Led Astray by Lies
Open Your Bible
Amos 2:4-16, Deuteronomy 6:4-19, James 2:1-13
BY Patti Sauls
Do you remember the news coverage of the 2019 fire at Notre Dame cathedral? I won’t forget the image of flames leaping through the roof and spire. Seeing such a beautiful, iconic structure scorched made my heart sink.
In our reading today, we see something on fire during the ancient era known as the divided kingdom. Something beautiful was burning. Israel was designed to be a model of what the world desperately needed: an expression of a unified people following and loving the one true God and loving their neighbors (Leviticus 19:18).
Listen, Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.
Yet the Israelites were no longer a unified nation under God. Instead, they fought amongst themselves and split into northern Israel and southern Judah. They were separated from Him, each other, and the nations around them by rejecting God’s ways.
They have rejected the instruction of the LORD and have not kept his statutes.
But God was not silent. His message through prophets like Amos was loud and clear. Amos began by calling out the violence and injustice of the surrounding nations. No one was exempt as He proclaimed God’s judgment on Syria, Philistia, Phoenicia, Edom, Ammon, and Moab. Their sins were many: genocide, slavery, and greed for land and power.
Amos didn’t stop there. It was about to get personal. God also called him to declare judgment on Judah and Israel. Instead of being a light to the nations, the divided kingdom had joined the darkness of their idolatrous neighbors. God’s people rejected His commands, worshiped false gods, oppressed the poor, and sold people into slavery. Their sins were many, and their reflection of God was scorched.
God had warned them, saying, “be careful not to forget the LORD who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery” (Deuteronomy 6:12). Sin often starts by forgetting—forgetting who God is, who we are as His people, and what we are called to do by His power.
The Israelites did forget, and so do we. There’s a reason Deuteronomy 6:4–5 was an ancient daily prayer and is still recited today. It’s the Shema (a Hebrew word for “listen, hear”), and it calls people back to the reality of the one true God. We forget Him when we reject His ways and ride the currents around us. We forget that we’ve been called for a purpose—to reflect God by knowing Him, loving Him, and living in ways that eventually bless us and the world around us.
God is not silent about sin that scorches. Are we listening? If we are, we’ll also hear of beauty from ashes and of the Light who breaks through the darkness. Like Notre Dame, we are damaged but not destroyed. Read on in Amos and beyond. Read on and hear!