God of Justice
Sovereign Lord, You hold the nations in the palm of Your hand, and You are the one to whom all history points. I bless Your holy name.
Consider: The Apostle Paul told the Corinthians to "examine yourselves" (1 Cor. 11:28). We tend to be much better at examining others!
The condemnation of Moab (2:1) for desecration of the Edomite royal tombs and the ritual humiliation of the nation by burning the royal bones shows that God is not concerned primarily with the nations' treatment of Israel. Such actions demonstrate an angry and vengeful spirit. The threshing of 1:3 is a metaphor for excessive cruelty by the Arameans of Damascus. Gaza (1:6) and Tyre (1:9) are condemned for people-trafficking which amounted to local genocide, wiping out whole communities. In Tyre's case this also involved violation of a treaty. Condemnation of Edom for the way he treated "his brother" could refer to treaty violation or to his treatment of Israel, since the Edomites were descended from Esau, Jacob's brother (Gen. 36:9). Ammon is condemned for horrific war crimes against women (1:13).
God's justice is shown in that the nations around Judah and Israel are condemned on the basis of the accepted "collective conscience" regarding how people should be treated and not according to the Mosaic Law. His justice is also seen in the fact that no favoritism is shown to his own people. Amos's hearers would probably have had mixed feelings when, after pronouncing judgment on six foreign nations, he turned on Judah. Things were getting too near home! God was not going to condone Judah's sins, and, in accordance with strict justice, she is judged according to the "law of the Lord," which she has rejected in practice and gone after "false gods" (or lies) (2:4).
As Christians, we can be quick to see and condemn evils in the secular society around us, but slow to recognize our own failures to live the way God wants us to. Amos's oracles warn us against having such an attitude.
Apply: "Examine me, O God, and know my mind; test me, and discover my thoughts. Find out if there is any evil in me and guide me in the everlasting way" (Psa. 139:23-24, GNT). Time to check your spiritual life. Ask the Lord to probe deeply; are any confessions needed, priorities changed, devotion quickened?
Loving Father, hear my cry, forgive my sins, and recalibrate my devotion.
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