Remnants of Man

by: Kerby Burton


Do you like leftovers? Do you eat leftovers? We certainly eat leftovers at our house. There are some people who will not eat leftovers. After they are finished with a meal, they throw the remaining food away.

God must like leftovers.

Just consider the whole concept we have concerning leftovers. There are leftover clothing – second-hand clothes. My mother and both of my grandmothers had huge bags and boxes of cloth, rags, scraps—leftovers that were set aside after their original usefulness were complete. I have seen times when my mother would go to the fabric store and buy remnants. These remnants were the last pieces of cloth at the end of a bolt that were left after the main portion was sold. These remnants were just too small to be used in making a garment. Still, in spite of there not being large quantities of cloth, my mother had uses for them; she could make things out of the leftover cloth. These remnants were still useful for her purpose.

So let us consider further the subject of leftovers or remnants. There are many scriptures that discuss remnants—specifically these are references to the remnants of the peoples of God also known as the Remnants of Israel. At first glance, the view of this Remnant of Israel appears as a dark foreboding picture. But it is also a subject of extreme happiness and delight—namely that there will be a Remnant of Israel.

What is the general perception about leftovers?

People who will not eat leftovers look at them as having little or no value; something that is more or less useless in and of itself, something that is worthy only of being thrown out, something that is remaining after the good part has been eaten. And yet, there are entire cookbooks that explain, "How to turn your Leftovers into Gourmet delights." Things like, "you can turn last night’s chopped up, slopped up spaghetti into a Gourmet casserole."

Aside from culinary brilliance concocted on last night’s leftovers, there are certain items that are absolutely best after they are leftover. Most soups are that way. Most soups are better after they have been cooked, put away, and allowed to set for awhile. My wife makes great lasagna. It tastes good the first time but it is transformed into the "delicious" category after setting in the refrigerator overnight. Our children have always loved her "leftover" lasagna and there has always been a minor war over that last piece. In fact, nowadays, I will not go out to a restaurant and buy lasagna because I figure, "Why should I go pay for something in a restaurant that I can have that is better at home?" The leftover lasagna just gets better and better all the way up to and including that last piece. And brown beans—well, we all know the last bowl out of the pot is absolutely the best.

Another term for leftover items is Seconds. Seconds are items that are not quite as good. The term almost always refers to merchandise of a reduced quality due to some manufacturing or acquired flaw or defect. These items are sold for less because they are perceived as having less value as a result of the defect. Often, however, the imperfection is so slight or the damaged area so obscured within the item as to make it unnoticeable. Many times these items can deliver usefulness that is just as good and serve just as long as the premiere article.

What about that remnant cloth?

There are those that take little swatches of satin and silk—crafty-type people—who turn these into absolute joys of craftsmanship. Those boxes of cloth that my mother and grandmothers collected became beautiful quilts. They worked tediously for days and days stitching those scraps together into intricate designs and patterns. Some of those quilts are marketed to folk who will spend large sums of money for them. Remnants—are they worthless—or priceless? Perhaps God does not think of His remnants as being throw away junk. Perhaps He sees value there and looks at His remnants as being priceless.

In fact, God, speaking through the scriptural record, presents numerous remnants. Each remnant is a remainder of a larger population of people. For instance, there is a remnant of Judah. In other places, there are remnants of the house of Israel, and so on and so forth.

Why is there a need for remnants?

Mankind has rejected God. Because of that rejection, He’s going to bring about a punishment to cause them to see where they went wrong. Out of that punishment, he will preserve remnants of various groups of people to prevent their total destruction; beginning first with Judah and Israel, and then other peoples of the world.

On studying the biblical prophecies, there is a series of three recurring events that bring about alienation from God: 1) Idolatry 2) Injustice and 3) Lack of mercy.

God, through the scriptures, repeatedly states His loathing for all three of these sins. Ancient Israel collectively as a nation and individually were certainly guilty of these sins, as is the entire world today.

The Golden Calf

Throughout their history, the Israelite people were guilty of going to other gods for their…their what…salvation? It would be difficult today for any sane member of western society to imagine that a carved piece of wood, stone, or metal could benefit anyone. But Israel thought just that, and acted on those thoughts—repeatedly. And we in the modern world have too—but in our own way.

