Lord of All Nations (Amos)
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famine“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?” Isaiah 58:6-7 NIV

It is a sad reality that in this world, many still die of starvation. With bloated bellies of malnutrition, surrounded by tooth-pick limbs, they weakly stagger in search of food until finally their bodies will carry them no further and they die, perhaps asking, “Why?” Too often, the only answer is that the geography of where they were born destined their lives to be short and sad. If anyone notices, it may be only to curse a God who would allow such a thing. “Why doesn’t God do something?” they ask. “If God were truly loving and kind, He would not allow this to happen.” However, are we turning a blind eye to God’s intervention in order not to see it? As the proverb goes, “There is none so blind as he who will not see.”1

So what are we missing? Where does our blindness lie? Perhaps our blindness lies in not seeing ourselves as the instruments of God’s intervention. In other words, maybe God has indeed done something. He has placed us here. C. S. Lewis wrote a science fiction trilogy in which he offered a similar understanding. The main character, Ransom, perplexed at God’s apparent impotence in the face of evil determines that God has placed him in the world to do just that—battle evil.2 While Ransom is an allegorical representation of Christ, we cannot escape Ransom’s revelation by asserting that we are not Jesus. The Bible makes our kinship far too clear for that.3 As children of God, we inherit the struggle. Some may feel that this struggle is Christ’s alone and this may be reflected in their translation of the purported Messianic Promise after the fall in Genesis 3.4 The translation is offered as though the subject of the action were “He,” yet there is no absolute “He” in the Hebrew text. The third person singular verb can just as easily support the translation “it.” The pronoun Hu in Hebrew, even today, may still be translated as either “he” or “it.”

Perhaps you can see where I am going with this. If one wants to have the passage refer to a future Messiah, that would be more clear with a translation of “He.” However, if the passage is merely referring to the ongoing conflict between the children of mankind and the Evil One, the translation “it” might make more sense. Contextually it could refer to “seed” in a plural sense as all the offspring of Adam and Eve as opposed to one. As the antediluvian story develops in subsequent chapters, this reading is more consistent with those events as well. Interestingly, Paul tried to force the idea of “seed” into a reference to a singular Messiah in his letter to the Galatians.5 However, the Hebrew sometimes translated as plural “seeds” in the King James Version is translated as the singular “seed” in the NIV. This shows that while the King James is strongly influencing the translation one way, more modern translations may go in the other direction. Which is correct? It may be simply a matter of current usage.

The Hebrew of Deuteronomy 22:9 uses the singular noun for “seed” even though apparently referring to more than one. While this may differ somewhat from King James English, it is coincidentally in line with what modern English usage offers us, as we often say singular “seed” when referring to many seeds. For instance when we are in the garden store, we may ask for a bag of grass seed for our lawn. We do not say bag of grass seeds, even though we mean more than one seed.

Why do I labor this point? Because what we read into the text through imprecise translation due to vernacular usages can profoundly affect our understanding, perhaps to the point of completely missing important inferences. In this particular instance, we may miss the important part the descendants of Adam and Eve are to play in the ongoing battle with evil. If, as C. S. Lewis appeared to feel, we are the “something” that God is doing about evil, then this verse may represent a call to battle with the hope of an ultimate victory. This does not mean there is no Messianic promise, but perhaps in a broader sense than we previously realized.

Our role in confronting evil cannot be limited to simply prayer and platitudes. As Isaiah, chapter 58, at the top of the page, shows, it is also a call to social justice and welfare for the less fortunate. Sadly, far too many Christians, today, excuse themselves from the field of battle by referring to social welfare as just socialism benefiting the needy at the expense of everyone else. They sometimes feel that the poor deserve their plight, as though it is a result of some shortcoming or sin in their lives that they are suffering. They overlook that the Bible says we are all shortcoming “sinners.”6 If the Bible is true on this, then by their logic, they should be enjoying the same fate as the needy. I suspect that few would agree to that as their attitude toward the poor is not based on logic, but rather on selfish greed.

