Amos 3-4: You Only Have I Known
December 9, 2020
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
Amos declares the fundamental relational and covenantal basis for God’s judgment on his people.
You only have I known of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities. (3:2)
The “therefore” in that verse 2 is astonishing. Because God knows his people, because God has a unique relationship with his people, therefore he will not revoke the punishment. Whereas we tend to think that God will turn an especial blind eye to the sins of his people, he also expects those who call themselves by his name to follow him in actuality and fact, to live up to the reputation and relationship with which they are aligned. In the same way that the lion roars in a forest when it has prey (3:4), so God has spoken through his prophets (3:7) to genuine and true effect. This warning to God’s people is no play acting. It is real. It matters. They must pay attention. There is an urgency to Amos’ prophecy:
The lion has roared; who will not fear? The Lord God has spoken; who can but prophesy? (3:8)
Their response to these calls for repentance is merely superficial. They go through the motions at religious ceremonies and festivals but there is no reality to it whatsoever. The house of God (“Bethel”) is now the place of sinning.
Come to Bethel, and transgress; to Gilgal, and multiply transgression; (4:4)
God has done everything to reach out to his people, he has sent hunger and famine even (4:6-7), but to no effect. And so all that is left to say is: “prepare to meet your God, O Israel!” (4:12). Let us be careful not to presume on religious privileges and background as an excuse to faithless, immoral, and unjust behavior. God’s relationship with us is not a grounds to disobey him but a grounds to obey him. Let us seek God in earnestness and truth and vitality and commitment. And when we go to worship at the house of God to do so in faith and with faithfulness.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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