Don’t Ignore the Message!

Posted: June 22, 2017 in Amos, Uncategorized

Amos 3-4, “Don’t Ignore the Message!”

It’s always fun to play “hide & seek” with little kids.  All they’ve got to do is put their hands in front of their eyes, and they think they’re invisible.  “I can’t see you!  I’m hiding!” What’s fun with a 2-3 year old is downright sad with a fully-functioning adult, yet that’s sometimes the way people act with God.  God has made Himself obvious and known, but people put their fingers in their ears & shut their eyes, and claim they can’t hear or see Him.

Obviously, that’s not God’s desire for us.  He doesn’t speak to us in hopes that we won’t hear Him.  When He communicates with us (generally through the pull of the Holy Spirit working on our consciences, or through the clear commands of His written word), He wants us to hear.  He wants us to respond.  He wants us to know that it is our God who speaks, and it is His faithful people who hear Him.

But sometimes we close our ears & eyes, which was exactly the same actions as ancient Israel.  God repeatedly reached out to His nation, and they blinded themselves to Him.  That only works for so long.  Eventually, God would give them something impossible to ignore: the outpouring of His wrath through the Assyrian armies.

Remember who Amos was: a sheepbreeder/rancher living in the sticks south of Bethlehem, sent to prophesy to the people of the northern kingdom of Israel.  This was not a man most people at the time would have thought to be able to offer a word from God, yet that was exactly what he did.  During the days of prosperity for both kingdoms (north/south; Israel/Judah), Amos spoke of a soon judgment – one that would rock the entire region surrounding the Hebrew people.  All of the nations had sinned against God, and all of the nations would be judged, but especially the nation of Israel.  Despite God’s gracious provision for them & His hand of protection through the years, they had persisted in their sin against Him, and He was weighed down by them in burden.  Thus judgment would come to Israel, and it would be swift.

Israel’s judgment was introduced in Chapter 2, and the details of it pick up in Chapter 3.  Israel should have known what was on the way, because God repeatedly warned them (as Chapters 3-4 detail).  Now they would be facing the wrath of God, and they were left without excuse.

Beware that you do not ignore the Lord’s outreach to you – especially in regards to His discipline.  When God speaks, He wants us to pay attention.  The sooner we hear Him, the sooner we will repent…and the sooner we will experience His grace and forgiveness.

Amos 3

  • God speaks (3:1-8)

1 Hear this word that the LORD has spoken against you, O children of Israel, against the whole family which I brought up from the land of Egypt, saying: 2 “You only have I known of all the families of the earth; Therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.”

  • Although God’s proclamation has the northern tribes of Israel in mind, they aren’t all to whom God is speaking.  This is addressed to the “whole family” that God had redeemed from Egyptian slavery: i.e., Israel & Judah.  Both kingdoms comprised the “children of Israel,” and both were guilty of similar sins.  Northern Israel might be judged first, but Judah would not be far behind.
  • Why would God judge them?  Because God had a special relationship with them.  He knew them in a different way than He had known the other “families of the earth.”  Objection: shouldn’t this be a reason for grace?  Perhaps God looking the other way due to favoritism?  No…quite the opposite!  Israel and Judah had been entrusted with more revelation of God than had any of the Gentiles.  They had been given incredible gifts in their knowledge of the Lord, and this was something for which they were responsible.  With greater knowledge comes greater responsibility.  It’s bad enough for a thief to steal a car; it’s exponentially worse when there’s a baby in the backseat.  All people everywhere will be held accountable for sin, but those who have greater access to God will be held to greater account.  Judgment begins with the house of God, and it is seen right here with Israel.
  • What had gone wrong?  Israel walked away from their Lord.  Vs. 3…

3 Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?

