Seek the Lord and Live
Gracious God, I look forward to this time with You. Energize me now with Your Spirit, I pray.
Consider: Spend a few moments prayerfully considering this question: What am I seeking in life?
In the midst of the exuberant worship at Bethel the prophet sings a funeral dirge (2)! Israel is declared as good as dead, wiped out by military defeat (3). The disaster is the result of the meeting with God announced in 4:12 and is so great that all the population joins in the lamentation (16-17). Between these two laments Amos continues his critique of Israelite worship.
People spoke of going to the sanctuaries to seek the Lord; Amos says, "Stop going to church and start going to God" (4-5)! As we saw in chapter 4, he condemns their worship as sinful because it is self-seeking, not God-seeking. Evidence of this appears in the community life, which lacks justice and righteousness (7). These key covenant terms overlap, but "righteousness" emphasizes the individual's responsibility to live according to the covenant while "justice" emphasizes the community's responsibility to uphold the covenant by punishing wrongdoing and protecting the rights of the powerless. Amos lists ways in which justice and righteousness were being ignored (10-12): the poor are exploited and oppressed; the law is flouted; the course of justice is perverted by bribery; those who stand up for what is right are cowed into silence (10,13).
It is still not too late to seek the Lord genuinely and to live instead of die, but this will require a radical change in behavior (6,14-15): worship of the God of Israel, who looks for justice and righteousness in society and has compassion on the poor, the powerless and the oppressed. Those who do not seek these things in daily life are play-acting when they claim to be seeking God in the worship of the sanctuary. Beware! As Creator of the cosmos God has the power to destroy the wicked (8-9).
The Lord says, "Seek me and live" (4,6). In what ways can you seek the Lord? What spiritual practices bring you most alive in the Lord?
Lord, help me to seek You wholeheartedly. Show me ways I need to change to reflect Your compassion, justice and righteousness better.