Prepare To Meet Your God
Rebellious Israel was headed to captivity. They would not repent
of their sins in spite of all the prophets' warnings and the consequences God
continually sent upon them. Amos. 4:6-11 details some of the reproofs. They
lacked food, had rains withheld from them to the extent that their cities ran
out of water, suffered every type of natural disaster and horrible losses in
war. In spite of all of these punishments that decimated them to the point that
their destruction was compared to Sodom and Gomorrah, the scriptures repeatedly
state, "Yet you have not returned to Me." (vss. 6,8,10,11)
With all that they had suffered, they might have thought that though they were shaken, they were still standing in spite of all that God had to throw at them, and they might yet be all right. Any who might have thought this way were greatly mistaken. Though God had done so much to them, He had not yet begun to exhaust the reservoirs of His resources. That insubordinate people would soon have to meet God fully in judgment. So Amos warned, "Therefore, thus I will do to you, O Israel; Because I shall do this to you, Prepare to meet your God, O Israel." (vs. 12)
What at horrible thought to have to meet God after having lived so immorally. Meeting God under such circumstance is akin to the sheriff taking the felon from his cell and saying, "Time to face the judge." We might not think ourselves to be (or in fact be) as bad as ancient Israel, but we must still seriously consider Amos' admonition, "Prepare to meet your God" because we will all meet Him. Let us carefully consider this admonition word by word, from last to first.
We do not often think as seriously as we should about God, His nature, His holiness and His demands. We often do not contemplate that one day we will be personally examined by the Just and Upright Creator of all things. Immediately after telling the people to prepare, Amos reminded them of God's surpassing greatness, "For behold, He who forms mountains and creates the wind And declares to man what are His thoughts, He who makes dawn into darkness And treads on the high places of the earth, The LORD God of hosts is His name." (vs. 13) He knows and controls all physical matter and, frighteningly for us, He knows our thoughts. As another scripture says, "And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do." (Heb. 4:13)
He is "our" God whether we acknowledge Him or not. We must realize that we are never away from His presence. "Where can I go from Thy Spirit? Or where can I flee from Thy presence? If I ascend to heaven, Thou art there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, Thou art there" (Ps. 139:7,8) That fact that we would deny God does not change the fact that He is still watching and noting our deeds for judgment. "Can a man hide himself in hiding places, So I do not see him?" declares the LORD." (Jer. 23:24)
Our God is not only ever present in life, but He will also be present after death. Just as Amos admonished Israel to prepare, Solomon taught all to give thought to God. "Remember Him before the silver cord is broken and the golden bowl is crushed, the pitcher by the well is shattered and the wheel at the cistern is crushed; then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it." (Eccl. 12:6,7)
For too many, meeting God at death will be a first introduction. This is not because God did not make Himself known, but because they ignored to all that God has said and done. God has spoken, but they have not listened.
The unprepared will meet with God just as certainly as the prepared will. The scriptures teach that an interview with God is inevitable. "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad." (2 Cor. 5:10) God does not want you to come ignorant and unprepared. He sent His prophets, and later His son and the apostles, telling men to prepare. He also furnished conclusive proof that the judgment meeting will come. "Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead." (Acts 17:30,31)
The need to prepare to meet God is clearly recognized by all who understand what will happen when we meet. There will be a thorough judgment of all sinners based on all their sins. "And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds." (Rev. 20:12) Since we know that this will happen, will we get properly prepared?
Some make inadequate preparations. Secular education is not proper preparation to meet God. "The world through its wisdom did not come to know God" (Col. 1:21) Moses found this out. He "was educated in all the learning of the Egyptians, and he was a man of power in words and deeds," (Acts 7:22) but he was still not prepared to meet the Lord when He appeared in the burning bush. We will be no more prepared to meet God in judgment than Moses was with only what man can teach us. Denial of the afterlife by the arguments of atheism, the self delusion of either rationalism or emotionalism, or the false comforts brought by false doctrines are all equally inadequate. Even morality, which many practice to the point of penance, fasting and prayer, without the truth that is known only in the gospel, is inadequate. We can never be good enough to meet God on our own terms or accomplishments. "He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit." (Tit. 3:5)
The only proper and effective preparations to make to meet God are revealed in His word. "How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Thy word." (Ps. 119:9) "The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil." (Eccl. 12:13,14)
Those who have never been "obedient from the heart to that form of doctrine" (Rom. 6:17) which is revealed only in the gospel must began by submitting in "obedience to the truth [to] purify your souls." (1 Pet. 1:22) This is done by having faith in Jesus the Messiah; (Jn. 3:16, 8:24, Heb. 11:6) repenting of sins by leaving them and committing to live the holy life the gospel demands; (Luke 13:3, Acts 17:30) and by being baptized in water in Jesus name. (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38, 22:16) Without doing these things that God instructs, no man has even begun to prepare to meet the Lord.
But having begun your preparations is not the same as completing your preparations. Consider Noah, who "in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household." (Heb. 11:7) Think if Noah had stopped preparing before he had "cover[ed] it inside and out with pitch." (Gen. 6:14) He would has spent a year in a very leaky boat. Do you think he would have been willing to risk his life and the lives of his family without making all the preparations that God said to make? But how many Christians risk their souls with so much left undone, inside and out, when it come to morals, faithfulness, and service? How many need to heed of the warnings of the Lord? "But I have this against you, that you have left your first love...because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth." (Rev. 2:4; 3:16)
Any Christian who is no longer completely ready to meet their God has only one way to become prepared again. You must return to Christ with full devotion. This is what the Lord directed the unprepared in His churches, "Remember therefore from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you, and will remove your lampstand out of its place -- unless you repent." (Rev. 2:5) Or as Peter told a man in sin, "Therefore repent of this wickedness of yours, and pray the Lord that if possible, the intention of your heart may be forgiven you." (Acts 8:22) So repent, pray and reform. You're not prepared until you do.
The old saying, well based in scripture, is that "Heaven is a prepared palace for a prepared people." This reflects what Jesus said, "In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you." (Jn. 14:2) It is prepared for us. We must be equally prepared for it.
It is essential that we are prepared to meet God. The alternative is simply too horrible to contemplate. "And cast out the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth...these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life... these will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power." (Matt. 25:30,41; 2 Thess. 1:9)
By Jay Horsley
From Expository Files 9.5; May 2003