When Injustice Ravages

MEMORY VERSE: “Let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream.” —Amos 5:24

AMOS 5:10-15; 8:4-6

THE prophecy of Amos is similar to the other prophecies of the Old Testament in that the burden of their message is to warn Israel of the dire consequences of their sinful ways.

The nation of Israel had a very special relationship with God. After he delivered them from Egypt he entered into a covenant with them at Mount Sinai. God gave them his laws, which the nation agreed to obey, and in return God promised them blessings in basket and store and victory over their enemies. But on the other hand, if they disobeyed his laws, he promised to punish them.

The history of the nation was that they were almost continually rebellious, and as a consequence they were, except for brief periods, constantly subjected to the promised punishments, but not without prior warning from the prophets.

In Amos 3:1-3 the prophet says, “Hear this word that the Lord hath spoken against you, O children of Israel, against the whole family which I brought up from the land of Egypt, saying, You only have I known of all the families of the earth: therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities. Can two walk together, except they be agreed?”

In our selected text for today’s lesson the prophet is emphasizing the nation’s almost complete lack of a sense of justice. They oppressed the poor and took from them burdens of wheat. They took bribes, and deprived the poor of their rights. In all of this they assumed a pious, righteous attitude, because outwardly they appeared to conform to the letter of the law, thus appearing righteous to man, but as hypocrites to God, who looketh upon the heart.

Jesus, in his scathing remarks to the scribes and Pharisees, said, “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.”—Matt. 23:23,24

It was because of their continued unfaithfulness and hardness of heart that they failed to realize that it was impossible for them to live up to the high standards of the law. They should have come to the realization that they needed an intercessor, and that the One who would intercede on their behalf was the promised Messiah, who became their stone of stumbling.

The Apostle Paul, in Romans 9:31-33, says, “But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumbling stone; as it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumbling stone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.” And again, “For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.” And then, speaking of the true way unto salvation, he says, “For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”—Rom. 10:3,10

It is impossible for fallen man to conform to God’s perfect law through his own efforts. The ideals of love and justice and mercy can be attained only as the heart’s desire, and the Heavenly Father accepts the desire of his children as if this was the actual attainment of these ideals. The apostle expresses the thought thus: “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.”—Rom. 7:24,25

Justice and righteousness will not prevail in the earth until the establishment of the kingdom, and then, the prophet declares, “When thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.” Then will be the time when judgment will “run down as the waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream.”—Amos 5:24

Dawn Bible Students Association
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