“Indeed, the Lord God does nothing without revealing his counsel to his servants the prophets.” (CSB – Read the chapter)
Are you the kind of person who likes to know what’s going on? Some people are go-with-the-flow people. They’re content to just sit back and let life come to them. Some are more of the type-A model. They’re the ones who sit on the top of life and are constantly leaning forward to see what’s coming next. I think I’m somewhere in the middle. I’m definitely not type-A, but I also like to be very well-informed as to what is coming down the pipe at me if I can help it. Surprises aren’t really my thing. That’s why I love what God says here through Amos.
Amos is a series of prophecies and visions directed mostly at Israel. After an opening sequence in which God reminds His readers that He is the Lord of every nation by announcing judgment over several of Israel’s neighbors (indeed, how could God pronounce judgment over a people who weren’t His?), He shifts His focus to Israel and starts blasting away.
And, in the opening sequence of judgment against Israel in chapter 2, God starts by listing out some of the sins they’ve committed. They’ve done all of this evil, they’ve allowed all kinds of injustice to flourish in spite of all He had done for them. It’s a pretty depressing picture.
But, have you ever been accused rightly of doing something wrong that you didn’t feel like you really knew was wrong? How did that make you feel? Perhaps ambushed? As much as you might have done wrong, you felt wronged. It’s not right to jump something on someone else without giving them any prior notice of what’s coming their way.
Well, put yourself in Israel’s shoes for a minute. Here you are living your life–the only life you’ve ever known how to live–and all of a sudden this rough-looking guy from out of town rolls up into the place and starts pointing out everything you’re doing wrong and assuring you of God’s impending judgment. What’s your reaction? Maybe a little like you felt when you got ambushed.
What do you mean God’s going to get us? How was I supposed to know what I was doing was wrong? Who are you to be judging me like this anyway? You go deal with your own junk before you come getting all up in mine!
As we get into chapter 3 of Amos’ prophetic record, it’s almost like he was anticipating this reaction. God essentially says this to the people: your actions have consequences. For every cause you set in place, there is an effect to follow. When you did these things that were wrong–and here’s the thing about that: we know injustice when we see it because of our creation in the image of a God who is just–you knew recompense was going to be coming.
Here’s how He actually put it: “Can two walk together without agreeing to meet? Does a lion roar in the forest when it has no prey? Does a young lion growl from its lair unless it has captured something? Does a bird land in a trap on the ground if there is no bait for it? Does a trap spring from the ground when it has caught nothing? If a ram’s horn is blown in a city, aren’t the people afraid? If a disaster occurs in a city, hasn’t the Lord done it?”
And then He lands right where we started. Because the God we serve is just, He’s not going to spring anything on us without our knowledge. He’s not looking to catch us in a sting. He’s not watching on a close-captioned screen to pounce on us the first time we make a mistake. He has laid out clearly who He is and how we should live our lives in light of that fact. He’s also laid out the consequences for ignoring it. What we do with that knowledge is up to us.
Even more importantly, He tells us what He’s going to do before He does it. He’s not interested in leaving us in the dark on His plans. He’s not trying to work out some big surprise either to our benefit or our harm. He has consistently told us what He’s planning to do, told us when He’s done it, and told us what He’s done. We may not understand the fullness of who He is, but there really aren’t any surprises with Him.
If you are someone who would know more about the God of the Bible and what He’s like, there’s evidence aplenty if you’ll only take the time to really investigate it. If you’re someone who’s flirting with sin–or just plain in bed with it–He’s told you as clearly as possible what the consequences of that will eventually be. Don’t be surprised when it starts to happen. He’s also told us what the results of doing life His way will be. This should be more than enough to motivate us there.
We serve the God who speaks. A lot. Let’s be sure we’re listening closely.