  • This is an excellent principle in the Scripture, though it is often taken out of context.  Contextually, Israel was not in agreement with their covenant God.  They had agreed to obey Him, to worship Him, to serve Him, etc., but they had walked away from Him long ago.  Israel had different priorities than God, with different values.  How could God call them His covenant people if they couldn’t even agree on the basics?  God’s people (including Christians today) are supposed to be unified with God in purpose.  That doesn’t happen when we spend all our efforts seeking our own agendas.  When this goes wrong, the entire relationship falls apart.
    • Again, the original context is to Israel and God, but the application is valid in all kinds of circumstances.  Partners in ministry split ways when there is no more agreement (such as Paul and Barnabas).  Churches split when disunity arises in the midst (many times over trivial things).  Those are sad examples, but this can also be a great guiding principle.  Why should born-again Christians only date other Christians?  Because otherwise they will never be in true agreement.  Harmony & unity is essential for relationship, or else there will be unavoidable problems.
    • That said, don’t forget the most important aspect of all of this!  The most important relationship in which we need agreement is our relationship with God.  That’s exactly what Jesus provides.  He reconciles us with the Father.  Without Jesus, it’s impossible to be in agreement with God – He is the one that makes that agreement.
  • Amos gives the initial question, then follows by several rhetorical ones to make the point.  Were the people agreed with God?  No.  Just like other things were a “no.”

4 Will a lion roar in the forest, when he has no prey? Will a young lion cry out of his den, if he has caught nothing? 5 Will a bird fall into a snare on the earth, where there is no trap for it? Will a snare spring up from the earth, if it has caught nothing at all?

  • All “no.”  Lions have no reason to roar without prey – birds won’t be ensnared without traps.  These things were obvious.
  • And that was the point.  If these things were so apparent, so was the fact of their broken relationship with God.  How could they claim to be God’s people?  They weren’t in agreement with Him!  Thus, they weren’t walking with Him, and their relationship had been severed.
    • This same sort of disunity is obvious in our culture, too.  At one time, it was commonly assumed that the United States was a Christian nation.  That may be our reputation around the world, but it isn’t the reality, and hasn’t been for a long time.  Our culture has walked away from the Lord, because it no longer agrees with God on His values and priorities.  And just like Israel, we may soon find ourselves square in the sight of God’s judgment.
  • One more question in vs. 6…

6 If a trumpet is blown in a city, will not the people be afraid? If there is calamity in a city, will not the LORD have done it?

  • The previous questions were all answered “no”; this one changes to “yes.”  The shofar trumpet was blown to sound the alarm.  During Israel’s time in the wilderness, the shofar was sounded to gather the people together for various reasons – sometimes even for joyous worship.  The context here shows a much more ominous sounding: the red-alert battle alarm.
  • What do all of these questions have in common?  They are all cause & effect.  A lion captured prey (the cause), so he roars (effect).  A trap is placed for birds (cause), so the bird is caught (effect).  A trumpet sounds an alarm (cause), so the people respond with fear (effect).  What else was cause & effect?  The calamity in Israel.  The calamity was the effect; the Lord was the cause.
  • Would God really bring calamity?  Yes!  The trials He brought upon Israel was His righteous punishment of them.  They needed to wake up & see it.  The things that would soon happen to their nation were not random geo-politics.  This wasn’t simply the rise & fall of another empire.  This was the direct result of the hand of Israel’s covenant God.  They needed to recognize God at work if they were to respond appropriately.  This was why God warned the people so many times through so many prophets.  Vs. 7…

7 Surely the Lord GOD does nothing, Unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets. 8 A lion has roared! Who will not fear? The Lord GOD has spoken! Who can but prophesy?

  • Does God always share His plans?  No, but that’s not really the point.  The language here is purposeful exaggeration to underscore the fact that Israel’s judgment had been foretold through the prophets.  Of all the things that God revealed to Israel, He at least revealed this much.  Israel had been clearly warned.
  • What has God NOT shared through the prophets?  The exact date of Jesus’ return, for one thing.  But again, that’s not really the point, not even from the Hebrew text.  The word for “nothing” is a term much more often translated “word,” though it could refer to “word, deed, thing.”  There was a word that God shared through “His servants the prophets”: judgment.  This was something upon which God would act at the right time, and the Israelites would not be able to claim ignorance.
  • It was a powerful word – a mighty word.  It was a lion’s roar. (Just like Amos 1:2).  The warning had gone out – now there needed to be a response.  The prophets had done their duty, being unable to hold back the word of God.  Now it was the people’s turn.  They needed to repent.
    • Have you heard the roar of God?  Have you known the conviction of the Holy Spirit?  Have you been cut to the heart by the Scriptures?  Respond!  Repent – turn back to the Lord, seeking the mercies available to us through Jesus Christ.  Quite often, this is exactly what we don’t want to do, even though it’s exactly what we ought to do.  God mercifully reaches out to us, sometimes with the Father’s hand of discipline, and that requires a response.  Instead, we ignore Him, attempting to drown out His voice with entertainment, addictions, or anything else.  Those things might postpone our guilty consciences for a while, but they will never cleanse them.  What we need is true forgiveness, which is exactly what is promised to us as believers when we confess our sins to Christ Jesus. (1 Jn 1:9)  When God roars, don’t run; repent!
  • Israel’s punishment (3:9-15)

