The Inevitability of Accountability.
“‘My people have forgotten how to do right,’ says the Lord.” – Amos 3:10 NLT
Amos was just a lowly shepherd, an ordinary layman. He wasn’t a priest or a prophet, or the son of a priest or a prophet. He was a common Hebrew laborer. But God chose him to deliver a message to the people of Israel regarding their sin and His coming punishment. One minute Amos was tending sheep, the next minute he is the spokesman for God accusing the people of God of spiritual complacency, abuse of the poor, and empty religion. His is a message of judgment – on the surrounding nations, but on Israel itself. God makes it clear that they were His chosen people. He had hand-picked them, not because of anything they had done. Not because they were special or deserved His recognition. God had set them apart as His own. He had privileged them with His presence and given them a position of prominence among all the other nations. And how had they treated His favor? With unfaithfulness. They had received His special revelation in the form of the Ten Commandments, then proceeded to disobey the very commands they had been given. He had graced them with His presence and provided them with the sacrificial system as means to maintain their own holiness and deal with their own sin. But they had abandoned it for the worship of other gods. They treated God as just another in a long line of gods. He was not special. He was not unique. He was just a means to an end – their end. They worshiped Him only as long as He delivered what they wanted.
In these opening chapters of Amos, the people of Israel hear a message they longed to hear. It starts out with God’s plans for the nations surrounding them, including the southern kingdom of Judah. God is going to punish them all. This had to be music to the ears of the Israelites living in the northern kingdom of Israel. All of their enemies were going to be punished by God. Damascus, Gaza, Tyre, Edom, Amon, Moab, and Judah. God said that they had all sinned again and again and He would not allow them to go unpunished. This is just what the Israelites wanted to hear. Then Amos drops the bombshell. He includes Israel in the list. He accuses them of the very same sins AND MORE. They were selling their own poor into slavery in order to make a profit. They lacked compassion on the poor and needy. They were guilty of gross immorality. They were taking advantage of the poor and needy. They were idolatrous. And they were unrepentant. In spite of the fact that they were God’s chosen people.
“From among all the families on the earth, I have been intimate with you alone. That is why I must punish you for all your sins” (Amos 3:2 NLT). God had to hold them accountable. His justice demanded it. His holiness required it. He could not deal with the sins of the pagan nations and turn a blind eye to the sins of His own people. His people had forgotten how to do right. They had grown fat and happy, rich and prosperous, by ignoring the very laws God had given them. Somehow they thought they had become immune to the consequences of sin. They seemingly believed that their position as God’s chosen people was going to protect them from reaping what they sowed. They were counting on God’s justice delivering their enemies the punishment they deserved. But they were special. They were privileged. They could get away with murder – literally. Or so they thought. Not only had they forgotten how to do what was right, they had forgotten the holiness of God. They had become complacent about His righteousness, power, and passion for holiness. They feared men more than God. They desired wealth more than God. They sought after ease and comfort more than God. They loved themselves more than they loved God. Could the same thing be said of us today? As God’s chosen people, are we just as guilty of spiritual complacency and apathy. Can we justify our sins and somehow think we can somehow escape the consequences of a lifestyle that is devoid of God? The warning from Amos is just as real today as it was then. God has not changed. He is just as holy now as He was then. His expectations have not changed. He has provided a means for us to deal with our sin. He has offered us a way to receive forgiveness. But God expects us to hate our sin and confess it regularly. He wants us to turn from sin back to Him. He wants us to obey. We are His special people, but He wants us to live like it. He has even provided us with the means to do so through the presence of His indwelling Holy Spirit. But have we forgotten how to do what is right?
Father, refresh my memory today. Help me remember how to do what is right, what You desire of me. Don’t let me become complacent, cocky and self-assured just because I have a relationship with Your Son. I want to live like who I am in Christ. I want my lifestyle to reflect the life change You have made possible. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men