Read: Amos 1:1-2; 2:4-16
This is what the Lord says:
“For three sins of Judah,
even for four, I will not relent.
Because they have rejected the law of the Lord
and have not kept his decrees,
because they have been led astray by false gods,
the gods their ancestors followed,
I will send fire on Judah
that will consume the fortresses of Jerusalem.” Amos 2:4-5
“Even the bravest warriors
will flee naked on that day,”
declares the Lord. Amos 2 :16
Yep, here we go again. The Israelites are turning from God … again.
At this point in history, Israel, by the world’s standards was doing great as a nation. They were prosperous and powerful, but spiritually, they were completely corrupt.
Amos outlines that God was angry with Israel over five specific things.
- They sold the poor as slaves
- They took advantage of the poor
- They took part in perverse sexual sins
- They took illegal collateral for loans
- They worshipped false Gods
As we can tell from these scriptures, God had had enough and He was fuming mad. Talk about being in the hands of an angry God. God was angry. They knew His truth, they had seen Him work miracles over and over again on their behalf, they had been given the promised land, and still they turned and walked defiantly into sin.
In stark contrast to this section of scripture, the Bible verse my daughter and I are memorizing right now is Psalm 103:8 which says, “The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.”
I love this verse, it is comforting and encouraging, especially when we mess up and fail in our walk with God. But what it does not say is that God NEVER gets angry. He was slow to anger with the Israelites but he had had enough and was using Amos to warn the Israelites that His punishment was coming. And it did. About 30 to 40 years after Amos prophesied, the Assyrians destroyed the capital city and conquered Israel.
We love the verses about God’s love and God’s patience but not so much the verses about brave soldiers fleeing naked from God’s wrath. I don’t plan on posting that verse on my fridge anytime soon. But these verses are very important for us to read. If we don’t fully understand God’s feelings about sin and the power of his wrath, then we can’t fully understand and appreciate the work of the cross.
Matt Chandler, a pastor and speaker said, “God hates sin! It doesn’t just bother him. He hates it! You want to know how much God hates your sin, my sin, sin in general? Look no further than the cross of Jesus and the reality of hell.”
To fully appreciate and understand what Jesus did for us, we must understand God’s holy justice. It isn’t just that God has a long fuse that finally got lit by the sins of the Israelites. God is fully and completely just. The Israelites had sinned and sinned and then sinned again. Justice needed to be served. They deserved punishment.
The holy justice of God must be fully recognized. This is why we must have a respectful fear and reverence for God. Not because He is about to smite us, but because He can and has every right to smite us.
Sections of scripture like this one in Amos are so difficult to read, but are actually good opportunities for us to praise and thank God for what he has done for us. Do you fully realize, this wrath is what we deserve?
Our sin may not look exactly like that of the Israelites of this time, but the truth is we fall incredibly short every day of God’s perfection and while we were sinners, Christ died for us. You and I are no longer under His wrath but under His mercy.
It is only because of the cross that we can have forgiveness and peace with God. Because Jesus took our punishment we can experience God’s grace and mercy and love and be in a right relationship with Him.
At the cross, we see God’s holy justice at work and simultaneously see the Holy Love of God. Jesus, the Word, God in flesh, voluntarily took God’s wrath on Himself for your sins and mine. Now, we never have to flee from His presence. Let us never forget! Let these scriptures remind you not only of the wrath of God, but of His incredible mercy and love for you.
Take a moment to listen to this song and then praise God for His mercy and love.
Lord, I am so sorry for the sins I have committed against you. Thank you for loving me anyways. Thank you for your mercy. Let me never forget what you have done for me. I praise you, God, that I don’t have to fear your wrath because of the cross. Thank you for opening my eyes to my need for you. Thank you for saving me. I don’t deserve your love, but I will gratefully receive it. Help me to walk in the knowledge of your love for me. You deserve all my praise and worship. In Jesus name, Amen.