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 in Amos’ day were looking forward to the day of the Lord. But Amos is asking, why? Why are you looking forward to this terrible day Israel? Why do you think it will be a day of light, when it will actually be a day of darkness?
Woe to you who desire the day of the Lord!
The day of the Lord was supposed to be the day God returns to crush all of his enemies, and therefore, all of THEIR enemies. They believed that on the day of the Lord they would be restored to greatness. They were already experiencing a time a great prosperity and they thought the day of the Lord would just keep the good times rolling.
But what if Israel is also God’s enemy?
The Israelites were blind to their own sin. They practiced a bogus version of Yahweh worship, complete with golden calves at shrines in Dan and Bethel (not Jerusalem). But this isn’t the only thing God is angry about. He despises their feasts, and solemn assemblies, their offerings and noisy songs not because they are in the wrong place, but because there is no justice and no righteousness to back them up. Their religion was really just one of power and appearances.
Is it possible that we, like the Israelites, are completely deceived about our relationship with God? That we too worship our possessions, prosperity, and power? That our lights of security are actually our darkness? Could we be placing all our hope in things like tradition, nostalgia, past successes, or present politics? Could the very things we call blessings, actually be destroying us? Are we escaping the lion just to get eaten by the bear?
Could we, like the Israelites, be desiring a Jesus who only makes us happy without making us holy? A Jesus who solves my problems without exposing my sin? Is it possible that we too are relying on our offerings or our good behavior to appease Christ, while he actually hates it all, because it lacks real love and justice? Do we look past the poor? Forget the oppressed? Do we see what’s happening on the news and immediately think of ourselves, choosing fear over compassion? Do we listen to noisy Christian songs all day and then gossip, complain, and criticize others all night? Are we living lives full of self-righteous actions and intentions without true love?
Yes, we are.
But praise God that even though all of this is true about us, the day of the Lord has come to us to dispel our darkness with the light of Christ. Jesus is the God’s justice rolling down like water, and he is God’s righteousness like a mighty stream. He took the serpent’s bite. He was mauled by the bear. He entered the darkness. He became the burnt offering, the grain offering, and the peace offering that God required. All from a pure heart. All for us. Jesus became the woe of Amos so that we might become the righteousness of God just as he is (2 Cor. 5:21). He is everything Israel was not. And, thankfully, everything you and I are not.
“To live is Christ” means we now have the justice and righteousness that God requires imputed to us in spite of us. Now we can sing humble songs of praise, looking forward to the day of the Lord part two. The day of Christ’s return to judge the earth. Why? Because we have already passed through the judgment of Christ’s cross in him, and been granted the justice and righteousness of our Savior.
In what way might you be deceived about your relationship with God?
You in Christ
Is your relationship with God founded upon the hope of Christ’s righteousness alone?
Christ in you
How can you be an instrument of Christ’s justice, righteousness and love today?
Playlist: songs of justice