American Idols

In western society, we no longer pursue idols of wood and stone. We seek after idols of the mind and the gods of materialism. We rely on our money and the excess of our goods to save us in tough times. We just throw money at our problems. We are also guilty of creating our own "thought gods." We say things like, "I think god is like this." Or, "I think god is like that." Or, we might say, "Surely god would not do something like…" you fill in the blank. Then, based on that self-enlightenment, because the god of our minds would not do such things, we bow down to our gods and conduct ourselves according to our own self-directed understanding.

What about the sin of injustice?  

Injustice is simply the act of not treating someone who has less power in a fair manner. The scriptures and all the annals of history are replete with abundant accounts of people who have used their power to abuse others. Rulers and politicians manipulate the people for personal power. Religious leaders abuse and mislead their parishioners. We are all familiar with the statement made by Sir John Emerich Edward Dalberg-Acton, 1st Baron Acton, the British historian who said "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men." And the truth of that statement seems to be confirmed by simple observation. Men of power throughout history have heaped continual abuse on others in their race to the top. In that race, they succumb to the offerings of greed and end up manipulating those under their authority for their own gain. And God, in the scriptures, tends to confirm that observation. Many scriptures point a finger at the priests and the princes of men who practice injustice.

Yet it is not just the powerful in our society who are guilty of injustice. We like to believe we are a generous and fair people. Our symbol of "justice" is that she is blindfolded and carrying an honest set of scales. In tune with that concept, there certainly are many people who become indignant when they see obvious acts or injustice. But as a whole, we would be hiding our heads in the sand to say that we live in a just society. Every day we see examples of injustice. The captains of industry are guilty of stealing their employees’ retirement benefits and of cheating each other in their efforts to get an edge on their competitors. The elderly are preyed upon by unscrupulous shysters who care not at all for their plight.

Abuse of the indefensible—widows, orphans and the mentally less capable—is common because they are easy prey. In our home town there is a fellow who is, as the old saying goes, a "hoss" of a man. He is physically strong and willing to perform hard physical labor. He can be worked all day and then be given a one dollar bill. He does not know the difference between that amount and a one hundred dollar bill. He has no concept of the value of different denominations of money; he only knows that there is money and that it is obtained when he works. So—he works. Then, because of his innocence and incapacity—and in service to the god of greed—some people work him (as the old saying goes) "like a rented mule." That is almost a pure definition of merciless injustice.

It seems that some folk just do not have a clear concept of justice except that it in some way relates to themselves or that which is "their own."

What about the sin—lack of mercy?

It is difficult to listen to the news too many times before one realizes that as a nation and as a world we are coming to the point where we are merciless. My wife and I watched a movie this week. It was a really "dark" movie and the actor that played the principle role in it won an academy award for his role. That movie was titled "The Last King of Scotland" and was about Idi Amin, the late tyrant and dictator of Uganda. He butchered his own people. He was a man of power who was unjust, selfish, lacking in mercy.

And so, to a greater of lesser degree, because those nations of today’s world order which are the descendants of ancient Israel are guilty of these three cardinal sins, because of their rejection of God and His principles of life, Because of their abdication of their responsibilities as example to the world, God will discipline and humble them—teaching them His true values for living life once and for all.

True Religion

God is not unclear about how He expects the world to behave. The Apostle James who was inspired by God, states in James 1:27 that "Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world." Notice—this is a message of, 1. Help and be merciful to others and 2. Do your best to behave yourself. In addition, this is the express definition of "true religion." Scripture after scripture essentially states the same thing—about having an open hand to the poor and needy. It says if you do that that God will take care of you. Psalm 41 says if you will open your hand to the needy, God will open his hand to you.

And, it is because that true religion has not been practiced that God has established a specifically delineated formula to bring about the punishment—beginning with Jerusalem and Judah, then the remainder of Israel. Keep in mind that the greater nation of Israel—the one that consisted of the twelve tribes descended from the patriarch Jacob (who was renamed—Israel)—was divided into two separate nations when the northern ten tribes seceded during the reign of King Solomon. Then, after God deals with the two nations of Israel, He will then deal with the remaining nations of the world.

