The God who Restores

The final restoration 

Amos 9:11-15

“I will restore….”

 

            The discipline of God is terrifying.  Understanding the totality of God’s character requires that we recognize his justice. God is holy and hates evil, for it violates his nature and dishonors him, distorting his perfection. The psalmist affirms, “For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not dwell with you” (Psa. 5:4).  We also read in Psalm 11:5, “the Lord tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence.”   Because he cannot be associated with or tainted by sin, he will bring judgment upon sin.  If he failed to do so, then it would mean that God either condones sin or, worse, God promotes sin.  

            However, herein lies the paradox of scripture—the God who is holy and is the God who forgives sin.  The God who brings a famine of the Word is the same God who came to earth not just to communicate his word but is the word (John 1:1).  The God who pronounces the unavoidable judgment upon sin is the one who promises to bring complete restoration of Israel back to the land.  The one who hates sin and judges evil will forgive the sinner and give eternal life to those seeking him.  The God who is our judge is the one who becomes our advocate. 

            Through Amos's prophetic message, God declared that judgment was established and that he had “set my eyes against them for evil and not good” (9:7). Yet he ends his message through Amos with an announcement of hope.  After pronouncing that he will destroy Israel, he then promises he will restore Israel.  They will rebuild, and God will “plant them on their land, and they will not again be rooted out of their land.”  God will restore Israel.  The word restore is what is called a prophetic perfect.  That is the grammar points to a future event that is so certain that it is spoken of in the past tense.  It means, “I have returned the captive of my people."  Even though the statement looks to the future restoration of Israel because it is God making the promise, it is already so sure to happen that Amos speaks of it as a past event.  This will ultimately be fulfilled when Christ returns and establishes his reign in Israel. 

            The shift from wrath to mercy is because of God’s faithfulness to his covenant and promises to the people.  He will act mercifully to them because Israel will renew their faith and loyalty to God.  However, this change is due to God’s activity in their lives and in the new covenant he will make with them rather than any change of worth in the people themselves.  God saves us because of His grace, not because of any merit on our part.

            This becomes our hope today.  No matter how much we turn away from God and face His judgment, there is still the opportunity to experience His grace when we turn back to Him. Until death, we are never beyond the hope of His forgiveness and salvation.  Even though we deserve His judgment, he has made forgiveness possible because Christ paid the judicial requirement by suffering our punishment.   The ultimate conundrum is that the holy God, who cannot be associated with anything sinful, became a sin for us so that we might experience the benefit of his grace. 

 

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