9 “Proclaim in the palaces at Ashdod, And in the palaces in the land of Egypt, and say: ‘Assemble on the mountains of Samaria; See great tumults in her midst, And the oppressed within her. 10 For they do not know to do right,’ Says the LORD, ‘Who store up violence and robbery in their palaces.’ ”

  • From the region of the Philistines all the way to Egypt, the Gentiles were invited to come see the sin of Israel/Samaria.  They would serve as witnesses against God’s people.  To be sure, these nations would face their own judgment, but God wanted them to see what He would do among His own people.  God is righteous in His judgment, and no nation on the earth will be able to accuse Him of wrongdoing when they see Him face to face.
  • Question: Why didn’t the Israelites “know to do right”?  Because they had stopped up their ears.  They engaged in the sin they did because that was what they chose.  Their lack of knowledge was their own fault.  Again, God had a special relationship with them.  They had the prophets – they had the Scriptures.  What they didn’t have was an excuse.  They chose to live in willful ignorance.
    • No doubt much could be said about our own culture.  Biblical truth surrounds us, and any person in the United States has incredible access to it.  The reason we don’t do right is because we choose not to do right.  And this is something that will be called to account.

11 Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: “An adversary shall be all around the land; He shall sap your strength from you, And your palaces shall be plundered.”

  • Judgment was proclaimed.  An enemy would come in military victory.  There’s no doubt this is a reference to the Assyrians, as they would surround cities, besieging them.  Food supplies were cut off, and people would starve to the point that the Assyrians could easily come in & plunder the weakened people.

12 Thus says the LORD: “As a shepherd takes from the mouth of a lion Two legs or a piece of an ear, So shall the children of Israel be taken out Who dwell in Samaria— In the corner of a bed and on the edge of a couch!

  • The picture is rather gruesome: that of a shepherd retrieving pieces of an eaten lamb from the lion which killed it.  Considering Amos’ occupation as a sheepherder, this was something that would have made a big impact upon him.  The practice served a greater purpose than just burying the animal – this was done by shepherds to prove to their masters that they were innocent regarding the animal’s death.  They hadn’t stolen the animal or treated it with neglect; pieces of a torn animal was proof of the work of a predator.  It absolved the shepherd of responsibility.
  • Consider that in terms of God’s relationship with the northern kingdom.  He was innocent!  He had done everything that ought to have been done; it was Israel that had wandered away like a dumb sheep, and thus it would be torn to pieces by the enemies among them.  No hiding place would be sufficient to save them; the Assyrians would hunt them down wherever they could be found.
  • We’ve said it before: our sin is our fault.  The consequences that come as a result cannot be blamed upon God.  When we wander away from Him, we cannot blame Him for what happens afterward. 

13 Hear and testify against the house of Jacob,” Says the Lord GOD, the God of hosts, 14 “That in the day I punish Israel for their transgressions, I will also visit destruction on the altars of Bethel; And the horns of the altar shall be cut off And fall to the ground.

  • Notice how God identifies Himself…almost as if He’s using His full title.  Seems to be the idea of a fully vested legal judgment against “the house of Jacob.”  Israel’s idolatry would be judged & destroyed.
  • There would be no escape from that judgment.  The “horns of the altar” were protrusions coming from each of the corners of the altar.  Sometimes they were a sign of power – other times people took hold of them as a way of claiming sanctuary & asking for refuge/asylum.  By cutting off the horns of the altar, God is removing any possibility of finding refuge from His judgment.
  • Does there ever come a point when it’s too late to seek forgiveness?  From God, no – from our consequences, yes.  As long as our hearts still beat, we still have an opportunity to humble ourselves before God, declare our faith & belief in Him, and seek Him for forgiveness, grace, and healing through Jesus Christ.  That is the glorious good news of the gospel!  But Christians can still face consequences.  We can be truly forgiven by the Lord, but still find ourselves past the point of avoiding the earthly consequences of our sin.  If that’s the case, it doesn’t mean that God loves us any less…it just means we should have sought His face & forgiveness earlier.  That said, His strength is still available to us to help us endure!

