Amos seems to be all in when it comes to justice. He wrote these words over 2 and a half millennia ago. The voice behind the words comes from God, who is expressing frustration with the Israelites lack of sincerity in their worship, as their hearts are following false gods and idols. Their worship of God is perfunctory, a duty to be performed rather than a privilege. They would rather be somewhere else while in the Temple of God. Sound familiar?
So the call for justice isn’t about making sure everyone gets a $15/ hr minimum wage, or everyone paying their fair share in taxes. It isn’t about blacks getting equal treatment by cops or that black lives matter. All the recent ink spilled over “justice” has little to do with what God is saying here.
He begins this thought a few verses before in verse 18, asking them why they want the “Day of the Lord” so badly. As far as we can surmise here, they want God’s Day of Justice to occur to mete our punishment on their national enemies, not unlike what we look for today. They were hoping for the Day of the Lord to dish out Justice to all who have burdened them and hurt them so that they would prevail. However, God’s perspective is different. The Day of Justice will not be one of “light” but one of “darkness” for them. They too are in the wrong, and God’s justice will level them as well. His counsel is to work on their own house, being God’s righteousness into their homes and families, into their worship so that they will not be in danger of God’s justice.
Fill your own home and life with the righteousness of God so that when the Day comes, He will not come to judge you too. Good advice. Before you pray for God’s wrath to be visited on your enemies, make sure you aren’t in the way.
Looks like Amos still has something to say to us too. God bless you today!
Nahum? Who is Nahum? I remember Nahum usually when I am trying to put the books of the Old Testament in order, or remembering those twelve minor prophets. Nahum is not a book even dedicated Christians regularly frequent, let alone study. We usually find ourselves in the New Testament, or some stirring accounts in the Old.
But it is with Nahum we read, because Nahum is about justice. This is not the kind of justice that people are shouting for on the street corners, but real, genuine, fire and brimstone justice. Our culture has softened the original by turning it into some distant form of equality, of making the rich poorer and the poor richer. That is not justice. Nor is making some “races” pay for imagined slights against other “races”. Our culture has so totally ignored the real purpose of justice that we would actually see real justice as cruelty.
The justice that Nahum has in mind is for the kingdom of Assyria, a nation that had been on God’s radar for some time (remember Jonah?) and had at one point responded positively to a message of repentance. But that time had passed. Now Assyria had ransacked the northern tribes of Israel and had its sights set on southern Judah. They were a nation reknowned for their cruelty and destruction, and God had now sent a word through Nahum of judgment and justice against their crimes against His people.
As Christians we are surrounded by this culture of cruelty, and we are calling out to God for justice against it. They have slaughtered children in the name of convenience, allowed perversion to become normal, and the time-honored marriage tradition to become sullied by the same. We see honorable men and women maligned in public and our hopes dashed for Christian men to be our new political leaders. We cry out to God for justice because we see none. Does God still answer out prayers?
Nahum has much to say about God, justice, and judgment. As he writes, “The LORD is good, a stronghold in a day of distress; He cares for those who take refuge in Him.” (Nah 1:7) The call from this letter is to take refuge in God, not in parties or platforms, not in labels or associations, but in the only the sure and strong refuge of the Lord.