The main concepts in Amos are like two sides of the same coin: they seem like they are facing the opposite direction, but both are necessary to make it work.
In Amos the main theme seems to be judgment. But God’s judgment on his people is always for the purpose of repentance, and both are needed. Chapters 4-5 are a great example of this.
Look at the judgments God sent and the response he was hoping to see:
- “I gave you no food…Still you did not come back to me.” (4:6)
- “I withheld rain…Still you did not come back to me.” (4:7-8)
- “I destroyed your crops…Still you did not come back to me.” (4:9)
- “I sent against you a plague…Still you did not come back to me.” (4:10)
- “I overthrew some of you…Still you did not come back to me.” (4:11)
But they didn’t repent and return. So God said, “Prepare to meet your God, Israel!”
The declaration of judgment continues into chapter 5, but mixed in with it are the steps of repentance and return:
- “Seek me so you can live!” (5:4)
- “Seek the LORD so you can live!” (5:6)
- “Seek good and not evil so you can live!” (5:13)
- “Hate what is wrong, love what is right!” (5:15)
- “Promote justice at the city gate!” (5:15)
One last thing: I love the illustration Amos uses to describe how awful God’s day of judgment will be. Check this out (I bolded the specific section):
Woe to those who wish for the day of the LORD! Why do you want the LORD’s day of judgment to come? It will bring darkness, not light. Disaster will be inescapable, as if a man ran from a lion only to meet a bear, then escaped into a house, leaned his hand against the wall, and was bitten by a poisonous snake.” (Amos 5:18-19)
For some reason the mental picture is funny to me. Unfortunately, it won’t be funny for those who refuse to accept Christ. He is coming back, and his judgment will be final. Will you be “bitten by a poisonous snake”, or will you escape God’s judgment through the salvation offered only by Jesus Christ?