Amos – Let Justice Roll Down Like Waters
by John C. Westervelt
Amos was a prosperous sheep rancher living in Tekoa, a village ten miles south of Jerusalem. At that time, Uzziah (792-740 B.C.) was king of Judah, and Jeroboam II (793-753 B.C.) was king of Israel.
God called Amos to leave his flocks in Judah and go to the Northern Kingdom to prophesy to the people of Israel. Obediently, Amos went to the city of Bethel in Israel, in what seemed like a foreign land to one who grew up in the south. He prophesied about God’s impending punishment for Damascus, Philistia, Tyre, Edom, Ammon, and Moab for their atrocities inflicted on innocent people.
Amos prophesied that God would send fire to burn the fortresses of Jerusalem because the people had rejected the law of the Lord and had not kept His statutes. Next, he spoke God’s words addressed to Israel.
“It was I who destroyed the Amorite, though his height was like the height of cedars and he was strong as the oaks. It was I who brought you up from the land of Egypt, and I led you in the wilderness forty years that you might take possession of the land of the Amorites. I raised some of your sons to be prophets, and you commanded them saying, ‘You shall not prophesy.’ Behold I am weighted down beneath you as a wagon is weighted down when filled with sheaves of grain.”
The prophet said, “Hear this word which I take up for you as a dirge, O house of Israel. Fallen is virgin Israel, not to rise again. The city which goes forth a thousand strong will have a hundred left, and the one which goes forth a hundred strong will have ten left. The Lord says, ‘Seek Me that you may live. Do not seek after other gods.’”
Amos reminded the people who God was and still is. “He who made the stars of the constellations Pleiades and Orion and changes deep darkness into morning, who darkens day into night, who calls for the waters of the sea and pours them out on the surface of the earth, the Lord is His name.”
Amos told the people how they should act. “Seek good and not evil, that you may live; and thus may the Lord God be with you. Establish justice in the gate. Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing spring.”
After the Israelites took no steps to repent, God gave Amos a vision of a basket of well-ripened, summer fruit. Amos could see that the end-of-the-season fruit, fully ripe, would be edible for just a short time. Then the Lord said to Amos, “The end has come for my people Israel. I will spare them no longer.”
While the Lord punishes the sinner, He holds out hope for the future in the words of the prophet Amos. “The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when the reaper will be overtaken by the plowman and the planter by the one treading grapes. New wine will drip from the mountains and flow from all the hills. I will bring back my exiled people Israel. I will plant my people in their own land, never again to be uprooted from the land I have given them.”
Copyright 2003 by John C. Westervelt
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