This chapter in Amos is all about God’s justice. The Merriam-Webster definition of justice is: “the maintenance or administration of what is just especially by the impartial adjustment of conflicting claims or the assignment of merited rewards or punishments.”
In this chapter the Lord rebukes His own people for turning justice into wormwood, a bitter-tasting, poisonous plant (v.7), for hating those who speak truth (v. 10), for trampling on the poor (v. 11), for ignoring the needy at the gates (v. 12) and of course the most famous passage from this book, the verse that Martin Luther King Jr. used in conclusion from one of him most famous civil rights speeches…
But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. Amos 5:24
Reading God’s holy yet loving Word here should cause us to pause and think about our part in God’s justice here on this earth. Especially verses 10-13. I’ve come across this chapter and some of these verses a lot in the last few years as I’ve studied God’s justice in an unjust world as of lately and for some reason v. 10-13 really stood out to me this time. In ancient Israel, the leaders would gather at the city gate to decide the civil cases that came to them. However, instead of making fair judgments based on the TRUTH, those leaders would accept bribes or turn a blind eye to certain cases if they didn’t give them a personal advantage, even if they were righteous pleas.
These particular passages shook me in light of what I’ve heard about and even see with some Christians doing the same with politics in society and within their churches. Have we ignored truth for our own personal gain? Have we turned a blind eye to just causes because they don’t fit in with our agenda or beliefs? Have we hidden truths and ignored justice in certain situations because it can cause our ministry or witness to crumble? Sadly, too often I’ve seen cases and heard stories where this has been the case and as we all know, Amos 5 is just as true today as it was in 760 B.C. As v. 15 says, If we truly hate evil and love what is good, we will do everything we can to establish justice at the gate. For all. Because our God is a just God. His mercy and grace is meshed with His justice on the Cross. Someone still needed to pay for the penalty of sin, whether that’s Jesus or us. It’s our responsibility to act on God’s behalf to continue to bring justice to unjust situations and it can also open up doors with others who don’t know Christ but will see our motive behind such desires and therefore seek this just God in connection with their own desires for what the innocent deserve.
If you have some extra time today, listen to one of my favorite Sojourn worship songs about that famous Amos 5:24 passage.
By: Erik Koliser — West Campus Pastor