The calamities which have come upon the northern kingdom of Israel have been of her own making. The LORD mentions famine (“cleanness of teeth,” Amo 4:6) which occurred during King Ahab’s reign; drought; blight, mildew, and locust; a plague which killed the young men of Israel; and the overthrow of some of Israel’s cities.
All of these things came on Israel in increasing severity, to wake her up so that she will depart from the idolatry of Bethel, and return to the LORD God. Now at Bethel, Israel was diligent in religion! They offered sacrifices every morning without fail, and brought in their tithes every third day! They also brought in thank offerings and free will offerings in abundance — but they were offering these things to the golden calf at Bethel and not the LORD God in Jerusalem.
They were like those Paul warned Timothy of: who have a form of godliness but deny its power (2 Tim 3:5). Timothy was to turn away from those who seem very religious and diligent in the fulfillment of godliness, but because they have denied the power of true godliness, the Spirit and presence of the LORD God, they are no better than blasphemers and the unholy.
Even though Israel dwells in ivory houses, in great houses, they will be led away to captivity. Even though God chastised them with famine, drought, and locust, because they did not return to Him willingly, they will meet Him in fearsome judgment!
For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. And again, “The LORD will judge His people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Heb 10:3o-31
We have been highlighting ever since Genesis, the grace, mercy, love, and longsuffering of the LORD. But no one should mistake the LORD’s kindness for weakness – His kindness is meant to bring us to repentance and return (Rom 2:4)! If we make our necks stiff and harden our hearts, and refuse to return as Israel refused to return, then one day the longsuffering will come to an end and we will call forth judgment upon ourselves.
Let us meet our God on bended knee, in voluntary humility, and resolve to worship Him in the manner He commands in His word, and not what seems good to us out of our own hearts! Then we will not meet Him in fearsome judgment!