Since we have observed several practical lessons from the twenty-eighth book of the Bible, let us now move on to the next three books: Joel, Amos, & Obadiah.
1. GOD RESPONDS FAVORABLY TO THE TRULY PENITENT.
Joel 2:12,13 - "'Now, therefore,' says the LORD, 'turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.' So rend your heart, and not your garments; return to the LORD your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness; and He relents from doing harm."
This is a wonderful message of hope that all humans need! Any sin in this life can be forgiven if it is turned away from genuinely. Great examples of this can be seen in David's life after he committed adultery & murder in II Samuel 11 and was forgiven in chapter 12, Nineveh's forgiveness in Jonah 3 after God's prophet announced coming destruction, and with the penitent thief on the cross in Luke 23:39-43.
2. WE SHOULD HATE EVIL AND LOVE GOOD.
Amos 5:14,15 - "Seek good and not evil, that you may live; so the LORD God of hosts will be with you, as you have spoken. Hate evil, love good; establish justice in the gate. It may be that the LORD God of hosts will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph."
Some are content to love good but tolerate evil; such is not enough. We must hate evil (i.e., sin) and love good. This is not to say that we should take personal vengeance upon evil doers; that's the Lord's domain (cf. Rom. 12:19) and that of civil government (cf. Rom. 13:1ff). But, individuals who trivialize or ignore evil without hating it are making a great mistake. What is tolerated today might be embraced tomorrow!
3. AN HOUR OF WORSHIP DOES NOT MAKE UP FOR A WICKED LIFE.
Amos 5:21-24 - "I hate, I despise your feast days, and I do not savor your sacred assemblies. Though you offer Me burnt offerings and your grain offerings, I will not accept them, nor will I regard your fattened peace offerings. Take away from Me the noise of your songs, for I will not hear the melody of your stringed instruments. But let justice run down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream."
God demands what is right rather than rites! The worship of the Israelites didn't make up for their hypocrisy and impenitently immoral lives! Anyone today who thinks going to church, giving money, etc., is all that is needed to please the Lord is sorely mistaken. God wants us to love Him with every fiber of our being (cf. Matt. 22:37,38). He wants us to be holy & wholly His!
4. PRIDE IS OFTEN DECEPTIVE.
Obadiah 3,4 - "'The pride of your heart has deceived you, you who dwell in the clefts of the rock, whose habitation is high; you who say in your heart, "Who will bring me down to the ground?" Though you ascend as high as the eagle, and though you set your nest among the stars, from there I will bring you down,' says the LORD."
The Edomites, despite their topographical advantages, were not invincible. They thought they were, but God would humble them, as his prophet foretells. Solomon expressed a similar truth in Proverbs 16:18 - "Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall." In the New Testament we are reminded - "Be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for 'God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.'" (I Pet. 5:5).