When You Hit Bottom, Look Up

Reading Time: 6 Minutes

No thinking person can question Paul’s words that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3.23).

Even though we recognize sin, we also tend to minimize it. “Sure I sin. Everybody sins. What of it?” Someone may say.

It is the job of the prophet to help people take sin seriously and to recognize their need for God.

Like a Billboard

If Amos had the opportunity, he may have plastered the sins of the Northern Kingdom (Israel) on billboards across the country. If so, the message may have looked like this.

— He would use the picture a guilty man attempting to look innocent with the caption.

“They do not know how to do right, says the Lord . . .” (Amos 3.10)

— There would be a picture of beautiful people, complete with a gorgeous house, attractive furnishings, abundant food, and the latest music. In contrast to the picture the caption reads:

“But they are not grieved over the ruin of Joseph!” (Amos 6.4-6)

“Joseph” is a shorthand term for the nation of Israel.

— Another billboard may show starving orphans, ragged clothed immigrants, and penniless widows on one side of the graphics, contrasted with rich “fat cats” on the other.

The caption would shout out to the public.

“But you have turned justice into poison
and the fruit of righteousness into wormwood . . .”
(Amos 6.12)

— Amos’ advertising campaign may once again use the picture of the beautiful people who are enjoying a festive party of the rich. The caption underneath the picture is:

“Hear this, you that trample on the needy,
and bring to ruin the poor of the land . . .”
(Amos 8.4)

I doubt if Amos’ job with an advertising agency would last too long. Neither would advertisers be willing to pay for his services.

Even though his message was unpopular with the crowd, it was exactly God’s word for the nation.

Still, God’s final word is not “judgment” until he has exhausted every effort to bring his people back in alignment with his will.

Remedial Judgment

When people fail to respond to God’s direction, he allows remedial judgment to take place in their lives.

One of my friends has often said that the day he hit rock bottom in his addiction was both the worst day of his life and the best day. That was the time when he finally got serious about his problem and began working the steps of Alcoholics Anonymous in earnest.

People would have thought that the Northern Kingdom would have recognized their error, but the next verses highlight that they didn’t.

Notice how the people refused God’s discipline.

Amos 4.6I gave you cleanness of teeth in all your cities,
and lack of bread in all your places,
yet you did not return to me,
says the Lord.

Amos 4.7-8And I also withheld the rain from you . . .
yet you did not return to me . . .

Amos 4.9. . . The locust devoured your fig trees and your olive trees;
yet you did not return to me . . .

Amos 4.10I sent among you a pestilence after the manner of Egypt;
I killed your young men with the sword . . .
yet you did not return to me . . .

Amos 4.11I overthrew some of you,
as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah . . .
yet you did not return to me . . .

I am not a prophet, so I cannot speak for God like Amos did. However, we all can evaluate what has happened in 2020.

Earthquakes – During 2020, there were 8 quakes of magnitude 7.0 or above, 115 quakes between 6.0 and 7.0, 1689 quakes between 5.0 and 6.0.

Three of the earthquakes were in the U.S., with the largest 7.8 located off the coast of Alaska.

Hurricanes – The extremely active 2020 Atlantic hurricane season came to a close with a record-breaking 30 named storms and 12 land-falling storms in the continental United States.

Wildfires – Since the start of 2020, wildfires in California have burned over 3.2 million acres of land – an area almost the size of Connecticut.

Corona Virus – Nearly 106 Million people worldwide have been infected with COVID 19 and over 2.3 million have died. The U.S. has 28 million cases with the current death count at almost 474,000.

Two years after Amos prophesied the occurrence of an earthquake (Amos 9.9), one hit the Northern Kingdom. The earthquake caused the people to recognize that Amos was, indeed, a prophet and that his words had come from God.

No matter how we view the events I have listed, doesn’t it make good sense that we heed God’s word through Amos and return to him?

Seek the Lord

What is involved in returning to God? Amos makes it clear.

Amos 5.4For thus says the Lord to the house of Israel:
Seek me and live . . .

Amos 5.6Seek the Lord and live . . .

Amos 5.14Seek good and not evil,
that you may live . . .

Amos 5.15Hate evil and love good,
and establish justice in the gate;
it may be that the Lord, the God of hosts,
will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.

Amos 5.24But let justice roll down like waters,
and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.

As individuals, we can seek justice and righteousness in all of our dealings. We can look at the billboard pictures in the earlier part of the article and heed their message.

What about the rest of society? With a broken heart over the unwillingness of Israel to repent Amos prayed.

He said, “O Lord God, forgive, I beg you!
How can Jacob stand?
He is so small!”
(Amos 7.2)

He prayed this prayer two times for God’s mercy over Israel and each time God’s answer was to extend them mercy and not judgment,

The Lord relented concerning this;
“It shall not be,” said the Lord.
(Amos 7.3, 6)

As we evaluate our lives in the light of the message of Amos and current events, let’s determine to seek the Lord as outlined by Amos.

Also, let’s take our confusion, hurt, anger, worry and other emotions to God in prayer for the sake of our nation and the nations of the world.

About This Blog

My blog articles currently alternate between the Old Testament Prophets and the Letters of Paul. Tomorrow’s article will focus on 1 Corinthians 3 and division in the church.

The next day we will begin a study the prophet Hosea.

If you have a prayer request, please email me at bsprad49@gmail.com or private message me on Facebook. The Maywood Baptist prayer team will pray for you.

2 Comments

  1. I can only heed my own actions, thoughts and habits. However, I ask You Lord, that my actions, thoughts and habits reflect Your light in a dying world. My heart is anxious, Lord, with the condition of this world, and yet You say “Be strong and of courage” – You say “Do not fear” – You say “Be still and know that You are God.” And so, this morning…in the quiet of the dawn…I am still. I give You my fear. I accept Your courage and strength. I move out into the day trusting You, Lord for safe commute, for protection of those I love, for peace, for joy in the middle of uncertainty. I love You, Lord. I am Yours. Amen

    Liked by 1 person

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