God’s Judgment and Mercy for All
Amos predicts that God will ultimately sift the people of Israel “among all the nations, as grain is shaken in a sieve” (9:9) and only the righteous will survive.
Note that this sifting is not restricted to those living in Israel but also those “among all the nations.”
Amos also warns those who long for the Day of the Lord: “Why do you long for the day of the Lord? That day will be darkness, not light. It will be as though a man fled from a lion only to meet a bear.” (5:18–19)
While the Book of Amos is primarily a book of judgment, it ends with God’s mercy and the promise that the Jewish People will be returned to their land never to be rooted out again:
“‘They will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them. They will plant vineyards and drink their wine; they will make gardens and eat their fruit. I will plant Israel in their own land, never again to be uprooted from the land I have given them,’ says the Lord your God.” (9:14–15)
So, on the one hand, we have Amos’ promise of the restoration of the Land of Israel, but on the other hand we have his warnings which are still relevant today — both for those living abroad as well as for those living in the Land.
Those days of prosperity, at least in the Northern Kingdom, made it possible for some to live extravagant lives while ignoring many of the great concepts and commandments of the Jewish Law that taught the people to practice justice and loving kindness.
We see the same situation in many nations today, and they are not immune to judgment.
Amos’ warnings extend beyond the borders of the Holy Land.
We know this is true because the Book of Amos describes God as having concern for the nations: “‘Are not you Israelites the same to me as the Cushites?’ declares the Lord. ‘Did I not bring Israel up from Egypt, the Philistines from Caphtor and the Arameans from Kir?’” (9:7)
God is not only the God of Israel; He is also the God of the entire universe.
He cares for all people everywhere, and He sees the oppressed and needy wherever they are, not just in Israel.
Amos reveals that there are dire consequence for failing to care for the poor, orphans, and widows.
When we ignore those in need, our pious displays become meaningless.
We cannot turn a blind eye to the needs of others, placing a priority on prayer services over serving Him in practical ways. Both are essential.
If we are truly in relationship with Him, it will be expressed also in our relationships with each other and our attitudes toward those who have less than ourselves.
God desires justice and yet, today, despite humankind’s knowledge and advancements, injustice is everywhere. So as Believers we have much to do.
In a world in which one child dies of malnutrition every six seconds, and refugees are fleeing for their safety, Amos’ prophecies have special relevance.
This Hebrew prophet points us to the place where worshiping Adonai and the formation of a caring, loving community intersect and result in appropriate outreach to the needy and the oppressed wherever they are found.