TODAY’S READING: AMOS 5-9
“And those who are left of them I will with the sword; not one of them shall flee away; not one of them shall escape.” – Amos 9:1
In Amos 9, Amos tells us that God will search out his enemies to kill them with the sword. Not a single enemy will be able to flee or escape. In the next three verses, Amos tells the great lengths God will go to kill his enemies.
“If they dig into Sheol, from there shall my hand take them; if they climb up to heaven, from there I will bring them down. If they hide themselves on top of Carmel, from there I will search them out and take them; and if they hide from my sight at the bottom of the sea, there I will command the serpent, and it shall bite them. And if they go into captivity before their enemies, there I command the sword, and it shall kill them; and I will fix my eyes upon them for evil and not for good.” – Amos 9:2-4
That’s quite a dire picture that Amos paints. There is nowhere that anyone can go to escape from God. God will find his enemies wherever they are and kill them. He will find them and do evil, not good, to them.
Is it possible that Amos did not understand God clearly? That the picture he painted of God was wrong?
Actually, isn’t it obvious that Amos wrong.
Amos said, “I will fix my eyes upon them for evil and not for good.”
In Matthew 5:44-45, Jesus said, “But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and the good, and sends his rain on the just and on the unjust.”
To be sons of the Father, we have to act like the Father.
How does the Father act?
He loves his enemies. He does good, not evil, to them. He gives the sun and the rain to all, whether they are good or bad, just or unjust. God never seeks to do evil to anyone. Therefore, 1 John 1:5 says, “This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” Further, James 1:17 says, “Every good and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”
Perhaps Amos heard God say that he was going to separate that which was not of him from all people. So, Amos interpreted this, because he had a veil over his understanding of God (2 Corinthians 3 and 4), as God was going to use a sword to kill his enemies.
But, God’s sword is “of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Ephesians 6:17) God’s sword is Jesus. And, we never see Jesus killing. Instead, we see Jesus dying.
God’s sword, instead of seeking to kills us, seeks to separate us from all that is not God. Therefore, Hebrews 4:12-13 says, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom me must give account.”
In Revelation 19:21, instead of being thrown in the lake of fire with the beast and the false prophet, “the rest were slain by the sword that came from the mouth of him was sitting on the horse.” God doesn’t throw any of the collaborators with Satan, the beast, and the false prophet into the lake of fire. Instead he slays them with the sword of his mouth, that is his word, which separates from them all their false ideas of who God is. Therefore, the birds gorge on their flesh, not their spirits. So, all of them lived and are saved.
While Amos paints the picture that God will go everywhere in creation to find and kill his enemies, Paul tells us that there is nowhere in creation we can go to escape from God’s saving love.
Romans 8:31-39 says, “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died – more than that, who was raised – who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of the Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, ‘For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
And, before we get on our high horse (where Paul once rode) and think that this applies only to us, to those we deem worthy, let us remember that in Romans 8 Paul is speaking about setting the entire creation right. His all means all people, not just the people in the Roman church he is writing to.
So, God goes anywhere and everywhere to find all people. Because nothing can separate anyone from his love.
Jesus tells us this very thing in the parable of the lost sheep. In Luke 15:3-5, Jesus said, “What many of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.”
Every person is one of Jesus’ lost sheep. And, Jesus will go into the far country, indeed wherever he needs to go, to find all his sheep that are lost.
While Amos says that there is nothing God’s enemies can do to escape his killing sword, Jesus and the New Testament reveal that there is nowhere we can go and nothing we can do that will cause us to escape God’s saving love.