Amos 5:14-15 - Seek good, and not evil, that you may live; and so the LORD, the God of hosts, will be with you, as you have said. Hate evil, and love good, and establish justice in the gate; it may be that the LORD, the God of hosts, will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.
The prophet Amos had his hands full. Back in the mid-eighth century B.C. when he was a "herdsman and a dresser of sycamore figs" from Judah (Amos 7:14b), he was enlisted by the Spirit of God to do some very unpleasant business. His appointed task: proclaim God's righteous judgment on sin and urge the people of Israel to repent and turn back to Him.
This was no cake walk.
With its idol worship, pagan practices, and seeking after foreign gods, Israel was a long way down the wrong road. Amos describes Israel's flagrant disregard for its own citizens. He says they sell the righteous for silver, the needy for a pair of sandals; they trample the poor and turn the afflicted away (see Amos 2:6-7). Israel was making things very difficult for itself.
The people were in dire straits, their wealth and complacency putting them on a course of destruction. The people needed a prophet. They needed someone to spell it out for them, to put it down in no uncertain terms. They had blown it; they were blowing it, and while things were looking bleak, there was still time -- there's always time -- to repent and seek God's forgiveness and restoration.
When you look at the Old Testament, the people of God were a chosen people, but they were a sinful people, too. The ups and downs of Israel's faithfulness to God is a see-saw through the centuries. On again, off again, they were fickle. They were often swept away with the prevailing tide of public opinion, or foreign fashion, or whatever "tickled their fancy."
They looked like, well, they looked like us. You see, the urge to disregard God has been part of human nature ever since the fall into sin. Long before Amos grappled with the wrongdoing around him, God has been longsuffering with ours.
Thankfully, a few hundred years after the life of Amos, God sent another prophet into this world -- a prophet who was like us in every regard and sympathizes with our weaknesses and understands the temptations we face. And while this Prophet -- Jesus -- still denounced sin and unrighteousness, He came to do something about it.
He came to set us free.
"For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him" (John 3:17).
THE PRAYER: Heavenly Father, Your Son came as Prophet, Priest, and King -- proclaiming things to come, mediating between God and man, and taking the scepter of eternal holiness. We thank You for Your patience with our weaknesses and Your forgiveness of our sins -- all through the blood of Jesus. In His Name we pray. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by a contributing writer from Lutheran Hour Ministries.
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