Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, & Micah: Day 8

Judgment on Israel and Her Neighbors

by

Today's Text: Amos 1:1-15, Amos 2:1-16, Psalm 33:13-22, Isaiah 42:10-13

Scripture Reading: Amos 1:1-15, Amos 2:1-16, Psalm 33:13-22, Isaiah 42:10-13

I have a kid who causes me to say things I never imagined myself saying. I wear myself out shouting unheeded warnings like, “Don’t make new friends in the men’s bathroom! Never ride on a bicycle without a seat! Don’t run your hands on the wooden railings!” Needless to say, when he gets a splinter in his hand, mama is not surprised.

This leaves me muttering to myself about punitive vs. natural consequences. The punitive variety means I have to impose a punishment, whereas a natural consequence means… if you walk off the edge of a cliff you naturally fall into the gorge below. It feels like a more just outcome when the judgment he needs results in a natural consequence. Then I believe the world is on my side, that he’s getting what he naturally deserves.

In the first chapter of Amos, the prophet pronounces judgment on somebody else: all the neighbors. Israel knew their neighbors were doing wrong, but did they listen? No, and now they were all going to get their just desserts. Sure, it was a pity, but there you have it: bad people getting in trouble for doing bad things.

Maybe they felt relieved, because this prophecy begins with a judgment of all their neighbors. Finally! They’ll get what they deserve. Our God is going to send fire and break down their gates. I mean, it’s a shame, and we feel bad for them. But better them than us.

But in the second chapter of Amos, God turns His wrath toward His own people. One by one, He lists the regions of judgment: Judah, Israel, Nazareth. Suddenly, both empathy and Schadenfreude, the feeling of happiness over another’s misfortune, are out the window.

The judgment is crushing, and of course, much deserved. It is tempting, seeing God’s judgment against sin, to howl in despair. Wait—us, too, Lord? And, if judgment were the end of the story, there wouldn’t be much else to do.

But the darker it gets, the bigger the cross appears. The words of judgment Amos delivered were designed to drive us to the end of ourselves, to realize that we are just like the nations—just like our neighbors, just like naughty little boys—justly deserving God’s wrath. But this should not drive us to despair, but to Christ.

Take hope, and “look, the Lord keeps his eye on those who fear him—those who depend on his faithful love” (Psalm 33:18). It is His faithful love we must look to, not ourselves. It is neither our own faithfulness, nor our own miserable failures that have the final word. All things are designed to drive us Christ-ward.

May your faithful love rest on us, Lord,
for we put our hope in you.
- Psalm 33:22

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  • Wow. What a humbling message and much needed reminder! We are all the same – sinful and deserving of God’s wrath, but so loved and saved by Christ <3

  • This was much needed for me tonight. Funny how God places things right in our faces time and time again until we literally cannot miss the point – I think I’m seeing a sign here.

  • Diane Huntsman

    “It is neither our own faithfulness, nor our own miserable failures that have the final word. All things are designed to drive us Christ-ward.”
    All the praise hands for these here truths!!!

  • Carleejanae

    This is eye-opening to me and truly humbling. God is good! God is so good! His mercy endures her forever.

    I decided to get a degree in graphic design. Everything about this field is critique and judgement. To the point I have allowed my career to trickle into my personal life of critique and judgement. Just wow! I needed this for sure.

  • Jessica cebc

    There is no scale for our sin, sin is sin no matter what. Thank you ~B~ for sharing those words. Great reminder

  • One of my daughters has moved into a phase of life and age that has her prejudging just about everything and everyone. She is quick to assume things and quick to make a judgement based on those assumptions or what she hears her friends say. Just recently we had a long conversation about this, explaining to her that thinking, reacting in that way is harsh and serves to devalue HER character. I’ve told her we all fall short here, but that our striving should be in understanding that we are all the same; run away children of God. Though some of us know Christ, we are no less in need of mercy and because, should be evermore thoughtful for those who’ve not yet come to know Him. I think of the Pharisees, they lived as though their knowledge, their position were superior to the masses and how often do we find ourselves with the same thinking today? It is easy to point our fingers and say, “Yes, they deserve wrath. They deserve what is coming to them. They are so much worse than us…” but the hard truth is, that we are just deserving as though we think are the worst among us … there is no scale for our sin, sin is sin no matter WHAT it is or how much there is. THIS is why we all need Christ. Not only is it not about how much good we do, how much striving, it is also not about how much evil we do, how much sin we’ve extolled, it is entirely about Christ, entirely about our need to know Him, to love Him, to accept Him, to share Him with others.

