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Wednesday, January 10, 2018

“God’s Ever Flowing Stream” 

Amos 2:4-8

Up to this point Amos’ hearers in both Israel and Judah have been in agreement with him.  One can picture them nodding their approval as he relates the sins of Israel’s neighbors.   However at this point things change drastically.  Amos now brings two additional words, one against Judah and the other against Israel.  The reactions of Amos’ listeners will now change drastically.  We can imagine them saying, “How can he say this about us?  We are God’s chosen people.  We have the law of Moses to guide us.  We have been given God’s own Word.”

Amos here, following the Lord’s instruction, is using a pattern which will later be followed by the apostle Paul.  In Romans 1:18-32 Paul lays out the considerable failings of the Gentiles in the Roman Empire.  His Jewish readers would certainly have agreed with him.  However in chapter 2 Paul in effect turns the tables on his readers.  He confronts them with the fact that they are no better than the Gentiles.  All of them have sinned and fallen short of God’s will.  All are in desperate need of God’s grace  (Rom. 3:23-24).

The failings of the people of God that Amos lists here are truly appalling.  Again this is not Amos’ personal view.  Amos is simply conveying the word of God.  Judah for all its protestations of faithfulness to God has “rejected the law of the Lord.”  They have followed the same lies as their forebears.  The situation in Israel appears to be even worse.  In their economic prosperity and their sense of being protected by the Lord,  they have neglected the demands of social justice.  They have sold the needy “for a pair of sandals.”  They have trampled “the head of the poor into the dust of the earth.  They have worshiped the fertility gods of their neighbors.  This has resulted in a celebration of immorality in which “father and son go in to the same girl.”

What are we to make of this?  Judah and Israel had trusted in their history, their heritage as God’s chosen people.  Yet rather than following the true God they had allowed themselves to be seduced by the negative practices of those same nations which they had looked down upon.   The lesson here is that faith can never be taken for granted.  The lure of the world is too strong (I John 2:15-16).  It is too easy to judge the failings of others while ignoring our own.

The good news here is that God will not allow us to live in a continuing state of self-deception.  We need to be open to his correction (Heb. 12:5-11).

Eternal and loving God and Savior, keep me from being blind to my own failings.  Discipline and correct me when I begin to wander away from you.  Bring me back into your will.  I pray this in Jesus’ name, Amen.