“Seek good and not evil, that you may live; and thus may the Lord God of hosts be with you, just as you have said!”(Amos 5:14, NASB).
[Thought questions for Seek the Lord and Live! May 1, 2013]
1. Making evil appear good and good evil. How was it possible for Israel to stumble in sin and make their relationship with God a mockery? Couldn’t they remember the mighty works God had done on their behalf? Are people today ever tempted to make something evil seem as if it’s not so bad after all? Which is the greater sin–seeing evil as good or seeing good as evil? Either way, how do these positions lead people from God?
2. A hollow religion. Were you surprised the first time you read or heard that God was disgusted about the way His people observed the religious ceremonies He had set up for them? Can you imagine God or one of His angels speaking out to you and your family in such a way? What would bring about a judgment of a false religion? Have you attended church hundreds of times? Thousands? Has any of the excitement of your early years as a Seventh-day Adventist Christian faded away? Is it too late to revive in your heart a rousing spirit of worship that comes directly from your relationship with Jesus?
3. Amos the unpopular prophet. Why do you think the children of Israel would never have elected Amos to come and preach to them? Do you think they had a feeling that they were going to hear what they deserved from him–and that they didn’t like it? In his prophecy against the northern kingdom, was Amos clearly placing himself on dangerous ground? What was Amaziah’s advice? How would you like to go to church Sabbath and listen to a sermon condemning you and your family of apostasy? (Notice how every line of this book is part of a poetic chant or a tapestry of poetic words.)
4. Searching for the Word of God. Which could you tolerate better–not having enough food and drinking water to survive, or not having access to the Bible? Were the Israelites in Amos’ day able to reach out to God and talk to Him? If so, why, then, was there a famine of God’s Word? Is there ever a good excuse to live a life without God? Can you imagine a time coming soon when people will be frightened because they don’t feel they have time to establish a strong relationship with God? What about babies and small children who may not live long enough to know Jesus? What is our responsibility in these times of approaching famine?
5. Ruins restored. Does your heart jump with joy when you read the “rest of the story” in Amos? How did God feel about restoring His people to their former state of prosperity and good will? Do you hear a familiar strain in the joyful refrain Amos shares with the Israelites? Remember when God encouraged His people to reach out to those in nearby countries and minister to them? Did this prediction come true? Does God repeat that promise to us today?
6. Think of these things. Is it possible to suffer from a “famine” of God’s Word while attending church every Sabbath? Can a person read and study God’s Word without obtaining the blessing or instruction God intends? Do we ever boast among ourselves about our superior knowledge of Biblical truth? What about that sort of attitude among those who do not share our church affiliation. Are we the most loving, caring people in the world? Are we welcome as neighbors in our community?