A few weeks ago I started reading the minor prophets. (Minor in this case indicates short, not of lesser importance.) I was reading Mark’s gospel one morning when the Lord interrupted my reading to ask a question.
“Have you considered Amos lately?” Of course he already knew I hadn’t. So, I flipped over to that Old Testament book and started reading. It didn’t take long to finish but it was serious reading.
When I had finished it, he spoke again. “Habakkuk?” And so I read that next. Over the next few weeks came Joel, Jonah, Obadiah, Hosea, Nahum, Micah, Zephaniah and Haggai, reading them online via Biblica with the NIV and Amplified versions side by side on the computer screen. I’m now in the middle of Zechariah. I also keep a map of ancient Israel open so I can follow along with the places mentioned, and now and then do an online search for additional information on timelines, people and places.
It’s been a sobering process. There is an obvious and alarming similarity between the behavior patterns that led to the downfall of the northern kingdom (Israel) and southern kingdom (Judah) and the behavior patterns – cultural, social and political – that exist in the United States today.
Prophet after prophet warned the people to turn back to God, to repent, to get rid of false idols, to return to worshiping the only true God. If they didn’t, well God’s patience was running out and disaster was going to happen when it did.
Foreign powers would invade, conquer and carry off the people of God into far-away lands. They would be enslaved. He would punish those invaders as well, but first he would use them to turn back the hearts of the people to God.
But the people didn’t listen. And so Israel and Judah were invaded, were conquered, and the people of God were carried off into far-away lands. Enslaved.
Here’s a passage from Amos Chapter 5 about The Day of the Lord:
- Woe to you who long for the day of the Lord! Why do you long for the day of the Lord? That day will be darkness, not light.
- It will be as though a man fled from a lion only to meet a bear, as though he entered his house and rested his hand on the wall only to have a snake bite him.
- Will not the day of the Lord be darkness, not light— pitch-dark, without a ray of brightness?
- “I hate, I despise your religious festivals; your assemblies are a stench to me.
- Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Though you bring choice fellowship offerings, I will have no regard for them.
- Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps.
- But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!”