Transgressions and Consequences :: By Mark Susswein

It was the Prophet Amos who prophesied God’s judgment upon two Kings of Damascus because of their transgressions against Israel. Those transgressions were nothing short of being barbaric in the strictest sense of the word.

Let’s first read Amos 1:3 (ESV). “Thus says the Lord: ‘For three transgressions of Damascus, and for four, I will not revoke the punishment, because they have threshed Gilead with threshing sledges of iron.’”

The threshing sledges Amos speaks of had very sharp iron teeth. This implement had a good purpose in that it made harvesting crops effective as well as efficient. It was drawn over grain fields for threshing, and to cut down stalks. It was also used for a completely different purpose… killing and maiming.

God, in that verse from Amos, was giving His prophet a clear picture of the cruelty which resulted from using that threshing sledge for such a violent and evil purpose.

Let’s set the stage before we go any further.

In 2nd Kings 8:7-15, we find the Prophet Elisha in Damascus visiting King Ben-hadad of Syria who was sick at the time. Another man by the name of Hazael, according to scholars, was one of the king’s high officials. Hazael was asked by King Ben-hadad to inquire of Elisha if he would recover from his illness. Elisha’s reply is a rather curious one.

“Go, say to him, ‘You shall certainly recover,’ but the Lord has shown me that he shall certainly die.”

I knew you would find that rather curious as well. The king would recover; but, in the same breath, Elisha says he will certainly die. What?

Elisha knew of the evil about to be carried out by Hazael. He would suffocate King Ben-hadad while he laid in his sickbed in order to steal the kingship for himself. However, that is not the end of Hazael’s evil. He went on to brutalize the people of Israel using various means of the day, including the use of those threshing sledges.

Elisha prophesied the death of Ben-hadad. He also knew the evil Hazael was about to put upon Israel, which was why Elisha was weeping.

“Because I know the evil that you will do to the people of Israel. You will set on fire their fortresses, and you will kill their young men with the sword and dash in pieces their little ones and rip open their pregnant women” (1st Kings 8:12a, ESV).

Unfortunately, Elisha was well aware of the violence and brutality that would take place. That was thousands of years ago, and much hasn’t changed since then except for the fact it is done with much more effectiveness and efficiency.

What emerged from the evil committed by both of those kings was the promise of judgment as recorded in Amos 1:4, ESV.

“So I will send a fire upon the house of Hazael, and it shall devour the strongholds or palaces of Ben-hadad.”

Those were the consequences or judgments for their transgressions.

God always has a purpose for whatever He does, including the judgments He puts upon the nations as well as individuals. The purpose… to bring about repentance.

Do we somehow think the men and women of today who sit in high positions of authority and leadership are any different than those of biblical times? No, they’re not. They too are schemers of evil. There is nothing new under the sun. Amen?

It is a sorry thing to say, but mankind has a history which reveals there are even more effective and efficient ways to brutalize our fellow man as stated a moment ago. An example of that comes from not that long ago.

During WWII, efficiency and effectiveness in annihilating a specific group of people was paramount in Hitler’s final solution. The Jews were put in disease-infested ghettos, inhumane concentration camps, and finally, into those horrific ovens. All of this put together accounted for millions and millions of human lives being destroyed. It was business as usual. The evil business of hate.

And let’s not gloss over the fact that Christians around the world are facing severe persecution, unbelievable oppression and are being slaughtered like never before. And like the Holocaust… nary a peep of what is happening.

Today, mankind has greatly improved in the efficiency and effectiveness of killing through technological advancements. There is also the use of chemical and biological weapons which have added into the mix of extinguishing human life. Man’s evil has no boundaries. It makes one wonder… what’s next? Is it fact or fiction that a virus was created in a lab to be used for evil?

For sure, the ways of killing have certainly come a long way since Cain rose up against Abel and murdered him. Will it ever stop? Yes, it will, brothers and sisters.

As we believers know, God’s Word contains real hope with real change coming soon into this world, and His name is Jesus Christ. He will be the last King standing. And, praise the Lord, there will be no more evil schemes to take His throne.

