GOD: TERROR OR JOY?
Lord, I stand in awe of Your righteous judgments.
Read AMOS 9:1–10
Israel to Be Destroyed
9 I saw the Lord standing by the altar, and he said:
“Strike the tops of the pillars
so that the thresholds shake.
Bring them down on the heads of all the people;
those who are left I will kill with the sword.
Not one will get away,
none will escape.
2 Though they dig down to the depths below,
from there my hand will take them.
Though they climb up to the heavens above,
from there I will bring them down.
3 Though they hide themselves on the top of Carmel,
there I will hunt them down and seize them.
Though they hide from my eyes at the bottom of the sea,
there I will command the serpent to bite them.
4 Though they are driven into exile by their enemies,
there I will command the sword to slay them.
“I will keep my eye on them
for harm and not for good.”
5 The Lord, the Lord Almighty—
he touches the earth and it melts,
and all who live in it mourn;
the whole land rises like the Nile,
then sinks like the river of Egypt;
6 he builds his lofty palace in the heavens
and sets its foundation on the earth;
he calls for the waters of the sea
and pours them out over the face of the land—
the Lord is his name.
7 “Are not you Israelites
the same to me as the Cushites?”
declares the Lord.
“Did I not bring Israel up from Egypt,
the Philistines from Caphtor
and the Arameans from Kir?
8 “Surely the eyes of the Sovereign Lord
are on the sinful kingdom.
I will destroy it
from the face of the earth.
Yet I will not totally destroy
the descendants of Jacob,”
declares the Lord.
9 “For I will give the command,
and I will shake the people of Israel
among all the nations
as grain is shaken in a sieve,
and not a pebble will reach the ground.
10 All the sinners among my people
will die by the sword,
all those who say,
‘Disaster will not overtake or meet us.’
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Rom. 8:31). Meditate on what this means to you.
The bad news continues. Amos’s words evoke memories of other biblical texts. The dramatic collapse of the temple sanctuary begins at the tops of the pillars, going down to the loosened shaky thresholds (1). Judgment will begin from top to bottom, suggesting a divine act like an earthquake, rather than a human assault. It reminds me that, when Jesus died to take our own judgment upon himself, the curtain of the temple was torn from top to bottom—an act of God, not of human hand.
Verses 2–4 emphasize that there is nowhere to hide—God’s presence will pursue the rebels wherever they go. Here, we have an horrific picture, but in Psalm 139 the psalmist describes a different scene, giving us comfort that God’s presence accompanies us at all times, in all places. Furthermore, Amos tells the people of Israel that nothing can separate them from God’s wrath, because trust and obedience have ceased, replaced by pride, empty worship, oppression of the helpless and so on. What a relief to read Paul’s words (Rom. 8:38,39) to those of us who trust and obey him that nothing in all creation can separate us from God’s love in Christ Jesus!
Verses 5 and 6 are part of an ancient hymn, reinforcing who God is and what he is doing, shaking the nation in the sieve of his judgment (9,10). It is God himself who will bring an end to Israel’s existence. None will fall through the sieve, because none qualifies as good grain. In short, Amos is underlining that God’s presence is at home everywhere in the universe from top to bottom, and this presence is utterly dependable and permanently to be reckoned with, still with us today. We take Amos’s warnings lightly at our peril.
Lord, may I never take my salvation for granted, but always love, trust, and obey you.
Lord, when You one day sift the wheat from the chaff, remember those who have served You all of our lives.
Click here to sign up to receive the EXTRAs via email each quarter.