How Sinful Are You? – God’s Faithfulness & Mercy

Many times we say that God is a faithful God (Deuteronomy 7:9, 2 Timothy 2:13, Psalm 33:4) and that he is merciful (2 Samuel 24:14, Luke 6:36, Ephesians 2:4) and he is! According to his mercy and faithfulness, it is amazing how God continually forgives us for all of our sinful ways. Many times we don’t believe that God can forgive us for our sins. We feel that we’re too far gone. We think because we slept with someone, looked at porn, got drunk, rebelled against our parents, and stole something that we’re so sinful and that we surely have lost our salvation and right standing with God. 

However, recently I was reminded of how incredible the faithfulness of God to keep his covenant with his people no matter how sinful they are. We see the faithfulness and mercy of God in the book of Amos. Judah, consisting of the tribes of Benjamin and Judah were incredibly sinful to the point that God sent them the prophet Amos out of his shamba to confront them. This God is the same God to faithfully remain with us no matter how far gone we are. The prophet and farmer, Amos declared a list of seven sins that the Judeans committed and wow talk about a damning list (Amos 2:4-16)! See the list below and see if you agree with me.

List of Sins

  1. Taking Bribes/Selling Poor People (Amos 2:6)- The Judeans did not value human life because they would sell their own poor to slave traders for as little as the cost of a pair of sandals. Receiving this money for another life was against God’s law; however, they turned a blind eye to it with a bribe. 

  2. Corruption (Amos 2:7)- Corruption in the court was so bad that the judges would side with creditors as opposed to borrowers in any financial case. The wealthy trampled the poor on the ground.

  3. Sexual Immorality (Amos 2:7)- Amos said that fathers and sons were having sexual intercourse with the same girl! This may have been with temple prostitutes, concubines, or female relatives. Whichever, their behaviour showed no respect for God’s holy name despite being his covenant people. 

  4. Taking Advantage of the Poor (Amos 2:8)- Whenever a poor person would borrow money from a lender, they would leave a garment to be taken as a pledge to pay the debt. The garment was to be returned to the poor person at night since they may not have had any other covering (Exodus 22:26). Lenders, however, were not returning the garments. Instead, fathers and their sons were using it to sleep with girls on the altar. 

  5. Idolatry (Amos 2:8)- The lenders of Judah we’re using wine that they had taken from the poor as a fine for not paying their debts on time to worship other heathen gods.

  6. Encouraging Sin (Amos 2:11-12)- The people of Judah were encouraging Nazarites to drink alcohol which was against their vow (Numbers 6:1-21) . Whenever someone would take a Nazirite vow, they were to be dedicated to God and would not drink alcohol nor cut their hair as part of the pledge. However, the people of Judah encouraged them to break their vow and not worship God in this way.

  7. Refusing Prophecy (Amos 2:11-12)- The people of Judah were not politely asking prophets not to prophesy, they were commanding then to stop prophesying. They were very forceful not to hear God’s word to the point of using even government power to silence God’s servants. 

All of these sins sound so terrible! It can make you feel that our African society, specifically the city of Nairobi, is much better off! The fantastic thing is that God desires to restore these sinful people despite the great evil that they had done (Amos 9:11-15). He is faithful and merciful! However, God is also just. God sends seven punishments to match the seven sins that Judah committed. These seven punishments all came through military defeat and are generally described as fire (Amos 2:5). 

List of Punishments

  1. Swift Won’t Escape (Amos 2:14)- In battle, the people of Judah would flee, but not be able to escape their enemies.

  2. Strength Will Fail (Amos 2:14)- No matter how strong one of the people of Judah was, they would not be strong enough to overcome their enemies. 

  3. Warriors Will Die (Amos 2:14)- Warriors were the strongest, fastest, and fiercest people among those of Judah and even they would not be able to escape their enemies.

  4. Archers Will Stumble (Amos 2:15)- Archers are known for being very sure-footed and brave to hold their position to shoot their enemies; however, even these abilities would fail them whenever faced by their enemies.

  5. Swift Will Die (Amos 2:15)- The latest amongst the people of Judah would not be able to outrun their enemies in battle. 

  6. Horsemen Will Die (Amos 2:15)- Having a horse in battle is an advantage because it can run over people and help you escape if necessary, however, even the fastest of the warhorses would not be able to escape the enemy. 

  7. Brave Will Flee Naked (Amos 2:16)- Being naked was a great shame and a sign of total defeat. Amos said that the people of Judah would run away naked in battle.

The fire and military defeat that God promised through the prophet Amos came ultimately through the Babylonians (2 Kings 25:1-12). The symmetry of the seven sins and the seven punishments show’s that God is not harsh in his punishment, but is fair. God did not take the punishment farther than it needed to. This again shows a taste of the faithfulness and mercy of God. 

God’s Restoration

The full extent of God’s faithfulness and mercy is seen at the end of the book of Amos. God promises to fully restore sinful Judah for the terrible sins that they have committed (Amos 9:11-15). Restoration doesn’t just mean forgiveness, but he would also rebuild all that was destroyed in their military defeat. God truly does restore those whom he has broken down because he is faithful and merciful.

 

God is merciful. He is an amazingly faithful God. God wants a relationship with his people, and to restore that relationship, he is willing to hurt his people, but not ready to throw them away. Despite the pain that he can bring his people, he will not throw you away. Praise God that he will remain faithful to you and keep his covenant no matter how far gone in sin you are. If he did it with the people of Judah and their fantastic list of seven sins, what about you? 

How Sinful Are You?

How sinful are you? God is more merciful. God, through the prophet Amos, told the people to “Seek me and live; but do not seek Bethel… Seek the Lord and live…(Amos 5:4-6).” In other words, the life-giving presence of the Lord which restores is found not in a place like Bethel or in a pastor, but it is found in a relationship with the Lord. So if you want restoration from your personal list of seven sins, repent today and seek the Lord. 

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