As we read earlier, Elisha was weeping. Those tears were showing God’s compassion as there was a tremendous amount of pain in His heart. He has not changed. “For God so loved the world.”

The world today is in rebellion against God. He continues to weep as the world continues to reject Him for whatever the reason or reasons. As the Apostle Paul said, “For ever since the creation of the universe, his invisible qualities – both his eternal power and his divine nature – have been clearly seen, because they can be understood from what he has made. Therefore, they have no excuse” (Romans 1:20, CJB).

His judgments will be and always have been for a good purpose: repentance.

The transgressions against God are serious, and so will be the consequences.

God’s judgments, as written by the Hebrew Prophets, are seemingly pretty harsh. However, let’s never forget, they do come from a holy, righteous and just God. His ways are not our ways. Amen?

The good news for believers in Christ is this: We are sinners saved by grace. Our sins of yesterday, today and tomorrow are covered by the blood of the Lamb. We are forgiven by way of His righteousness. In our own righteousness, we are nothing but filthy rags according to Isaiah 64:6, KJV: “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.”

Here is the good news for the believer. Those filthy rags have been removed and replaced the very moment we came to know and believe in Jesus as our Lord and Savior. “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness” (Isaiah 61:10, ESV).

We who are in the Body of Christ have literally gone from rags to riches. From filthy rags to being clothed in the garments of salvation. Best of all, our King is an eternal king. No need to worry about a power struggle. Only He has all power and authority.

The brutality and violence of what our Lord went through on the cross for the world’s filthiness (sin) was turned into something beautiful for us: salvation. The blood of Jesus paid our sin-debt in full; we have been redeemed. Praise the Lord!

That saving grace does not give us the right to continue to sin as the Apostle Paul instructs us in Romans 6. “Heaven forbid.”

To you unbelievers who choose to go the way of the world, God’s judgment is coming; and if you think for one second the recent devastating fires in California and Australia were catastrophic, or maybe it’s the numerous earthquakes taking place all over the world getting your attention. Or maybe it’s the floods, diseases, pestilences (Wuhan virus), and now we read where East Africa is invaded by billions of locusts with the potential to destroy thousands and thousands of acres of crops and plants. All of these things, a convergence of events if you will, may have you wondering, ‘what in the world is going on?’ Well, all I can say is, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

The God you reject has been warning the world of what mankind would look like in the last days. In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul has a warning recorded in 2nd Timothy 3. I encourage you to dust off that Bible of yours and read the hard truth and discern for yourself if the things described by Paul to young Timothy are actually happening.

“But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.”

Open your eyes, unbeliever, and think about where you are and who you are in this life by way of the choices you’ve made over the years. You’ve tried everything: astrology, Ouija boards, Oprah, Yoga and just about every philosophy that happens to come down the road.

Yes, you’ve tried everything, except the God of Creation, the Creator who formed you and shaped you while in your mother’s womb. (Again, blow the dust off your Bible and look up Psalm 139:13.)

Your desires of the flesh, from alcohol to porn to sexual immorality, have only made you a slave to the flesh. God has another purpose for your life, and that is to set you free by way of His Son who put every one of your sins on His back and died with them at the cross in order for you to have an eternal life with Him in paradise.

You’ve tried it your way year after year, and yet you remain unfulfilled. There is no real and lasting joy in your life.

Your thoughts about death bring uncertainty and fear, as well it should. Those are the thoughts which began my search for God. I found myself asking in the quiet of the night, ‘what happens to me if I don’t wake up?’

Unbeliever, what have you got to lose?

I and every believer pray that you will come to know and turn to God with a repentant heart. Our hope is for you to turn away from the ways of this world and turn to the ways of God. Please, call on the name of the Lord, and He will save you. Try crying out to Him, and you will be amazed at the response… I sure was.

Just think for a moment. You have nothing to lose except what this world has to offer, which is absolutely nothing of value. But, to know Jesus as Lord and Savior is to gain life…. Eternal life. You will be transformed from what you are now into a new creature in Christ, and the only fear you’ll have from that moment on is a healthy and reverent fear for the Lord. His amazing and saving grace is still available, but it is for a limited time only.

God Bless you and be safe.

Mark Susswein: