By Russ Ramsey
At some point in your life, God will discipline you. And it will be because He loves you.
Amos is a bit of an outlier in the world of Old Testament prophets. His ministry was to Israel, even though he was from Judah. He even says that he wasn’t a prophet or the son of a prophet when called—he was a shepherd (Amos 7:14). But the Lord called him to speak, so he spoke. What did he prophesy about? A superficial religion that Israel inherited and also perpetuated.
Amos prophesied during a time of prosperity and strength in Israel. Things were good. Stable, even, under the long rule of King Uzziah. It can be hard to hear a challenging word when everything around you seems to be working. It can be hard to see your religious practices as superficial when the movement they create seems popular and growing, especially when it serves you well.
But today’s passage lays out some dark sins—human trafficking, oppression, exploiting the poor, and violating the consciences of the weak, among others. Amos tells his audience that they inherited these patterns of sin from the generations before. Still, they would nevertheless face judgment for their complicity in them because they continue to carry them forward. The Lord would judge them all, and none would escape (Amos 2:13–16).
For those of us who have trusted in the finished work of Christ, we are reminded both that God’s wrath has been satisfied, and His heart remains committed to redeeming all injustice and protecting the poor and vulnerable.
In today’s reading we’re reminded that the appearance of strength means nothing to God. Israel’s army would be the odds-on favorite in battle, but the Lord said they would all fall under His judgment. This is important to remember. You cannot build a kingdom so strong or manipulate a system so cleverly that God cannot upend it in a second. He will do what He will do, and His ways will be righteous.
As we live, it’s inevitable that we will experience the discipline of the Lord. He will graciously reveal the plan or scheme you have put in place to hide your sin or advance yourself. And every time He does, it will be because of His love for you, seen in how His ultimate judgment was not poured out on you but on Christ. When He thwarts you, it is not to harm you but to rescue you.