Judgment begins in the house of God.

 step-wise plan of correction for the entire world is consistent with God’s way of doing things. This was suggested in the New Testament, when, speaking of the Church, the Apostle Peter, in I Peter 4:17 stated under inspiration of God: "For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?"

God begins with a revelation concerning His determination to punish the nations, beginning with Jerusalem, in the 5th Chapter of Ezekiel. It is likely that prophesies presented here are not related just to the City of Jerusalem but rather to the entirety of the nation of Judah. This is much like we would understand in the modern world if we heard a statement or report that said…"Washington has determined…this or that." We would understand that determination might relate not just to Washington DC—the capital of the nation—but rather to the entire United States.

"Take a sharp sword…"

In this remarkable passage of scripture we see God speaking to the prophet Ezekiel and presenting the people inhabiting Jerusalem metaphorically as the hair on the prophet’s head and beard. In Verse 1 God tells Ezekiel: "And you, son of man, take a sharp sword, take it as a barber’s razor, and pass it over your head and your beard; then take balances to weigh and divide the hair." God did not tell Ezekiel to take just any sword but rather a "sharp" sword. This was not to be just any run-of-the-mill sword but a really sharp one; it was to be a sword so sharp that it could be used as a barber’s razor to cut off all of Ezekiel’s hair and beard. This verse brings to recollection images out of my childhood where I watched my grandfather sharpen his pocket knife. He would use a smooth flat sandstone rock from a nearby creek. He held that knife edge at a slight angle and worked it against the stone’s surface. Occasionally he would test his progress by dry shaving the hair on the back of his forearm. When the knife could cleanly shave the hair away, the knife was sharp enough for use.

Ezekiel divides the hair.

In this passage, Ezekiel is told to divide the hair so precisely that he has to use a balance to weigh the portions out evenly. After that, God instructs in Vs 2: "You shall burn with fire one-third in the midst of the city, when the days of the siege are finished; then you shall take one-third and strike around it with the sword." God wanted Ezekiel to take that barber razor sharp sword and hack the second pile of hair; it was to be chopped up into really fine pieces. Then continuing, God says: "…and one-third you shall scatter in the wind: I will draw out a sword after them." And so, we see God instructing Ezekiel to scatter that last third of the hair to the wind. Ezekiel was just to pick it up and let it fly, wherever it goes, it goes. But then God says He will go about hacking up even that hair—indicating that continued calamity will occur to that portion of the population.

"…A fire will go out to all the house of Israel"

But now notice, there is something else going on here in Vs. 3. God says: "You shall also take a small number of them and bind them in the edge of your garment." God is essentially saying—‘now Ezekiel before you burn up and hack up and scatter these portions—and before I hack up the portion of hair that has been scattered—reach down and take a small pinch hairs out from the rest. Then, Ezekiel, tuck that little pinch of hairs into the edge of your clothes (perhaps down into the corner of a nice deep pocket) where they will be nice and safe and secure.’ But that’s not all, Verse. 4 states: "Then take some of them again (here is another pinch of hairs) and throw them into the midst of the fire, and burn them in the fire; for from there a fire will go out into all the house of Israel."

What is this? Here we have a few of the hairs who are selected out in order to be cast back into the fire to be burned. And, as it says: "…from there a fire will go out into all the house of Israel." Remember, this is a group of people that consist of those who are identified as being from Jerusalem or Judah. They are selected for a mission to go into harms way and to ignite, not just Jerusalem and, not just Judah, but rather the whole house of Israel. But ignite them how? Is it possible these few hairs will be the messengers of God that will lead the whole house of Israel to repentance and to a reliance on and a trust in the God they have rejected? If this is so, it is likely these individuals will incur the wrath of the rest of the world. As the end result of their mission, these individuals will "burn…in the fire." In other words they will be martyred.

So summarizing where we are so far:

We have God executing judgment. He first punishes and destroys two thirds of Jerusalem and possibly of Judah as well. In other prophesies we realize this destruction will occur as a result of famine, disease and war. The last third of the population is scattered—but even some of them will be destroyed. But, out of this calamity, God saves out a pinch for safe keeping. Then He takes another pinch and sends them out to evangelize to the whole house of Israel. It does not say they were all destroyed. And, as a result of their evangelizing mission the few hairs are martyred.

