Advent Wednesday 1
Read: Amos 1:11-2:3
After speaking to those nations – those on the other side of the global political fence – Amos zeroes in on some of Israel’s traditional allies to the east: Edom, Ammon and Moab. All of these nations are “kin”, with historical ties and covenants that gave reason to all, especially God, that their conduct toward one another should be somewhat righteous.
Well, it wasn’t.
The Edomites, forever tied to Israel by its forefather Esau’s brotherhood with Jacob (Israel), couldn’t curb their anger, hostility and violence. They will lose their strongholds. The Ammonites and Moabites were the contemporary ancestors of the line of Abraham’s nephew, Lot. The Kingdom of Ammon, in their lust to expand, engaged in brutality toward the most innocent of civilians – the pregnant and unborn. They will lose their strongholds, and be taken into exile. Moab was guilty of exorbitant political incorrectness by burning the body of Edom’s king. They will lose their strongholds, and their ruler and all his officials will die. In each increasingly severe case, God is said to be kindling a fire of judgment for these extended family members (1:12,14;2:2).
When you expect the worst, and get the worst, it at least makes sense. When you have reason to expect better, only to be treated terribly … that’s a harder pill to swallow. It’s those closest to us that can hurt us the most, and that we can hurt the most, too.
During Advent, we do what’s necessary to prepare for the coming of Christ. Jesus told us to “Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are on the way to court with him, or your accuser may hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you will be thrown in prison” (Matthew 5:25). We’re on our way to court right now – the judge is about to return. It’s a good Advent exercise, in preparation for the judgment to come, to ask these questions: “Who am I hurting? Who is crying out to God right now because of some pain I’m bring to their life? Is my rudeness, anger or lack of mercy bringing harm to others?”
If the answer to any of these questions is “yes”, then we should come to terms, quickly. Amos tells us how the Judge feels about people who damage others, especially those whose relational proximity would leads us to expect better. On the other hand, God’s heart is warmed by reconciliation. What do we want Jesus to find in our lives when He comes?
So, take a look at your relationships. Make them better. Pray over them, repent of bad behavior, and choose to act with love. Give God the gift of reconciled relationships. He’ll like it, you’ll like it, your friends and family will like it … there is much to be gained if you do, and (and Amos points out) there is much to be lost if you don’t.