TODAY’S READING: AMOS 1-4
“So I will send a fire upon the wall of Gaza, and it shall devour her strongholds.” – Amos 1:7
Fire. Devour. Strongholds.
Amos connects these three words six times in what the Lord says to Gaza, Tyre, Edom, the Ammonites, Moab, and Judah. Then, Amos uses stronghold a seventh time in regards to Israel. Amos 3:10 says, “They do not know how to do right,” declares the Lord, “those who store up violence and robbery in their strongholds.”
The Hebrew word for stronghold is armon. It is used 32 times in the Old Testament. But, Amos uses it 12 times, more than any other book in the Old Testament. Twelve is the number of governmental perfection in the Bible. So, Amos’ 12 strongholds should have something to do with God’s perfect rule in our life.
Further, I mentioned above that Amos has the Lord saying that fire would devour the strongholds six times. Six symbolizes both man and work. So, these strongholds have something to do with man’s work that will be burned away.
But, the seventh place, Israel, that Amos connects with strongholds reveals something else about strongholds. Israel stored up violence and robbery in their strongholds. This violence and robbery that filled Israel’s strongholds was clearly opposed to God as the Lord said that Israel did not know how to do right because of it.
But, what exactly are these strongholds and what do they have to do with Jesus?
The word stronghold occurs just one time in the New Testament.
2 Corinthians 10:4 says, “For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.”
Just like we saw in Amos, strongholds are to be destroyed in warfare. But, these strongholds are not physical fortresses or palaces since we are not to use weapons of the flesh against them. Rather, the strongholds that are to be destroyed are spiritual for it takes divine power to conquer them.
Still, what are these strongholds that need to be destroyed?
2 Corinthians 10:5 says, “We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.”
The previous verse said we destroy strongholds. This verse says we destroy arguments and lofty opinions that are against the knowledge of God. Strongholds are arguments, lofty opinions, ideas, thoughts, etc. that are against the true knowledge of God.
What is the true knowledge of God?
God is good.
God is good and only good.
God is light and in him there is no darkness at all.
God is love and in him there is no fear.
God is life and in him there is no death.
Anything and everything in our hearts and minds that is against these truths of God, these strongholds, needs to be destroyed.
We are to work for God. But, with these strongholds that are against God, we can work in the wrong way, building up things that are against God. Amos says God will consume these strongholds with fire. Therefore, God consumes with fire the work that is built by these strongholds, or by false notions of God.
Therefore, 1 Corinthians 3:15 says, “If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.”
The strongholds of our wrong ideas about God create works that will be burned up, consumed by fire by God. But, the person himself will be saved through this fire that burns up every false work from false ideas of God.
But, 1 Corinthians 3:15 has another interesting connection to Amos and the fire that devours strongholds.
In the first six uses of stronghold in Amos, the Septuagint uses the Greek word themelion. The word themelion means foundation. Now, we can see the interesting connection to 1 Corinthians 3:15.
1 Corinthians 3:10-14 says, “According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on a foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw – each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward.”
In Amos, the six places that had their strongholds, their foundations, devoured by fire had built on the wrong foundation.
What is the lesson?
The foundation was not Jesus Christ. Because the foundation was not Jesus Christ, the heart and mind developed strongholds that were arguments and lofty opinions against the true knowledge that God is good and only good. These false arguments and opinions about God led to works that would not stand the test of fire. Therefore, they would be consumed by fire. But, the person would still be saved.
Therefore, we can see why it is so critical that we have the correct foundation laid. The only foundation that should be laid and built on is Jesus Christ. This means the only thing we in our hearts and minds that is should be used to understand God is Jesus Christ.
Not the law.
Not the prophets.
Not Solomon and his wisdom.
Not the Bible.
No, the only foundation is Jesus.
He is the only one to see God face to face. He is the image of God. He is the exact representation of God’s character.
If we try to have any other foundation other than Jesus, then we will develop that wrong idea about who God is. This then will lead to works that need to be destroyed by fire, which is a painful process.
So, Jesus is the foundation that is laid that will destroy the strongholds of our hearts and minds.