But who in all of this is the remnant?

Discussions of the remnant in other scriptures seem to point to the hacked up scattered ones as being the remnant of Jerusalem and Judah. In other scriptures there appear to also be other remnants. In Ezekiel chapter 6 God prophesies to the other tribes or Israel. In verse 2, He refers to them as "the mountains (plural) of Israel…" Then, in verse 8, God states: "Yet I will leave a remnant, so that you may have some who escape the sword among the nations, when you are scattered through the countries." So, here it is clear that the prophesies of remnants extend not only to Jerusalem and Judah but to all of the rest of the lost ten tribes of Israel as well—wherever they are. And, the formula for punishment for them is essentially the same as it is with Judah and Jerusalem.

Punishment of the whole world.

As if the punishment presented in the first few verses of Ezekiel 5 is not gruesome enough, the discussion in the latter part transports the situation to ultimate levels. In fact, God states that the punishment for Judah and Jerusalem is like the punishment for the whole world was at the time of Noah, a one of a kind event. In Ezekiel 5:9 God states: "And I will do among you what I have never done, and the like of which I will never do again, because of all your abominations." In verses 10-12 God continues by saying: "Therefore fathers shall eat their sons in your midst, and sons shall eat their fathers; and I will execute judgments among you, and all of you who remain I will scatter to all the winds."

In verse 11 God explains His reasoning for the punishment being delivered by saying: "Therefore, as I live, says the Lord God, ‘surely, because you have defiled My sanctuary with all your detestable things and with all your abominations, therefore I will also diminish you; My eye will not spare, nor will I have any pity’." Verse 12: "One-third of you shall die of the pestilence, and be consumed with famine in your midst; and one-third shall fall by the sword all around you; and I will scatter another third to all the winds, and I will draw out a sword after them." We recognize this one of a kind punishment to be the Great Tribulation. This has never happened on a scale pictured here. It points to a period in history when famine and disease will kill a third, when warfare will kill a third of these people and the others will be scattered and have death and destruction chase them wherever they happen to be driven. This latter group may experience the worst tribulation of all those involved when you think of it. Given this scenario, Ground Zero in a nuclear blast may not be such a bad place. After all, death there is instantaneous.

But then God indicates that they will have had enough. 

Verse 13 records: "Thus shall My anger be spent, and I will cause My fury to rest upon them, and I will be avenged: and they shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken it in My zeal, when I have spent My fury upon them." Verse 14 "Moreover I will make you a waste and a reproach among the nations that are all around you, (still speaking of Jerusalem) in the sight of all who pass by." Verse 15 "So it shall be a reproach, a taunt, a lesson, and an astonishment to the nations that are all around you…" Notice—the nations of the world will watch and be in awe—in astonishment at the destruction being delivered. Again, Jerusalem, Judah and the tribes of Israel are being used as an example—a warning to the rest of the world—just in a different way than originally intended. Continuing in verse 15, God states: "…when I execute judgments among you in anger and in fury and in furious rebukes. I, the Lord, have spoken." Verse 16 "When I send against them the terrible arrows of famine which shall be for their destruction, and which I will send to destroy you, I will increase the famine upon you and cut off your supply of bread". Verse 17 "So I will send against you famine and wild beasts, and they will bereave you. Pestilence and blood shall pass through you, and I will bring the sword against you. I, the Lord, have spoken."

At this point God has effectively brought about the punishment and repentance of Jerusalem and the house of Judah.

Then in Chapter 6 of Ezekiel God continues His discussion of what will happen. But this time, He is discussing the house of Israel rather than Jerusalem or Judah. This time God deals punishment out to the house of Israel. Remember that by this time the original children of Israel had divided into two separate but related nations. And so, in Ezekiel chapter 6, we now see the house of Israel getting their turn at being punished by God—essentially the same formula that was delivered to Jerusalem/Judah. This is where the scriptures once again present the concept of a Remnant.

