Sometimes we go deep in our teaching and devotions, sometimes we go wide to look at the general principle being communicated, it’s all part of taking the whole counsel of God’s Word. Yesterday was more of a deep dive into a singular verse, today a wide view of a chapter; what is being taught here?
Well, v.2 sets the tone for the coming chapters,
“…”The LORD roars from Zion and utters his voice from Jerusalem; the pastures of the shepherds mourn, and the top of Carmel withers.”
Carmel is a mountain in Northern Israel we read of in 1 Kings 18 and serves as a reminder of idolatry and the enemies of Israel; basically they are going to shake at what is coming to them.
The rest of today’s passage is very formulaic, it follows a set pattern. Each of Israel’s neighbours (Amos almost drew a descending concentric circle around Israel as he wrote) has sin, upon sin, upon sin, upon sin; For three transgressions…and for four…I will not revoke the punishment…So I will send a fire…
In the Old Testament, fire is a very literal, physical tool used in the judgement of God, in the New Testament, it is more of a spiritual thing, think 1 Peter 1,
“6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith–more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire–may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
The point from Amos 1.2-2.3 is this; even though these are not God’s people (that is tomorrow), even though they are not professing to live by God’s Word, abide in His will, follow His ways, even though they not believers their sinful lifestyle will still result in punishment from the just, righteous, Almighty God.
They are still humans made in His image, they still have to make a choice as to their eternal destination, and God still wants them to choose the right way, and through His absolute impeccable character and holiness will act if they do not.
Surely, then, this must motivate us to live the most consistent witness we can, to show people that there is another way to live.
Surely this should stoke the fires of evangelism within us, to tell people that there is another way through our words and ways.
And surely this should renew within us a healthy respect and reverential fear for our great God, to make us know deep down that He is so holy and just and righteous that the behaviours and lifestyles we read of here are simply not acceptable before Him.
There is some pretty challenging stuff to come in Amos, but, the last verse of the last chapter points to our salvation – and we will point to this verse often -, the reward for not living in sin, upon sin, upon sin, upon sin,
“I will plant them on their land, and they shall never again be uprooted out of the land that I have given them,” says the LORD your God.” (9.15).