The Call to Justice
Read: Amos 5:18-27
Context: Amos lived during the reign of Jeroboam II. At this time in history, Israel and Judah experienced political stability and, as a result, financial prosperity. However, it was also a time of great corruption and idolatry for the Hebrew people. The prophet Amos hailed from Judah but was sent by God to preach to the nation of Israel. His message called for the people to return to pure covenant living, as well as to enact justice over the land.
Here we find, once again, that the people of Israel are more than happy to allow the blessings of God to flow into their lives but not flow through them for the sake of their neighbor. So we have the words of God flowing through the prophet Amos, and evidently, God is not amused with his people going through the motions. Rather, he is more concerned about the condition of the heart and life than the praise that comes from the lips of “worshipers.” In these passages God tells the people of Israel that, in fact, He hates their empty worship, and that true worship is a life and community that justice and righteousness flow out of. In fact the consistency and incessant nature of that justice and righteousness is to roll on like a river and be like a never-ending stream. So justice and righteousness are to be ever-flowing from the people of God, they should be a continual fruit of the lives of the community of believers.
What does this ever-flowing righteousness and justice really mean? Righteousness is ultimately the proper relationship with God, neighbor, and even enemy. Righteousness, as evidenced in Amos, also is a call communally to seek righteousness on behalf of those who do not have it. Of course, we know that righteousness is not the given; there is brokenness and sin in the world that distorts, twists, and dis-orders our relationships. This is where justice comes in. Justice is the process of properly re-ordering relationships so that righteousness, the proper and true relationship, can be achieved. Righteousness and justice are at work when the people of God live out the commandments of loving God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength; loving our neighbor as ourselves; and loving our enemies. Pursuing this kind of love in its fullness ultimately becomes the out pouring of righteousness and justice from the community of believers.
- Amos is not a book that’s preached on very often- did you learn anything new about Amos from the reading or videos? What stuck out to you?
- If biblical justice is all about re-ordering and restoring relationships, do you think this looks different than the world’s idea of justice? How so?
- Righteousness and justice are supposed to flow outward from our love for God and God’s love for us. Do you think this is easy to do? Does it start out difficult and then get easier?
- Have you ever felt like you were “going through the motions” with something? What did it feel like?
- What are some ways we can cultivate our hearts and actions as a community to allow righteousness and justice to flow out of our worship?