Roar of the Lion
Amos 1:2 / 5:4 – The Lord roars from Zion and utters his voice from Jerusalem; For thus says the Lord to the house of Israel: “Seek me and live.”
Amos was sent to prophesy to Israel and Judah during a time of great wealth and prosperity. King Uzziah and King Jeroboam II both ruled the nations respectively but they were more interested in pleasing their own desires than following the will of the LORD. They still had their temples and the priests still received the offerings and performed the sacrifices but it was all done without conviction. They were so self-involved that they did not recognise their own sin.
Amos was proclaiming the Lord’s judgement from Bethal in Israel and he began with the transgressions of six heathen territories. This surely brought joy to Israelite ears and pride in their own standing with Yahweh. They stood like the Pharisees in the New Testament, with self-praise for not being like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers. Pride has a habit of creeping in unnoticed and we need to be so careful that it doesn’t take root, for all have sinned. Israel, however, had not been seeking the Lord for a very long time and God’s patience with them was running out. They had abandoned His commands and were no longer listening to His voice. We cannot claim to love God and then do things our own way, and we cannot do things our own way without expecting God’s judgement.
The Lord had commanded the people, “You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land” (Deut15:11), but they had ‘trampled the head of the poor into the dust of the earth and turned aside the way of the afflicted.’ The cruelty to the poor and needy is mentioned 6 times in the judgement against Israel. This tells you how important the vulnerable are to the Lord and equally, how important it is that we look after them. He implores his people today, as he did then:
“Seek good, and not evil, that you may live; and so the Lord, the God of hosts, will be with you. Hate evil and love good, and establish justice in the gate… But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”
The Lord demands a righteous people, a compassionate people, a people that reflect his standards and who live according to his ways.