Seeking God before Judgment
Seek God before Judgment
Amos 5:1-7, 14-15
“Seek the Lord that you may live.”
The Book of Amos begins with a series of pronouncements of impending judgment. In chapter 1, God warns the neighboring nations around Israel of coming judgment. He condemns them for four sins that demand judgment: They have inflicted war upon their neighbors (vs. 3), they deported people from their land and sold them into slavery (vs. 6), they abandoned treaties (vs. 9), and they killed infants in the wombs of their mothers (vs. 18), all for the sake of their gain. In chapter 2, God turns his attention to Judah and Israel. Just because they were God's chosen people does not mean they are exempt from God’s judgment. They had rejected God’s law and pursued the lies their ancestors had followed. Furthermore, they had embraced sexual perversion (vs. 7). When confronted by the prophets, they rejected their warnings and sought to silence their message (vs. 12). As a result, God pronounced judgment upon Israel and Judah (chs. 3,4). This judgment will come in the form of war and natural disasters. Thus we see the justice and holiness of God revealed. As we see repeatedly in the prophets, God is holy and does not allow sin to remain unchecked and unpunished. While he is patient with sinners, there does come a time when his justice breaks forth by bringing judgment upon those who reject him.
The first four chapters thus proclaim a bleak and sinister message. Chapter 5 opens with a statement that seems to point to the fact that all is lost. In verse 2, the prophet laments the finality of Israel’s death. Yet, even as the prophet announces the hopelessness of judgment, we find a ray of hope. On commentator describes the message of verses 2-4 as a contrast of contradiction. In verse 4, he calls upon the people to “Seek Me, that you may live.” God is both just and gracious. He judges sin, but never with the warning and opportunity for the people to repent. The command “seek” has the idea of earnestly seeking to encounter God's presence and worship him. If they continue to reject God, they will realize death, but if they seek God, they will discover life. Three times we find in chapter 5 the exhortation to seek God and live. This search for God requires a change in our life. To seek God is to “hate evil, love good and establish justice in the gate” (vs. 15).
The issue before us is not what we have done in the past but what will we do today and in the future. We cannot change the past and undo our sins, but we can obtain forgiveness for them and find joy and forgiveness in the mercy and grace of God, who calls upon us to seek him. If we seek him and develop a love for his word and righteousness, we discover life in the truest sense of the word. As Paul points out in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” While God does not allow sin to go unpunished, he will forgive our sins if we seek him. No matter how deep our descent into sin, God still offers us the hope of his salvation.