How terrible it will be for you who lounge in luxury and think you are secure in Jerusalem and Samaria! You are famous and popular in Israel, you to whom the people go for help. - Amos 6:1
Alarmists see danger and conspiracy at every opportunity. Their alarms are dismissed with a wave of the hand, and complacency settles like a warm blanket over chilling predictions. But when alarmists are right, they are very right. And when the complacent are wrong, they are very wrong! God’s prophets, like Amos, were often regarded by the people as alarmists, and the people perfected complacency to a fine art. But God’s prophets were always very right.
In the time of Amos the people living in Jerusalem (in the southern kingdom) and those who resided in Samaria (in the northern kingdom) felt perfectly secure. Were they not the people of God? Were they not the foremost nation? Did they not have systems of religious observance second to none, and had not God rewarded their hard work with prosperity and abundance? Were they not assured that God would judge their enemies and bring well-deserved punishment on their enemies’ heads? Life was good, and prophets who said otherwise were at best a nuisance and at worst disturbers of the peace.
But Amos was right: all was not well. The day of judgment, which the people anticipated would fall on their enemies, would also fall on them. And it would be a calamity; there would be no escape. And the reason for this? They had grossly mismanaged their blessings, robbing the needy of justice and the oppressed of mercy (5:7; see 5:24). They had developed a religion long on ritual and short on reality. They had replaced God’s revelation with their own speculations and had substituted the worship of their own deities for the worship of God (5:25-26). They had been blinded by their self-sufficiency and had become deaf to the prophets’ warnings.
The God of grace, mercy, and love is also the God of righteousness, holiness, and judgment. When his mercy is abused, his grace despised, and his love taken for granted, then his holiness is offended, his righteous indignation provoked, and his judgment assured. We need not embrace every alarmist’s predictions of gloom and doom, but God’s warnings of the consequences of sin should not be dismissed. Complacency takes for granted what he never grants, while trusting confidence embraces all that he offers, listens to all that he says, and takes seriously all that he predicts and proclaims. In that position we can rest, as Elisha Hoffman said, “safe and secure from all alarms.”
For Further Study: Amos 5:18-6:7
Excerpted from The One Year Devotions for Men, Copyright ©2000 by Stuart Briscoe. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.
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