May 6, 2017
READ: Amos 4:1-13
Still you would not return to me (v.6).
I recently read of the plight of “370,000 . . . ordinary middle-class people” forced to rummage “in stinking piles of rubbish for rotten cabbage leaves”. Hundreds of thousands of people in the country were scavenging for food while members of the political upper crust were “enjoying lavish parties and gourmet cuisine”. The article revealed unjust conditions and the failure of governmental leaders to do the right thing to help their people.
The prophet Amos similarly brought strong words to Israel and its upper crust for “partying on” while the poor suffered. He described the corrupt wealthy as “fat cows” who called out, “Bring us another drink!” even as they “[oppressed] the poor and [crushed] the needy” (Amos 4:1).
It’s interesting to note that the very people Amos condemned were offering sacrifices. The problem? They were giving offerings to Yahweh, but their purpose in doing so was simply for themselves (vv.4-5). Worship that’s offered with complete indifference to the suffering of others is deeply offensive to God.
God in His holiness (His perfect nature) lovingly disciplined His erring people so that they would turn to Him and pursue justice. But the haunting refrain found five times in chapter 4 reveals their stone-cold hearts: “But still you would not return to me” (vv.6,8,9,10,11).
Scripture reveals that God loves all people and wants us to care for those in need (Jeremiah 22:3; 1 John 3:17). If we’ve grown cold in our compassion for the poor and oppressed— partying on while they remain in misery—it’s time to repent and return to Him. And as our all-powerful God provides (Amos 4:13), may we share sacrificially with others today.
365-day plan: Esther 5:1-14
Read James 2:15-16 and consider how you can help the needy in your life.
How can it become easy to overlook the plight of the poor and needy? How does God’s love and compassion compel you to generously share with others?