Amos is the Bible’s country preacher. God called this “herdsman and dresser of figs” (see 7:14) from his farm in Tekoa and sent him to preach to the wealthy, arrogant Israelites in the northern kingdom. Amos preached in a time of peace and prosperity, but Israel had a false sense of security. Although they continued to go through the motions of worship, they had forgotten God and become self-centered and materialistic. They were insulting God by pretending to worship Him, and all the while they had turned away from Him in their hearts.
The recorded prophecies of Amos begin with judgments against seven nations that surrounded Israel geographically: Damascus, Gaza, Tyre, Edom, Ammon, Moab, and Judah. Like a hawk circling its prey, God’s judgment circled Israel before it swooped down on Israel itself. Reading through these prophetic warnings reminds me that judgment follows sin as surely as night follows day. If you are bound to sin, you are bound to suffer. That’s why it is so important when the Holy Spirit convicts you of some sin, rebukes your bad attitude, or causes you to feel uneasy about the direction you are going, that you stop right then and repent. Get right with God and pursue His righteousness — or there will be consequences. God is holy and just, and must punish sin, but He delights in showing mercy when we turn to Him.
It must have broken Amos’s heart to turn to the south and prophesy against Judah, his own homeland. There was a remnant of righteous people in Judah (like Amos), but as a whole they had “rejected the law of the Lord” (v.4). Their sin as a nation was that they rejected the Word of God. As in our culture in America, the Word of God was largely ignored. There is always a price to be paid when a nation turns a deaf ear to Scripture. Verse 4 says they were “led astray” — that is always the result of rejecting God’s Word. The term translated “led astray” means to wander around aimlessly, and it was used to describe an intoxicated person or a lost sheep. The Word of God is like a compass, a map, or a GPS: when individuals, families, and nations ignore it they end up wandering aimlessly and hurting themselves and others.
As Amos turned his attention to Israel (v.6-16), the list of their sins was really sickening. They were involved in human slavery (v.6) and they were oppressing and exploiting the poor (v.7). “A man and his father go in to the same girl” (v.7) — they were openly, shamelessly immoral. God had called some of the young Israelite men into the ministry, but the people didn’t want any more preachers, so they forced them to break their vows of ministry and abandon their calling (v.11-12). God was determined to punish those sins and turn His people back to Him. As He handed down judgment, He made it clear that when their punishment began nothing could save them (v.14-16). No amount of military protection, physical strength, or courage would protect them. They had sinned, and they were not going to outrun the consequences.
Is there some sin in your life? Have you ignored God’s Word in any way? Don’t try to run from the consequences of sin. Instead, run to God as fast as you can! He gives grace to the humble and He forgives the repentant.