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September 11, 2018

THE GEORGIA CAPITOL DEVOTIONAL - 11 September 2018

Israel confessed faith in God with her lips, but demonstrated disdain toward him through her idolatry and injustices. The nation was proficient in maintaining an outward appearance by performing much of the divine requirements. They celebrated feast days and joined together in “solemn assemblies,” and brought burnt and peace offerings to the Temple (Amos 5:21-23). The nation, however, was inundated with corruption and injustice (5:12); therefore, God hated and despised the religious rituals (5:21). God’s response was that the nation would reap what they had sown (5:11; cf. Gal 6:7).

The essential meaning of justice is agreement with a standard by which right and wrong may be measured. In the Old Testament, the standard was God’s revealed Law. In the New Testament, the entirety of the 66 books of Scripture constitutes this standard. The Word of God is the charter for a truly just society. The emphasis of the New Testament upon a personal relationship with God does not lessen the biblical injunction to demonstrate holiness and justice in society.

Justice and righteousness are not merely qualities that are related to standards of behavior, such as, what a person does or does not do. With his reflection upon the Old Testament Law, the prophet Amos focused attention upon God’s concern for people. The purpose for God’s Law to govern society means that God’s revelation was given that each person—rich or poor—would be treated with compassion and fairness. The concept of God being just is an affirmation that God is committed to practice righteousness by all people. God’s own innate passion for justice causes Him to demand that humanity must maintain the conviction to practice justice toward all people.

“‘But let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream (5:24).

“‘I, wisdom, dwell with prudence, and I find knowledge and discretion. . . . "By me kings reign, and rulers decree justice. "By me princes rule, and nobles, all who judge rightly. "I love those who love me; and those who diligently seek me will find me (Prov 8:12, 15-17).

Amos announced God’s judgment for injustice not only against Israel, but also for all nations. Israel did not abandon the worship centers — established by Jeroboam — in violation of God’s Law. Old immoralities were still practiced, even being performed supposedly in God’s honor. “For I know your transgressions are many and your sins are great, you who distress the righteous and accept bribes and turn aside the poor in the gate” (Amos 5:12). True worship is not following traditions, but seeking God in obedience. God’s concern was not for restoring appropriate forms of worship; rather, He desired the nation to restore His values for justice. God detests any worship that does not promote justice and righteousness consistently on a daily, ongoing basis.

Those who truly worship God must be committed to “seek good and not evil” with all people; it is then that the blessing of the Lord is realized. “Hate evil, love good, and establish justice in the gate!” God cares very much for the heart of his people. A people or nation who reject his values of justice and righteousness by abandoning themselves to pleasure and wealth, and oppression of others will experience his punishment. The message of Amos demonstrated that Israel was beyond the opportunity for repentance, and therefore the nation would experience God’s discipline for living the exact opposite of God’s expectations. Truly, it is a sobering thought to desire repentance, but find that the opportunity has been lost (cf. Heb 12:17). God will fulfill his mandate for justice and righteousness, even if it means bringing the Day of the Lord as a time of darkness for his people. God’s Word is certainly relevant to exhort us to pursue true worship and authentic living through our expression of justice and righteousness.

REMINDER: for the month of Septemberthe Capitol Commission (interim) Bible Study is the 3rd Tuesday, 18 September (due to my visiting Congress last week, in addition to many being out-of-office for Labor Day, and to coincide with the Public Service Commission devotion).

Interim Bible Study

is next Tuesday, 18th of September
Room 123 CAP, Georgia Capitol, @ 12 Noon