15 I will destroy the winter house along with the summer house; The houses of ivory shall perish, And the great houses shall have an end,” Says the LORD.

  • Not only did God promise to take away the power & asylum afforded by Israel, but He also promised to take away their prosperity.  Remember that this word had been given to Amos during the years of Jeroboam II, which were great economic times for the northern kingdom.  He reigned for 41 years, and expanded the borders of his nation. (2 Kings 14:23-25)  He may have been evil in regards to his responsibility to God, but the people would have thought life relatively easy under his leadership.  All of that would come to an end.  The nation would fall on hard times, and not even those with great wealth would find a way to escape.
  • Money never does offer refuge and safety.  We think it does, and we put a great deal of effort trying to build it up.  But at the end of the day, it can be lost just as surely as it was gained.  It doesn’t truly bring safety and security.  Those things can only be found in the Lord.

Amos 4

  • Israel’s sins (4:1-5)

1 Hear this word, you cows of Bashan, who are on the mountain of Samaria, Who oppress the poor, Who crush the needy, Who say to your husbands, “Bring wine, let us drink!”

  • Who within Israel had been guilty of sin?  Everyone: men & women alike.  Comparing women to cattle isn’t exactly considered complimentary today, and it wasn’t then, either.  The idea is that they were fat with prosperity, looking down on the poor who were in their way.  The irony was that they may have made themselves fat with luxury & hedonism, but they really just fattened themselves up for the slaughter.  Amos the rancher saw the women of Israel exactly as they were: livestock ready for butchering.
  • BTW – although this does indeed seem focused upon the women (the word for “cows” is feminine), this same thing could be said of the entire nation of Israel.  The word translated “husbands” could just as easily be translated “lords/masters,” depending on the context.  It would not be unlikely at all that this word Amos gave regarding cows applied to all the people and not just the women.
  • The bottom line: people didn’t recognize the danger.  When the infamous ship Titanic was struck by an iceberg, most of the people didn’t recognize the danger.  The crew believed the ship was impervious to harm, and reports say that several of the passengers played impromptu football with pieces of ice lying on deck.  The first lifeboat didn’t leave the ship until 45 minutes after the impact, and people had to be persuaded even to board it.  They didn’t realize how bad things were, despite all of the clear evidence around them.  They made no attempt to change their lifestyle of luxury even though they were in imminent danger.  That’s the way the people of Israel were at the time.  It was a life of luxury, and despite the warnings, they didn’t want to change.  They were endangering themselves, and didn’t even know it.
    • How often do people today do the same thing?  Physically, people drink & eat themselves to death, ignoring the danger of blatantly harmful habits.  We see it in smoking and all kinds of illogical things.  Far worse is the spiritual danger people ignore.  They want to “live it up today,” under the guise that nothing happens after we die – despite all of the evidence to contrary.  They live as if they will never be held accountable, even though God clearly reveals Himself to the world. 
    • Just like crew members on the Titanic had to convince people of the danger & to get on the lifeboats, so do we have to convince people of the danger of their sin.  We’ve been sent out into the world with the good news of God’s forgiveness through Jesus Christ & His gift of eternal life, but they won’t understand how good it is if they never understand the danger they face without it.  Go out – convince!  Help people wake up to their situation, and show them the wonderful solution of God!
  • What was the danger for the Israelites?  The Assyrians, vs. 2…

2 The Lord GOD has sworn by His holiness: “Behold, the days shall come upon you When He will take you away with fishhooks, And your posterity with fishhooks. 3 You will go out through broken walls, Each one straight ahead of her, And you will be cast into Harmon,” Says the LORD.

