I’ve been reading Amos since yesterday, and it has made a strong impression on me. It’s amazing how relevant this book is today.
The first 3 chapters are an announcement of God’s upcoming wrath over the entire region, including Israel and Judah. He also says that there is no escaping his punishment.
In Amos 4-6, God explains in detail why he will punish Israel.
The Israelites bring sacrifices and tithes, but they do not fear the Lord. They bring sacrifices to look good, to feel righteous, to save themselves. But this is not the way it works. Sacrifices mean nothing to the Lord if their motivation isn’t right.
God brought many evils about his people, but they didn’t return to him.
The Service of the Israelites is worthless because their lives don’t reflect that service. They hate truth, wisdom, and justice – like in Habakkuk 1: “So the law is paralyzed, and justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the righteous; so justice goes forth perverted.” (Habakkuk 1:4)
That’s the situation in Israel. The people live like they want, and then add a few good deeds here and there to save them – even being proud about them.
God hates the petty worship of his people: “I hate, I despise your feasts, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies.” (Amos 5:21). Amos 5:18-27 sums it up very well – you should read it, you’ll see why in a minute. The Lord says that they should not desire his coming, because it will be a day of darkness to them – they will be judged.
Their only hope is to finally seek the Lord, and reinstitute justice. “Seek good, and not evil, that you may live; and so the Lord, the God of hosts, will be with you, as you have said. Hate evil, and love good, and establish justice in the gate; it may be that the Lord, the God of hosts, will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.” (Amos 5:14.15).
Hating evil, loving good, even seeking it – that’s pretty categorical, isn’t it? It applies to every aspect of a life. I’ll mention the Shema Yisrael in Deuteronomy 6 again.
What does this have to do with us? I think that many modern “christian” institutions are directly addressed by this book. That’s what modern evangelism often looks like, isn’t it? You are saved if you love Jesus. Go to church sometimes, maybe to a youth group, listen to “christian” music, maybe go to Africa for a month. And then that’s it. Who cares if you watch the same movies, play the same games, have a girlfriend, try drugs, cheat at school? You are conformed to the world in nearly every aspect, but you go to the church service once a month, so it’s okay, right? Guys, what happened to Romans 12? “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:1.2).
This passage is categorical. Our worship isn’t our songs, our prayers, or going to church every sunday. Our service is our entire life! This stuff is important. If your life doesn’t change at all, you should find out if you really know Christ at all. If you do, it’s time to act like you do! Jesus says “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (John 14:15) And “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” (John 14:21). If you love the Lord, you will change.
As for the rest: God told the Israelites what would happen to them through Amos, and this hasn’t changed. For example: “For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself.” (1 Corinthians 11:29). In the words of Paul Washer: We can’t play church. Either we Love the Lord, and worship him with our life, or our “worship” won’t mean a thing to the Lord: “Take away from me the noise of your songs; to the melody of your harps I will not listen.” (Amos 5:23). True worship is righteousness and godliness. Fittingly, the german word for godliness translates to “fear of the Lord”…
But you don’t have to worry. “Seek the Lord, and live.” “Seek me, and you will find me”. If we actively seek the Lord, we can be sure that his blood on the cross has washed away our sins, paving the way for his acceptance of our life as worship.