Today’s Reading: Amos
Indeed, the Sovereign Lord never does anything until he reveals his plans to his servants the prophets. – Amos 3:7
God used MANY prophets during the days of the kings to warn His people of what was ahead, an attempt to draw them out of their sin and back to Him. Amos was one of those men, only he would not have considered himself a prophet. Amos was simply a shepherd with a heart open to doing anything God asked him to do, even if he felt unqualified for it. Here is what Amos had to say about his call from God:
“I’m not a professional prophet, and I was never trained to be one. I’m just a shepherd, and I take care of sycamore fig trees. But the Lord called me away from my flock and told me, ‘Go and prophesy to my people in Israel.’ – Amos 7:14-15
I love his heart! I love how Amos was just minding his own business, doing his thing, when God called him away to do His work, and Amos responding with a willing heart. This is in direct contrast to what was happening among God’s people at that time. Amos’ call was to speak of God’s judgment on His people. Here was God’s accusation against His people.
The behavior of God’s people, the nation of Israel & Judah as well as six other nations, could be narrowed down to three words – arrogance, selfishness, and pretense. They put their own selfish desires for luxury before the needs of others around them. They were abusive and oppressive to those who had less than they did – the weak, the needy, and the poor. They ignored the needs of others and filled their hunger for earthly possessions. Because of this, God’s judgment was going to fall HARD on these people.
This should be of significance for those of us who have been blessed with so much. God was clear in Amos’ prophecies that He was done with the arrogance of a nation who felt they were better than others. He was going to punish this selfish generation who put their own needs ahead of the needs of others. He was bringing judgment on those who continued to go through the motions of worship and the rituals of sacrifice but who were not living a lifestyle of sacrifice and worship.
God did not choose judgment before first drawing His people to Himself, but they would not listen.
“I brought hunger…but still you would not return to me…
I kept rain from falling when your crops needed it the most…but still you would not return to me…
I struck your farms and vineyards…but still you would not return to me…
I sent plagues…but still you would not return to me…
I destroyed some of your cities…but still you would not return to me…
THEREFORE I will bring upon you all the disasters I have announced.
Prepare to meet your God in judgment, you people of Israel!” – Amos 4:6-12
God is not part of this world and cannot be manipulated by it. He determines how people can come to him. Attending church regularly, paying tithe and going through the rituals of being a believer are not substitutes for a GENUINE heart.
“I hate all of your show and pretense – the hypocrisy of your religious festivals and solemn assemblies. I will not accept your burnt offerings and grain offerings. I won’t even notice all your choice peace offerings. Away with your noisy hymns of praise! I will not listen to the music of your harps. Instead, I want to see a mighty flood of justice, an endless river of righteous living. – Amos 5:21-24
“You sing trivial songs to the sound of a harp and fancy yourselves to be great musicians like David. You drink wine by the bowlful and perfume yourselves with fragrant lotions. You care nothing about the ruin of your nation. Therefore, you will be the first to be led away as captives. Suddenly, all your parties will end.” – Amos 6:5-7
God declares – THE PARTY IS OVER! God’s people had a false notion of privilege. They continued to live a life of self-indulgence and spoke of how they were looking forward to the day of the Lord but they did not realize the Lord was coming not to absolve their sinfulness but to punish them. They believed the covenant God had made with His people allowed them to live as they pleased – arrogance, selfishness and pretense – but God required righteous living. They lived as if God owed them salvation and eternal life because of a decision made a long time ago. But God does not ignore sin (7:8). This is His call to His people:
“Come back to me and live!…
Do what is good and run from evil so that you may live!
Then the Lord God of Heaven’s Armies will be your helper, just as you have claimed.
Hate evil and love what is good; turn your courts into true halls of justice.
Perhaps even yet the Lord God of Heaven’s Armies will have mercy on the remnant of his people.” – Amos 5:4b,14-15
Lord, forgive us for our moments of arrogance when we think too much of ourselves and too little of others. Forgive us for living comfortably with all you have blessed us with while others around us are in need. Forgive us for our attitudes of privilege and expectations of rewards because of a decision we made a long time ago, when we have stopped living the righteous life you have called us to. Open our eyes and call us out of our own agendas for today. We desire to respond to your call on our lives and do whatever you are asking us to do. Thank you for being a God who loves us enough to draw us to yourself. Thank you for your love and for your justice. Amen.