live;”
There is what God has been saying to us throughout the Bible and throughout history; “Seek me and live”. This is not a onetime deal either. You don’t seek Him, find Him, and then go your own way again. You have to seek Him every day. Jesus is on the move. He is marching through the hearts and minds of men and women all over the globe. That is why He says “If any man wishes to come after me let him deny Himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me. (Luke 9:23)” Daily we must seek Him. Daily we must put aside what we want so we can focus on where He is. We must not look to the left or to the right but keep our eyes steadfastly focused on Jesus who leads the way.
So, I get to Amos 5:26 and this is what I read:
Amos 5:26 ESV
“You shall take up Sikkuth your king, and Kiyyun your star-god—your images that you made for yourselves,”
“Kiyyun” is the Babylonian name for Saturn. As we know, many Jews started following foreign gods and this had God pretty ticked off. This Kiyyun was one of those foreign gods. What made me stop was the hyphenated word “star-god”. It made me stop because of something I had read years ago about the Islamic faith. One of the Five Pillars of Islam is the “Hajj” a requirement to make a pilgrimage to Mecca once in your lifetime. The Hajj occurs every year from the 8th to the 12th day of the last month of the Islamic calendar. The pilgrimage to Mecca actually is a trip to a cube-shaped building in Mecca, Saudi Arabia called the “Kaaba”. Muslims believe that this building, a temple of sorts, was first erected by Adam and Eve at the site where a meteor came to rest. It is further believed that Ibrahim, Abraham to you and me, rebuilt the building generations later.
Today the Kaaba is surrounded by a mosque and not only are non-believers not allowed inside the mosque, they are not allowed in the city of Mecca. Once a pilgrim has made it to the Kaaba he walks seven times around the cube in a counter clock-wise direction. The meteor called “The Black Stone” is mounted on a corner of the Kaaba and each of the seven times a pilgrim passes the stone they point to it. Back when there weren’t as many pilgrims to contend with, people would kiss the stone as they passed just as Muhammad had. Today the crowds are far too big to allow such an intimate interaction with the stone.
It is important to note that this stone was worshipped prior to the development of Islam. In fact the Kaaba itself was a temple long before Islam existed and housed many “gods”. One of those gods was named Allah. Each Arab tribe had its own collection of gods. This “Allah” god was often considered the “chief” god of a tribe. Muhammad, it is said, was an orphan and at one point raised by a Christian Bishop. Whether that is true or not, he clearly had a strong understanding of the monotheistic faith of Jews and Christians. Muhammad’s people were tribal nomads. They had no real sense of unity as a people. The Jews and the Christians were advanced and power groups compared to the Arabs of that day, and Muhammad clearly saw the advantages of the unity one could forge from belief in one god.
Muhammad synthesized a belief system that pooled all of the various tribal gods into one god named Allah. He borrowed heavily Judaic and Christian theology in creating his new faith which is why you can see many similar attributes shared by these faiths. As I read up on this I was reminded of the Mormon faith. Muhammad claimed that one day the angel Gabriel appeared to him and ordered him to read a text that he could not read. I read portions of his wife’s description of this encounter and it is terrifying. He referred to this being as Allah and only later, after conference with a Christian cousin, called this being Gabriel. His wife claims that three times Muhammad was “squeezed” and ordered to read a text that he could not read. You can go here to read about this frightening experience:
Her account of this incident reminds me more of Satan than God, and Muhammad was clearly traumatized by the event, if her words are to be believed. I mentioned the Mormon faith because it too was founded by a man claiming a special angelic revelation of text that only he could read. It seems everyone wants to get into the act!
At any rate, have you ever noticed the symbol most associated with Islam? It is a crescent and star “logo” if you will. Now to be fair, Islam, like Judaism, does not allow for symbols to represent God, but still they have this symbol that they place on their flags and mosques. I am not a Muslim and cannot claim to know their faith to any great degree. I have read the ranting of crazy Imams that completely twist the Christian faith out of all recognizable shape and I realize I could be guilty of doing the same thing here. Do me a favor, please do not run to Muslims and suppose to tell them you know their faith better than they do. That would be insulting and in no way make them receptive to hearing the Gospel.
With that said, I see some things here in their own telling of their history that I find rather interesting. They kiss and/or point to a piece of a star that has fallen from heaven. They turn and pray five times a day toward this little chunk of star. The only symbol recognized around the world as representing Islam contains a crescent and star. Earlier this year we read in the Bible of the “Day Star” that was so beautiful but rebelled against God and fell from heaven. This “Day Star” was named Lucifer, aka Satan.
Isn’t it interesting that Islamic history has a meteor, a piece of fallen star, that comes to earth and directs Adam and Eve to build an alter? We know that Satan fell to earth, was in the Garden of Eden, and encouraged Adam and Eve to join him in his rebellion against God. The temple they allegedly built housed many of the very gods that the Israelites foolishly pursued. They pursued these gods because they were gods they thought they could control. They were gods made by their own hands that did not demand that they be righteous.
Today I hear people say that they cannot believe in a God that would allow suffering in the world. They also say that if they do more good than bad they will get to go to heaven. They have created their own religions to suit their own purposes and all such religions belong to Satan. He wants you to join him in his rebellion. Israel and Judah joined him and even though they were God’s chosen people He punished them for their disobedience.
Punishment is coming for all. The man-made gods that populate this earth will do you no good. There is only one true God. He loves you and wishes you to be saved from the punishment you deserve, but you will have to submit to His authority, accept the atoning sacrifice of His only begotten Son, and follow Him alone. Look here at what God says to Israel in response to their following after foreign gods.
Amos 4:12 ESV
“Therefore thus I will do to you, O Israel;
because I will do this to you,
prepare to meet your God, O Israel!”
Prepare to meet your God! Are you prepared?
Your brother and servant in Christ,
Dying to self, living to serve!
(Originally posted 9/21/10)