These are notes collected from studying with brothers in Christ. Anything good comes from the Lord. Everything else is from us!
Starting out in the book of Amos this morning I immediately see God’s heart for justice. There is a lot of description of coming wrath, but it is to right the injustices that the LORD sees in the land.
1:6 ” I will not relent. Because she took captive whole communities”
1:9 “I will not relent. Because she sold whole communities of captives to Edom”
2:4 “I will not relent. Because they have rejected the law of the Lord and have not kept his decrees”
God’s wrath/judgment definitely speaks to His righting all wrongs. He is called a judge, and as such He perfectly metes out justice (with far purer motives and judgments than human judges can ever make). This will happen in the final judgment. It should terrify every single person, because we all have acted unjustly/unrighteous. But there is hope for us who have acted unjustly:
“all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood…he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.” (Rom. 3:23-26).
Note how this converges with some of what I was seeing in Joel, as well. Jesus’ death paid the just penalty for our wrongs/sins, and thus those who receive Him are completely forgiven–hallelujah and amen!!!! We are “justified” which has the word “just” at the root of it (think “made just”): A mark of the justified people is that we act justly/righteously, just as God does.
But there will be a day of wrath later (after the wrath poured out on the cross) for all injustices not covered by Christ (through people who reject His gospel). There will also be judgment of Christians for how they walked in His ways (1 Cor. 3; Rom. 14; etc.), but they don’t have to fear eternal wrath of hell in their judgments–more like our glory in the afterlife differs as stars differ in glory (see 1 Cor. 15) for how we walked by His Spirit in this life.
Another thing in Amos…
Ch. 1 shows a focus on the surrounding nations, first. It’s not until ch. 2 we get to God’s people. This breaks the pattern of God’s people first, and the nations later in other prophetic books.
Also, the number 1 thing of the surrounding nations is their mistreatment of their neighboring nations. When He gets to Israel, it becomes a bit more nuanced, but a lot of it seems to deal with mistreatment of their own people.
Amos 3:2 is powerful! – “You only have I known…THEREFORE I will punish you for all your iniquities”
Reminds me of Heb. 12…only sons God loves get his rod/discipline. And we read about the punishment a bit in ch. 4 where God talks about bringing famine, plague, drought, etc…”yet you did not return to me”. This is repeated over and over…”yet you did not return to me.” Seriously makes me wonder about what we see around us in this time of sickness, inflation, etc. Is God showing love to the U.S. in calling us to turn to Him?
Amos 3:6 also: “Does disaster come to a city, unless the LORD has done it?” I’ve known pastors who are upset you even suggest something like Amos 3:6. But here it is.
I get the impression that, while all Israel is guilty (see 3:1), the brunt of the address is to the leaders when it talks about summer and winter houses, extra taxes on the poor, etc.
Last thing for now: In Amos 4:12 it shows that they should be shaking in their boots to meet God face-to-face. And in 5:18 it says they “desire the day of the LORD!” I get the impression that they were smug and self-confident. They thought they were good with God, so didn’t fear His judgment. Wow…what a wake up call to all who profess to be good with God and don’t fear Him.
Forgive us, Lord. Humble us, Lord. Change us, Lord. Don’t look on, but stay with us to turn our hearts to You.
I’ve been noticing the same phrase in not just Amos, but many of the past few books we have read about “return to me” or “yet you did not return to me,” in the passages about judgment. The Lord keeps beckoning others to Him, giving them a ridiculous amount of chances, but eventually if they chose to rebel and not return to Him judgment will eventually come (either in this life or the next).
Notes from ESV study Bible on this passage: instead of mourning and grieving over their sins and those of their nation, the Israelites were treating themselves to the very best of life’s pleasures:
“Woe to those who lie on beds of ivory and stretch themselves out on their couches, and eat lambs from the flock and calves from the midst of the stall, who sing idle songs to the sound of the harp and like David invent for themselves instruments of music, who drink wine in bowls and anoint themselves with the finest oils, but are not grieved over the ruin of Joseph!”
Sounds a lot like our country today to me…
I think the theme of justice is key. Its an incredible book that has a lot to say about justice that is often missed. It is important to remember much of the wealth Amos is condemning here is coming from injustice toward the poor (4:1), and living in luxury without care for the needy (5:12; 8:4-6)
I was also struck by Amos 6:4-6 and thought about the comparison with our country “at ease”. My impression is that they were at ease not only with those unjustly treated but also with the idolatry and rejection of God that plagued their nation (which undoubtedly the mistreatment of others is tied with–see 1 John 4:20).
Amos 8 is so precious to me:
v. 7 – I will never forget any of their deeds…at first glance this seems contrary to love that keeps no record of wrongs (1 Cor. 13). But read on…
vv. 9-12 mentions things that are happening on the day of God’s judgment and wrath, to judge for their deeds that God will “never” forget. Namely: the sun goes down at noon… sadness happens on a feast day… bitterness like the death of your only son… the loss of God’s word.
Now just consider all that! All perfectly fulfilled at the crucifixion of Jesus where darkness happened at noon, it was Passover feast, God brings suffering and death on His only son; the personal Word of God (Jesus) is taken away. Astounding.
Then consider that this is all the penalty that Israel deserved for their sin outlined in Amos. They were supposed to received that, but here God is the one who took it on Himself.
And finally consider that even to this day, Jesus still has scars from the event. What does that tell you? God never forgets the judgment (see v. 7). All of your deeds placed on Christ are not forgotten. Just as He wants us to never forget that either.
Amos 9 (still catching up from last week):
I love that the verse about the nations/gentiles being brought into God’s people is used in Acts 15 when the church was discerning whether God was including the gentiles in his plan of salvation. They saw the testimony of God’s Spirit through signs, wonders, and visions, but then also saw that God revealed it in his word. When they saw how the Spirit and the Word, together, confirmed this, they knew it was good. Like Gen. 1:2-3 – the Spirit hovered + God spoke and light was created. This is the way to spiritual light/revelation: God’s Spirit + God’s word.