Amos 5:14-15, 18-27
Amos prophesied to the northern kingdom of Israel more than 2,700 years ago. His ministry to the northern kingdom was predated by ministries of Elijah, Elisha, Micaiah and Jonah.
“Seek good, and not evil, that ye may live . . .” (v. 14). The call for Israel to seek good and resist evil is from God. God directed Amos to deliver this message because Israel was far, far from Him. Amos was a herdsman and a native of the southern kingdom of Judah. God called him to prophesy at a time in which Jeroboam ruled over Israel and Uzziah reigned over Judah. Scholars have determine the historic date to be between 760 and 750 B.C. This would have been approximately 30 years prior to the fall of the northern kingdom of which fall Amos prophesied.
II Kings 14:23-29 paints a picture of the time. Jeroboam did evil in the sight of the Lord. Jeroboam’s evil, however, was not cause for God to shorten his reign. The Lord used Jeroboam to restore lands to Israel that had been lost to the Syrians. The nature of Israel’s evil ways is revealed in verses 11-13. The nation of Israel was guilty of oppressing its poor, afflicting the just, taking bribes, and ignoring needs of its impoverished. Israel was blind to its transgressions against God. The spiritual leaders falsely claimed that God was with them (v. 14b).
“Woe unto you that desire the day of the Lord . . .” (v. 18). The leaders did not fear the day of the Lord. They thought they were exempt from the judgment to come. Amos makes it clear that this is not the case. They could not escape judgment to come. One fleeing from a lion shall be met by a bear. One seeking refuge in a house shall be bitten by an unseen serpent (v. 19). The day of the Lord shall be darkness; there shall be no light.
In verses 21-23, the Lord makes it known that He is provoked by their insincere acts of worship. His judgment would pour forth like an overflowing river because Israel, while making claim to worshiping Him the Lord, had actually served a god of their own creation (v. 26).
Amos states that God will cause “. . . you to go into captivity beyond Damascus” (v. 27). Beyond Damascus was Assyria. This prophesy was fulfilled according to all that the Lord had said in less than a forty-year time period.
These things have been preserved by scripture for God’s purposes. They are written for our admonition (see I Cor. 10:11). Through the fulfillment of this prophecy, all New Testament believers are put on notice that all which God has said shall come to pass.
We know that our Lord shall return and that we need be ready for that day. We know that we shall stand in judgment before Him. We do not want to be like the Israel of Amos’ day.
We note that Israel of that day had two problems. First, Israel did not do as God had commanded. They looked to themselves for deliverance. Second, they did not see themselves as God saw them. Their wretchedness was hidden from them.
New Testament believers most certainly look to God for deliverance. We know with absolute certainty that it is by His grace through faith that we are saved from the great white throne judgment to come (Rev. 20:11). That certainty does not, however, preclude our erring as Israel erred. We err when we do not do as He has commanded and when we do not see ourselves as He sees us. While believers shall not stand in the judgment that awaits all who have rejected Christ, we all shall stand before the judgment seat of Christ (II Cor. 5:10) where we shall be judged according to our works. It will be a time in which every believer’s works shall be tried by fire. Some shall receive a reward; others shall suffer loss (I Cor. 3:13-15).
Some expecting reward shall suffer loss because they, like Israel, have not done as the Lord has commanded. Jesus has told us to love one another as He has loved us and Jesus also has told us to reach out to the world and declare His truth to all men and to teach them His ways. There is no substitutionary action. Every work that is not built upon Christ Jesus shall be consumed by fire.
The Lord has told us these things because He does not want us to suffer loss. He sees us as we are. He has called us to seek good, and not evil, such that we might cast a crown at His feet. The day shall come when some shall have nothing but ashes alone.
Let us buy of Him gold tried in fire and white raiment and eye salve (Rev. 3:18) that we might be ready for that day. Let us do as He has commanded.