The scriptural passages presented in Ezekiel are not clear about the time order of punishment for all of the Children of Israel—this being the northern ten tribes of Israel. Historically, the northern ten tribes went into captivity first at the time of the two staged invasions of the Assyrian Empire. It was at that time that they became—as the modern moniker states—the "lost" ten tribes. But while they may be lost in the sight of modern historical purview, they never have ceased to exist as a people; this fact is presented from the very mouth of God through one of His prophets. The prophet Amos, speaking of this same time period and about the scattered "lost" peoples of Israel states in Amos 9:9-15: "For surely I will command, and will sift the house of Israel among all nations, as grain is sifted in a sieve; yet not the smallest grain shall fall to the ground. {10} All the sinners of My people shall die by the sword, who say, 'The calamity shall not overtake nor confront us." {11} "On that day I will raise up the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down, and repair its damages; I will raise up its ruins, and rebuild it as in the days of old; {12} That they may possess the remnant of Edom, and all the Gentiles who are called by My name," says the LORD who does this thing. {13} "Behold, the days are coming," says the LORD, "When the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him who sows seed; the mountains shall drip with sweet wine, and all the hills shall flow with it.{14} I will bring back the captives of My people Israel; they shall build the waste cities and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and drink wine from them; they shall also make gardens and eat fruit from them. {15} I will plant them in their land, and no longer shall they be pulled up from the land I have given them," says the LORD your God."

Punishment, repentance, redemption, and final blessings.

God, through Amos presents a nutshell description of His entire intended process: punishment, repentance, redemption and final blessings. God knows where Judah is. God knows where the "lost" ten tribes of Israel are. God knows how to bring them to repentance. And—God knows how to make them into the type of example to the rest of the world that He intended them to be from the very beginning.

In addition, Amos’s passage is clearly futuristic; it presents a time and events that have not happened yet. In verses 11-12 there is mention of the restoration of the Tabernacle of David and the possession of the remnant of Edom as well as the "Gentiles who are called by My name…" A feeble argument may be made that the original restoration of the Temple of God at the time of Zechariah or Herod’s Temple were restorations of the tabernacle of David, but those re-buildings did not include all of "the house of Israel" (only Judah was involved) nor did it bring about the possession of the remnant of Edom. And, who are the "Gentiles who are called by My name?" Are these folk those non-Israelites who heed the warnings delivered by the "few hairs" from the remnant of Jerusalem and Judah who create "a fire" that "will go out into all the house of Israel?" Are these Gentiles who get caught in the crossfire, so to speak, and who hear and understand; are they those who are converted to the acceptance obedience of the one true God?

God will use the remnants to rebuild a nation.

In any event, it is very clear that both Judah and Israel, in their own turns, will be punished in a great worldwide conflagration and that God will save out a remnant from each to be an example and provide a testimony to the rest or the world. God will use the remnants of all of the combined Children or Israel to rebuild a nation and to show the good results brought about when an entire people—of any nationality—repent and obey the one true God.

The Remnants will come out of this horrendous time. The scriptures reveal they will testify among the nations of the world—in the places where they are scattered. They will be used to warn the nations to rely on God. Ezekiel 5:8 states, "therefore thus says the Lord God: ‘Indeed I, even I, am against you and will execute judgments in your midst in the sight of the nations (emphasis added)." So the judgment that God executes in Israel is for the whole world to see. By doing this the Children of Israel will gradually become what God intended for them to be in the first place—a positive godly example.

The prophet Jeremiah, speaking on the same subject writes in Verse 3 "But I will gather the remnant of My flock out of all countries where I have driven them, and bring them back to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase." Vs. 4 "I will set up shepherds over them who will feed them; and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, nor shall they be lacking," says the Lord. Vs. 5 "Behold, the days are coming," says the Lord, "That I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness; A King shall reign and prosper, and execute judgment and righteousness in the earth, (We know this to be Jesus Christ) Verse 6 "In His days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell safely; Now this is His name by which He will be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS." Verse 7 "Therefore, behold, the days are coming," says the Lord, "that they shall no longer say, ‘As the Lord lives who brought up the children of Israel from the land of Egypt,’ Verse 8 "As the Lord lives who brought up and led the descendants of the house of Israel from the north country and from all the countries where I had driven them.’ And they shall dwell in their own land."

These verses are speaking of the Remnant of Israel.

