Level Ground


Lord, keep us humble. Take away our judgemental spirits.  Just when we think we stand, are perfect, and that all the attention should be on the sins of others, God reminds us that we are not as holy as we think we are.  The ground is level at the foot of the cross…

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,
5 I will send fire on Judah
that will consume the fortresses of Jerusalem.”

6 This is what the Lord says:

“For three sins of Israel,
even for four, I will not relent.
They sell the innocent for silver,
and the needy for a pair of sandals.
7 They trample on the heads of the poor
as on the dust of the ground
and deny justice to the oppressed.
Father and son use the same girl
and so profane my holy name.
8 They lie down beside every altar
on garments taken in pledge.
In the house of their god
they drink wine taken as fines.

9 “Yet I destroyed the Amorites before them,
though they were tall as the cedars
and strong as the oaks.
I destroyed their fruit above
and their roots below.
10 I brought you up out of Egypt
and led you forty years in the wilderness
to give you the land of the Amorites.

11 “I also raised up prophets from among your children
and Nazirites from among your youths.
Is this not true, people of Israel?”
declares the Lord.
12 “But you made the Nazirites drink wine
and commanded the prophets not to prophesy.
Amos 2:4-12

Reading through chapter 1 of the prophet Amos’ writing this morning, I could see that Israel’s neighbours were in trouble.  They had abused and manipulated and attacked God’s people, and so Damascus, Gaza, Tyre, Edom, Ammon, and Moab were under the Lord’s judgment.  That’s it, Lord. Get the bad guys.  Deal with them!

And then we come to Amos 2:4, in which God turns his attention back to Judah and Israel.  They had also sinned and God was calling them out.

The other night I quoted Proverbs 16:18 to some friends: Pride goes before a fall.  When we think we stand, when we think we are perfect, and when we think all the attention should be on the sins of others, God reminds us that we are not as holy as we think we are.

What are the sins of the people of God?  Amos reveals that they had rejected God’s law, not kept his decrees, worshiped false gods, sold people into slavery, trampled on the poor, denied justice to the oppressed, committed adultery and fornication, profaned the temple, forced those committed to God to break their vows, and prevented others from fulfilling God’s purpose for their lives…

Whoah.

As I read that list, I have forgotten all the sins listed against the other cities and nations in chapter 1.  They are meaningless to me now.  I have no judgment in my heart toward them.  I do not think the people of God are better than them.

I am humbled before the Lord because I realize that God’s own people have sinned greatly.

What’s worse?

We have not learned.

As I reflect on the list of sins of the people of God, I see sins that either I have committed or which I know are offenses of my brothers and sisters in this generation of the church.  We are not the pure and holy and undefiled of God.  We are the strugglers and backsliders who are stuck, often, in the cycle of Romans 7: we do what we don’t want to do and we don’t do what we want to do…

Lord, keep us humble and take away our judgmental spirits.  Lead us in your everlasting way.

Amen.

Marc Kinna

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