Do We Have Ears to Hear?
Judgment of your nation is coming! That was the unpopular message the writing prophets Hosea and Amos gave to the nation of Israel.
There are many instances of God's judging a nation throughout the prophetical books. Amos mentions seven nations God is going to judge. But I want to focus on the judgment of Israel in 722 B.C. "Israel" refers to the 10 tribes of the Northern Kingdom. From the time they broke off from Judah (the 2 southern tribes), Israel had a series of 20 kings and every single one of them did evil in the sight of God. Earlier God sent the prophets Elijah and Elisha to them. The people would not listen. God then sent Amos and Hosea. And the message they had to the people wasn't pretty. God is going to judge you.
Both prophets spoke during the reign of Jeroboam II. Israel was experiencing a time of peace and prosperity under Jeroboam II. Oh it was glorious! Things were going great. As most people think when things are going wonderful, they believed God was blessing them. Amos and Hosea are telling them NO! Their message was if you don't stop your evil ways right now, God is going to bring judgment on you.
Israel had a long list of sins. Amos talks about the moral and social collapse of their nation. Their political corruption. And their worship of idols. But Amos really hones in on the social injustice of their society. They treated others unfairly, without any compassion. And this angered God.
Throughout the Bible, in both the Old Testament and New Testament, we are told to love our neighbor, to treat others as more important than ourselves, to help the helpless. Israel was not doing this.
God is going to punish them because "they rejected the law of the LORD and have not kept His statutes;..." (Amos 2:4b) And what does the law of the LORD and His statutes say? A lot has to do with how we treat others.
One such instance is Deuteronomy 10:17-19
"For the LORD your God is the God of Gods and the Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God who does not show partiality nor take a bribe. He executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and shows His love for the alien by giving him food and clothing. So show your love for the alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt."
[Modern versions translate "alien" in this verse as "foreigner" because today we associate "alien" with space aliens. Language evolves.]
Social justice is a concept reiterated over and over in Scripture.
The law of God has to do with 3 things: ceremonial, civil, and moral. The moral law stands from the beginning of time and still stands to this day. Jesus reiterated moral law in the Sermon on the Mount and throughout His teachings. In His Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5 after He does the "Blessed are the...", Jesus makes comment after comment like, "You have heard that "...", but I say to you..." Jesus is bringing us into a deeper and fuller understanding of the law. He is talking about mercy and righteousness.
Amos is saying to Israel that you are not merciful or righteous and God has had enough.
You oppress the poor. (Amos 2:6-7)
There is corruption. (Amos 3:10; 8:5,6)
You are unjust. (Amos 5:7,12)
You are selfish. (Amos 6:1-6)
Did the people listen to Hosea and Amos? Sadly, no. Things were going great for them! Why change a thing?
And in 722 B.C. God judged them. And it was worse than awful.
The Bible just tells us God used Assyria to judge His people. The Assyrians come into Israel to collect their taxes and took everything of worth. They surround the capital of Samaria and starved the people for 3 years. But according to other sources the standard operating procedure for the Assyrians was to skin people alive and put their skin on the walls of the cities. They decapitated people and put their heads on spikes and lined the roads to the cities. There is even a report of them cutting open people's stomachs and putting a cat in there and watching the cat claw its way out. Sounds horrific if it happened that way. Then the Assyrians take the Jewish leaders back to Assyria and repopulate Israel with foreigners who intermarry with the few Jewish people left. Hence the group the Samaritans came about.
The 10 northern tribes of Israel were gone. Lost to this day.
Here is where you are going to probably disagree with my thinking. And that is OK. Perhaps my thinking will not turn out to be true. Perhaps I'm wrong. I don't begin to claim I have insight into how God is working in our present day history. I just know He is. But what if...?
Years ago I read several Christian history books because I was planning on developing a class on the Reformation. Christian history is pretty awful in places. And what I noted was that often the powers in charge of nations used their "religious" beliefs to justify their evil actions. So some of the things which were done in the name of Christianity were more for political reasons than anything else. Sadly sometimes Christians don't act like Christians.
I read one book that wasn't a very good source, but it was fun to read. It wasn't a good source because I noticed the history was off from the other books, some of which I knew were reliable sources. Anyways, this book took Christian History up to the present, but then it went on into the future for 150 years. It was fascinating! In this book the United States no longer existed. We had been overthrown. India was the world power. Most of the Christians in the world were concentrated in Africa. It was just page-turning. Completely made-up future history. But as I read I kept thinking this could happen!
The United States thinks we are all that. We thing we are great. We think we are number one. We still have our freedoms. We have a say in our government. Things are good right now. (All relatively speaking.)
That could change in a heartbeat.
I believe God is sovereign. I believe He controls the fate of the nations.
The Northern Kingdom was thinking, 'Things can't get much better than this!' They continued to corrupt the worship of God, treat the poor and helpless with injustice, and betray their relationship with God. The prophets warned them. They didn't listen.
Do we have ears to listen?
I had just finished my studies of Hosea and Amos. They were very fresh on my mind. And then I see the video of illegal immigrant children separated from their parents. The facility houses children under 10 years of age. Alone and terrified with no one to comfort them. Their hysterical sobbing brought tears to my eyes. I immediately said, "Oh God, I am so sorry we would treat your precious children like this."
I think as a nation we are toying with the Almighty. This has nothing to do with who is currently president, who was the last president, who was president in the 70's or 80's. This has nothing to do with upholding our country's laws. They should be upheld. This has everything to do with us as a society turning further from God. This is about how we treat each other. Our morals are lower. Our compassion is less. Our anger and selfishness are greater. We turn a blind eye and deaf ear to injustice.
We deceive ourselves if we think God blesses this kind of behavior. He doesn't.
Will He judge us?
If so, would He send a prophet to warn us? We have His word to guide us. We just aren't hearing Him.
I don't believe the kingdom of God has national boundaries.
I believe God loves a mother from Guatemala as much as He loves me.
I believe a child from El Salvador is as much His as my own son is.
I believe God loves the father in Iran, the aunt in Pakistan, the grandfather in China,...
And when I face my own judgment, I believe He will remember the times I helped the helpless. The times I had compassion on others. The times I loved others. The times I obeyed Him. The times I gave justice to others. The times I was merciful and forgiving. And the times I wasn't. My future rests in Jesus.
I hope God doesn't decide He has had enough of our actions.
I'm one person. What can I do Lord?
You know child. Pray.
I will Lord. I will pray.