“I gave you empty stomachs in every city and lack of bread in every town, yet you have not returned to me,” declares the Lord . “I also withheld rain from you when the harvest was still three months away. I sent rain on one town, but withheld it from another. One field had rain; another had none and dried up. People staggered from town to town for water but did not get enough to drink, yet you have not returned to me,” declares the Lord . “Many times I struck your gardens and vineyards, destroying them with blight and mildew. Locusts devoured your fig and olive trees, yet you have not returned to me,” declares the Lord . “I sent plagues among you as I did to Egypt. I killed your young men with the sword, along with your captured horses. I filled your nostrils with the stench of your camps, yet you have not returned to me,” declares the Lord . “I overthrew some of you as I overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. You were like a burning stick snatched from the fire, yet you have not returned to me,” declares the Lord . “Therefore this is what I will do to you, Israel, and because I will do this to you, Israel, prepare to meet your God.” He who forms the mountains, who creates the wind, and who reveals his thoughts to mankind, who turns dawn to darkness, and treads on the heights of the earth— the Lord God Almighty is his name. – Amos 4:6-13
Well Joel was 123 and out. It was so quick I had to take a day off the water to recover and regroup. So today we float on into the book of Amos. Amos is another of the “minor” prophets, maybe he will best Joel for water references. Amos was apparently not a “religious” man born of other prophets or religious people. He was apparently a farmer and a shepherd, a person of humble means. I am looking forward to learning more about this man and How God is leading him.
This passage gets into deep water right away with some pondering about what we are to do if God “sent rain on one town, but withheld it from another”. This would seem to be a variant of a question that many ponder which is “why do bad things happen to good people” or “why would a good God allow bad things “rain” to happen to some people and not others? The answer provided by God is that He wants us to be “returned to me”, “me” being God. So when we encounter a “dry town” we are not supposed to frantically go in search of a “wet one”, we are to frantically pursue God, the Father of the Rain.
It sounds like all the adversity and calamity that the people of Israel are experiencing has only one purpose, to drive the people back to God. The imagery here is very powerful and poignant, “You were like a burning stick snatched from the fire, yet you have not returned to me”. One would think that upon being “snatched from the fire” we would be grateful “sticks” and seek the arm that reached out and delivered us from the fire, but God has given us the freedom remain in the fire if that is what we choose.
In the end God wins, the people of Israel will either meet God because they seek Him or because His presence will become self-evident. “Therefore this is what I will do to you, Israel, and because I will do this to you, Israel, prepare to meet your God.” God is asking the people to prepare themselves to meet the One “who forms the mountains, who creates the wind, and who reveals his thoughts to mankind, who turns dawn to darkness, and treads on the heights of the earth”.
I find it interesting and intriguing that included in the list of amazing things God can do is tucked, “reveals his thoughts to mankind”. This one item seems somehow out of place and different than the others. It is the only item that involves God reaching out to us on a soul to soul level, His mind to our mind and our thoughts to His thoughts….
So I confess I am a Star Trek fan and I actually grew up watching the reruns of the original series with William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy. Spock had this neat mind-meld trick where he could communicate mind to mind and soul to soul with pretty much anyone, even other species like a large silica monster that can dissolve rock. I am pretty sure that God does not have pointy ears like Spock and He does not need to stick His fingers on our faces to make a soul to soul connection.
So what is God telling me here. I guess it seems like He is saying that when things are hard and when we are encountering adversity like Job with wave after wave of troubles our first response should be to run to God as fast as our legs can carry us.
Prayer: God help us to respond to difficult times by seeking Your face.