In the aftermath of Harvey, the question we need to be asking ourselves is not, “Why did God punish the people of South Texas and Louisiana?” The question is, “How has God judged me and judged us as a community, as a nation, as human beings?” How has he brought to light things that were lurking deep within your heart? How has he called to you and to all of us to purify ourselves? How has he revealed the light and the darkness within our community and within our nation?
In Amos 7:1-9, God shows the prophet three versions of judgment, the last of which is the famous plumbline vision. Not only do we see in this exchange an example of prophetic intercession for a sin-sick society, we also see God’s plan for “separating the wheat from the tares” using prophets and their message as the litmus test – those who accept the prophet will be spared, while those who reject the prophet will be punished.
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.
In denying the accountability of the cross and pretending to sit in judgment over the Church, the claim that “The Church needs to be held accountable for its past” empties the cross of its power and brings Jesus down from the throne of judgment.
In Amos 3:3-8, the prophet uses a series of rhetorical questions to deliver a warning to Israel about the inescapability of God’s coming judgment. But he also tells us about prophecy itself – that it carries with it an implied invitation to repent and be saved from the otherwise inescapable judgment.