  • God made a firm declaration: the Assyrians were coming for them, and it would not be pleasant the day the Israelites were taken into captivity.  The whole picture of fishhooks is gory, and it’s no exaggeration.  The Assyrians were known to physically maim their captives & insert fishhooks into their mouths as their version of handcuffs.
  • What/where is “Harmon”?  No one knows.  The Hebrew seems likely that this is an actual location, but there’s no historical record of where it might be.  There’s a potential the word could refer to a general place of “casting off,” or even a dung-heap, but it seems more likely this was a city or region of some sort.  Whatever it was, the Israelites wouldn’t be able to hide from their fate – they would be drug out of their corners and forced into slavery.
  • Nothing would save them from this.  Not even their worship.  Vs. 4…

4 “Come to Bethel and transgress, At Gilgal multiply transgression; Bring your sacrifices every morning, Your tithes every three days. 5 Offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving with leaven, Proclaim and announce the freewill offerings; For this you love, You children of Israel!” Says the Lord GOD.

  • At first glance, this seems strange.  After all, this seems to describe exactly the sort of thing God wanted them to do: to worship Him with their tithes, sacrifices, offerings, etc.  Yet God makes it clear that whatever they offered would be “transgression.”  Why?  Because it was mixed, polluted worship.  Even if we grant that these were truly sincere offerings (which is doubtful), they were still offered wrongly.  Notice the locations: Bethel & Gilgal.  Bethel was one of the locations of the golden idols of Jeroboam I, and Gilgal seems to have been in the same vicinity.  Where were sacrifices supposed to be offered?  Jerusalem.  However the northern Israelites worshipped, they brought their worship to the wrong place, ultimately offering them to the wrong gods.  Thus even their attempt at worship was sin.
  • It’s not enough to worship God however we want to.  People will say, “God and I have our own thing going – we’ve got an understanding,” and then go on to describe something anti-biblical.  Whoever that person has an understanding with, it’s not the God of the Bible.  Being that we are the sinners, and He is the one we need to be reconciled with, He is the one who sets the terms of our relationship; not us.  We have to come to Him on His terms, or we cannot come at all. 
    • And God has told us how to come: through the Lord Jesus!  John 14:6, "Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me."  These are the terms of God!  He has but one: repentance & faith in Jesus.

At this point, God presents a series of judgments and punishments to Israel.  These were His repeated attempts to gain their attention & bring them to repentance, but they were all ignored.  God will show how things got progressively worse, and end each attempt with a common refrain saying how the people had rejected Him.  It’s reminiscent of Romans 1, where Paul describes God’s repeated (and rejected) outreaches to the world, and how step-by-step God gives them over to their depravity.

  • God’s repeated outreach/Israel’s repeated rejection (4:6-13)

6 “Also I gave you cleanness of teeth in all your cities. And lack of bread in all your places; Yet you have not returned to Me,” Says the LORD. 7 “I also withheld rain from you, When there were still three months to the harvest. I made it rain on one city, I withheld rain from another city. One part was rained upon, And where it did not rain the part withered. 8 So two or three cities wandered to another city to drink water, But they were not satisfied; Yet you have not returned to Me,” Says the LORD.

  • Punishment #1: famine.  “Cleanness of teeth” means that there was nothing in their teeth to get them dirty.  They would go hungry, according to the covenant promises of Deut 28:17-18.
  • Punishment #2: drought.  Not only would there be a lack of food, but there would be a lack of water.  Rain was to be blessing given to the Israelites for faithfulness to their covenant with God (Deut 28:12), but their disobedience brought its lack.
  • The refrain: “yet you have not returned to Me.”  This is repeated in every example.  They had walked away from God, not being agreed with Him, so God gave them the opportunity to turn back & change direction.  Yet they didn’t do it.  They chose to continue walking in disobedience.  Sin is always a choice, and Israel demonstrated it to the full.

9 “I blasted you with blight and mildew. When your gardens increased, Your vineyards, Your fig trees, And your olive trees, The locust devoured them; Yet you have not returned to Me,” Says the LORD. 10 “I sent among you a plague after the manner of Egypt; Your young men I killed with a sword, Along with your captive horses; I made the stench of your camps come up into your nostrils; Yet you have not returned to Me,” Says the LORD.

