JUNE 16 - Nº 167 Amos 1 – 9
Due to Jonah’s reluctant obedience, the Gentile nation of Assyria repented and began to worship the God of Israel—at least for a little while. Unfortunately, while Assyria was turning to God, the kingdom of Israel was turning away from Him. They grew more and more distant from the God Who loved them and wanted to provide for them. Israel’s king, Jeroboam II—the son of Jehoash, was a very strong leader. He expanded Israel’s borders and focused on strengthening his nation defensively and economically. Sadly, he did nothing to strengthen them spiritually. Instead, he led the nation even farther away from God into idol worship. Their worship of false gods caused them to focus on themselves and ignore others. In the process of increasing their own status and wealth, they treated others unjustly. So, God sent a country farmer named Amos with a message of judgment. The book he wrote is a collection of prophetic sermons, poems, and visions that God gave him. It starts by pronouncing God’s judgment on Israel’s neighbors for the evil things they had done. Then, after defending His anger toward these other nations, God turns to Israel and declares, “You are even worse than they are! You know Me—the one true God—yet you worship other gods in disgusting ways. You are leading other nations away from Me, instead of attracting them to Me. And the religious festivals you dedicate to Me are phony. You aren’t really worshiping Me; you are just showing off!” The Israelites’ disregard for God affected their behavior toward others. The way they treated the poor upset God very much. Through Amos He declared, “Because you don’t take the time to really know Me, you don’t care about the things I care about. You act like you are better than others, and yet you treat the poor as if they are worthless. You increase their taxes so much that they must borrow from you so they can pay them. Then, when they owe you money, you turn them into slaves and refuse to let them earn their freedom. You get richer by making them suffer! I am sick of your fake righteousness and your terrible injustice! So, I am sending another nation to destroy you. Look at those amazing stone mansions you just built and those lush vineyards you just planted. You will never get to live in your mansions or drink wine from your vines!” Amos reminded the people that God had already sent prophets to warn them that they would be destroyed if they did not repent. He had sent droughts and famines and locusts to get their attention. He had even allowed weaker enemies to defeat them. But they refused to turn back to Him. Now, their destruction was unavoidable. The ten tribes that made up the kingdom of Israel would soon be scattered all over the world. Amos was right. Forty years later Assyria swept in and utterly destroyed Israel (see #172.). Despite the message of judgment and doom, Amos’ prophecy offered hope. God promised that one day He would bring the people back to their land. They would rebuild their cities and live in them. They would be able to plant vineyards and drink the wine. He said, “One day Israel will have its own land and never again have to leave!”
True worship of God always involves caring for others—especially those with needs. Do you actively help the poor? Does it come from your heart—or just your wallet?