It can be hard to hear a tough word from someone close to us. It can be humbling to be rebuked for a poor decision, a selfish motive, or a crummy attitude. It can be difficult to be faced with the reality that we let them down, that we caused hurt or pain to others, that we acted in a way that was out of line.
Being corrected and having to face your mistakes are not something that we welcome readily as human beings. We like to think we are next to perfect, we like to think that our motives are pure, that our reasoning is sound, and that our way is best. But each of us need to be confronted with our blind spots at times, each of us need to be redirected to see our shortcomings, each of us need to be restored to the main thing time and time again.
Who are those people in your life that give you that needed feedback, that correction that we don’t ask for or want, but really need? Maybe it’s a parent, sibling, or family member? Maybe it’s a spouse? A close friend? I have had needed encounters with each of these people that have brought this rebuke or correction into my life at a time where I was stubborn, selfish, or had a sour attitude. I probably didn’t welcome it all that much at the time, but looking back, I am thankful for the boldness, courage, care, and love that each of them showed me to bring me to a reality of my wrong and show me the truth of my actions.
Now, as hard as it may be to hear a rebuke or tough word from a close friend or loved one, imagine if that rebuke came directly from the top…from God Himself?! As we continue in our series through the Minor Prophets, we come to the book of Amos. The book of Amos is filled with tough words of correction and rebuke from God to the wayward hearts of His people.
The nations of Israel and Judah were both experiencing prosperity and expansion under their kings. They were living comfortably, they thought things were going well, but it was the exact opposite. They had turned their hearts to other gods and alliances with other nations and were not relying on God for His provision, direction, and strength. The prosperity that some of them experienced came at the expense of others as they had disenfranchised and taken advantage of the poor and needy. They did not advocate for their own people, they had shut out and oppressed those without a voice, they had become power-hungry and drunk with a misguided sense of authority.
It was in this reality of injustice, oppression, self-centeredness, and sin that God spoke through His prophet Amos. Amos pleaded with the people to return and repent instead of continuing in their stubborn, wayward ways that would only lead to destruction. God would not put up with their sin and their abuses and their rebellion any longer and it was time to answer for what they had done. We see the hardened and clouded hearts that many of these people operated with that led them away from a close relationship with God and it is in the story of Amos that we see ourselves as well. We hear the rebuke from God in our hearts and lives too and we see our need to return to Him because of our sin.
As hard of a read as the book of Amos can be, there is hope. In Amos 9, God promises to repair, to raise up, to rebuild, and restore His people in ways unimaginable that will bring them back to Him. He ultimately does this through the sending and giving of His Son so that the sins of all people would be obliterated, and we can approach God to receive His mercy and grace that He longs to give to each of us, no matter what our mistakes. This is a just, loving, holy, and merciful God that calls to you and me today to turn from our sin and return to Him. It’s a call that was heard through Amos thousands of years ago and it’s the same call to repentance given to us today.
Pastor Ben Bigaouette