In today’s Bible reading* God begins to speak through Amos the shepherd. He condemns people in the Eighth Century BC for oppressing the poor and promises that God will not relent in the punishment and exile of His people.
While God condemns surrounding nations, He specifically calls out His people, Israel and Judah. He says, “I have known only you out of all the clans of the earth; therefore, I will punish you for all your iniquities.” (Amos 3:2 CSB)
The writer of the book of Hebrews says, “My son, do not take the Lord’s discipline lightly or lose heart when you are reproved by him, for the Lord disciplines the one he loves and punishes every son he receives.” (Hebrews 12:5–6, CSB, quoting Proverbs 3:11-12)
The fact that God punishes His people proves that they are, in fact, His people. Yes, God metes out judgment on other nations, too, but He reserves special discipline for His special people.
God didn’t choose any other nations. He has a special covenant relationship with His people. And because Israel and Judah are His, he reserves special judgment for them. Although He says He will not relent, He still charges His people to repent. He says that if they will, they will live. (Amos 5:4,14) Perhaps if they seek Him, He will be merciful (Amos 5:15)
When we were in 2 Chronicles 7, I highlighted the fact that verse 14 is God’s response to Solomon’s request for God to bring calamity if His people turn from Him. And as He brings calamity on His people, if they repent, He will restore. Amos tells the people that God brought calamity on His people, but they did not turn to Him. Amos 4:6-11)
Regardless of where we are in our walk with Jesus, we can always walk closer. Amos 5:4 can be applied to Christians today. “For the Lord says to the house of Israel: Seek me and live!” (CSB)
Finally, on a side note, I saw something in today’s Bible reading that I haven’t noticed before: He condemns them for selling people into slavery. I have often thought that the Bible accepts slavery as a reality — as it treats polygamy — and instructed His people in living for Him in the midst of it. Neither slavery nor polygamy is ever praised or held in high esteem. But in Amos 2:6, God actually says that He will punish His people for enslaving people: “The Lord says: ‘I will not relent from punishing Israel for three crimes, even four, because they sell a righteous person for silver and a needy person for a pair of sandals.’” (CSB)
* Chapters covered in today’s reading: