'Seek the Lord and live'
Lately I’ve been preaching on the Old Testament book of Amos. I find in it a strong, sustained call to repentance.
I doubt Amos was popular, since most people want affirmation, not confrontation. Most people want to hear that they’re okay, that God knows they’re doing their best, and that in the end everything will be fine.
Most people want to hear that God loves everyone unconditionally and that in eternity hell will be almost empty because 99.999 percent of mankind will be in heaven.
But that’s not what the Bible says, especially not in the book of Amos. Consider a startling statement in Amos 3, “The lion has roared; who will not fear?” If you were walking through a forest and just off to the side you heard the deep, loud, warning roar of a lion, wouldn’t you be afraid? Of course you would! You would sense the danger. Your body would release adrenaline. You’d instantly go into the fight/flight mode. There’s no way you’d ignore the roar of an uncaged lion in your ear.
However, that’s what people were doing with God. Many times God “roared” warnings to His people, calling them to confess their sins and to return to Him. But they didn’t take Him seriously.
Did they respect God as the ultimate force to be reckoned with? No. They treated God as if He were a piece of lint on their sleeves — a little nuisance to be picked off and discarded and forgotten.
What about you? Is that how you relate to God? Remember who He is. Amos 5:8-9: “He who made the Pleiades and Orion, who turns darkness into dawn and darkens day into night; who calls for the waters of the sea and pours them out over the face of the land, the LORD is his name.”
Throughout the book of Amos we learn to take God seriously. If we don’t, we’ll be “saved” the way a shepherd “saves” a dead sheep by collecting a bone or two, or a bit of an ear, that a lion didn’t eat. (Amos 3:12)
Women get equal treatment. Through Amos, God compared ungodly women to pampered livestock — cows of Bashan — who oppressed the poor and needy and bossed their husbands around, saying, “Bring us something to drink. …” But pampered cows would be like fish on hooks, led into slavery by cords attached to hooks through their noses or lips. (Amos 4:1-2)
What if we try to solve our problems without turning to God? That would be a fatal mistake. It would be “… like a man who flees from a lion only to meet a bear …” Amos 5:19.
But along with these strong words of warning, including “Prepare to meet your God,” (Amos 4:12) we also find a gracious invitation: “Seek the LORD and live …” (Amos 5:6)
He who gave life to the universe is more than able to give you new life. He knows all about our offenses and sins (Amos 5:12). Yet He promises forgiveness and eternal life to all who humbly seek Him.
I’d rather hear a promise of life than warnings of judgment. But the more I know how much I deserve to perish, the sweeter to me is the invitation, “Seek the LORD and live!”