The Grace of God

That Brings Salvation Has Appeared to All Men (Titus 2:11)

Hate Evil, Love Good, Establish Justice

A Meditation on Amos 5

Hear this word which I take up against you, a lamentation, O house of Israel:

2 The virgin of Israel has fallen;
She will rise no more.
She lies forsaken on her land;
There is no one to raise her up.

3 For thus says the Lord God:
“The city that goes out by a thousand
Shall have a hundred left,
And that which goes out by a hundred
Shall have ten left to the house of Israel.”

God has decided that the virgin of Israel will “rise no more” and there will be only a remnant left.

4 For thus says the Lord to the house of Israel: “Seek Me and live;

5 But do not seek Bethel,
Nor enter Gilgal,
Nor pass over to Beersheba;
For Gilgal shall surely go into captivity,
And Bethel shall come to nothing.

God’s instruction to the remnant is to seek HIM and live. They are not to seek particular places, as if by them they can live. God’s judgment will not overlook those places, but anyone hidden in God Himself will be protected.

6 Seek the Lord and live,
Lest He break out like fire in the house of Joseph,
And devour it,
With no one to quench it in Bethel—

God’s judgment does not pass over those who have His name, but not His character.

7 You who turn justice to wormwood,
And lay righteousness to rest in the earth!”

True justice and righteousness are very important to God, and there are many claiming His Name who make a mockery of these things.

8 He made the Pleiades and Orion;
He turns the shadow of death into morning
And makes the day dark as night;
He calls for the waters of the sea
And pours them out on the face of the earth;
The Lord is His name.

9 He rains ruin upon the strong,
So that fury comes upon the fortress.

He is able to turn the blessing into a curse, as He has promised. If you forsake the Lord and serve foreign gods, then He will turn and do you harm and consume you, after He has done you good (Josh. 24:20). The only hope for transgressors is to be humble and seek His mercy.

10 They hate the one who rebukes in the gate,
And they abhor the one who speaks uprightly.

An indictment against Israel, but also against all wicked nations. The wicked and those who support them always turn against the one who rebukes them.

11 Therefore, because you tread down the poor
And take grain taxes from him,
Though you have built houses of hewn stone,
Yet you shall not dwell in them;
You have planted pleasant vineyards,
But you shall not drink wine from them.

12 For I know your manifold transgressions
And your mighty sins:
Afflicting the just and taking bribes;
Diverting the poor from justice at the gate.

Treading down the poor is a serious offense to God. Afflicting the just and taking bribes, diverting the poor from justice at the gate: God sees all these “manifold transgressions” and will punish.

13 Therefore the prudent keep silent at that time,
For it is an evil time.

Indeed, for when good is called evil and evil is called good, those who speak up for righteousness are punished. Remember when Lot tried to talk sense into his evil neighbors? They accused him of acting as a judge and promised to do worse to him than they intended to do to the angels (Gen. 19:9).

14 Seek good and not evil,
That you may live;
So the Lord God of hosts will be with you,
As you have spoken.

Apostate people are so fond of saying God is with them. But God is not with them. God is a God of Truth. He is not with us just because we say He is. He is only with us as we obey His Word. The Lord is with you while you are with Him. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you (2 Chron. 15:2).

15 Hate evil, love good;
Establish justice in the gate.
It may be that the Lord God of hosts
Will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.

God wants us to love good and hate evil, and to establish justice. Away with our wickedness, our excusing of sin, our favoritism, and our disregard for the poor and the weak. Without repentance, there is no possibility of God’s graciousness, but with it, “It may be that the Lord…will be gracious.” He resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.

16 Therefore the Lord God of hosts, the Lord, says this:
“There shall be wailing in all streets,
And they shall say in all the highways,
‘Alas! Alas!’
They shall call the farmer to mourning,
And skillful lamenters to wailing.

17 In all vineyards there shall be wailing,
For I will pass through you,”
Says the Lord.

It is easy to sit on high horses while God passes through others, but what will we do when He passes through us? If we do the same things we condemn in others, will we not meet the same fate?

18 Woe to you who desire the day of the Lord!
For what good is the day of the Lord to you?
It will be darkness, and not light.