Greed is like a ravenous monster. The more one feeds it, the more it wants. There is never enough money in the world to feed this beast until it is sated. Yet, this does not stop us from believing that if we only continue to accumulate and not disburse unless we absolutely must then someday we will no doubt reach that magical “enough.” What is that figure? No one knows. Perhaps because there is never a time when everything we want is attainable with the resources we have in hand. Could we find it possible to ever be able to say it is not necessary to own everything one wants to be happy? Maybe we should try. Maybe there can instead be a sense of fulfillment from providing for others’ wants.

Some might feel that those they help will only want more, but isn’t this simply a recognition of the very problem we are talking about—want that never ends? If so, then aren’t we “the pot calling the kettle black?” Could we be forgetting that the One who owned everything and had no reason to give anything to His enemies, did so anyway?7 Certainly a case could be made for not wasting resources on an enemy if we are to base sharing our blessings on deservedness. But we cannot make the case that we deserved to have God offer His Son on our behalf. We have no merit to offer for such a gift. Should we then demand that of others?

Strangely, although we can never demonstrate our worthiness to receive such a gift, we prattle on about only helping the deserving, “worthy” poor. We are like the man who was forgiven a great debt and yet begrudged the individual who had not repaid a few dollars.8 In spite of our own unworthiness to have the blessings we do, we too often grudgingly share them with others, feeling they are not worthy of our largess. Ultimately we must discover that the answer for need is whatever gift is in our power to bestow.9 One day, just as that debtor who failed to imitate the example of the one who forgave him so much, we will be called to account. We will not be asked to answer how much we have been able to accumulate and how comfortably this allowed us to live. No, we will be examined based on our generosity in the face of everyone’s unworthiness.10

When faced with the person whose moral failure caused them to end up in prison, what did we do? When faced with the sick person did we diminish their worthiness and therefore our need to help them by discussing their poor lifestyle and diet choices? When faced with the hungry using food stamps at the cash register, did we look down on them and feel superior because they were somehow still able to buy cigarettes? When we see a child without a winter coat, do we make sure they have one or do we justify not helping by telling ourselves that their parents are probably spending all their money on drugs or alcohol instead of clothing the children? It is not enough to help only those who deserve it.11 If God did that with us, where would we be?


  1. Matthew Henry, “Commentaries. Jeremiah 20”
  2. C. S. Lewis, “Perelandra,” Chapter 11
  3. Romans 8:16-17
  4. Genesis 3:15
  5. Galatians 3:16
  6. Romans 3:23
  7. Romans 5:8-10
  8. Matthew 18:23-34
  9. Romans 6:23
  10. Matthew 25:31-46
  11. Exodus 23:4-5
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Lord of All Nations (Amos) — 19 Comments

  1. How very true it makes us stop and think of the important things in life and of our mission. Thank you for challenging our motives,our direction
    and the way we relate to others.

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  2. Thank you Mr. Terry,Its good to know intellgent and thoughfull people have Love for what some call Unloveable,that is atrue Christ like spirt.All have sin and come short but the gift of God is forgiveness. Its a growing process learning to Love the unloveable the more you pratice it the better you become. To see beyound the short comings of others,the Log in the eye,Jesus talk about.Its easy to see others Faults.But there is plenty to go around.May you continue to be Bless in your ministry.

    at it.

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  3. [Moderator note: Please supply your first and last name with your comment. Thank you. ]

    This is such a profound and thought provoking post. I am guilty of not doing or giving because of some of the negative thoughts you listed. Without even realizing it I have been selective in who I give to. Wow, this has really been a blessing. Thank you.

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  4. [Moderator note: Please use first and last name when commenting on this site. ]

    This was such a blessing to me this morning. We as people get so caught up in what we don't have that we forget what we have; and, in forgetting our blessings, we also neglect to minister to others, which is both an expression of gratitude AND a part of our own blessing. Those of us who can say that we have food, clothing and shelter and don't have to worry about losing any of the above or having a basic physical need go unmet are blessed beyond bounds. It is our duty to show and share that blessing.

