The Day of the LORD

I have a sweet tooth for what are called the minor prophets – like Amos.  First they are short. They are more like a greatest hits album than a regular release. Every chapter is a banger. And you don’t have to make excuses for tracks that lag.  “No really, this concept album of Rush has to be listened to all the way through.  You can’t just listen to Tom Sawyer.”  “Ezekiel 28 is the key to the whole book.”  Part of being short is that they are pungent. They don’t hold back emotions even when coming from God himself.  Like this morning’s reading, Amos 5:18-24.

“I hate, I despise your feasts, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies.  Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; and the peace offerings of your fattened animals, I will not look upon them. Take away from me the noise of your songs; to the melody of your harps I will not listen. But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. (Amos 5:18-24 ESV)”

That is still sizzling after 3000 years! But what is God so offended by?  Is it the offerings themselves?  No.  Israel – and this is the Northern Kingdom about to be destroyed by Assyria that Amos is talking to – Israel is still making assigned sacrifices and observing the commanded days.  What was Israel’s condition?  Israel was fat and happy.   They were at ease in Zion and felt secure on the mountains of Samaria (Amos 6:1). They stretched out on beds of ivory and sang idle songs. (Amos 6:4-5). Amos calls them fat cows that crush the needy (Amos 4:1). It is not the offerings themselves that God disdains, it is the heart that brought them.  The heart of Israel brought them to Yahweh to check the box and be done with Him.  They would then turn and do the same thing in the high places to the idols.  “You shall take up Sikkuth you king and Kiyyun your star-god-your images that you made for yourselves. (Amos 5:26).”

Israel was unserious.  They no longer remembered why they were there.  They were sacrificing from abundance out of muscle memory.  Their hearts were not in any of it.  It was all superstition and mere culture.

They would hear the words of the prophets – “repent, seek the LORD and live, do not seek Bethel.  Seek the LORD and live before the fire breaks out (Amos 5:5).” – and they might respond with an offering.  An offering paid for by higher interest rates on their brother. “You trample on the poor and exact taxes of grain from him (Amos 5:11).”  At the same time they would sing the songs of Zion calling for the Day of the Lord.  They would sing them without understanding. “Woe to you who desire the day of the LORD! Why would you have the day of the LORD? (Amos 5:18).”  And the Lord’s response was that the day was coming.  They would receive what they asked for, even if they did not know it.  “Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an every-flowing stream. (Amos 5:24).”

Who can stand in the day of the LORD?

The day approaches. Maybe the capital D Day of the LORD.  Maybe just a personal day of reckoning. When justice rolls down and righteous floods the earth, in whom are you trusting?  Do you know, or are you going through the motions?  Are you checking boxes here and there at various high places?  Going about the rounds of the day on muscle memory. The day approaches.  Do you have an ark?

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