by J.R. Hudberg

Day 21

Read Amos 6:12-14

Take a moment to think about the strangest thing you have ever seen. Perhaps it was a performance, like a contortionist or an acrobat. Maybe it was a rock formation that looked just like a human face. Or, maybe it was something ″out of place″, like someone using a brand-new cell phone in a remote village. Imagine something that made you scratch your head and think, That's not right, that doesn't make sense!

It becomes easy to assume that nothing is beyond our control and then manipulate what we have at hand to serve our interests.

That's the kind of image Amos uses in Amos 6:12-14. He asks two questions, both of which point to things clearly out of place and which would elicit an obvious ″no″ in response. To the original hearers, the first image of horses running on rocky cliffs would have been ridiculous, as horses would run on rock-free grounds. The second image is just as ridiculous: the sea doesn't get ploughed, by oxen or any other animal.

But this is exactly what Israel has done in her society. She has turned ″justice into poison″ and ″righteousness into bitterness″ (v. 12). Both of these things are things that just do not happen. They are unexpected and confusing, and raise the questions: What were you thinking? Why would you do that?

Part of the answer comes in verse 13. We have seen earlier that Israel had forgotten what God had done for them and were taking pride in ″their″ accomplishments (v. 8). Verse 13 speaks of the same thing: Israel has convinced herself that her military accomplishments were by her own might–though Amos uses a clever play on words here to show them that what they have done (and taken Yahweh's credit for) really amounts to nothing. Believing in our self-sufficiency is not a big step from using everything to our own advantage, including the justice and religious systems. It becomes easy to assume that nothing is beyond our control and then manipulate what we have at hand to serve our interests.

So the Lord is going to send discipline to the Israelites (v. 14). This time, however, the discipline is meant to demonstrate something to Israel as well as serve as the consequence for her sins. God is going to ″stir up a nation . . . that will oppress you all the way″ (v. 14). This will show Israel that God is ultimately behind the success or failure of an army. If they had thought that they had defeated Karnaim by their own strength (v. 13), they would now learn that their strength would fail, especially when God was behind the other army.

Think through:

Israel was meant to be a light to the nations (see Genesis 12:1-3), partly by how their society was to be different. In what ways do you live differently so that your life serves as a light to others?

What do you think about God using nations or people as instruments of His discipline? How might this idea change how you see global events?




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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