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  5. Shame on you for your comments on Gen 3. Who do you think you are.
    I really took offence at this. How do you mean "supposed Messianic text." How dare you. Shame

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    • Thank you for your input, Brother Hartwell. I note that you referred to a word not in the text of the article: "supposed." Perhaps you were referring to a synonym for "purported." While synonyms can have similar meanings, they can also differ in some significant ways. For instance, Microsoft Word's Thesaurus lists "big" as a synonym for "tall," but sometimes one can be big without being tall.

      Maybe you can see that it is possible to introduce subtle nuances that may not have been intended by the author by substituting synonyms for the words in the actual text, perhaps it was not your intention to do so. In any event. thank you for reading the article.

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      • Genesis 3:15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel.”
        Galatians 3:16 "Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, "And to seeds," as of many, but as of one, "And to your Seed," who is Christ."
        You said: "Paul tried to force...seed..to reference a singular Messiah?"
        Pastor Terry, by trying to force your own idea and interpretation, you blatantly discredit a clear statement of Scripture in Galatians. Not God's way.

        Please notice that Genesis 3:15 was not a response to a story of refusal to help others, but a response to humans totally lost/dead in sin. The only response is through the blood of Jesus Christ, the Lamb slain.

        Your argument is for the "fruit" of Cain, not the blood of the Lamb.

        That said,
        Jesus Christ, after His direction and modeling the ministry of Isa. 58 - 61, tells us plainly in Matthew 25 that there is no salvation without a heart of generosity to those who suffer. "I know you not" He will say.
        He empowers you to speak loudly, in words and actions, in support of the poor and needy.
        However, Jesus Christ is the only "Seed" who can generate "life," in response to sin and death. Worthy is the Lamb!!!

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  6. Hi Stephen,

    I appreciate the points you make regarding our responsibility in the ongoing conflict between good and evil, Christ and Satan.

    However, I don't see a problem in recognizing that the promise in Genesis 3:15 refers to the Son of God who would crush Satan's head. In fact, that is what He did. It seems to me that Genesis 3 would be rather bleak without this promise of the Seed (singular) of the woman. Your interpretation, by focusing attention on humanity rather than the Messiah, could, in fact, encourage the religion of Cain (i.e. works) rather than of faith.

    The problem is not with the KJV or other translations that translate the text similarly. The problem is our Laodicean attitude of not actually taking the responsibility that comes with the privilege of being children of God -- the responsibility to do His work on this planet.

    Paul points out that if we are Christ's, then we are heirs "according to the promise." (Gal 3:28-29) Being Christ's heirs brings with it certain responsibilities. It is our job to represent Him in this world, and that means continuing the work that He did while He walked on this planet.

    It seems to me that our study of the lessons in the minor prophets tells us that God expects His people to demonstrate His love and concern in this world, and Christ's example makes this even clearer. It is not what we profess that makes us children of the Kingdom, but what we do. (cf. Rom 2:13) Christ's parable of the sheep and the goats teaches the same concept: In the final judgment, those who profess to follow Christ will be judged on the basis of their actions -- whether they demonstrated the fruit of the Spirit in their lives by doing acts of compassion or whether they merely professed to be followers of His while living for themselves. (Matt 25:32-46)

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  7. Interesting although strange interpretation of "seed" in plural. I can understand that it can be offencive to historically reading of text in adventism. I personaly find more strange statement about Paul. Text states "that Paul tried to force idea" of one seed. Often scholars try to look on Paul like actual creator of christianity who adopted Jesus and give his interpretation and above all ideas forced idea of knowing only "on cross Messiah". I read even A. Bodliers Paul to be a pionir of universalism. I personaly think that Paul is not some great man but a servant of The Lord and that his letters are Word of God.