    I asked my daughter at one point of criticism, if she needed Christ, her facial expression changed and she admitted that she did. I then asked her if the person she was criticizing also needed Christ, she said, “yes” … then I asked, “So, therefore, you’re equal, the same?” and with a different perspective she said, “yes” again.

    I’m so thankful that in the knowledge of all the destruction in the Bible, all the detriment, the sin, the hate, God still birthed Christ for His children. And some 2000 years later, our need is no less. The Cross is as relevant today as it was then and it forever will be. Sin will come and go, hate will rear its ugly head, destruction will always be present but the Cross will always prevail.

    • Melanie Bisson

      Amen, sister!! So wonderfully said.

    • Tochi Heredia

      Wow, B. Thank you for sharing such powerful thoughts.
      I used to be just like your girl, always judging those around me. It wasn’t until I learnt to look inward at my own brokenness that I could experience real restoration and was able to extend that same mercy to others. It’s all because of Him.

      Have a great week, sister!

    • Rebekah DeLibro

      Yes! It is so easy to judge others and feel superior when we all need Christ and we are all sinners no matter how big or small the sin. Teaching our daughter and son not to judge and be compassionate and relatable to others (my husband and I fall short and need to check ourselves as well) is how we as Christians can be better in our outreach to the world.

    • Jessica cebc

      Thank you for sharing. Great reminder that sin is sin.

    • Emily B.

      Thank you for sharing this! It’s so easy to qualify and “level” our sins, but they are all equal to God. I’m glad that God is still patient and gracious with me (and all of us) when it comes to this.

    • Karen From Virginia

      Amen. So quick to judge and be proud. I need the Lord to stay fixed on Him & dependent upon His truth and forgiveness

    • Lindsey

      Thank you for your words. I needed to hear your message to your daughter for sure!

  • Jess Comp-Lewis

    I totally saw myself this morning in this list of sins. Stifled compassion. Anger tore at him continually. He harbored rage incessantly. And the Lord sent fire. I deserve fire. Thank you Lord for the cross. Thank you for your Son. May be constantly remember the sacrifice that was made so that I am forgiven.

  • Mercy Triumphs over Judgement!

  • ouwemedimo

    This scripture immediately made me ask, “do we listen to him?”, “do we truly trust him?”, “do we wait for him?”. I struggle to say yes to these questions. My mind focused brought on verses that described sins that were punished that are not unlike the ones that I do. Yes, at times I do turn away from the afflicted. Yes , at times I don’t keep his statutes. My God, all I can do is thank you for your son and your mercy towards me. I’m thinking about all of the things he had to die for so that I could be free. May I never take this for granted. May we never take it for granted. Our work on this Earth is to continue to strive his righteousness and in doing so we are Testament to who he is and we will bring others into his flock. God, I pray that you will give me and my fellow Christians the strength to work harder to be more like you, Father, and I pray that our efforts, will be reflected in the strengthening of your kingdom.

  • Thank you, Lord, for seeing us in and rescuing us from our helpless state. Praise God! Judgment is only half the story!

  • churchmouse

    Thank you for the reminder to read scripture with the focus on Christ and the cross. What doom and gloom, though justly deserved, do we read in the books of the prophets. Yet there is a thread of hope woven throughout – a thread that leads to a wooden cross. We have our own dark days, now and to come, yet there is always hope because of Jesus. That is more than enough to see us through.

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