It is such a monumental event being spoken of here. It says, you are going to forget about the Children of Israel coming out of Egypt. That event will be considered so insignificant that it will not even be remembered in the future. Perhaps God is saying, "What is going to be of greater significance is I punished my people, I punished my children and I made them respect me and honor me and I made them into the example to the world that I intended for them to be." Then God will give them forgiveness and gather them back to Himself once again to be used as an example to the rest of an unbelieving world.

The words of Jesus recorded in Matthew 23: 37-38 paint a poignant word picture. There, He spoke of His anguish about Jerusalem. Standing on the Mount of Olives, just prior to His crucifixion, He laments: "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate;" As we can see through the prophetic accounts, He will yet gather that remnant under His wings for protection

But the correction of the Children of Israel is not the end of the matter.

God’s formula for correction is for the whole world and it continues beyond Judah and Israel—right down to all the gentile nations. The prophesies show that, upon hearing the testimony of the Remnants of Israel—the nations refuse to rely on God and refuse to acknowledge him. So, because of that refusal, God then raises up Israel once again, makes of them once again into a mighty nation and uses them to punish the world around them—in their turn.

The gentile nations should have in the past and should now see an example from the "Israelitish" people of the just, merciful, and reverent way of life God intended for mankind. God set a standard and expected Israel to exhibit it to the rest of the world. Because they have not fulfilled their mission and because the rest of the world has eagerly followed their improper example, God will punish—first Israel (all the collective descendants of the twelve tribes) by the hand of the gentile world and then, in due order, the gentile world itself by the hand of a returned Jesus Christ as Lord of Lords and King of Kings and by the hand of a humbled and repentant and restored Israel.

God will recover the remnant people.

Through all this, Israel will finally become the example that God intended them to be. Because of that example they will finally "live out" a way of life that demonstrates to the whole remainder of the world just how they should come to trust and rely on God and thus reap His benevolent guidance and protection. Isaiah 11:11 states: "It shall come to pass in that day, That the Lord shall set His hand again the second time to recover the remnant of His people who are left, from Assyria (there are those who have come to believe that Assyria refers prophetically to central Europe and Germany in particular) and Egypt, Pathros and Cush (these were historically in Africa), from Elam and Shinar (located in the Middle East), from Hamath and the islands of the sea."

Here God seeks a people that are literally scattered everywhere and who are subjected to oppression and being abused and being slaughtered just like Idi Amin slaughtered his own people. Those who are to slaughter Israel do so with no regard for them whatsoever; this is much like Germany’s treatment of subjected peoples during the Second World War. Isaiah 11:12 goes on to state: "He will set up a banner for the nations, and will assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth." So we see that they are to be scattered and they are everywhere and it talks about them being a banner. What is the purpose of a banner? The purpose of a banner is to proclaim something. A banner proclaims a message and the message that God will proclaim is that—these are my people and even in their sinfulness and rejection of Me, they did not escape from me—what makes you nations think you will escape from me?

This scenario brings to mind a scripture penned by the Apostle Peter and presented in 1 Pet 4:17-19. There it states: "For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? Now (here Peter quotes from Proverbs 11:31)"If the righteous one is scarcely saved, where will the ungodly and the sinner appear? Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator."

In essence, God is saying—I punished them in mercy and now I have raised them up and they will preach to you—the remainder of the world—that you should seek me as well. In Isaiah 46:3-13 God states: "Listen to Me, O house of Jacob, and all the remnant of the house of Israel, who have been upheld by Me from birth, who have been carried from the womb: {4} Even to your old age, I am He, and even to gray hairs I will carry you! I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you. {5} "To whom will you liken Me, and make Me equal and compare Me, that we should be alike? {6}They lavish gold out of the bag, and weigh silver on the scales; they hire a goldsmith, and he makes it a god; they prostrate themselves, yes, they worship. {7} They bear it on the shoulder, they carry it and set it in its place, and it stands; from its place it shall not move. Though one cries out to it, yet it cannot answer nor save him out of his trouble. {8} "Remember this, and show yourselves men; Recall to mind, O you transgressors.{9} Remember the former things of old, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, {10} Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, 'My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure,' {11} Calling a bird of prey from the east, the man who executes My counsel, from a far country. Indeed I have spoken it; I will also bring it to pass. I have purposed it; I will also do it. {12} "Listen to Me, you stubborn-hearted, who are far from righteousness: {13} I bring My righteousness near, it shall not be far off; my salvation shall not linger. And I will place salvation in Zion, for Israel My glory."

