By Robert Olsen, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Christian Studies, University of Mobile
HOPE IN GOD
The introduction (5–6)
This chapter begins with a prophecy of the inevitable judgment of God and affirms that God has the power to execute His judgment. Since God created the universe, He can control what happens in it. For those who have rejected God and mocked his commandments and statutes, there will be a countdown.
Of course, God’s standard has not changed, and He still judges people today for their lack of obedience. It is common to believe that God is only a God of love, who will forgive sins simply because he is loving. While it is true that God is a God of love (in fact, God is love; see 1 John 4:16), he is also a holy God. A holy God cannot tolerate sin and will punish sin and those who sin.
However, God has provided a remedy for sin: Christ’s work on the cross on our behalf. Because we must be righteous to be in the presence of God and not be condemned, believing in Christ and having confidence in His work gives us His righteousness (2 Cor. 5:21). Since he is perfect, the righteousness of Christ applied to us allows God to see us as righteous even though we have sinned.
The Quake (7–10)
The Israelites ignored Amos’ message because they knew God had chosen them and brought them out of Egypt. God had orchestrated their escape from slavery, which meant they had a special place in God’s sight. Therefore, they thought that God would not judge them. Despite this, Amos points out that God orchestrates the leadership of all nations, even the Philistines and Arameans, two of Israel’s main enemies. God had chosen Israel, but that didn’t mean he wouldn’t bring judgment upon them. God punished disobedience, whether it came from the Philistines, Aramaeans or Israelites.
Even today, people believe they are right with God because of their church attendance or membership. Many people are cultural Christians – the idea that I am a Christian because I have Christian ideas of morality or because I go to church. But our physical position or our mental posture is not what saves us from the wrath of God. Belief and trust in Christ identify us as Christians.
It is important for Christians not only to live as God tells us, but also to help others see what the gospel really is. It’s not about going to church or morality, but it’s about trusting in Christ and his righteousness for our salvation. This salvation will result in church attendance, godly morality and ethics.
God was going to execute His judgment on Israel, which finally took place in 722 BC for the northern kingdom and 586 BC for the southern kingdom. Even though God was judging Israel, throughout the Bible He promised there would be a remnant. God would not abandon Israel. The punishment he was going to inflict on the Israelites was to turn their hearts back to him. It was God’s discipline, and the purpose of discipline is to change behavior.
The new kingdom that God would establish would be eternal. Amos uses the language to reflect how wonderful the new Kingdom would be: the crops would be so bountiful and bountiful that they would continue to be reaped while new ones were planted.
We see this reflected in the New Testament. Hebrews 12:7 says, “Endure suffering as a discipline: God treats you as sons.” For what son is there that a father does not discipline? The goal is for us to live like Christ, and when we fail, God condemns us to help us get back on track. If we ignore conviction, we may, like the Israelites, not be true followers of God. We need to heed God’s will by reading his word and doing what it says, repenting when we fail, and asking God for forgiveness.