“The LORD roars from Zion, and utters His voice from Jerusalem; the pastures of the shepherds mourn, and the top of Carmel withers.”
A roaring lion; can there be a more spine-chilling sound and image? It paints a savage even vicious picture; yet this is exactly the portrait of God which Amos chooses to open his book. Is God a lion? Does He roar? The lion’s roar points forward to imminent destruction and death; can we imagine that such is true of the acts of God?
Certainly if you were to ask many in the church today, they would say, “Never! For God is a God of love and mercy.” But if this be so, then of what value is Amos’ prophecy today? And if it is not profitable, then should we not toss it out of the canon of Scripture. Absurd you say, but that is exactly what many do as they ignore the attributes of God’s holiness, righteousness and wrath. In ignoring the Scriptures that portray God as a roaring lion, the modern church has created a quasi-god which is nothing more than an idol they have created according to their own likes and dislikes. The book of Amos roars with chilling reality to our western 21st century Christian church. It roars against our privileged, affluent, religious hypocrisy.
At the same time, it is interesting that Amos invokes the covenant name of God – Yahweh – a name that cannot be separated from its Exodus context. In the exodus of Israel from Egypt, God acted in a saving as well as judging capacity. The anti-type of the exodus is clearly revealed, on the one hand, in the mercy of Jesus Christ as portrayed to us in the picture of a slain lamb, but also as the lion of the tribe of Judah; His cross being the place of meeting of mercy and wrath. The true Christian can rejoice in the truth that the Savior’s obedience and blood hide all of his transgressions from God’s view. At the same time, it is important that we realize that He remains a wrathful sin-hating God toward the world; and this is never more true than when He sees sin defiling the people called by His name. Amos reminds us of this. We will find as our study unfolds, how in a single act, God judges the unbelieving and hypocrite among His people, while chastening His own children.
The more we understand of the unity and fullness of the attributes of our God, the more we are struck with awe at His holy nature. The thrice holy God is also a Redeemer – a Savior of sinners and lover of souls. We can only but respond to such a grand Being, by living before Him with holy reverence and humility, and to be continually before His throne of grace and mercy with a penitent spirit, making full use of His means of pardon and grace. As the apostle John put it, My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous (1 Jo 2:1).
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