There are times in life when it’s necessary, good, and wise to ask, “What’s the worst-case scenario?” Some of those instances can be relatively benign – like considering if you should purchase the optional “trip insurance” when you are booking a flight or a vacation. But there are other times when this consideration is more grave – like when you are signing the consent forms for a major surgery. What’s the worst thing that could happen?
When it comes to the relationship we enter when we make the decision to follow God, Amos prompts us to ask, “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” Actually, God in Amos, doesn’t just prompt the asking of that question, he also provides the answer: The worst-case scenario is that our God would become our enemy.
I’m not sure we often consider the possibility of this scenario or even speak of the reality of its potential. That’s one of the dangers we, along with the whole church of Christ, face when we neglect or avoid the less popular books and passages of the Bible.
In the first section (prophecy) of Amos, God comes to his people with an 11th hour warning of judgement. This week, as we move into the second prophecy in Amos, there’s a shift. We move from warnings of potential judgement into the actual courtroom. Witnesses have been called and the proceedings begun. While this shift is subtle, we get the difference and the significance. It’s one thing to get a threatening letter or message. But it’s another thing to find yourself in an actual courtroom.
In Amos 3:9-4:5, God becomes the adversary of his people. That’s the worst-case scenario of the Covenant he made with them- the same Covenant he has made with us. Our defender, helper, and advocate can become our accuser, punisher, and adversary. As much as we might not want to consider this, it’s a biblical reality. It’s not an outdated or replaced “Old Testament” idea, but something we continue to see in the New Testament. Consider 1 Corinthians 11:27-32, Acts 5, and Revelation 2-3.
The prophecy of Amos is deliberate, crafted rhetoric. The words, the parallels, the allusions, and the logic of God’s argument/case is poetic, powerful, and penetrating. It’s also painful. Amos 3:9-4:5 is wince-inducing. It’s one of those passages where, when we “get it,” our eyes enlarge, and our jaws begin to drop. We have to consider: “Why does God slow down and gets so painfully pointed?”
It’s not wrong for us to consider, “What’s the worst-case scenario?” and “How do I avoid it!” I think that’s why God has given us Amos in his Word. Amos 3:9-4:5 is the passage that answers those questions. It’s an instructive, cautionary tale. It’s something we would be foolish to not consider seriously. I mean, we don’t want to find ourselves in a situation where God becomes our adversary, right? So, join me as we take some time to prayerfully reflect and consider this passage and prepare our hearts for corporate worship this Sunday.
Yours in Christ’s love,