Joshua 24:1-25 • Amos 5:18-24 • Psalm 70 • Matthew 25:1-13 • I Thessalonians 4:13-18
This passage marks the fulfillment of the promise to Abraham. The Israelites have become ‘a people’ and they have now then possession of the land under the leadership of Joshua. Now, Joshua is calling them to worship only the true God, the Lord. We assume that since God called Abraham to worship only the true God – the Israelites did the same. They did not, the people continued to be just like all the other people, they worshipped many gods.
The Israelites act offended at Joshua’s confrontation, ’of course we only worship the true God because of all that he has done for us’ they claim. Joshua bodly tells them they cannot worship God because they continue to hold on to the idols of the false gods. The people make a covenant that the Lord is their only God and they will serve and obey him. It is a promise to be a peculiar people, to be different than the people of the other nations.
The people will continue to struggle will polytheism (believing in many gods – monotheism is the belief in one God) even after this promise.
Amos, like Micah, was a contemporary of the prophet Isaiah. He was calling Israel out of their sin and to turn back to God. Amos was confrontative and harsh. The book of Amos begin with an indictment of the nations surrounding Israel but the rest is primarily a confrontation of the Israelites. Chapter 5 addresses their selfish ways of expecting God’s favor. They assume ‘Day of the Lord’ will be a time when God will rescue them from oppression – Amos says it will be a day of judgement against them. Amos is crying out that God hates their insincere religious celebration and practices, their public displays of insincere ‘righteousness’ – God is looking at their heart, he sees the real them. God is calling the people to search, seek, and find what God desires of them, what justice and righteousness really mean and to continuously live that out.
You may want to read this Psalm after you have read the Amos, Joshua, and Matthew passages. Consider how this Psalm is a human response to the message of those 3 passages.
We are just one chapter away from Jesus’ arrest, less than three days from the crucifixion. This can be a disturbing parable told by Jesus, one in which we can easily see the chief players, the wise bridesmaids and the bridegroom, as being very unChristlike. It is not really a story of a wedding, nor is it a story of sharing or being selfish – it is a story of being sufficiently prepared and continually patient while waiting for the Christ’ return. Hint – this passage was a continuation of Jesus speech that took place in chapter 24. Look at what Jesus was speaking about as this passage connects to his previous words.
I Thessalonians 4:13-18
This encouraging and hopeful close of the letter from Paul to the church at Thessalonica is often hijacked by bad eschatology (end times prophesies and human speculation). Paul is closing his message with a call for the people to let their grief be partnered with hope leading them to look to the future with peace. Paul desires to lift up these followers who have had such an impact even in the midst of troubling times.