Amos Says to Worship Our God of Justice
But let justice run down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream.-Amos 5:24, emphasis added
The name Amos is derived from the Hebrew root amas, which means "to lift a burden, to carry." Thus, his name means "Burden" or "Burden-Bearer." And he lived up to the meaning of his name by bearing up under his divinely given burden of declaring judgment to rebellious Israel.
Amos ministered after the time of Obadiah, Joel, and Jonah-and just before Hosea, Micah, and Isaiah. At this time, Uzziah reigned over a prosperous and militarily successful Judah. He fortified Jerusalem and subdued the Philistines, the Ammonites, and the Edomites. In the north, Israel was ruled by the capable King Jeroboam II. Economic and military circumstances were almost ideal, but prosperity only increased the materialism, immorality, and injustice of the people (2:6-8; 3:10; 4:1; 5:10-12; 8:4-6). During this time period, Assyria, Babylon, Aram, and Egypt were relatively weak. Thus, the people of Israel found it hard to imagine the coming disaster predicted by Amos. However, it was only three decades until the downfall of Israel.
In Amos 3:1-6:14 God explains the purpose of the judgment, 7:1-9:10 pictures the judgment, and 9:11-15 predicts the yet-future restoration of Israel and its prosperity. Seven practical lessons can be learned from understanding God's judgment in this prophecy:
1. God patiently gives the nations time to repent before judgment falls. The lesson: Be careful to heed God's warnings in your own life.
2. God is no respecter of nations; all will be judged for their sin. The lesson: Be patient during personal chastisement. A proper response will yield "the peaceable fruit of righteousness" (see Hebrews 12:3-11).
3. When the cup of sin within a nation is full, judgment will be irrevocable. The lesson: Be evangelistic while there is still time; point as many as will listen to Christ's salvation.
4. God is sovereign over all nations, choosing the time of their rise and fall. The lesson: Be trusting God for His perfect timing.
5. Nations are held accountable for brutal abuse shown to countries captured in war. The lesson: Be praying!
6. God's standards for judging nations are similar, but the results differ. The lesson: Be cautious in your responses to world events.
7. God brings judgment on leaders and nations who perpetrate fraud, oppression, and violence against their people. The lesson: Be righteous in all your dealings, and especially with the poor.
We live in somber times, and must seriously deal with sin lest our usefulness for Christ be hampered. Here is the key to lasting victory: Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:16-22).
To read God explain why He judged the various nations, click here.
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