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Monday, January 8, 2018

God’s Ever Flowing Stream”

Amos 1:1-10

The prophet Amos lived in a time of prosperity in Israel.  God had given Israel and Judah victory over their enemies (I Kings 14:23-27; 20:23-34).  Israel felt secure in the knowledge that they were God’s chosen people.  The fact that God had called them to be his people soon became a point of pride.

Into this situation steps the prophet Amos.  His message is direct and specific: “The Lord roars from Zion.”  What does this mean?  It means that God is not an outside observer in human affairs or history.  God acts and responds to actions and events.  It also signifies that God is Lord over all.  He is not only the God of Israel.  He is the God of all people, all nations.  Every person and group is accountable to him.

Amos then proceeds to give God’s verdict on a number of Israel’s neighbors.  Nothing escapes God’s attention.  Amos’ initial oracle would have been seen very favorably by the people of Israel.  They believed the nations around them were corrupt.  God should judge them.  God is a God of justice.  He shows no partiality (Acts 10:34).  Damascus, Gaza and Tyre all represented enemies of Israel.   Each in their own way were brutal and prideful.  These people ignored the God of Israel.  They trusted in their idols.

Yet God was not ignoring them.  The hope in these judgmental statements is that God will carry out his purpose of justice and mercy with everyone.  Evil and injustice will never have the final word.  Corrupt nations and empires may last for a while.  There is however an ultimate accounting that cannot be evaded forever.  In the final analysis it is Jesus no less who judges the nations (Matt. 25:31-46).

This is our hope in an often violent and conflicted world.  God may delay but he is neither absent nor silent.  We like Israel can find hope in this truth.  At the same time, we will need to learn a lesson that Israel also had to learn.  God holds his own people accountable.  As Peter says, “judgment begins with the household of faith” (I Peter 4:17). We are not immune.

Amos is just beginning.

Gracious and loving God, may I take hope in the fact that you have the final say in human history.  May I also remember that I am accountable to you.  May this fact guide me not only in this new year but in all years.  I pray this in Jesus’ name, Amen.