My novel of choice over the past several weeks has been a collection of novellas by Francine Rivers entitled Sons of Encouragement. Rivers recounts the stories of five Biblical men who stood firm in the LORD despite the risks: Aaron, Caleb, Jonathan, Amos, and Silas. This weekend, I finished the story of Amos – a shepherd whom the LORD called from his simple contented life in Judah to bring a message of destruction to the nation of Israel.
Amos first brings to Israel a message of destruction to their neighboring nations: Damascus, Gaza, Tyre, Edom, Ammon, and Moab (Amos 1-2:3). With this message, I am sure the people rejoiced! Miley Cyrus would probably have made a song about a “Party in Is-ra-el!” However, the Israelites rejoicing would soon turn to scoffing and contempt as Amos brings the message of destruction and God’s justice to Judah and to Israel (Amos 2:4-16). They overlooked the rampant sins of their own while condemning those of their neighbors. Though they longed for the day of the LORD, they did not understand that they, too, had greatly sinned in God’s sight.
“'Alas, you who are longing for the day of the LORD, for what purpose will the day of the LORD be for you? It will be darkness and not light; as when a man flees from a lion and a bear meets him, or goes home, leans his hand against the wall and a snake bites him. Will not the day of the LORD be darkness instead of light, even gloom with no brightness in it?
‘I hate, I reject your festivals, nor do I delight in your solemn assemblies. Even though you offer up to Me burnt offerings and your grain offerings, I will not accept them; and I will not even look at the peace offerings of your fatlings. Take away from Me the noise of your songs; I will not even listen to the sound of your harps. But let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.’” (Amos 5:18-24)
I want Jesus’ return to come quickly. I might not be so ready for the LORD to judge the people as the Israelites were, but I am ready for Him to put Satan in his final place, to have the final victory. But as I read the story of Amos and reviewed some of the prophecies the LORD spoke through him, I couldn’t help but wonder: Sarah, where is your heart? What sin of yours are you overlooking as you look into the sins of the world? Are you blaming the world more for its current state of sinfulness more than yourself?
May the prayer of my heart and the action of my life always be: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me . . . Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit.” (Psalm 51:10-12)