by J.R. Hudberg

Day 15

Read Amos 5:14-17

The idea of retribution was dominant in ancient Israel. The thinking was that if you did good things, God would bless you. Conversely, if you did evil things, God would punish you. In everyday life, this translated into the belief that if things were going well, you were doing what was right and God was pleased with you. But if things were going poorly or bad things happened, God must then be punishing you for some wrong thing you did.

It's just as easy to believe that if life is going well, it means that we do not have anything to repent of.

This belief is taken directly from the blessings and curses laid out in the law by God himself. Deuteronomy 28 and 30 seem to support this way of thinking. Essentially, God had told Israel that if they obeyed the law, He would bless them, but if they sinned and broke the covenant, He would punish them with various curses.

At the time that Amos visited Israel, it was a prosperous time. They were safe from their enemies, and their economy was doing well. Because of this, they thought that God was pleased with them. The idea that they were sinning would have been unbelievable, if not entirely incomprehensible. Amos 5:14 expresses this line of thinking. As the prophet observes, the Israelites' likely response to Amos' prophecy was: ″God is with us!″

Amos, however, rejects this thinking. His message, in part, is: prosperity does not imply God's pleasure. A nation can prosper while doing the wrong thing, but will eventually see judgment. But, Amos tells the Israelites, if you do what is good and hate what is evil, then God will really be with you–just as you say (v. 15).

Jesus encountered this same line of thinking in His day. In Luke 13:1-8, Jesus noted that suffering hardship and misfortune were not signs of guilt (vv. 2-3), while suggesting that freedom from hardship did not mean someone was innocent. He then urged His listeners to repent so that a similar judgment did not befall them (v. 5).

It is tempting and easy to believe that if we are good, moral, fair, and just, life should go well for us. It's just as easy to believe that if life is going well, it means that we do not have anything to repent of. What is your thinking about guilt and punishment today?

Think through:

Are you inclined to think that a trouble-free life indicates that God is pleased with you? What has encouraged this notion? What might you need to do to change it?

Think about how you've felt whenever you suffered hardship in life. Have you been tempted to try to figure out why it happened? How might today's passage change the way you think?




About Author

J.R. Hudberg and his wife, Heidi, live in Grand Rapids, Michigan, with their two young boys. He was born in Grand Rapids and attended college in Canada (where he met Heidi). After spending time in Ohio, Montana, and California, he returned “home.” In the garden, on a boat, or in the woods, J.R. spends as much time as he can with family and friends enjoying God's creation. He is the executive editor for Our Daily Bread Ministries Discovery Series booklets and is a regular contributor to the Insights for Our Daily Bread.

Author of Journey Through Series:

Our Daily Bread Journey Through® Series is a publication of Our Daily Bread Ministries.

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