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Amos Calls Israel To Repentance: Repent? For What?

Though Amos made it clear from the beginning that Israel had become apostate, his words went over Israel’s head. It’s easy to understand why. Israel was at the top of its game. They were mighty and wealthy.

Not only that, they worshipped God in their assemblies. Sure, they had idols, but they brought offerings to God as their ancestors had done. They offered God songs and music. They were also clueless.

Just as we might do when we feel fat and happy, Israel had abandoned God. And now, God said through Amos, “Prepare to meet your God…the Lord God Almighty is his name.” (4:12)

Israel must have been dumbfounded as Amos spoke condemnation, using vivd imagery: “Woe to you who long for the day of the Lord! That day will be darkness…It will be as though a man fled from a lion only to meet a bear, as though he entered his house and rested his hand on the wall only to have a snake bite him.” (5:18-19)

Then Amos spoke the words of the Lord: “I despise your religious festivals; your assemblies are a stench to me. Even though you bring me…offerings, I will not accept them…Away with the noise of your songs!” (5:21-23) If the point had not been made clearly enough, God declared through the prophet: “I abhor the pride of Jacob and detest his fortresses; I will deliver up the city and everything in it.” (6:8)

Things were going so well. What on earth was happening? Israel had become complacent, arrogant. They lounged, ate, drank, and used fine lotions, all the while oppressing the innocent, taking bribes, and depriving the poor of justice. They had turned justice into poison. (6:12)

The good life had blinded Israel, just like it can do to us. When that happens, without repentance, doom awaits.

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