Amos, the earthquake, the wrath of God and the cross

The words of Amos, one of the shepherds of Tekoa—the vision he saw concerning Israel two years before the earthquake. Amos 1:1

The prophecy of Amos, the shepherd prophet, who lived 800 years before Christ, opens with a unique contextual reference. Amos spoke God’s words two years before the earthquake.

The earthquake is a consistent thread through the prophecy, as it features in 2:13, 3:14-15, 6:11, 8:8, 9:1a & 5.

There is a second consistent thread through the prophecy. The wrath of God against the sinfulness the nations, including Judah and Israel 1:3,6,9,11,13 2:1,4,6). The sins of the nations include many contemporary issues: people trafficking (1:6 & 1:9), violence against women and unborn babies (1:11), unjust war (1:3), child sacrifice and burning alive the ruler of foreigners (2:1). The sins of Judah stem from rejecting God’s laws and decrees (2:4). God announces that the people of Judah will be judged with the world because they live like the world around them.

The prophesied earthquake is the means by which God exercises his wrath against sinfulness and evil, including the people of Judah. Not all earthquakes are like this. Jesus teaches us that the tower of Siloam collapsed killing 18 people and it was not because of their sin. We can say that earthquakes are a sign of God’s wrath. In the case of the earthquake which occurred around 750BC, God had revealed by his word through the prophet Amos that he would not hold back his wrath.

The opening chapter of Amos has four lessons for followers of Christ.
1. Do not fret, worry or be anxious about evil or feel helpless in the face of evil. God’s wrath is coming.
2. Do not coalesce or even toy with evil. The followers of Jesus must be holy and distinctive, or be judged with the world.
3. Remember the cross. As Jesus died the sky darked and the earth shook. The wrath of God has not and will not be turned away from human evil. The wrath of God was born by the eternal Son, as the triune God turned his wrath from the people he loves and took it within himself, as Father, Son and Holy Spirit worked together to rescue us from the wrath to come.
4. There will be wars and rumours of wars as well as earthquakes, and these things must happen, then the final judgement of God will involve the shaking of the earth and all heavenly bodies (Matthew 24:7&29).

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