by J.R. Hudberg

Day 2

Read Amos 1:3-2:3

If you are a sports fan, cheering for your favourite team comes almost instinctively. Sometimes, cheering against the other team is part of that experience. That's likely how the first crowd that heard Amos' message would have responded.

God is concerned about international affairs; He holds nations accountable for their actions.

As readers of the book of Amos, we get the benefit of the editorial setup. We know whom the message is intended for–″the vision . . . concerning Israel″ (Amos 1:1). But when Amos arrives in the northern kingdom, all they hear is the prophecy, which starts at verse 2. And that message begins not with an evaluation of Israel, but by condemning her neighbours. There's no easier way to gather a crowd than to pronounce God's judgment on the enemies of your listeners.

Six of Israel's neighbours fall under the spotlight of the prophet as he begins his message. God's message through Amos to these nations all follow the same formula. Starting with the phrase, ″For three sins of . . . even for four, I will not relent″ (1:3, 6, 9, 11, 13; 2:1), Amos lists the actions of these nations that have brought about the pronouncement of God's punishment. Then the nations' punishment is laid out: the fire of God will come and destroy their strongholds (1:4-5, 7-8, 10, 12, 14-15; 2:2-3). Remember, this message is going to the people of Israel, not to the nations being judged. God is reminding the Israelites of a very important fact: He is the God of the whole world, not just Israel.

Just what have these nations done wrong? In each and every case, the accusation is that of violating the human rights of other nations.

We can read the list of sins and shake our heads. What they were doing to each other easily defies modern ethical sensibilities: expatriation of entire communities (1:6, 9), brutal torture (v. 3), pursuit for the sake of killing (v. 11), and killing the pregnant and unborn (v. 13).

God is concerned about international affairs; He holds nations accountable for their actions. While Israel had a direct revelation of God's expectations on how to treat each other and the nations around them, these verses show that God's expectations extend beyond Israel's borders. The nations should have known that their behaviour was a step too far.

Amos makes clear that God has expectations, and failing to meet them carries dire consequences. We often talk about what we should be doing; Amos stands alongside and nods his head, warning us that it better not be just talk.

Think through:

What do you think Amos might say about our nations and how they are acting towards one another today?

Amos 1:3-2:3 shows that God holds nations accountable for their actions, suggesting that everyone inherently knows right from wrong and is responsible for doing what is right. Romans 2:12-16 also tells us that the requirements of God's law are written on the hearts of those who do not know Him. What does this suggest about God's desire for people to know Him? How might this help you understand the gospel better or help you share the gospel better?




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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