Amos 9 Sift Lord

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Questions: What happens when God gets angry? Can we escape? Will anyone? How do we respond to His power? What does He want? What will He give? Is He really that good? Do we want to be that firmly planted?

“Read More” to pursue answers from the Prophet Amos.

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Lord, make me a Fountain of your Love.
Draw me into your Presence
And fill me with your Holy Spirit
That I would know you as my Father
And manifest the image of Christ
In this world, and the world to come. Amen.

Amos 9:1-15

I saw the Lord standing upon the altar: and he said, Smite the lintel of the door, that the posts may shake: and cut them in the head, all of them;

God’s patience has finally and completely run out — and it is not a pretty sight:

and I will slay the last of them with the sword: he that fleeth of them shall not flee away, and he that escapeth of them shall not be delivered.
Though they dig into hell, thence shall mine hand take them; though they climb up to heaven, thence will I bring them down:
And though they hide themselves in the top of Carmel, I will search and take them out thence; and though they be hid from my sight in the bottom of the sea, thence will I command the serpent, and he shall bite them:
And though they go into captivity before their enemies, thence will I command the sword, and it shall slay them: and I will set mine eyes upon them for evil, and not for good.

I know many people are uncomfortable with this (or really, any) display of anger. Alas, I fear that is only because we close our eyes to the depths of injustice in this world, and have forgotten that there are things we should be this angry about.

And one of the worst is to set ourselves up as gods, ignoring God’s commands about righteousness, charity, and integrity while we devote ourselves to selfish fulfillment and the exploitation of others, reveling in our own power.

For people like that — like us! — the only cure is to be overwhelmed by God’s unanswerable power:

And the Lord GOD of hosts [is] he that toucheth the land, and it shall melt, and all that dwell therein shall mourn: and it shall rise up wholly like a flood; and shall be drowned, as [by] the flood of Egypt.
[It is] he that buildeth his stories in the heaven, and hath founded his troop in the earth; he that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth: The LORD [is] his name.

Of course we’d like to think we’re “special”, that God loves us and would never want to hurt us. But the harsh reality is that God is far more fair and just than we’d often like:

[Are] ye not as children of the Ethiopians unto me, O children of Israel? saith the LORD. Have not I brought up Israel out of the land of Egypt? and the Philistines from Caphtor, and the Syrians from Kir?

Yes, God did bring us this far — but that just increases our obligation to Him. It doesn’t mean we deserve special treatment when we turn from Him:

Behold, the eyes of the Lord GOD [are] upon the sinful kingdom, and I will destroy it from off the face of the earth; saving that I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob, saith the LORD.

Though, it does mean that there is a glimmer of hope even in the midst of judgement:

For, lo, I will command, and I will sift the house of Israel among all nations, like as [corn] is sifted in a sieve, yet shall not the least grain fall upon the earth.

It would be nice if that meant that godly people would never have to share in the suffering and judgment; alas, who is godly enough to ensure that? Rather, I am tempted to see this as referring to the diaspora and exile, which only those who cling fast to their God will survive (as a people).

Though, to be sure, the passage does seem to bespeak a more immediate judgement — especially on those who deny it:

All the sinners of my people shall die by the sword, which say, The evil shall not overtake nor prevent us.

Yet, just when we think God’s anger has so overwhelmed Him (and us) that there’s nothing left, we suddenly catch a glimpse of God’s redeeming heart:

In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old:

And not just restoration, but expansion:

That they may possess the remnant of Edom, and of all the heathen, which are called by my name, saith the LORD that doeth this.

And not just expansion, but overflowing abundance, that takes longer to gather than it does to create:

Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that soweth seed; and the mountains shall drop sweet wine, and all the hills shall melt.

In fact, it is a blessing more powerful than the earlier judgement:

And I will bring again the captivity of my people of Israel, and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit [them]; and they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine thereof; they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them.

But it is not merely they who will be planting and tending vineyards. God Himself will plant and nurture them, as His own everlasting garden:

And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them, saith the LORD thy God.

It is difficult for us — me — to reconcile God’s severe judgement with his overflowing generosity. Yet, I’m starting to suspect that the two are inextricably linked, and that only by submitting to both can I understand either.

Prayer
God, I don’t want to wait for the day of judgment to submit to you, and acknowledge your strength and power. Help me to honor you and your glory now, while it is a voluntary choice. Teach me to praise you, in all your terrible majesty. Grant me the awe of an Einstein, the compassion of a St. Francis, the humility of a St. Bernard. Let me live a life of holy fear of You, that I need fear nothing else on this earth. I ask all this in Jesus name, Amen.

About the Title:
Today’s title is about facing up to the Dark Side.

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