And he said:

“The LORD roars from Zion

   and utters his voice from Jerusalem;

the pastures of the shepherds mourn,

   and the top of Carmel withers.”

Amos 1: 2

Amos, the humble shepherd, speaks, and the world listens to his words, for he is speaking into history the heart and the desire of the Lord, God Almighty. For God does speak His truth to us. This was true in the days of Amos some 2,900 or so years ago just as it is still so today. For a time or even for a season it may seem that the Lord’s voice is silent, but that never remains the case indefinitely. God cares greatly for us, and He also is truly concerned about the way that we go about living. There is no aspect of the manner in which people exist and in the form that our conduct of life is framed that escapes the Lord’s view. So, we can count upon the fact that He will hold us accountable for all of it. The Lord will respond to the good that we do and to the despicably evil that we carry out or that we allow to exist through inaction and failure to hold ourselves and others accountable for following the mandates that God sets out in His Word.

Like the citizens of Israel and even of Judah we may think that we are experiencing God’s blessing because we are comfortable, wealthy, and powerful. Yet, this is all a false form of security, for its basis is not God’s will or the Lord’s expressed desire. Instead, we, like they, are smugly self-satisfied in the accomplishments of our hands and with the power and the control that we think that we exert upon the world around us. Although Amos has commenced his series of comments about the wickedness of the world and of its nations with pointed expressions regarding the various peoples and counties that surrounded Israel and Judah, the prophet will, in turn, spin about and point the Lord’s figure of judgement inwardly toward God’s own nation and its inhabitants. They were to be held to an even higher standard of righteousness and compliance with God’s stated will than were their neighbors. This is not just a historic comment; rather, it is a basic reality of God’s character. He does hold His people accountable for living out the love, grace, mercy, and justice that the Lord has poured over us.

We may desire for the Day of the Lord to come when He will speak forth truth and justice into the world so that all that is evil will be destroyed and everything that is out of conformity to His Word will be set right again. Yes, we might desire for that great day to come, but we must also realize that the Lord’s judgement falls upon all people equally. So, as the Lord roars from Zion with His voice of righteousness sounding forth the end of all that stands in opposition to His will in the world, its reverberations are felt most powerfully by those who are closest to the source. Israel and Judah would not escape from the earth-cleansing work that the Lord would accomplish over the next periods of time, and we will not be granted immunity from His judgement, either. So, today is a good one for each of us who seek to follow Christ to examine the depths of our hearts and to turn to the Lord with a sincere desire upon our lips to know Him well so that we can live out the Lord’s will and the desires of His heart. This is a time for repentance and for the restoration of our faith. Christ is calling to His people to turn from our arrogance, our willfulness, and to renounce the ways of the world so that we can truly follow him and bring the light of justice and righteousness into the dark corners of that same earthly expanse.    

Draw near, O nations to hear, and give attention, O peoples!

Let the earth hear, and all that fills it; the world and all that comes from it.

Isaiah 34: 1

 

Listening to the voice of the Lord is a good thing to do. This is where wisdom is found, and His word is the source of life in all of its forms. Yet, in this instance, the voice of God as spoken by Isaiah is delivering a message of destruction and impending desolation. The text that follows is all about the way that the judgment of the Lord will be handed out to those who live lives of wickedness and bring their violence to bear on God’s people and upon His creation. The outcome for these doers of evil is not pleasant, and it is stated in terms that demonstrate its absolute certainty.

 

However, before we get too excited and start filling in this story with the names of people or groups of people who we have a problem with, we need to read further. We also should consider that these events involve a brief moment in the long history of God’s interaction with people. In other words, God is just, and His justice is a fearful thing to face for all people who do evil in His sight. Yet, Isaiah recounts and we know that God’s aim and purpose in all of this is not destruction; rather, it is reconciliation, restoration, and salvation. He speaks so that we can know truth and live righteously. The Lord’s voice utters the words of life for all to hear.

 

In light of this I believe that we can trust fully in the promise of a coming of God’s judgment and the establishment of His holy reign on this earth. This means that we do not have to fix every wrong and stop the working out of all evil in our world. This is ultimately the province of God to accomplish. Yet, this same reality should free all of God’s people to speak His truth openly and freely. The grace of Christ can take away all fear and concern about what this day or any future one might bring for us; for, in Christ, we live in the center of the Lord’s present and future victory. So, now is the hour and here is the place to proclaim the glorious day of the Lord!

Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by Him without spot or blemish, and at peace.

2 Peter 3: 14

 

We live in a time that might be called The Day of the World or perhaps The Day of Man. You see, the conditions that exist for us today are ones that we have made for ourselves. They are a reflection of the world that we humans have desired for ourselves since the first people defied God and moved themselves and everyone since out of dwelling in God’s perfect shalom and into the violent brokenness that is our home. We need to own what our hands have created, and we must accept the fact of the chaos that is the product of our industry. Yet, in stark contrast to all of this stands God.

 

The Lord is not distant or disinterested in our world. He is very engaged in it and with us. Even with those first people and their almost unimaginable rejection of God’s truth in favor of the temporary image of being like God, the Lord poured out grace and mercy on them. So He continues to do this for all people to this day. God had promised to bring about the purification and the restoration of His Creation. In Christ He provided the means for each and every person on the earth to be a participant in this restorative work. This is what Christ does in and for everyone who sets aside our inherited and false god-likeness and yields our self to the one true and eternal Savior and Lord, that is, Christ.

 

So, as we await that day when Christ will come, and God’s plan for the cleansing away of the evil that is sin in our world, we have choices to make. We can determine to live our lives in a manner that honors God and that follows Christ. We can do this absolutely or we can set out conditions and circumstances for our commitment to God. Most of us land somewhere in the camp of people who do hold back some things and parts of ourselves. Yet, God wants all of us, and He wants us to seek Him always. The standard that Peter sets for us in being found by Christ to be “without spot or blemish” is impossible to achieve. We all sin, and we all fall short of that righteous glory that is Christ. Yet, the One whose blood cleanses us absolutely is also the One who pronounces us holy and fit for God’s presence. Thus we can live in our imperfection yet diligently seek Christ and His will while resting in that perfect peace, the eternal shalom, that is found only in the presence of God.