  • Punishment #3: pestilence.  Food wasn’t lacking in the land solely because of weather issues, but also due to diseased crops and infestations of insects.  Once more, this was one of the prophesied curses for disobedience. (Dt 28:42)
  • Punishment #4: plague/violence. (Perhaps the bubonic plague, due to their rejection of the laws regarding purity & cleanliness.)  For God to send a plague among Israel as He sent among Egypt should have been a truly terrifying thing!  Yet even the plagues of God can be ignored, as Pharaoh demonstrated in the hardness of his heart.  All his advisors told him of how Egypt was destroyed, yet he continued in his rejection of God.  Apparently Israel did the same…as do we.
  • Again, the refrain was their return & repentance.  This was God’s repeated desire for His people.  He took no pleasure in sending punishment after punishment.  He wanted His people to live!  It was them who insisted upon their own destruction.
    • Have you ever worked with someone engaged in self-destructive behavior?  It’s so difficult to open their eyes to what they are doing to themselves.  It seems crazy to us, but this is exactly what we do to ourselves in our sin.  And yes, it’s crazy – it’s illogical.  Why engage in a practice that alienates us from God?  Why do something that is going to cause destruction & harm?  And yet we still choose it.  How desperate we are for the gospel of Christ!  Romans 7:24–25a, “(24) O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? (25) I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!”  Hold fast to Jesus!  He is our only hope!

11 “I overthrew some of you, As God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, And you were like a firebrand plucked from the burning; Yet you have not returned to Me,” Says the LORD.

  • Punishment #5: God’s personal involvement.  What exactly happened at this point, we don’t know.  This could refer to any number of military battles that wiped out whole cities in Israel.  Potentially, it could refer to something supernatural, although unrecorded.  Either way, it was clear that God had acted.
  • How far God went to get their attention!  Yet no matter what God did, it wasn’t enough.  That’s not something unique to Israel; that willful blindness is indicative of the entire human race.  The same thing will be seen during the days of the Great Tribulation.  After describing several similar judgments to be put upon the earth during the sounding of the seven trumpets, John writes: Revelation 9:20–21, "(20) But the rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, that they should not worship demons, and idols of gold, silver, brass, stone, and wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk. (21) And they did not repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts."  (And if that weren’t bad enough, almost the exact same thing happens as the bowl judgments are poured out in Revelation 16!)  Hearts hardened to God are hearts that refuse to repent.
    • Beware of hardened hearts!  As has often been said, the more you say “no” to God, the easier it becomes.  Thankfully, the opposite is true as well.

12 “Therefore thus will I do to you, O Israel; Because I will do this to you, Prepare to meet your God, O Israel!” 13 For behold, He who forms mountains, And creates the wind, Who declares to man what his thought is, And makes the morning darkness, Who treads the high places of the earth— The LORD God of hosts is His name.

  • If Israel wouldn’t come to God, God would come near to Israel…and not in a way that they would like!  They had the opportunity to see Him in their own humility of heart; now they would see God in the fullness of His wrath.
  • They had forgotten who they were dealing with.  He is “the LORD God of hosts.”  He is the ever-existent I AM, the commander of all the angelic armies.  He is the all-powerful Creator of mountains & wind.  He is the all-knowing God who discerns the thoughts of men.  He is the ever-present King who has authority on every square inch of the globe, including all the high places of false worship.  He is God.
    • He is fierce & fearsome – but He can still be known as Father!  Israel had the opportunity to know God in His compassionate mercy, but they were blowing it.  Don’t blow it!  We can know Him that way when we know Him through Jesus Christ!

Conclusion:
Don’t ignore the warnings of God!  When He disciplines us, He does it out of love – He does it to get our attention so that we might repent and change.  He wants us to be reconciled to Him, so be reconciled.

That’s not only a message to the unbelieving world; it’s a message for us as well.  Think of it: Israel was disobedient, but they were still God’s people.  God didn’t want to punish them, but He was going to do what was necessary to uphold His judgment & righteousness.  Likewise, we as the Church are God’s people, but that doesn’t mean He’s going to give us free reign to sin as much as we want.  Sometimes we walk in blatant disobedience, and God will do what it takes to get our attention.

Don’t blind your eyes to His outreach – don’t plug your ears to His warnings – don’t harden your heart, and resist the outreach of the Holy Spirit.  Keep your heart humble before God, and respond to His call sooner rather than later.

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