Thus says the Lord: For three transgressions of Judah, and for four, I will not revoke the punishment; because they have rejected the law of the Lord, and have not kept his statutes, but they have been led astray by the same lies after which their ancestors walked. So I will send a fire on Judah, and it shall devour the strongholds of Jerusalem.
The thought of the God of love sending fire and destroying a fortress may seem alien to our view of God today. Amos had already spoken out against many of the surrounding pagan nations. Now he turns to Judah and applies a very different standard. The other nations had been judged according to a moral code, but Judah possessed the truth in God’s law and would be judged against this higher standard. Amos has not used the term “The Law of The Lord” until this time and it is clear he knows that those who know the law are judged by it. Paul writes in a very similar way in Romans 2:11-12. “For God does not show favouritism. All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law.”As Christians we can rejoice that we “have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life” (Romans 6:22).
We need to avoid being like Judah by following false gods. In a series of radio broadcasts Martin Luther King, Jr suggested that we should avoid following false gods which he suggested include science, money and nationalism. Each of us needs to be aware of the things that can come between us and the one true God. We all know our weaknesses and it is through prayer and faithfulness to Jesus that we can avoid these pitfalls. We can rejoice in the assurance that our relationship to God is secure and that we will not be destroyed but have eternal life.
Loving God we thank you for all that you do for us. We thank you that you sent your son to set us free. We ask that you guide us and protect us and keep us from following false gods. Keep us following the true path that Jesus showed us and let us rejoice in the knowledge that we have eternal life with Jesus, Amen.
John Collings is a Lay Preacher in the Synod of Scotland and a member of Rutherglen URC.