Morning Musing: Amos 9:13-15

“Look, the days are coming – this is the Lord’s declaration – when the plowman will overtake the reaper and the one who treads grapes, the sower of seed. The mountains will drip with sweet wine, and all the hills will flow with it. I will restore the fortunes of my people Israel. They will rebuild and occupy ruined cities, plant vineyards and drink their wine, make gardens and eat their produce. I will plant them on their land, and they will never again be uprooted from the land I have given them. The Lord your God has spoken.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Did you ever have someone break something of yours and then try to make up for it with something else that wasn’t as good as the original? When someone has broken something of ours, we don’t just want it replaced, we want it replaced with something of the exact quality or better. There are many descriptions of how God plans to restore His creation. Some of them are more helpful than others. None of them really gives us anything like the details we’d really like to have. Where Amos ends his prophecy, though, gives us a couple of big picture clues that are worth noting. This morning, we are going to finish up this particular journey and talk about God’s big plans for making things better.

Amos has been a tough journey. It’s been tough on a number of different fronts. While I have made several journeys through the prophets over the years (including a trip through the Minor Prophets here a few years ago), I haven’t done anything like this kind of a deep dive into one before. Perhaps the biggest reason for this was my concern that I wouldn’t be able to glean enough from it to make it worthwhile. That’s silly, I know, and ultimately betrays a lack of trust in God’s Spirit to allow me to understand what has typically been a pretty hard to understand part of the Scriptures for me. I suspect, though, that puts me in fairly good company.

More than my reticence that has proven completely unwarranted, though, Amos has been a tough journey because of the message he had to proclaim to the people of Israel. I have made the point many times that Israel is Israel and we aren’t, and that messages for Israel in the prophets cannot be taken as messages for us with anything like a one-to-one correspondence, but the themes here and what we find revealed about God’s character along the way has been challenging. If Amos doesn’t prompt you to pause and take stock of your own commitment to furthering God’s justice in your community, then you probably aren’t reading it closely enough.

The God we serve is a just God. Justice is fundamental to His character. All justice in this world flows out of who He is. Where we are participating or even simply allowing injustice to exist, let alone thrive, we are out of step with who God is at the most basic of levels. Injustice of any kind absolutely won’t be tolerated in His presence. It can’t be. What’s more, where injustice exists, He is eventually going to destroy it. He will punish those who are involved with it, and make right all things that were set wrong by it.

It is His fury against injustice that is another part of what makes Amos such a challenging read. God was really angry with the people of Israel. The kind of destruction He proclaims He is bringing against them in response to their incorrigible commitment to sin and injustice is unnerving to say the least. We like to think of God as all love and mercy and compassion and kindness. And He absolutely is all of those things, but He is also holy and righteous and just and has a wrath against sin that burns hotter than a thousand suns all going supernova at the same time. That last part is disturbing to think about…unless you are someone who has been the victim of some gross injustice. Then, it is good and comforting to know that there is a God who is so fully in your corner, and who shares your rage. Not only that, but He has both the power and the wisdom to do something about it.

These kinds of calls for judgment and destruction are what the prophets are perhaps best known for. They are what get God labeled as angry and vengeful. They make people simultaneously (and ironically) both fear Him and not take Him seriously. Yet if this is all you see, again, you’re not reading closely enough. While there is plenty of judgment talk in the prophets, there is even more talk of restoration. More importantly than that, they all end on a note of restoration. You see, with God, judgment is never the final word. Where He brings His just judgment to bear, it is always for the ultimate purpose of bringing restoration and reconciliation.

After all the anger and judgment we have seen in Amos’s prophecy, we absolutely cannot miss the fact that he ends with what we see here. In spite of the judgment He is going to bring on sin and against sinners, there is a day coming…

There is a day coming when blessings will flow. When what was broken will be restored. When what was taken will be returned. When what was lost will be found. When relationships will be reconciled. When those who were scattered will be regathered in a great and grand reunion of the saints. And when all of this has taken place, this final state of affairs will be a permanent one.

What Amos offers us here is good news. It is the good news that God is going to make everything right once again. This is a theme that runs throughout the Scriptures. It repeats over and over and over again because we need the hope this offers us. Our God wants us to know that at the end of the day, He is going to make all things new, and that everyone who is willing to follow Him into that glorious future will get to be a part of it. He won’t force anyone into it, but everyone will be invited to be a part of it. He wants us to know that no matter how bleak things look here and now, this is not the way they will be forever. At the end of the day, this is His world, and He is going to make it like He wants it to be. If you have given your life to Christ, you will be a part of this restoration. Today is a great day to do that if you haven’t done it before. I hope that you will.

Up next, Lord willing, will be a conversation about our stuff and how we can be better managers of what God has given us. Have a great weekend.

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