Amos 5:13 “Therefore he that is prudent shall keep silence in such a time; for it is an evil time.”
One commentator made this observation about this verse: “Evil times will not bear plain dealing; that is, evil men will not.” It is supposed that men kept silent in evil times because they felt no good could be accomplished. Others suppose that speaking out in an evil time is fruitless and make comparisons to the silence of the Lord during his trial and crucifixion. Regardless of which view a person takes regarding this passage, it cannot be doubted that “it is an evil time.”
That should come as no surprise because of what Paul said to Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:3 “For the time will come when they will not endure the sound doctrine; but, having itching ears, will heap to themselves teachers after their own lusts;”
The apostle Paul tells Timothy that as time rolls on Christians will abandon the doctrine taught by the inspired apostles. Rather, they’ll prefer their own ideas, philosophies and doctrines. The sacred scriptures will no longer be considered sacred by some who once followed them. Timothy is to be on guard because this trend will wax worse and worse.
Here we are, further down the line of time than Timothy, and we know this is true. It’s not because we want it that way. It’s because that’s just the way it is. Men grow worse and worse over time. Men erode the Truth over time. Men embrace their own ideas as being true over time. The slow, gradual, but sure decline is foretold by the great apostle.
This is no reason to loose heart or grow weary in well doing. Galatians 6:9 “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” We may sometimes despair at the wickedness in the world. We might despair in the fact that so few seem receptive to the gospel. We may even despair at the reluctance of men to remain true to the gospel. Yet, we should not grow weary because a reward is waiting for all who remain faithful. So our mandate is to strengthen and help all who would remain true to the Gospel of our Lord, including ourselves.
The scriptures teach us that numerical strength has never been God’s standard. Sometimes it’s merely a remnant. Isaiah 10:20 “And it shall come to pass in that day, that the remnant of Israel, and such as are escaped of the house of Jacob, shall no more again stay upon him that smote them; but shall stay upon the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, in truth. ” Again, Romans 9:27 “Esaias also crieth concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved:” Yet again, Romans 11:5 “Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.”
We often quote a verse that plainly tells us the number of saved will be small, not due to God’s desire, but due to their own rebelliousness. Matthew 7:13, 14 “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”
Why is this so? Continue reading and we gain some insight.
Matthew 7:15-29 “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it. And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine: For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.”
Knowing fruit is commanded of all Christians. We cannot know hearts and minds. We leave that to the Lord. We can, however, know fruits (or behaviors or the results of behavior) because they are made manifest by actions in the lives of all men.
The scriptures contain many words that today’s society might find offensive. Weak, disobedient, rebellious, hard hearted, wayward, unruly, wicked and evil are just a few of these words. No one would want these terms applied to them. And those to whom these words might be ascribed would no doubt claim they are “labels” and condemn their use because of that. These are not merely labels, but depictions of the lives of people who are headed in a direction away from sound doctrine. These words represent souls that could be lost. These words are sobering words that ought to stir the heart of every child of God toward helping a soul overcome the evil that is in the world.
Christians are commanded to warn, exhort, teach, instruct, comfort, support, encourage, watch and numerous other “verbs” which portray godly behavior. Our world is perishing. Warning is appropriate. The goal of warnings is to get people to observe the warning so they can avoid dangers.
1 Thessalonians 5:14 “Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.”
This verse specifically applies to elders, but the general principle applies to every Christian. The “unruly” are those who have fallen out of the ranks. Like the soldier who is out of place, they need to be put back into their place of service to God. It may also refer to careless behavior, slothful behavior or disobedient behavior. These behaviors are costly to the souls of men so warnings are appropriate.
Acts 20:31 “Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.”
Paul warned the Ephesian congregation to beware of false teachers. They failed to listen as evidenced in the Revelation when they were condemned for leaving their first love. The apostle battled false teachers who contradicted the teaching of Jesus Christ. His obligation was to warn. The great apostle wasn’t responsible for their reaction to his warning. They bore that obligation and would be required to give an account.
Warnings must be heeded in our own lives because the times are evil.
James 1:22-25 “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.”
The phrase “the word” means the gospel of Jesus Christ. Those who hear the word, but don’t take action to obey it are like a man who glances into a mirror without taking any action to correct what he might see. He doesn’t even remember what he has seen. Matthew 13 depicts a similar idea by talking about the seed of the gospel that is carried away by the birds of the air. They take no root and take no action.
The contrasting picture is of a person who looks intently into the mirror, much like a person would who is trying to get the closest look possible. Have you ever leaned forward to look into the mirror? That’s the idea. This person is looking in order to do something about what he sees. Whatever needs to be improved is taken care of by the person who strives to see the things that need repair.
All saints are commanded to be like the latter person who strives to improve. Part of our lives involve self-examination. We hold up our lives in comparison to the scriptures to see where we need to make repairs or improvements.
A number of years ago the compact disc player was invented. The first units were built with a single beam laser. This laser would read the information on the disc. Those of us old enough to remember, know those first CD players skipped an awful lot, but in time they were replaced with 3 beam units. These units were engineered with two additional beams, one on either side of the beam that read the disc. These beams served to keep the center beam on course. They served to make the corrections necessary as the disc continued to play. And so, the skipping that we had all experienced earlier was repaired.
The gospel does the same thing in our lives. It corrects our course. It keeps us on a true path. It sets us straight. These actions of improvement only happen if we’re submissive to the gospel of our Lord. It takes a heart that is soft enough to be directed by what the Lord wants. Self-will is our enemy to this process.
Matthew 16:24 “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.”
Mark 8:34 “And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.”
Luke 9:23 “And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.”
Evil times are hard on all of God’s people. They can cause us to lose heart. They can cause us to lose our determination. They can cause us to neglect the things we need to correct in our own lives. They can cause us to neglect the boldness needed to benefit others. Those prices are far too high. Souls may be lost, including our own.
If we bore no obligation to others we could live our lives all to ourselves. We could crawl in the proverbial hole and leave everyone else alone, but that wouldn’t be fulfilling our duty to God or our fellow man.
Romans 14:7 “For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself.”
Like sowing the seed of the gospel, we are not responsible for the germination or growth of the seed. We’re responsible to sow the seed. God gives the increase. We’re also responsible to warn men because the days are evil.
We don’t lose heart because men choose to refuse the warnings. Some may listen. Likewise, we must choose to listen ourselves and correct those things that need to be fixed in our lives based on gospel instruction. Heaven and hell are at stake…so we work. We should not faint just because the days are evil.
Galatians 6:9 “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”