Sunday, November 23, 2008
Amos 4:6 – 11 makes for really heavy reading.
“ I gave you empty stomachs in every city and lack of bread in every town…I also withheld rain from you when the harvest was still three months away….Many times I struck your gardens and vineyards, I struck them with blight and mildew…I sent plagues among you as I did to Egypt. I killed your young men with the sword… "I overthrew some of you as I overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah…yet you have not returned to me," declares the LORD.
This is not a case of bad things happening randomly and God making use of the circumstances to bring about someone’s good. This is not about Satan doing the bad stuff to people and God using it to bring about his purposes. This is not about other people doing bad stuff and God getting the blame. God took responsibility for each of the disasters that overtook the nation. They were to be left in no doubt that none of it was random, none of it was caused by Satan, none of it was caused by other people…it was all caused by God! This is not even God allowing the bad stuff to happen. There is nothing passive about any of the verbs here.
I am having difficulty with this God! This is an angry God.
I was talking with a group of young people the other day about whether parents should be allowed to smack their children. Being as most of them were still of smackable age, almost to a child they disagreed. One lone hand up insisted that sometimes it was the only way to get the message across, and sometimes it came as a last resort when all other attempts at correction had failed. Another voice argued about what happens when the message of the smack doesn’t get heeded. Do you just smack harder? And then harder still? And then what comes next?
I am not sure that I have ever felt God’s smack, or if I have been smacked, whether I recognised it as a smack.
Do you just wipe out these paragraphs of scripture and say that God doesn’t do that any more? If he doesn’t do it any more, why did he do it then? If he doesn’t do it any more, why not?
I know that Jesus has entered the scene. With Jesus comes complete and total forgiveness. We are made right with God in a way that was not possible for people in the time of Amos. We have the ability to please God in a way that the people at the time of Amos didn’t have. I stand in Christ. Christ pleases God, and I in Christ please God.
Does that mean that there isn’t an angry God any longer? I don’t think so. I am just not sure what I do think about it all.