Using a heavy dose of sarcasm, Amos challenges the idea that Israel and Judah are the greatest nations on earth and that nothing could harm them.
Karl Barth’s sermon from August 2, 1914, encourages his listeners to have confidence in God and God alone in the face of the coming war. The 19th century liberal idea of human progress had been proven to be a faulty foundation for hope. Instead, one’s hope must come via a relationship with God through Jesus Christ.
What we do for God is important and God appreciates it and takes it seriously. However, unless we are treating our fellow humans with fairness, kindness, and generosity, God doesn’t have any use for our tithes and offerings.
Karl Barth’s sermon from July 26, 1914 (just days after Austria-Hungary’s ultimatum to Serbia and just days before World War I finally erupted), is a reflection on the seeming incongruence of Ephesians 2:4-7 – and especially the idea that God has set us in the heavenly realm with Jesus – with the fearful turbulence of the times.
God’s unconditional love does not imply that what we do doesn’t matter. Nor does believing that what we do matters imply that God’s love is conditional. The biblical truth is that God loves us unconditionally, and that is precisely why what we do matters.
The Israelites were longing for the Day of the Lord, thinking that it would be a day of blessing for them. Amos, however, says it won’t be what you think it will be, and you won’t be on the side of it that you think you will be.
Amos 5:16-17 describe a time of intense mourning for the people of Israel as a result of Yahweh “crossing over into their midst.” Reminiscent of the 10th Egyptian plague, this phrase reverses the typical significance of Yahweh being with or among his people from indicating favor or good fortune to indicating judgment.