Amos’ call for Israel’s repentance fell on deaf ears. In fact, Amos was accused of conspiracy against Jeroboam by Amaziah, the unholy priest of Bethel. “Get out, you seer! Go back to the land of Judah…do your prophesying there. Don’t prophesy anymore at Bethel, because this is the king’s sanctuary and the temple of the kingdom.” Amaziah was obviously part of Israel’s problem. He saw Bethel as the seat of government, not the temple of the Lord.
Amos wasn’t about to be bullied. He was determined to complete his mission. In the dustup between Amaziah and Amos, Amos surely put Amaziah on his heels. “Your wife will become a prostitute in the city, and your sons and daughters will fall by the sword.” (7:17) God would spare Israel no longer.
“I will turn your religious festivals into mourning…your singing into weeping…People will stagger from sea to sea and wander from north to east, searching for the word of the Lord, but they will not find it.” Israel had waited too long to avoid exile. Even as Amos continued to prophesy, Israel was undoubtedly in denial, oblivious to the future prophesied by Amos. They had tricked themselves into believing their good fortune, rather than their good hearts, meant connection with the God.
The coming destruction of Israel wouldn’t be total. God would eventually restore “David’s fallen shelter…restore its ruins — and rebuild it as it used to be.” (9:11)
Amos 5:24 wasn’t Amos’ final word to Israel, but maybe it should be to us. It was used by Dr. Martin Luther King at least twice in his speeches and writings. It begs to be used when repentance is at work, and God’s presence enters our hearts.
“…[L]et justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!”
Roll on! Give us hope! Amen.