Read Amos 4:6-13
One of the reasons we don’t look forward to Jesus’ coming as much is we should is, because … well, it’s hard to believe. It would be an absolute miracle, and people just don’t believe in miracles these days.
For the past 500+ years, the Renaissance, Enlightenment and Scientific Revolution have led us to a naturalistic view of the world: Real truth, natural truth, is determined by scientific experimentation. Miracles don’t mix with this naturalistic approach – hence the term “supernatural.” The backlash of this new rational order is to cast those who believe in the supernatural as superstitious, backward and irrational. If there’s one doctrine we get mocked about more than any, it’s the idea that Jesus is going to come back and make everything right.
What does this have to do with Amos 4?
In these verses, Amos makes a list of disasters that had befallen Israel: Famine (v.6), drought (v.7-8), crop disease (v.9a), infestation (v 9b), and pestilence (v.10a). These kinds of events are happening all over our world right now. But, for the most part, the intelligent people of the western world have disassociated these things from God. Instead, we call them “natural disasters”.
Amos also describes wars (v.10b-11). We don’t call these “natural” disasters, but we still don’t attribute these to God. These are our issues as humans. We’re the sovereign creators of our own hostilities. So, neither wars nor natural disasters seem to make us think much about God.
God, Amos, and the ancients, didn’t see it like this. God makes it clear that there are no natural disasters. They are God-disasters. “I gave you … I also withheld … I would send … I struck you … I laid waste … I sent … I killed … I carried away … I overthrew.” God is the agent of all of these acts, and He is incredibly disappointed that the Israelites don’t see that. He’s trying to get their attention! But, four times God marvels that “yet they did not return to me” (v. 6,8,9,10,11).
The result of this callous numbness to the divine initiative? “Prepare to meet your God, O Israel.” They had forgotten Him. And they’re about to get re-introduced to “the one who forms the mountains, creates the wind, reveals his thoughts to mortals, makes the morning darkness, and treads on the heights of the earth – the Lord, the God of hosts, is his name!” (v.13).
So, our naturalistic bent has turned our attentiveness to divine revelation on its head. A Biblically appropriate reaction to tragedy should be: “This terrible thing is happening – God must be real, and is getting our attention!” Instead, our unbelieving world says: “Because this thing is happening, there must not be a God, because He wouldn’t ‘let’ this happen if He existed.” The louder God screams, the harder our hearts and minds become.
So many in our modern world don’t believe God exists. But this isn’t as new as we think. It has been the case for millennia. Don’t worry! God isn’t losing sleep because of people’s disbelief. He continues to be God. He listens. He speaks. He brings down, and lifts up. He’s in control. And He isn’t moved by His approval ratings.
What He has done is promise to return. So, during this Advent season, as we look around at all the craziness and tragedy in our world, don’t be duped by your culturally-derived propensity to be a naturalist. Let the living God get your attention! Return to Him. Prepare to meet Him.