The time during which Amos preached was a bleak time for Israel. It was not bleak because they were experiencing famine or financial loss – far from it. Financially, The Northern tribes of Israel were alive and prosperous to the greatest degree that they had ever enjoyed. Money was flowing in because of corruption, and oppression of the poor caused the rich of their society to dwell in great ease and comfort (4:1).
They were corrupt in every way and enjoyed luxury at any cost – sacrificing moral, political, and religious integrity for gross extravagance.
During this time of affluence and complacency, God called upon Amos to warn them – the wealth and extravagance they were enjoying would come to an end. This was the last period of wealth and prosperity before depression was to hit. They had to change, or they would suffer the consequences of their wanton extravagance, immorality, and oppression (Amos 4:6-12).
God wanted them to know, however, that as bad as they were, there was still the ability to change their situation. He still wanted them to be His people.
“For thus says the LORD to the house of Israel: ‘Seek me and live”‘ (Amos 5:4).
In case some thought that change was possible, God reminds them of His power to create and change.
“He who made the Pleiades and Orion, and turns deep darkness into the morning and darkens the day into night, who calls for the waters of the sea and pours them out on the surface of the earth, the LORD is his name; who makes destruction flash forth against the strong, so that destruction comes upon the fortress” (Amos 5:8, 9).
God has the power to create and change, but He has to be reached for. Here He is essentially telling the Israelites, “Look for me. I made the earth and heavens. I make the night turn into day, and the day into night. Seek me, and trust in me. I can turn every situation around.”
God could completely turn the tables and change their fortunes. He could change their situation completely, and promised them that if they turned to Him they would not only live, but there would also be a radical reversal of their very selves.
“Seek good, and not evil, that you may live; and so the LORD, the God of hosts, will be with you, as you have said. Hate evil, and love good, and establish justice in the gate; it may be that the LORD, the God of hosts, will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph” (Amos 5:14-15).
They could turn from being oppressors and idolaters to being obedient children of God. For other nations looking on (and maybe even for themselves) this change may have seemed impossible, but it was not. All they had to do is seek the Lord, and seek good in the right places. God was watching over their injustice and expected them to take the first steps to change. He could change their deep darkness and corruption into light – but that couldn’t happen without their decision to let Him. They had to trust Him enough to give up their idolatry and injustice.
The Lord wanted to let them live – but for that to happen, there needed to be change.
“But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream” (Amos 5:24).
God was telling them, “Let’s have some justice. Give up your injustice and oppression. Let’s have some people who are actually behaving in the right way and doing as I have asked. I want to bless you, but in your current state of rebellion, I can’t.”
How does this apply to us today?
The same God who is able to create the stars and change the deep darkness into light is able to create a new life for us and change us completely. We, just like the Israelites, have the opportunity to change dramatically if we:
- Seek the Lord (Acts 17:26-27)
- Hate evil (Romans 12:9)
- Love good (1 Peter 3:10, 11)
- Seek justice (James 1:27; 1 John 3:17; Acts 6:1-2)
- Be righteous (1 Timothy 6:11)
We have to take the first steps, but when we do we can rest assured that God will be able to turn our entire situation around. There is hope for everyone. God promises that if we turn to Him that we will not only live, but there will also be a reversal of our very way of life.
“Assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:22-24)
This is the grace of God. God teaches us how to live, we follow Him, and He raises us a new creature.
“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works” (Titus 2:11-14).
Change is possible for anyone in any circumstance. Our part is simply to reach out and take the opportunities, trusting in the One Who created everything and can turn every situation around.
“Seek the LORD and live… He who made the Pleiades and Orion, and turns deep darkness into the morning and darkens the day into night, who calls for the waters of the sea and pours them out on the surface of the earth, the LORD is his name; who makes destruction flash forth against the strong, so that destruction comes upon the fortress” (Amos 5:6, 8, 9).
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Please contact me if you have any questions or comments about anything I have said today!
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