Hear this word, Israel, this lament I take up concerning you (Amos 5:1 NIV).
Second, Amos prophesied by describing God (5:8-9, 14-16). Who is this one who has come to judge? Israel needed to relearn the truth about the true God. The people of God are in a poor spiritual condition when they need to be taught the basics about the Lord.
He described God’s greatness by proclaiming God’s ability (5:8-9). This is a familiar teaching device in the Scriptures. Compare Job 9:9; 38:31. Here Amos reminded the people that God is Creator, Sustainer, and Ruler. The Lord is able to bring human fortifications down (5:9). We should observe how often the Bible emphasizes these truths about God. Yet it is these very teachings that the church today has lost its grip on. Evolution, the belief in the uniformity of natural causes in a closed system, and the deep dislike of God’s sovereignty have consumed the faith of the church.
He described God by his names (5:14-16). God reveals himself by his names. We do not profit from this truth like we should, and we become formal and stale in our worship. What do I mean? Three times God is called “the Lord God Almighty”. Perhaps we need to say more than just “God” to people, because the word “God” has little meaning to them. We worship the living God, the Lord God Almighty.
Third, Amos presented a way to avoid judgment (5:4-7, 10-15). Is there any hope?
Hope could be found if they would seek the Lord.
- He did not tell them to seek religion (5:5). Israel should place no confidence in religious ritual and experience. We need, somehow, to make this plain to people. God is a husband who wants no rival for his affections.
- He told them not to presume that God is with them (5:14b). A boast about God’s presence does not mean that God is really with that person. A person may give the appearance of “spirituality” when his or her heart and life are a denial of that pretense. Religion can be an empty substitute for the reality of God’s presence. Human religion cultivates conditions (set readings, recitations, robes, bells, candles, prostrations, recitations, etc.) that strive to create a “feeling” that God is present. True Christianity trusts in God’s ability to reveal himself to the hearts of the worshipers through Christ without such cultivated condition. Approach God by faith in Jesus, and you will be found by him.
- He instructed them to seek God (seek me) and not merely the benefits that God gives to us (5:4). Are we truly interested in God? Do we have a heart or passion for God? This calls us to a personal relationship with God. Later Habakkuk was to learn this truth (Hab 3:17-18).
Hope could be found if they would seek what is good. They had lost sight of what good was.
- They did not act according to justice (5:7, 12, 15). So then they needed to repent of that way of life.
- They despised those who told them the truth (5:10). We must avoid the trap of despising God’s messenger because we prefer another (cf. 1 Cor 1:10-18). Do not despise him because he is not a polished speaker. Do not despise him because you do not personally like him. Do not despise him because he tells you the truth. The most important fact about any ministry is “does it plainly tell us the truth?”
- They were, generally, overrun with sin (5:12a). They sought the wrong things (compare 5:5 with 5:14) and hated the wrong things (compare 5:10 with 5:15). Yet God still offered mercy (5:15b)! How great God’s grace is—far beyond our comprehension (cf. Is 1:10-18).
Dear friends, there remains hope for our people, if we will truly change our minds, restore God’s truth to rule our thoughts, attitudes, words, and actions, and depend on God rather than ourselves. Pray for a change in the world and life view of people so that God is supreme, honored, and loved.Grace and peace,