“The Lord roars from Zion and thunders from Jerusalem; the pastures of the shepherds dry up, and the top of Carmel withers.” (Amos 1:2)
Have you ever sat through a sermon and immediately thought of another person (not yourself) that “needed to hear that message”? I know I’ve done it before.
We see something similar happen to Israel, as the book of Amos opens with God condemning the surrounding nations for their sins. Ironically, Israel forgot to “take the plank out of their own eye” first and realize that God’s judgment of sin was also coming to them.
Amos was a humble shepherd, a simple man of God who likely had no formal religious training. He was from a small town in Judah, with no particular prominence to his family name. Yet God used Him to deliver a powerful prophecy and vision of judgment to Israel for their idolatry, religiousness, social injustice, and complacency.
What immediately stood out to me as I began to read Amos 1, is that God begins to immediately call out different nations through Amos, starting with the recurring phrase of:
“For three sins of _______, even for four, I will not turn back my wrath… I will send/set fire upon ________.”
This is where I imagine the people of Israel listening and cheering on Amos as he calls out OTHER nations for their sins and resulting punishment, but not Israel themselves. Similar to when we sit through a sermon or read through a Bible passage that we feel passes over us and applies to someone ELSE in our life, we fail to hear God’s voice and realize that He’s actually speaking to US.
In Matthew 7:1-5, Jesus reminds us to leave judgment of others up to Him and to assess our own lives first. When we get to Amos 2, we will see this concept as the tables turn and God’s focus rests solely on Israel.
Israel believed that they were on good terms simply because they did some religious activity, but as we’ve seen numerous times throughout the Bible, obedience (abiding in God and His Word) far outweighs sacrifice (works). The fruit of their true spiritual state was reflected by their wicked and sinful actions.
Brothers and sisters, as God speaks to us through His Word and through others, we must always be prayerful to ask the Holy Spirit, “Lord, what are you trying to teach ME?” The Lord will always work to convict us first, that we may identify and address the sin in our own lives before trying to address that of others. This is something that I am constantly working on and praying for the Lord to help me with.
God sees and judges all sin, and not just the sin of those around us- we have to check ourselves. He reigns and roars from a perfect position of holiness, and cannot absolve us, nor others, from sin without the perfect sacrifice: Jesus.
[From February 8, 2019]