On March 18, 1925, an outbreak of tornados in the Midwest killed nearly 750 people and injured more than 2,000 across three states with literally no warning. Today, thanks to God’s kind common grace and the advance of modern meteorology, such a surprise catastrophe is almost unthinkable. In the year 2022, residents in effected areas can be warned to take immediate shelter in just minutes.
Warnings can be life saving. However, our human stubbornness and pride often recoil when we are warned, especially coming from God’s word in relation to our sin. There may be no more dangerous epitaph and warning for human beings than in Romans 1:24-25, “Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator.”
But what a gift of God’s grace to be alerted to what is coming, whether it’s a tornado, a flood, or God’s final judgement. Just as a loving parent warns their child not to touch the stove because they could be severely injured, so does our heavenly father warn His children of the consequences of sinful rebellion and disobedience. The minor prophet Amos is a wonderful case in point.
The message of Amos is primarily a message of judgement. God’s covenant people, particularly in the northern kingdom of Israel, lived in a time of great prosperity and ease, which manifested itself in an empty and godless religion. Those who worshiped Yahweh at that time were more concerned with merely “going through the motions”, than true devotion and obedience to God. Sadly, this is a reality for many in our own day as well. One can clearly discern through the entire prophecy how God had been extremely patient in the face of corruption, greed, injustice, idolatry, and immorality. However, His justice demands satisfaction, and Israel’s consequences for her sins would be soon to come. But like most prophetic warnings, Amos also offers the hope of new life and salvation for all who will turn to the Lord.
For almost two centuries the kingdom of God’s people had been divided into two nations – Israel in the north and Judah in the south. Israel was ruled by Jeroboam II (786-746 B.C.) and was enjoying, what it thought was, its golden years.