18 Woe to you who desire the day of the Lord!
Why would you have the day of the Lord?
It is darkness, and not light,
19 as if a man fled from a lion,
and a bear met him,
or went into the house and leaned his hand against the wall,
and a serpent bit him.
20 Is not the day of the Lord darkness, and not light,
and gloom with no brightness in it?
21 “I hate, I despise your feasts,
and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies.
22 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.
23 Take away from me the noise of your songs;
to the melody of your harps I will not listen.
24 But let justice roll down like waters,
and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.
The people of the Old Testament were waiting. Waiting for the Advent (arrival) of the Lord and of his Messiah. Amos is asking why? Why are you looking forward to this day Israel? Why do you think it will be a day of light, when it will be a day of darkness?
Why this crushing condemnation from the prophet? Because the people have failed to do justice. To love mercy. To walk humbly with God (Micah 6:8). And so they should NOT be looking forward to the day of the Lord.
The day of the Lord was supposed to be the day God returns to crush all of his enemies, all of THEIR enemies. Assyrians, Babylonians, Philisitines, Moabites, Edomites. Anyone that opposed God. But Amos is saying that THEY also opposed God. They did not do his righteousness and justice (yes righteousness and justice are something you do).
Amos is writing to wealthy and pious people. They practice religion and rest their security in their possessions and riches. But their security is short lived. They escape the lion but get eaten by the bear. They make it into the house but get bit by a serpent. They rely on their offerings to God, but God hates those offerings. They think they live in the light but they live in the dark. They think they are praising God but it’s all just a noise.
We are no different. Our security is also our darkness. Nostalgia, past successes, religious practices. These are our security. These save us from God himself. Or so we think. These keep us feeling safe. But they are actually our darkness. They are deceptive. They are noise. They are actions and intentions without true love (1 Corinthians 13).
Jesus, put a little love in our hearts.
What the Israelites don’t know is that the day of the Lord will occur in two phases. The first phase has already happened 2000 years ago in Bethlehem when Jesus Christ was born. The birth of Christ was the day of the Lord. In God’s mercy it was a day of light not darkness. Jesus is the Light. He IS God’s justice rolling down like water, and he is God’s righteousness like a mighty stream. He is everything Israel was not.
How? Jesus became the curse of Amos. He took the serpent’s bite. He was mauled by the wild animals. He entered the darkness. He became the burnt offering and the grain offering. So that we might be come the righteousness of God just as he is.
2 Corinthians 5:21. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
“To live is Christ” means having the justice and righteousness of God imputed to us in spite of us. Now God can receive our pure hearted praise. Now there is no more woe. Only blessing. Light not darkness. Now we can look forward in our Advent to the day of the Lord phase two. The day of judgment. Why? Because we have already passed through judgment and been granted the forgiveness and grace of our Savior.
Where is your security found? Like the Israelites of Amos’ day is it in your religious practices or past glories? Or is it in your imputed righteousness from union with Christ?
It’s not a Christmas song, but it is an Amos 5 song.