What is God’s ultimate goal?

Seeing this, can you believe God does not like leftovers? The leftovers of Israel and the continued existence and survival of His "example" peoples are of number one importance to God. But—God’s ultimate goal is the salvation of the entire world. It is to see—first Israel—and then all of the peoples of all the earth finally, once and for all, created in the image God had for them from the beginning of creation.

Other scriptures speak of punishment and redemption of other nations and peoples. The Book of Amos presents a synopsis of the judgments to come to Judah, the house of Israel and other surrounding gentile nations. Chapter 5, beginning in verse 16, shows that (at least at one level of fulfillment) these things occur during the end time "day of the Lord." The flow of the book presents an indictment against all of the mentioned nations. The gentile kingdoms mentioned here are those who historically surrounded Judah and the house of Israel. Damascus (modern day Syria), Gaza, Ashdod, Ashkelon and Ekron. In Amos 1:8 God states that "…the Philistines shall perish." It is interesting that these regions are some of today’s Palestinian strongholds—peoples and groups that have continually troubled Israel. Others of the nations mentioned are Tyre (modern day Lebanon), and Edom, Ammon and Moab (all ancient areas that are located in modern day Jordan).

Seek religion, or seek God?

It is clear when we read the scriptures that God really only wants the world to simply rely on Him and to worship Him with sincerity. Turn to Amos 5:2. There it states: "The virgin of Israel has fallen; she will rise no more. She lies forsaken on her land; there is no one to raise her up." {5} "But do not seek Bethel, nor enter Gilgal, nor pass over to Beersheba…" Gilgal and Bethel were two of the places where the Children of Israel (prior to their division into two kingdoms) worshipped God. Remember though, by the time Amos wrote this prophecy, the northern kingdom had gone totally to idolatry. Here God is telling them, ‘don’t bother to go to those places where you traditionally worshipped Me.’ Perhaps He is indicating to them that appropriate worship is not merely a form of religion that one performs in a given place but rather a true and sincere respect and a seeking after the face of God—which they were not doing.

God tells why He is so upset. Amos 5:10 states: "They hate the one who rebukes in the gate…" These are people who are so proud and arrogant that they hate correction.

Amos continues in verse 10-13 by saying: "…and they abhor the one who speaks uprightly. Therefore, because you tread down the poor and take grain taxes from him, though you have built houses of hewn stone, Yet you shall not dwell in them; You have planted pleasant vineyards, but you shall not drink wine from them. For I know your manifold transgressions and your mighty sins. You afflict the just and take bribes; you divert the poor from justice at the gate."

This describes a simple cause and effect scenario. Then God says something very interesting in Amos 5:13. He states that because of this injustice that He hates—because this is going on, that "Therefore the prudent keep silent at that time, for it is an evil time." This sounds awfully close to what we see over a few more pages in Amos Chapter 8. There Amos records in Verses 11-12:"Behold, the days are coming," says the Lord God, "That I will send a famine on the land, Not a famine of bread, Nor a thirst for water, But of hearing the words of the Lord. {12} They shall wander from sea to sea, and from north to east; they shall run to and fro, seeking the word of the Lord, but shall not find it."

What we see here is that times are so evil—peoples are so unrepentant and God is in the midst of this unprecedented correction of the Children of Israel and then of the entire world, that the world is so dangerous around them so that the "prudent,"—that is the Saints of God "…keep silent at that time." This is a time of great persecution. The Church goes underground, it has done that before and it will do it again. And the result is that those who want to hear about the truth of God can not find it.

How do We Escape?

But God never leaves mankind without resource. He never abandons us with no way out. He gives us a prescription for escape—not just one for destruction. In Amos 5:6-7 God states: "Seek the Lord and live, lest He break out like fire in the house of Joseph, and devour it, with no one to quench it in Bethel—You who turn justice to wormwood, and lay righteousness to rest in the earth?"

Seek God—that is all that is needed. In Amos 5:14-15 God holds out that offer of hope if we will just reach out and accept it and go ahead and do what He wants of us. There He states that we should: "Seek good and not evil, that you may live; so the Lord God of hosts will be with you, as you have spoken. {15} 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."

