Judgment on Injustice
Amos 5:6-15; 8:4-7
INTRODUCTION If men sometimes make a mockery of justice, it is because they have departed far from their Creator. God is perfectly just in character and conduct, and commands us to deal justly with one another.
When injustice seems to prevail in this world, it is for only a limited time. God permits it to be so that the wickedness of evildoers may find such expression as to be manifest to all, while His ultimate judgment will be the more recognized and appreciated as it appears in contrast with the injustices of our present age.
"Judgment must begin at the house of God" [I Peter 4:17]. God is especially concerned about injustices among His own people, who must be taught at any cost to live His life.
This divine concern for practical righteousness among the people of God is manifested under both the old covenant and the new.
Lesson outline follows: 1. Judicial Power, Amos 5:6-9. a. Power to consume, 6. b. Power to condemn, 7-8. c. Power to correct, 9. 2. Judicial Perversion, Amos 5:10-12. a. Perverse attitudes, 10. b. Perverse allotment, 11. c. Perverse actions, 12. 3. Judicial Prudence, Amos 5:13-15. a. Prudent silence, 13. b. Prudent seeking, 14. c. Prudent sanctification, 15. 4. Judicial Purpose, Amos 8:4-7. a. Purpose of covetousness, 4-6. b. Purpose of condemnation, 7. NOTES ON THE TEXT:
JUDICIAL POWER, Amos 5:6-9. Under human government there may be a separation not only of powers but also of principles. Too often men of great power have low principles, while men of high principles have little power. Injustice prevails when a righteous judge has no power to enforce his judgments, and likewise injustice prevails when men who exercise power are unrighteous in their judgments.
Power to Consume, 6. "Our God is a consuming fire" [Hebrews 12:29]. If we will not "seek the Lord" from a desire for truth and justice, then we need to be moved by fear. The God Who calls us to Himself for a life of love has power to consume in the fire of His wrath that none can quench. The prophet was speaking here of figurative fire in the temporal chastisement, but Jesus warns of literal fire in hell "that never shall be quenched" in eternal judgment [Mark 9:45].
Power to Condemn, 7-8. Men may "turn judgment to wormwood, and leave off righteousness in the earth," but the God of heaven, Creator of the stars, Governor of night and day, Ruler of sea and land, Dispenser of sunshine and rain, the God named Jehovah -- surely He has power to condemn where men have failed.
Power to Correct, 9. God has power to correct imbalances of power when it pleases Him to do so: He can and sometimes does give strength to the weak and oppressed so that they successfully attack and overthrow the fortresses of their oppressors. The ups and down of history are not accidents: God is ruling over all.
JUDICIAL PERVERSION, Amos 5:10-12. Human depravity cannot long be satisfied with mere departure from truth and righteousness; it must pervert justice into injustice; it must actively hate and attack all that is good and holy.
Perverse Attitudes, 10. "Despisers of those that are good" [II Timothy 3:3] are not a new phenomenon on earth; there are simply more of them around in these last days. Amos observed in ancient Israel that there was still a righteous judge here and there, who rebuked evildoers and spoke uprightly; but the people preferred judges as crooked as themselves, and hated the man who dared to condemn their sins.
Perverse Allotment, 11. Somehow in the long run the old law of sowing and reaping seems to work. Those whose "treading is upon the poor," ruling classes of greedy oppressors who perversely continue to rob the needy, are likely to find out eventually that in effect they have robbed themselves. Their wealth so cruelly extorted from the labor of others may in turn be taken from them. Retributive justice is often accomplished when God merely permits evil men to do what they will.
Perverse Actions, 12. How could we find better words than these to describe the perverse actions referred to? "Manifold transgressions... mighty sins!" Of corrupt judges it is written that "they afflict the just, they take a bribe, and they turn aside the poor." Perhaps there is little encouragement in learning that political and judicial corruption is not new, but it is good to know that God takes note of it.
JUDICIAL PRUDENCE, Amos 5:13-15. No doubt there is a tendency when iniquity abounds for decent people to feel frustrated and to despair of any improvement. Faithful children of God, however, like the prophet Amos, must not despair; rather we must exercise some judicial prudence in the hope that God may be pleased to help us.
Prudent Silence, 13. Absolute silence in the face of injustice is surely not recommended here, or we would have to say that Amos himself was not prudent. But there is a limit to what words can accomplish, and certainly there are situations in which it is most prudent to be silent. It is easy to talk too much. Yet it is surely "an evil time" when it is unsafe or imprudent to speak the truth.
Prudent Seeking, 14. Let it be safe or unsafe so far as natural life is concerned; in view of eternity it is still the prudent course to "seek good, and not evil." No matter what we may have spoken, it is only when we "seek good, and not evil" that we can be sure that Jehovah, the God of hosts, will be with us.
Prudent Sanctification, 15. Forget the danger; forget the cost; forget all desire for popularity; forget all earthly ambition. If others are determined to do wrong, thought they be the great majority, let them go! For ourselves, whose only hope is in God, let us be prudently sanctified in His service. "Hate the evil, and love the good, and establish judgment in the gate" -- at least so far as our own influence can reach. Maybe we cannot reform the nation, but "it may be that the Lord God of hosts will be gracious unto the remnant."
JUDICIAL PURPOSE, Amos 8: 4-7. Men have varied purposes in life, purposes formed according to their own character more or less deliberately and pursued more or less consistently. Sometimes men succeed in achieving their purposes.
God also has His purposes, which are always in harmony with His divine character. All His purposes are eternal, and all will be accomplished.
Purpose of Covetousness, 4-6. Reading this rebuke of human greed, we can easily understand why the sin of covetousness is called idolatry. Such idolators show more zeal and devotion in their desire for ungodly gain than most "Christians" show in supposedly following Christ.
Purpose of Condemnation, 7. Figuratively speaking, when God "forgets" the sins of His people, He has separated the sin from the sinner, having transferred His righteousness to the sinner and the sinner's judgment to Christ. But there are some sinners, including all but a remnant of Old Testament Israel, whose sins are never forgiven, whose wicked works God will never forget, because those sinners never came to repentance.
By God's grace through faith in His Son, may we have the assurance that He has forgotten our sins and that He will always remember us only for good, for Jesus' sake.
CONCLUSION [Amos 5:24] Opposing the floods of wickedness that have overwhelmed the earth, polluting with their murky waves even the professed people of God, the God of Israel calls here for a refreshing and cleansing outpouring of the pure water of life from His throne in heaven through His people on earth. Rat- her than little trickles of divine goodness here and there, "Let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream." Amen. See John 7:38. ===============
[From Ashland Avenue Baptist paper, October 25, 1974, pp. 2-3. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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