Prepare to Meet Thy God
Amos 4: 12

The last day of the year is always a sobering time.
We are acutely aware that this year is over, it's all finished.
Everything we planned for the year has not been done.
Many of the things that happened were not planned at all.

Perhaps, the most commonly shared impression at the end of the year is the awareness
that all things end, and that we are hardly ever prepared as we should have been.
The warning of God given through Amos to Israel seems extremely appropriate on this final day of the year.
The message is: "Prepare to meet thy God."

Opportunities for Preparation

God's judgment is always tempered with His mercy.
He does not plan a judgment day for man without warning him.
The Bible is replete with prophecy, promise, and pronouncements of that coming day.
Beside the Scriptural warnings, life and nature warn man to prepare for that ultimate reckoning.
Amos listed some of these natural warnings.

In verse 6, he mentions hunger as a natural warning and an attempt by God to secure repentance
from His people.
"And I also have given you cleanness of teeth in all your cities, and want of bread
in all your places: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the Lord
."
God's ability to take away our physical necessities should remind us of His power
to take away our physical life.

In verses 7 and 8, Amos lists the drought and famine as another opportunity for preparation.
"And also I have withholden the rain from you, when there were yet three months to the harvest...
So two or three cities wandered into one city, to drink water; but they were not satisfied:
yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the Lord
."
God's control of the universe in spite of our plans and harvest times should tell us of
His omnipotent authority over all our lives.

In verse 9, Amos says that crop destructions afford another chance for repentance.
"I have smitten you with blasting and mildew: when your gardens and your vineyards
and your fig trees increased, the palmer-worm devoured them: yet ye have not returned
unto me, saith the Lord
."
We must realize that our lives can be cut off as easily as the crops we try to raise.

In verse 10, war is called an opportunity for religious renewal.
"Your young men have I slain with the sword, and have taken away your houses...
yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the Lord
."
Rather than turning men from God, the tragedy of war should remind us of the final
destruction of all flesh.

In verse 11, consummate failure is typified as another call to preparation.
"I have overthrown some of you as God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah...
yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the Lord
."
Reverses and adversities should surely cause us to see the folly of trusting in our achievements.

There is no question that all these human experiences are related to the judgment.

In the very next verse -- verse 12, God says, "Therefore (because of these preceding facts),
thus will I do unto thee, O Israel: and because I will do this unto thee, prepare to meet thy God, O Israel."

Every one of us can recall the instance of one or more of these experiences during the past year.
They should serve as clear warnings of the coming meeting with God.

Reasons for Preparation

Though it may seem elementary to some, it would stagger us to know how many intelligent people
shrug their shoulders at the idea of preparation, asking, "What difference does it make?"
There are innumerable reasons for such preparation, and we ought to consider some of them.

1. First, the meeting is inevitable.
There is absolutely no escaping it or evading it.
"And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment." (Hebrews 9:27)
We have a choice as to how we meet God, but we have no choice as to whether we will meet Him.

2. The time of the meeting is unknown to us.
"But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only."
(Matthew 24:36)
The very uncertainty of the time, coupled with the certainty of the fact, makes it imperative
that we prepare.

3. The meeting will come suddenly without advance warning other than what is already given.
"For man also knoweth not his time: as the fishes that are taken in an evil net,
and as the birds that are caught in the snare; so are the sons of men snared in an evil time,
when it falleth suddenly upon them
." (Ecclesiastes 9: 12)
Jesus said that society would be proceeding normally without any concern for the judgment
as it was before the flood in Noah's day. (Matthew 24: 38)

4. There will be no time for preparation after this life is over.
This life that we now live is the only time we have for obedience and preparation.
"For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that everyone may receive
the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad
."
(2 Corinthians 5:10)

Kahir, an Indian mystic of the 15th century wrote:
"If thy bonds be not broken when thou livest, what hope of deliverance in death?
If thou has union now, thou shall have it hereafter.
"

Rules For Preparation

One cannot adequately prepare unless he knows the methods, systems, and requirements
for the particular preparation at hand.
If we are to prepare to meet God, doesn't it seemed logical that we had better prepare
according to His standards and requirements, not ours?
God's standard of judgment is none other than Jesus Christ.
"Because he hath appointed a day, in which he will judge the world in righteousness
by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men.
in that he hath raised him from the dead
." (Acts 17:31)

We will not be judged according to our ideas and ideals or according to the morals and mores of society.
We will be judged only by the standard of Christ, and our preparation had better be within
the framework of His life, death, and resurrection.
The only hope for the sinner as he faces God's judgment day is to have Christ as his Lord and Saviour.

"That day of wrath, that dreadful day,
When heaven and earth shall pass away,
What power shall be the sinner's stay?
How shall he meet that dreadful day?

When, shriveling like a parched scroll,
The flaming heavens together roll;
When louder yet, and yet more dread,
Swells the high trump that wakes the dead:

Oh, on that day, that wrathful day,
When man to judgment wakes from clay,
Be thou, O Christ, the trembling sinner's stay,
Tho' heaven and earth shall pass away.
-- Sir Walter Scott

A king sent for his jester one day, and presented him with a stick.
He said, "Take this stick and keep it until you find a bigger fool than yourself."

Lying on his deathbed, the king again sent for his jester, "I am going away," the king said.

"Where are you going?" Asked the jester.

"To another country," replied the king.

"What provision has your majesty made for this journey and for living in the country whether
thou goest
?" The jester asked.

"None," was the answer.

The jester handed the king the stick.
"Take it," he said. "I have found a bigger fool than myself,
for I only trifle with things of time while you have trifled with the things of eternity
."

Have you foolishly neglected to prepare to meet God?
Don't wait for the 12th hour, or even the 11th.
Come to Him now, that you may go before Him in confidence on that day of judgment.

Sermon by Dr. Harold L. White