A simple formula.

What? Hate evil, love good, establish justice in the gate, be fair and treat people well. We’re talking about the opposite of the principle sins that caused God to be angry at Israel in the first place. So, it’s a simple formula. Turn around and go the other way, rely on God and not an idol (either one that is the work of our hands or one that is the work of our mind) and it may be that the Lord God will be gracious to the Remnant of Israel—the Israel that was to be the example of the rest of the world—and then gracious to the rest of the world that follows that good and proper example.

This theme reappears again and again throughout the scriptures -throughout prophecy after prophecy of God. Amos 9:9-10 states: "For surely I will command, and will sift the house of Israel among all nations, as grain is sifted in a sieve; yet not the smallest grain shall fall to the ground. {10} All the sinners of My people shall die by the sword, Who say, The calamity shall not overtake us nor confront us." Now, that sure is arrogance in the face of an all powerful God. And yet, as we have seen, God will "sift" them—regardless of what they in their arrogance say about it.

A Happy Ending.

But then, the story of God has a happy ending. After punishment is meted out—after repentance is sincerely and humbly made—after forgiveness, redemption is given, then God turns the page onto a new world. It is a world that never was before—one that the world has desperately needed—a world where everybody benefits—the Children of Israel and gentiles alike. In Amos 9:11-12 God continues by saying: "On that day I will raise up the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down, and repair its damages; I will raise up its ruins, and rebuild it as in the days of old; {12} That they may possess the remnant of Edom, And all the Gentiles who are called by My name,’ says the Lord who does this thing."

"Gentiles called by My Name."

And so, we see that God will bring Israel to repentance and will yet—once again—raise them up to greatness. But, it is not just the remnant of Israel but also other remnants will be included. Amos 9:12 states that Israel will relate to other remnants. He states that they will "…‘possess the Remnant of Edom, And all the Gentiles who are called by My name,’ Says the Lord who does this thing."

Then, when this finally comes to be, we see the conclusion of things—things that have never been before. Amos 9: 13-15 states the conclusion of God’s plan of correction for Israel and the "Gentiles who are called by My name." There He states: "Behold, the days are coming," says the Lord, "When the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the reaper of grapes him who sows seed; the mountains shall drip with sweet wine, and all the hills shall flow with it. {14} I will bring back the captives of My people Israel; they shall build the waste cities and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and drink wine from them; they shall also make gardens and eat fruit from them. {15} I will plant them in their land, and no longer shall they be pulled up from the land I have given them," says the Lord your God.

This is a message of terror and also a message of huge hope but you know that this is terror that should never have happened—except to a people who refuse to follow the way and will of God.

Certainly God does like leftovers. In fact, He loves them. God takes those worthless bits and globs and makes gourmet delights out of them. He takes useless scraps and turns them into beautiful tapestries of color and usefulness. Nothing is too far from His hand and imagination or intent. And nothing will be withheld from Him when He sets His hand to accomplish it. As Micah 7:18-20 states: "Who is a God like You, Pardoning iniquity and passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He does not retain His anger forever, Because He delights in mercy. {19} He will again have compassion on us, and will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depth of the sea. {20} You will give truth to Jacob and mercy to Abraham, which You have sworn to our fathers from days of old."

God’s plan is for everyone.

God’s total intent is summed up by the result of the outcome of His actions to correct Israel and the world. There is a reason that God created a remnant—that is to save them from themselves—from total destruction and to bring them to Himself. In Zephaniah 3:13 God points out the final outcome of His actions. There He states: "The remnant of Israel shall do no unrighteousness and speak no lies, nor shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth; for they shall feed their flocks and lie down, and no one shall make them afraid."

Likewise, in Zechariah 8:6-8 God says: "Thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘If it is marvelous in the eyes of the remnant of this people in these days, will it also be marvelous in My eyes?’ says the Lord of hosts. {7} "Thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘Behold, I will save My people from the land of the east and from the land of the west; {8} I will bring them back, and they shall dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. They shall be My people and I will be their God. In truth and righteousness.’"

God does like leftovers, He makes sumptuous casseroles and wonderful gourmet dishes out of them. He makes beautiful things out of nothing.