Israel was in a very dire spiritual condition. “Fallen, no more to rise, is the virgin Israel.” Though there was “none to raise her up,” at the end of Amos we read at the end of Amos of one who would be raised up and would thus bring new life to dead “ruins.” (Amos 9:11) This gave the reader hope that the Lord still had a plan of blessing for His chosen flock.
In the meantime the Israelites would face horrific tragedies. The best course of action for the nation was quite simple. “Seek Me and live.” Yes, “seek good, and not evil.” Yet the nation would not turn toward God. The men and women of the north maintained idolatrous patterns of worship and abusive habits of governance. They continued to “trample on the poor” and to “turn aside the needy” from the place of public justice at the city gate.
How would God discipline them? “In all the streets” everyone would hear the sounds of grieving people “wailing” because of their great losses. They imagined that everything would be turned around immediately in an imminent coming of “the Day of the Lord,” but this was an empty hope. The divine power coming their way would be most unpleasant.
The Lord’s covenant people among the northern tribes could not worship their way out of the pain that would soon be theirs. The Lord said, “I hate, I despise your feasts.” The obvious problem with their acts of devotion was that they demonstrated no real inclination to change their ways from pursuing evil. God called them to a better life of true holiness. “Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”
Within a few decades Jehovah would send them “into exile beyond Damascus.” Was all hope of peace lost forever? When would a king of righteousness come? When would God establish a better existence characterized by heavenly goodness? The Almighty would bring life for those who were spiritually dead by raising up His own Son to reign over a new world. The death and resurrection of Jesus was necessary in order to establish a second creation beyond the desperate cries of the afflicted. Jesus Himself would announce that heaven’s life-giving streams would flow through His redeemed people. Anyone who would believe in Him, “out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” (John 7:38)
Prayer from A Book of Prayers
Father God, there is so much sin all around us, among us, and even within us. Why do we seek after idols? Why will we not run to You, O Lord? You put the stars up in the heavens and formed the constellations. You bring water upon the earth, and floods upon the lands according to Your decree. Will we turn aside the needy when they come to us for help? Will we pursue injustice as our fathers did in former days? Do we not recognize that there will be consequences for the iniquity within us? We can only see the Day of the Lord as a day of joy because of what Christ has done for us. Send forth His righteousness among us like a mighty stream, that we might pursue the way of holiness with integrity.