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  8. Thank you Stephen. I have heard a lot of people say when they get to heaven they will ask God why he allowed this or that to happen, but I am afraid they will be surprised when God turns the tables and asks them why they let it happen.

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    • William, you make an excellent point. But I believe that those who will one day stand faultless before the presence of God will have understood their duty in this life. In Matthew 25 it is the goats who misunderstood as revealed by their actions, or lack of.

      The only "surprises" for the redeemed will be in finding out who was or wasn't truly faithful in this life, along with just how glorious heaven will be.

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    • William, God is not going to have that kind of conversation in Heaven, when He needs to turn the table back on anyone. We will all have the mind of Jesus Christ, to thin, speak, do His will; with clear understanding of the ways of the Spirit of God.

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  9. We can only seek good and avoid evil when we have a close connection with God, without Him it is impossible.

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  10. [Moderator note: Please use your first AND last name in comments on this blog. Thank you. ]

    Although it is very true that we could do a lot more to help the poor, the needy and the starving, perhaps we are taking the wrong approach. Sending some money and food here and there is far from making the right impact. It could also send the wrong message instead of educating people to be responsible parents which most of these people that bring these unfortunate children into existence are not, to say the least. If anything, we ought to do what Jesus did. We are to go there, minister to them and be a living example if we are to make a difference. It's interesting that animals would never raise more than that can raise, yet, many humans that are logical creatures could care less whether they are capable of bringing offspring into existence. What's worse, we also ask the wrong question "How can God allow this to happen"? This sounds like God did not give humans a brain to begin with but somehow He gave it to all the other animals. The reason God allows it to happen is because He wants us to mature and be responsible for our own choices. Sure, we are to help each other in the process, but when most of the children in the world are born in places where there is no food and water for decades in a row, it means that an organ God intended for us to use the most, it's really used the least and other organs God intended for us to use less, we are using more than we ought to. What would really help in addition to appeals for money during offerings which of course are important should be appeals for volunteers that are willing to go and live among the needy to educate and be an example for them. The Chinese saying "Teach a man how to fish instead of giving him a fish every day" can be applied in many aspects of our life and society including careless reproduction that is simply man's choice.

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  11. Now I manage to dig up from all theology in text the main point:
    "we will be examined based on our generosity in the face of everyone’s unworthiness"
    To be generous to the one "with cigarette" or some other "spot". To be brother of sinners like Jesus. Even we also are sinners. To be repented sinner. Not to be sinner who thinks he is more upright than other sinners.
    Important point showing the Way.

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  12. Thanks so much for such a wonderful devotional, I have never thought it that way. Daily on my way home there is always a group of homeless asking for money on the off ramp. Someone from my church mentioned yesterday that he gives sometimes, not all the time, and that if that person decides to buy alcohol or whatever else, his intention was to give to Jesus. If the homeless person decided to squander it that was his deal.

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  13. What do we believe concerning the seed of the woman as promised in Genesis 3:15? Is only Jesus at enmity with Satan? Is only Jesus able to gain the victory over Satan's power to tempt? Is Jesus the only human who will have received the power of God? What does scripture teach us?

    Psalm 91:13
    Romans 1:16
    James 4:7
    Revelation 12:11
    and many more...

    Perhaps someone can help me see where Paul is referring to the Seed of the woman. As I read it, he is referring to the seed of Abraham in Galatians 3:15-18. But what does he write in Galatians 3:29? So perhaps Paul was simply making the point that only in Christ are we also heirs of the promise. None here would argue with that. Otherwise the promises would include Ishmael, Esau and all other natural seed of Abraham, but Paul makes clear, it is in Christ crucified alone. Jacob believed in God's Provision as revealed in the lamb of sacrifice, and he became Israel. All who have this faith in Christ are of Israel, and as Paul wrote to the Romans, all Israel will be saved. We could add: only Israel will be saved.

