|Amos - Rivers of Justice and Righteousness|
Amos prophesied around 750 BC during the reign of King Uzziah of Judah and Jeroboam II of Israel. The sins of Israel and Judah were so great that the entire nation ended in exile because they didn't repented. The sins were one of rejecting God and worshipping other gods. The outcome was injustice and lack of righteousness. There is similarity in Singapore where Gays are oppressed by Christians, and there is injustice and inequality for the poor and the needy.
What were the sins of Judah and Israel.
Judgement on Judah
Amos 2:4 This is what the LORD says: "For three sins of Judah, even for four, I will not relent. Because they have rejected the law of the LORD and have not kept his decrees, because they have been led astray by false gods, the gods their ancestors followed,
The sins of Judah was that they were mixing the worship of the God Almighty with other gods. The law is summarised by loving God in light of the many gods of Egypt and Canaan. It is only one God, one way. The greatest commandment is love, our love for God.
In the modern day context, do we love Jesus? do we place Him above ourselves, and even our theology and tradition. Do we see Jesus as Lord, God and Saviour, or do we get mixed up like Judah thinking that we worship a God of many names but is in fact one name, Jesus Christ.
In this dispensation of grace, God doesn't send us to exile. But without loving God, how do we love ourselves and how do we love others. Instead, we have worshipped ourselves, our intellect and self righteousness, and wealth. We have also allowed other spiritual deities, other gods to be equal with Jesus.
Judgement on Israel
Amos 2:6 Because they sell the righteous for silver, And the poor for a pair of sandals. Amos 4:1 Hear this word, you cows of Bashan, who are on the mountain of Samaria, Who oppress the poor, Who crush the needy, Amos 5:23 Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps. 24 But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream! Amos 5:26 Yea, ye took up the tabernacle of your Moloch, and Chiun your images, the star of your god, which ye had made to yourselves;
When Israel worshiped God in the Temple grounds, there is a river flowing out of the temple of God, there is justice and righteousness. It flows naturally out of the presence of God. We don't need to do much work. But Israel stopped the river of God's justice and righteousness.
Israel sold their righteousness for wealth, ie instead of worshipping God and letting the righteousness of God to come upon the nation through the prescribed ceremonies and animal sacrifices, they made church a business where money, fame and power come first rather than kingdom purposes. We are not too far away sometimes in our Prosperity theology.
When we worship God, we connect with a God of justice, to find compassion in our hearts. Our heart becomes soft, because God has given us a new heart. Out of the temple of God comes a call for grace and compassion. Instead Israel oppressed the poor and crushed the aspirations of the needy. How? they sold the poor as slaves and made common, human value and dignity and exchanged their slaves like sandals.
What happened to Israel? Surely they had great spiritual worship in the House of God? How did they let so much evil come in?
The reason was that they not only worshipped the God of Israel, but other gods. They became universalist. They also worshipped Moloch, and the heavenly stars where they sacrificed the children in their worship. We are are not too far away in our pluralistic theology even denying the existing of the devil.
In the 21st century, in Singapore, instead of the simplicity of the Gospel message where Jesus is God and Saviour, the way, the truth and the life to God, we have worshipped the the religious law (either good works of love, or abstaining from sin), we worship money, we place other spiritual deities on par with Jesus even escalated the saints, mary and the Pope. Jesus is put into the background mode although we still sing Jesus be the centre on Sundays.
Jesus need not die or even come on earth if the law suffices. When we are law minded, we don't love but instead we commit the great sins against God and the other. It is no suprise that Pastor Kong Hee of City Harvest (currently on trial) preached regularly on following strictly on God's commandments and against God's grace. But all the sins were discretely hidden.
It all started not because of any Crossover to the secular but when he brought in Sy Rogers of Church of Our Saviour, oppressing gays. When we are self righteous oppressing the weak and crushing them, sin enters. Self enters.
Justice and Righteousness can only effectively flows out of the temple of worship when Jesus becomes the temple and the Rock of our salvation. When we stand on Jesus completed work on the Cross of Calvary, His righteousness becomes ours, and God's grace and mercy is poured out into our hearts. As Christ is so are we and we become living temples.
The Law summarised by loving God and loving others didn't save the Pharisees nor the disciples. The Pharisees put Jesus to death in the name of loving God. The disciples all ran away except John.
The Salvation for the disciples was found in God's grace and mercy through Jesus Christ and not in the law. The Gospel ended with Jesus having breakfast with Peter. Do you Love me, asked Jesus. The conversation had started earlier when Peter answered that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God, the Saviour, the Way to God in Luke 9:20 and Mat 16:20.
When Grace and mercy are given by Jesus, righteousness and justice will flow down naturally. It is all of Christ, and not the law or of ourselves. It is all of grace and not by our own efforts of love or obedience to the law because Jesus is the God and Saviour and has already risen.
Doing righteousness and justice is about God's love, grace and mercy flowing from the throne room of God through us to the oppressed and the needy because of Jesus Christ. There is no command to love, because it is His love. There is no compulsion for righteous works because it is His righteousness. We are the ambassadors of God's grace without any self or political motive or aggenda. It is purely because we are of Christ. Right believing will lead to right actions.