Seek and You Shall Find
Continued study in the book of Amos
1 Hear this word that I take up over you in lamentation, O house of Israel: 2 “Fallen, no more to rise, is the virgin Israel; forsaken on her land, with none to raise her up.” 3 For thus says the Lord GOD: “The city that went out a thousand shall have a hundred left, and that which went out a hundred shall have ten left to the house of Israel.” 4 For thus says the LORD to the house of Israel: “Seek me and live; 5 but do not seek Bethel, and do not enter into Gilgal or cross over to Beersheba; for Gilgal shall surely go into exile, and Bethel shall come to nothing.” 6 Seek the LORD and live, lest he break out like fire in the house of Joseph, and it devour, with none to quench it for Bethel, 7 O you who turn justice to wormwood and cast down righteousness to the earth! 8 He who made the Pleiades and Orion, and turns deep darkness into the morning and darkens the day into night, who calls for the waters of the sea and pours them out on the surface of the earth, the LORD is his name; 9 who makes destruction flash forth against the strong, so that destruction comes upon the fortress. 10 They hate him who reproves in the gate, and they abhor him who speaks the truth. 11 Therefore because you trample on the poor and you exact taxes of grain from him, you have built houses of hewn stone, but you shall not dwell in them; you have planted pleasant vineyards, but you shall not drink their wine. 12 For I know how many are your transgressions and how great are your sins— you who afflict the righteous, who take a bribe, and turn aside the needy in the gate. 13 Therefore he who is prudent will keep silent in such a time, for it is an evil time. 14 Seek good, and not evil, that you may live; and so the LORD, the God of hosts, will be with you, as you have said. 15 Hate evil, and love good, and establish justice in the gate; it may be that the LORD, the God of hosts, will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph. 16 Therefore thus says the LORD, the God of hosts, the Lord: “In all the squares there shall be wailing, and in all the streets they shall say, ‘Alas! Alas!’ They shall call the farmers to mourning and to wailing those who are skilled in lamentation, 17 and in all vineyards there shall be wailing, for I will pass through your midst,” says the LORD.
Here we have God’s justice in plain and simple terms. He HATES those that oppress and tax the poor so that they can become rich. Affliction of the poor and exploitation of those that have no recourse are evil according to the Lord. Not paying fair wages, taking bribes, taxing those that can’t pay, and building your wealth on the backs of those that have nothing are all evil in His sight. As followers of Jesus, I pray that we will fight against this type of injustice even when they happen in our own country. We cannot be blinded by a nationalistic gospel, which always strays in some form from the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Gospel always confronts the right and the left, and brings us, as followers, back to the center. In our passage, God is begging Israel to return, by stopping these practices and instead of loving evil and hating good, they would begin to love that which is good and hate evil. Notice that the sins here are not necessarily sins of commission like sexual sin, lying, stealing, killing, etc. but are sins of omission. When we do not do what is right by those that are poor in the way we pay them, in the choice of products we buy, etc. we are part of the problem. God is a just God, and does not want to share His glory with anyone or anything else, and that includes our own country. What we do see however, is that He is a gracious God willing to forgive, as we turn from our sins (1 John 1:9). It is also the reason His Son had to die, so that justice would be restored, and God would be just in forgiving us all, even when we didn’t deserve it.
- What is injustice?
- Should followers of Jesus work against injustice? Explain!
- What kind of injustices do we see in our world/country today?
- Do you see the church fighting against it? How so?
- Why is the justice of God so important?