This week I have been preparing a sermon from Amos chapter five.
I have been struck by God’s lament over the sins of his people.
Lately we have been looking at the book of Lamentations and how God’s chosen people lamented over the trouble that had come upon them – specifically, the exile into Babylon and the painful experiences they endured at the hands of wicked people.
We’ve talked about our own laments and our questions about how we might seek God in the midst of life’s darkest days.
In Amos we see lament in a different light. Around one hundred and fifty years before Lamentations, the prophet gives us a glimpse of how God lamented the wrongdoing of his people. This is certainly not the only place in scripture but considering its placement in time, in relation to Lamentations, it seems pertinent.
There are two words in Amos chapter five that Biblical scholars suggest are crucial for understanding the book.
These are ‘Justice’ & ‘Righteousness’.
These two words epitomize what God lamented about the actions of the people of Israel.
Justice was not done, there were crooks everywhere! The scales were uneven as it says in other parts of scripture. Everyone was out for themselves and their own gain. No one was standing against the evil that was occurring in their midst, they just let it slide on by.
Righteousness was not the order of the day either. Unfair relationships existed amongst the people. The poor were exploited, and people abused rather than used to their fullest potential. Good was on the margins. Being righteous was a nice thought, but the people didn’t have any desire to live this way in reality.
What God wanted for his people can be seen clearly in chapter five:
But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. Amos 5:24
How God longed for his people to repent – to stop giving lip service and start living for justice & righteousness.
For it to flow like water throughout their lives!
Never do I want to be the type of person who stands by when evil is done.
Martin Luther King Jr. said:
He who accepts evil without
protesting against it
is really cooperating with it.
I believe there is much we can learn from this. We are God’s people today.
Does God lament over our indifference or does he see us working for justice & righteousness in our lives and in our world?