    Without Jesus, no one else could trample on the serpent, and yes, all have been bruised by Satan who will be finally saved. None are exempt, but victory is available to all and when Jesus comes, those waiting for Him will be like Him in the victory they have obtained "over every besetment, over pride, selfishness, love of the world, and over every wrong word and action. We should, therefore, be drawing nearer and nearer to the Lord..." (EW 71)

    All who receive Jesus and believe on His name will be given power to become Sons of God and will overcome the Serpent. Jesus' victory was gained in Gethsemane and revealed on Calvary. His prayer must be ours as we follow His example and submit perfectly to the will of God and crucify our own will. This will be the result of taking the yoke of Jesus upon us.

    Only a sinless One could destroy the works of Satan. We needed a Savior, made like us, and His victory is ours. Without Jesus there is no victory for sinners. So Paul is saying it correctly isn't he?

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    • Robert, I think the problem we are having here is that Gen 3:15 is not a simple text. There seems to be two promises made in that verse. The first is the constant conflict between the seeds of the woman and the serpent. The second is that the serpent will receive a lethal blow while the seed of the woman ends up with a wound that partially cripples (the NET Bible translators consider it potentially lethal as from a viper).

      The translation notes of the NET Bible have a lot to say about the grammatical structure of this verse (https://net.bible.org/#!bible/Genesis+3:15) particularly note # 45:

      Many Christian theologians (going back to Irenaeus) understand v. 15 as the so-called protevangelium, supposedly prophesying Christ’s victory over Satan (see W. Witfall, “Genesis 3:15 – a Protevangelium?” CBQ 36 [1974]: 361-65; and R. A. Martin, “The Earliest Messianic Interpretation of Genesis 3:15,” JBL 84 [1965]: 425-27). . . However, the grammatical structure of Gen 3:15b does not suggest this view. The repetition of the verb “attack,” as well as the word order, suggests mutual hostility is being depicted, not the defeat of the serpent.

      But then there is the contrast between where the wounds are inflicted which seems to indicate severity. Further, we need to come to the realization that we are extremely limited concerning any damage that we may inflict on Satan. To think otherwise is not elevating the importance and power of Christ as a necessity in our lives and actually becomes a form of egocentrism which certainly is not humility. To me the cross is what did Satan in, not our pathetic saber rattling. Our battle with sin and our witnessing to win souls certainly annoys Satan but seems to do little more in the absence of Christ.

      Ellen White, one of my favorite authors, seems to bridge the two views:

      To man the first intimation of redemption was communicated in the sentence pronounced upon Satan in the garden. The Lord declared, "I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel." Genesis 3:15. This sentence, uttered in the hearing of our first parents, was to them a promise. While it foretold war between man and Satan, it declared that the power of the great adversary would finally be broken. (Patriarchs and Prophets, p 65.4)

      Therefore, as far as I am concerned we can see Gen 15:3 as either a Messianic prophesy or one about the battle between God's army and Satan's. To me both are equally valid.

      Stephen also uses Paul's statement about Abraham's seed in Gal 3:16 and says, "Interestingly, Paul tried to force the idea of “seed” into a reference to a singular Messiah in his letter to the Galatians." However, the covenants involved in Gen 3:15 and Gal 3:16 are essentially the same (the everlasting covenant) which to me basically makes the "seed" in both the same as seed of the woman. Besides, Paul's point under inspiration in Gal 3:16 is the centricity of Christ in that covenant while in Gal 3:29 he speaks of our faith in that we should believe the promises because we are a definite part of that covenant as well since we are the members of the body of Christ (1 Cor 12:12,27; Eph 4:12; Col 1:18). In all of this I see no conflict between the two views. If there is any victory at all whether it is the personal battles we have or the final victory in the great controversy, it is because it involves, "Jesus Christ and Him crucified" (1 Cor. 2:2 NKJV) for without Him there is nothing.

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  14. Good point, Robert. I guess we needed a few days to digeste this article. On the end there is no shame for author. Deep text, if posted on monday then we will come to it by friday.

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