When my father-in-law was still on his faith journey he asked me, “How can you reconcile the differences in God’s temperaments in the Bible? In the Old Testament He is full of judgment and in the New Testament He is all mercy.”
Quite simply, both are God’s character. They are two sides of the same coin. In fact, we more dearly appreciate God’s mercy and grace when we’ve clearly seen how we are subject to His justice and wrath.
Amos talked about both of these attributes, too, but he does so in a masterful way in which mercy and justice swirl around each other. It’s almost as if Amos can’t talk about justice without mentioning mercy or vice versa.
How do we know God’s judgment is coming? Because God said so! Amos quotes God saying judgment is coming “because of three sins, even for four” (see these verses in Amos’ first and second chapters). Even as Amos uses that phrase he is pointing to God’s mercy. He’s stating, “God could have punished you the very first time you sinned, but He is giving you another chance, and another chance, and another chance….”
But make no mistake: a day of judgment is coming. God concludes, “Now then I will crush you” (2:13).
God tries to get people’s attention by sending famines and plagues and disasters, but after each one of these God sadly notes “yet you have not returned to Me”—five times He says this in Amos 4!
But even as God calls them out on their lack of repentance He reminds them twice of the solution—“Seek Me and live” (5:4-6).
Finally, Amos concludes his book by letting us know God’s judgment IS coming, but so is God’s mercy (9:1-4, 11-15)!
Dear Christians, our responsibility is to let people know that there is a Heaven to gain and a Hell to shun. We must boldly and lovingly tell people of…
- … God’s justice AND His mercy
- … God’s wrath AND His grace
- … Heaven for the repentant AND Hell for the unrepentant
God loves people AND He hates the sin that keeps people from Him. It’s a message people need to hear, although they may not like to hear it. Like Amos, can God use you to warn this world of His judgment AND to woo this world by His love? Our world needs to hear BOTH-AND. They need to hear the whole story.
Join me next week as we continue our journey of learning the major lessons that the minor prophets teach us.