19 It will be as though a man fled from a lion,
And a bear met him!
Or as though he went into the house,
Leaned his hand on the wall,
And a serpent bit him!

20 Is not the day of the Lord darkness, and not light?
Is it not very dark, with no brightness in it?

And this is remarkable–many say they desire the day of the Lord, who ought to be very afraid of it. This is because they abide in presumption that God is accepting of their sins and will not punish them. They rest in their heritage, they rest in their past faith, they rest in their rituals or their knowledge. But they do not seek the Lord, or have His life in them. If they did, their behavior would be very different.

21 “I hate, I despise your feast days,
And I do not savor your sacred assemblies.

22 Though you offer Me burnt offerings and your grain offerings, I will not accept them,
Nor will I regard your fattened peace offerings.

23 Take away from Me the noise of your songs,
For I will not hear the melody of your stringed instruments.

None of these things move God. He is not an idol to be appeased with rituals and gifts and songs. He is the God who is looking for the good fruit of righteousness in response to His Word. He hates “sacred assemblies” when the people in those assemblies do not bear His image.

24 But let justice run down like water,
And righteousness like a mighty stream.

Let justice run down like water! Let righteousness run like a mighty stream! Then–then your light shall dawn in the darkness, and your darkness shall be as the noonday (Isa. 58:10–read the whole chapter for the context!) Otherwise, your knowledge and your religious practices are worthless, serving only to cause the heathen to blaspheme God (Rom. 2:24).

25 “Did you offer Me sacrifices and offerings
In the wilderness forty years, O house of Israel?

26 You also carried Sikkuth your king
And Chiun, your idols,
The star of your gods,
Which you made for yourselves.

What? Mixing the worship of God with the worship of idols? Who is this star god? God will not accept being part of a harem of idols. We are to worship Him alone. Let every nation pay attention to how God rebukes the nation of Israel for idolatry. As He has punished Israel, so He will punish all the nations. Take heed that you do not mix idolatry with your worship of God. Find out what is acceptable to Him, and what displeases Him (Eph. 5:10).

27 Therefore I will send you into captivity beyond Damascus, Says the Lord, whose name is the God of hosts.

Dear readers, the nations are raging against the Lord, but there is a King installed on Mount Zion (the same Mount Zion mentioned in Heb. 12:22–the heavenly Jerusalem.) Seek the Lord and live. Do not seek this place or that place on the earth, for all shall be burned with fire (2 Pet. 3:7). Do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God, for this is what He requires (Mic. 6:8).

Why do You stand afar off, O Lord?
Why do You hide in times of trouble?

2 The wicked in his pride persecutes the poor;
Let them be caught in the plots which they have devised.

3 For the wicked boasts of his heart’s desire;
He blesses the greedy and renounces the Lord.

4 The wicked in his proud countenance does not seek God;
God is in none of his thoughts.

5 His ways are always prospering;
Your judgments are far above, out of his sight;
As for all his enemies, he sneers at them.

6 He has said in his heart, “I shall not be moved;
I shall never be in adversity.”

7 His mouth is full of cursing and deceit and oppression;
Under his tongue is trouble and iniquity.

8 He sits in the lurking places of the villages;
In the secret places he murders the innocent;
His eyes are secretly fixed on the helpless.

9 He lies in wait secretly, as a lion in his den;
He lies in wait to catch the poor;
He catches the poor when he draws him into his net.

10 So he crouches, he lies low,
That the helpless may fall by his strength.

11 He has said in his heart,
“God has forgotten;
He hides His face;
He will never see.”

12 Arise, O Lord!
O God, lift up Your hand!
Do not forget the humble.

13 Why do the wicked renounce God?
He has said in his heart,
“You will not require an account.”

14 But You have seen, for You observe trouble and grief,
To repay it by Your hand.
The helpless commits himself to You;
You are the helper of the fatherless.

15 Break the arm of the wicked and the evil man;
Seek out his wickedness until You find none.

16 The Lord is King forever and ever;
The nations have perished out of His land.

17 Lord, You have heard the desire of the humble;
You will prepare their heart;
You will cause Your ear to hear,

18 To do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed,
That the man of the earth may oppress no more.

Psalm 10

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