So I’ve been staring at the book of Amos for weeks now but just couldn’t jump in. I didn’t really want to if I’m honest.
It kept staring back at me though. Almost challenging me to see if I could engage my mind in this book.
I would start reading, get to about verse 3 and be like, “yeah, I’m jumping into the New Testament.”
In case you’re judging me right now, verse 3 says
“For three transgressions of Damascus and for four, I will not revoke the punishment, because they have threshed Gilead with threshing sledges of iron so I will send a fire upon the house of Hazael and it shall devour the strongholds of Ben-hadad”.
What the what?
Did you understand that? I sure didn’t. And honestly, I didn’t really want to understand it. On the surface, it sure feels like there’s no way this could apply to my life today.
But here’s what I know. The Bible is a book about God. If God is the central character in this story and everything I read should reveal something more about God, then the book of Amos, even if it is a “hard book of the Bible”, must have value in it. I just need to figure out what that value is.
So here’s what I did:
After reading the first 2 chapters over and over again, I quickly discovered my mind just would not engage. Too much poetry. Too much vagueness. Too much history I knew nothing about. So I pulled out my journal.
I started over in chapter 1 and started looking for any words that repeated and noticed the phrase “I will not revoke the punishment” kept coming up so I wrote this down in my journal.
I got curious and decided it was important to figure out what circumstances would lead to God saying there was no way he would revoke his punishment. Most of the time we hear only about God’s grace and willingness to forgive. Not revoking his punishment isn’t one of those Christmas card statements that make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
What I Learned About God
At this point, I still don’t know what “threshed Gilead with threshing sledges of iron” might mean, but I do understand taking captive a whole generation of people and selling them into slavery, not remembering their covenant with God, not being full of mercy towards others, oppressing the innocent, being satisfied with immediate gratification instead of chasing after righteousness, and not obeying God. For these things, Amos is clearly stating that God will punish the people
These things on this list must be important to God then. They show me what God values and what actions he requires of His people. The values also show me that God is more than just love and forgiveness. He is also holy and expects obedience. And there’s only so long you can get away with disobedience before He will step in and allow consequences in order to grab your attention.
When I started reading, I was pretty convinced there would be nothing for me to apply to my own spiritual walk with the Lord. If I had started with application, I probably would have proved my original hypothesis. But I started with letting God reveal himself instead. In light of what I have learned about God, I can now ask myself what, from these 2 chapters, do I need to apply for myself?
Well, Chapter 2 make this statement in verse 9 that says “YET it was I…”
God starts to remind the people who actually sustained them up to this point. They had forgotten who was actually in control and so weren’t turning to Him for satisfaction in life. So I must ask myself if this is my pattern as well. Am I just like these Israelites? Do I turn to immediate gratification instead of long-term obedience? Am I an advocate for the weak or do I turn a blind eye? Am I remembering my covenant with God to make him Lord of my life or simply doing what I want when I want? Wrestling through these questions honestly and making some changes to my life are needed if I am to apply scripture.
Am I now a Bible expert on Amos? Absolutely not. But did I learn something about God from taking the time to just jump in? Absolutely. Did what I learn about God cause me to sit in silence at His feet and in His presence asking Him to reveal where those sins are in my heart? Yes. Did I walk away changed? Definitely.
Don’t believe the lie that the hard books of the Bible can just be skipped over. Believing that lie keeps you from some of the good stuff God wants to teach you! Every single word is breathed out by God and so useful for teaching, correcting, rebuking, and training us in righteousness ( 2 Timothy 3:16)
So regardless of where you start reading today, know that God has something about himself He wants to reveal to you. Take some time and let Him be alive and active through His Word.