1 I saw the Lord standing beside the altar, and He said, “Smite the capitals so that the thresholds will shake, And break them on the heads of them all! Then I will slay the rest of them with the sword; They will not have a fugitive who will flee, Or a refugee who will escape. 2 “Though they dig into Sheol, From there will My hand take them; And though they ascend to heaven, From there will I bring them down. 3 “Though they hide on the summit of Carmel, I will search them out and take them from there; And though they conceal themselves from My sight on the floor of the sea, From there I will command the serpent and it will bite them. 4 “And though they go into captivity before their enemies, From there I will command the sword that it slay them, And I will set My eyes against them for evil and not for good.” 5 The Lord GOD of hosts, The One who touches the land so that it melts, And all those who dwell in it mourn, And all of it rises up like the Nile And subsides like the Nile of Egypt; 6 The One who builds His upper chambers in the heavens And has founded His vaulted dome over the earth, He who calls for the waters of the sea And pours them out on the face of the earth, The LORD is His name. 7 “Are you not as the sons of Ethiopia to Me, O sons of Israel?” declares the LORD. “Have I not brought up Israel from the land of Egypt, And the Philistines from Caphtor and the Arameans from Kir? 8 “Behold, the eyes of the Lord GOD are on the sinful kingdom, And I will destroy it from the face of the earth; Nevertheless, I will not totally destroy the house of Jacob,” Declares the LORD. 9 “For behold, I am commanding, And I will shake the house of Israel among all nations As grain is shaken in a sieve, But not a kernel will fall to the ground. 10 “All the sinners of My people will die by the sword, Those who say, ‘The calamity will not overtake or confront us.’
We can look at this passage (and really the whole message of Amos) two ways: we can get angry with God for punishing sinners or we can understand His righteous judgment upon His creation. It’s funny how we think we are entitled to grace, mercy, and peace. We’ve developed this sense of entitlement to where we think God is “bad” when He judges others for their sinfulness. Yet, we forget that we deserve this very thing! We have taught and ingrained in ourselves the concept of the love of God without really understanding what it means. We want God to love us the way we prefer, not the way He says love should be.
How would you feel if God rained this judgment upon you and your country? Wouldn’t you try to reason with Him and ask Him to spare you and your loved ones? In Matthew 16, Jesus is talking with His disciples about what following Him will cost. This is where we find the common verse “he who wants to save his life will lose it and he who loses his life for me will live.” He then warns about His return:
27 "For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and WILL THEN REPAY EVERY MAN ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS. 28 "Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom."
Now, we balk at this because we think we are entitled to God’s grace and forget the reason we needed it in the first place. In Mark 7, Jesus talks about the heart of man and its relation to our deeds:
20 And He was saying, "That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man. 21 "For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, 22 deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. 23 "All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man."
We have become so disillusioned that we not only expect but even sometimes demand God to have mercy on us! We have forgotten that we don’t deserve any of it! God’s mercy and love is reflected at the end of today’s passage. God won’t wipe out the entire nation, just those who have their hearts set against Him. He is sparing those who have let it happen so they learn their lesson. He is sparing those who, as indicated earlier in this letter, have grown silent for fear of their lives to speak out against the cultural sinfulness.
How thankful have you been for God’s grace in your life? How much have you taken it for granted and felt entitled to His love and mercy?