The God you don’t know

Its an error in judgment to think that the verses or chapters of Amos are unrelated.

I made that error long ago, but as I may have mentioned previously, time and maturity change things.

Amos 5 is fine, fine example of the art of prophesy – allusion, ordering for effect, poetry.

It begins really with the epilogue of chapter 4 (stupid people who ordered the chapters originally…) – The ‘virgin’ Israel will be completely forsaken. What hope is there for Israel with the coming judgment of meeting God?

Yet there is some hope. “Seek me and live” says the Lord. You have, pardon the expression, 2 ways to live. “Seek me and live” or “Go to the shrines you hold dear, and go to exile and be destroyed”. Hmm, hard choice that – life or death. Yet we get the picture in Amos that his hearers are hard of hearing. So he elaborates. You see, the choice really implies that Israel has not sought the Lord, and so now, he shows them in 3 three ways how they do not in fact know God.

In the rest of the chapter, Amos dissects, with reference to the 3 centres of Bethel, Beersheba and Gilgal, how it is they don’t know God.

At Bethel, ‘The House of God’ they have not met God, the Lord who is sovereign and powerful. At Beersheba, where God declared to Isaac ‘I am with you’, God is not with them, though they proudly think he is. At Gilgal, where they do much sacrifice and ‘worship’, God desires not, in fact hates, their worship, and wants justice. In fact, they do not in fact truly worship him but their own gods. They’ve never met God, God is not with them, and they don’t worship God. They don’t know him.

And the judgment upon them is ironic (cue mental picture of Homer in hell …) I’ll leave it to you to see the irony, especially for the second block.

It calls upon us to see whether we really know God or not. How do you know that God is with you? How do you know he accepts your worship? Where is the line between assurance and complacency, and have you crossed it?

Do you know God? Or rather, does he know you?

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