Amos 3:6 says that God brings calamity, evil, destruction (depending on the translation) & Amos 3:2 says God punishes people for their iniquities, sin, transgression, (depending on the translation). Does God still punish this side of the cross? Does God cause calamity still?

A friend asked me this last week and I thought I would share it here on my blog. What I have learned after reading this question, and then exploring an answer I will share below, but it is important to remember, ‘never read a Bible verse’. I have heard Greg Koukl say that more times than I can count. Always read what is above, and what is below the verse. Consider the context, and who the passage is written to.

Amos and Hosea are two prophets in the Old Testament who focus on the Northern Kingdom. Both begin their days during the reign of Jeroboam II, 750’s B.C. Amos and his prophesies are very short lived, while Hosea lasted until just before the fall of the Northern Kingdom.

Amos was from the south, but his message was for the Northern Kingdom. He was a shepherd by trade with no credentials to speak of. He had a burning message to give to the North about their comfortable position of power and prosperity. Despite their wealth, they were ignoring the needs of the poor, the widows, the disadvantaged. Multiple commentaries speak to the parallels between that time under the reign of Jeroboam II, our own prosperity and position as a world leader in technology, wealth, and health. He was confident in his message and he knew it was his mission (Amos 7:14-15) to prophesy about a warning to the kingdom of Israel. 1

During this time, Israel was guilty of what our current New Age world view stream of thought does, specifically syncretism. It means combining two or more religions. Jeroboam II ruled for 41 years as the 14th king of ancient Israel. His reign brought a very prosperous time for Israel, not since Solomon had Israel enjoyed such comforts, wealth, and power.

Unfortunately, the people in the North ignore the warnings of these two prophets and within a generation, (40 years), the Northern Kingdom is absorbed by the Assyrian empire.

Quest Bible Study notes explain that He permitted Israel to suffer the consequence of its own evil actions. The Northern Kingdom was absorbed into a pagan world and never returned as Judah in the south did 150 years later. The greed, corruption, self-centered behavior, and syncretism secured their place. Their identity as a nation was gone forever. 2 During this time there was a great earthquake (Amos 1:1) that researchers estimate up to a 7.8, equivalent to what Nepal just experienced the other day.

Jamieson, Faussett, and Brown Commentary says, “I will walk with you only to punish you; as a lion walks with his prey.” 3 They also explained when you have a corrupt nation, there God’s instruments of punishment are sure also to be. For example, when you have a crack in a foundation of a house, depending on the severity, you may have to build a new foundation. That means tearing out the old with your shovel, crowbar, sledgehammer, or jackhammer if you have one. Unfortunately for the North, it was not in God’s plan to replace, only remove.

The Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary reads put it this way, “The distinguishing favors of God to us, if they do not restrain from sin, shall not exempt from punishment.” 4 I thought of it this way. Can your favorite student get away with cheating on a test if caught? Of course not. Neither can a favored nation continue with immorality, idolatry, and shedding the blood of innocents without punishment. Yes, I am talking about America.

Does God still bring calamity after the cross? We live in a fallen world and the consequences of that initial fall surround us every day. Does someone wants to look at it as God does not punish after the cross, but we are just suffering the outcomes of the original sin? What loving father does not correct? Does not punish for poor behavior?

Another source I read commented on understanding the difference between the punishment and consequence of sin. If a student cheats on a test and is caught, their punishment may be that they receive an F on the test. The obvious consequence is their good character, (assuming they had one) is now in question. Their teacher, peers, and maybe their parents will question their truthfulness in the future. We still have to deal with the consequence of our own sins.

So many Christians are uncomfortable when we go beyond the ‘love’ characteristic of God. How can a loving God allow so much pain and suffering in this world? So instead of answering the tough questions about God’s character, they may claim He does not punish any more, but we are just still just experiencing the shock waves from the fall. Christians are quick to speak of and point out his mercy, goodness, grace, but justice, as an attribute of God often takes the back seat in conversations. Of course we are still experiencing the fall, but think of it this way. If a man murdered someone prior to the cross, would he experience punishment and consequence, but after the cross only consequence? Maybe the answer depends on his repentance, his heart.

Unrepentant sin leads to punishment. I think Scripture is pretty clear on that. New Testament, Old Testament, before the cross, after the cross. We are not God’s pets. It is not His obligation to make us happy. Our purpose in life is not happiness, but knowledge of God, and that is what will bring true and everlasting fulfillment. We may experience horrible and painful losses in life that make absolutely no sense with the purpose of producing happiness in life, yet they may not be pointless in terms of communing with God. We are not in a position to know how those catastrophic events in our lives move us toward God, but we can rest assured that a Godly response will bring us closer to Him. 5

God is not so interested in how we fail, but rather how we respond to that failure. We have all experienced consequence’s for our failures, and if you think back and ponder some of them for a few minutes, you will begin to see that some of your greatest lessons in life that you learned were due to your failures. William Lane Craig put it this way, “…God’s will for our lives can include failure. It other words, God’s will may be that you fail, and He may lead you into failure! For there are things that God has to teach you through failure that He could never teach you through success.” 6

Sources:

1. Zondervan. Quest Bible Study Notes. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011. Print.
2. Ibid.
3. Jamieson, Robert., Fausset A.R., Brown, David. Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown’s Commentary on the Whole Bible., J.B. Lippincott & Company; Eerdmans, 2011. Print.
4. Henry, Matthew. Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2003. Print.
5. Craig, William L. Hard Questions Real Answers. Wheaton: Crossway, 2003. Print
6. Ibid.

 

 

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This side of the cross by James Glazier is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at https://www.dev.christianapologetics.blog.

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