Day 3

Punishment for Unrighteousness

from the reading plan

Amos 3:1-15, Isaiah 59:12-21, Titus 3:1-11

Amos 3 captures what I imagine I would feel being on the receiving end of a fatherly admonition. My dad bailed when I was five, so I can’t speak as an expert here, but this is what I picture. Adolescent Alex breaks a rule, probably many rules, and eventually, a pattern emerges: This kid can’t seem to get with the program. It’s time for some tough words from a loving father. 

“You knew what you were doing was wrong, but you did it anyway. And the last time you got busted, you cried and swore you’d never do it again. As your father, it’s my job to discipline you.” And this is not a petty, “I told you so” from Daddy; this is a responsible parent holding his kid accountable for the mistakes he’s made. This is justice. 

Initially, I would be furious that my father would deal with me. But deep down, I would know he’s right.

When Amos says, “The people are incapable of doing right” (Amos 3:10), I bet the prophet’s original audience—if they were honest—would have known deep down: “He’s right. We repeatedly sin without fail.”

The reality of Israel’s guilt is reinforced in Isaiah 59, and we see God gearing up for battle. He named unrighteousness and injustice as His sworn enemies. The incorrigible children of the Father must accept their due punishment. Then, in verse 21, the Father reassures His children that the ties that bind them are ultimately unbreakable. Despite His displeasure and the magnitude of their offenses, the Father is committed to His children forever because His love is bigger than their mistakes.

In our reading from Paul’s letter to Titus, Paul describes a similar journey from wickedness to forgiveness to fruitfulness. “You remember how you used to be,” Paul writes, “and it doesn’t have to be that way anymore. God has shown you kindness and mercy that is completely disproportionate to what you deserve. Always remember how good He has been to you, and let the awareness of His love inform how you deal with others.” 

Paul reminds us that we’re no longer hopeless sinners, caught in the snares of our self-interest and incapable of doing what is right. We are heirs to a Father who has shown—through death on the cross—that He is committed to loving us for all eternity. 

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