Calling God’s people back to truth is not easy. It often means calling people to abandon what they love, which is the reason for a couple of the more famous “sound bites” from Amos:
Amos 4:1 “Hear this word, you cows of Bashan who are on the mountain of Samaria, Who oppress the poor, who crush the needy, Who say to your husbands, “Bring now, that we may drink!””
Amos 6:1 “Woe to those who are at ease in Zion And to those who feel secure in the mountain of Samaria, The distinguished men of the foremost of nations, To whom the house of Israel comes.”
But it’s often the very things that we love the most that are the most powerful idols of our lives. Let’s see what else Amos says…
Meat hooks and fish hooks
Amos 4 has a resounding theme: “Yet you have not returned to Me.” Time and again God has sent not only His prophets but also disaster — a proverbial 2×4 between the eyes — to get Israel’s and Judah’s attention; yet they had not returned to God. As a result God was going to come in with the “big guns”, the Assyrians, who would conquer them and take them off into exile — literally with meat hooks and fish hooks. Yes, there are relief portraits on the Assyrian kings’ throne room walls of taking captives off with literal meat hooks! People struggle less, when you do that; and you terrify everyone who even gave a moment’s thought to resisting them.
It didn’t have to be this way; just a few verses later God appeals to them once more: “Seek Me that you may live.” And it has always been this way; God will make His appeals to us again and again — sometimes through His word, sometimes through consequences of our sins, sometimes through God-ordained punishment. We can return to God the easy way or the hard way.
Hate evil, love good, and establish justice in the gate
Amos 5:14,15 is often called the heart of the prophets in that it expresses succinctly the message of all the prophets. Now, part of this passages commands that we “hate”. That’s pretty strong language, especially for our politically correct world. We’re told that we may not agree with something, but that we certainly shouldn’t hate something; we should be tolerant and inclusive and non-judgmental. Now, I’ll agree that hating people is certainly forbidden by the Lord, but it is OK to hate sin, hate an evil behavior, or hate deeds of darkness. And it is OK to kindly let men know that their immoral behavior is wrong — Jesus, Paul, Peter, John, Jude, and James all did. It has been 1) the tolerance of the deeds and 2) the almost eager acceptance of people who unrepentantly do immoral things that has greased the slippery slope of the moral decay of our society. It’s alright to have some strong feelings about right and wrong — we simply need to be careful to hate the sin, but love the sinner.
See you tomorrow, Lord willing.