December 15, 2015
THE GEORGIA CAPITOL DEVOTIONAL - 15 December 2015
"Does a lion roar in the forest when he has no prey? Does a young lion growl from his den unless he has captured something” (Amos 3:4). A lion will roar or growl for a reason: prey has been captured. Consequently, the actions of God occur with reason, especially considering if individuals and nations have not practiced justice and righteousness (5:23-24). Without the blessing of the Lord God, the “‘people will stagger from sea to sea and from the north even to the east; they will go to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, but they will not find it” (3:12).
The sermon from the prophet Amos demonstrated that there is a causal relationship between social inequities and spiritual injustice. Amos depicted the women of Israel in an unflattering manner. They were “cows of Bashan” who were well-nourished and sought the focus of attention at all the socialite parties; in the process of their revelry, the women oppressed the poor, crushing the needy for the sake of their partying (4:1). The spiritual sins of the people were regarded with irony (4:4-5). As opposed to true worship that seeks to praise God, the people decided to satisfy their need for enjoyment by gathering together to continue sinning in a religious setting. The lack of repentance resulted in God’s dreaded “therefore.” As a consequence of both social and spiritual sin, the people must prepare themselves to meet their God in judgment (4:12).
The final address of chapters 3—6 concludes God’s response to the nation’s apathy toward social inequities and vacuous religiosity. The apathy is expressed as a consequence of the luxurious position of the dignitaries. Wealth can never provide lasting security to a people who do not obey and worship God. Banquets are not inherently sinful, which is evident in the fact that Jesus often attended such social occasions. Sinful parties, however, make a mockery of God.
Amos portrayed the luxury as the expression of spiritual laxity, which pervaded the city and allowed moral corruption to continue (cf. Esth 1:1-12; Isa 28:1-3; Dan 5). The carefree and self-confident would be the first to experience captivity because they did not seek the Lord (Amos 6:1-6). Amos (ch. 6) abounds with lessons concerning the futility of misguided confidence. The vain trust that is described in this chapter is an obvious contrast to the gentle and humble proffer that Christ offers to sinners in Matthew 11:28-30.
The message of Amos (ch. 6) is warning against false security. A nation or people cannot continue to live in peace and security, yet mock God with corruption and immorality. History is replete with fallen empires of the past, including ancient Rome and the 20th century Soviet Union. What God asked of ancient Israel is appropriate for any nation: “Are they better than these kingdoms?” (6:2).
All people are measured by God’s absolute standard. Doom, gloom, and judgment of sin are never a popular message, especially if the words are directed against us. The message of Amos was direct, and therefore uncomfortable for his listeners. As opposed to heeding the message of God, the people forsook his Word, and even attempted to silence and oppose the Lord’s messenger.
The message of judgment against the house of Jeroboam was offensive to the king, and Amos was commanded to return home and make his livelihood there (7:12-13). Amos replied that he was not speaking because it was his desire (7:14-15). Amos was not motivated by personal benefit in proclaiming his message, but confessed that the only reason for his proclamation was the command of the Lord God. The refusal of the people to hear and heed God’s Word would result in judgment (7:16-17).
Proclaiming God’s truth to a sinful world is never a popular thing to do. However, the message of God’s Word is unambiguous against any who would squelch his truth. The fate will be the same for any nation or people who attempt to hinder or silence God’s Word. May it not be true of you and me, but let us humbly “seek good and not evil” so we may live joyful and blessed lives (5:13-15).
Praying for God's Grace and Peace to You,
Ron J. Bigalke, Ph.D.
Capitol Commission Georgia