Second Thursday of Advent
Read Amos 5:1-9
If you actually enjoy bringing bad news, you’re pretty terrible.
Amos wasn’t like that. He had a stern word for Israel … but he wasn’t like a young child who takes a perverse delight in narking on a sibling. He doesn’t want his brothers and sisters to get in trouble with the Father. No … his prophecy is a lamentation (5:1). He wishes it wasn’t true. But it is.
And it’s grim. The Word of the Lord to Amos is predicting a 90% military slaughter (5:3). Imagine this: In World War II, the U.S. had over 16 million people in the armed services. The total number of casualties? Over 400,000. That’s absolutely awful … but it was a mere 2.5%. To match Israel’s prospect, the U.S. would need to have lost over 14 million people. Can you even comprehend that kind of grief? And what such a defeat would do to your national identity?
With tears in his eyes, and a clear vision of Israel’s tragic trajectory, God cries out to His chosen people through Amos: “Seek me and live! Seek the LORD and live!” The choice seems so clear. But their hearts are so hard.
This call to seek God, by the way, was not a call to get religious. The LORD says clearly, “Don’t seek Bethel. Don’t enter Gilgal. Don’t go to Beersheba” (v.5). These were the religious centers of Israel. Each place had deep religious roots (Bethel/Jacob, Gilgal/Joshua, Beersheba/Abraham). But these places had grown spiritually cold because of Israel’s injustice and unrighteousness, and would be of no help to them now. It wasn’t a time to get religious – it was time to go to God directly, and personally. “Seek me and live!”
Against this harsh projection comes a beautiful reminder. “Get up early, and go to the beach. Take in the sunrise. Watch the waves crash on the shore. Enjoy the sunset. Now look at those stars! The one who made all of this … it’s the LORD! You can enjoy all of this, and the God Who made it! …”
“Or you can experience the destruction that I can make happen just as easily” (cf. v.8-9).
The imminent return of Jesus, and therefore the season of Advent, should cause us to think very soberly about the state of our souls, the state of our churches, and the state of our world. Are we seeking God, and living? Are our churches, today, centers of real seeking and living? And, does the unbelieving world know how high the stakes are when it comes to God’s call to seek Him, and live?
Tomorrow, Amos will reinforce the gravity of what it means that Jesus is returning. We’ll pick it up then in verse 10 …