God’s universal judgment is one of the central teachings found in Amos.
In the beginning of his book, the prophet announces God’s judgment on several of Israel’s neighbors because of their crimes against humanity. Then, however, Amos boldly declares that God also will judge Israel. The anger of the Lord was directed not only at the nations but also at the people He had chosen. The people of Judah had rejected the Word of the Lord and had not kept His instructions.
At the same time, Amos dealt with Israel much more extensively than even Judah because she had broken God’s covenant and committed so many sins. Israel’s economic prosperity and political stability led to spiritual decay. This spiritual decay displayed itself in social injustice. In Israel, the rich exploited the poor, and the powerful exploited the weak. The rich cared only for themselves and their personal gain, even when it came at the expense and suffering of the poor (Not much has changed in a few thousand years, has it?).
In his preaching, Amos taught that there is a living God who cares about how we treat others. Justice is more than an idea or a norm. Justice is a divine concern. The prophet warned that Israel’s stone houses, ivory-laid furniture, top quality food and drink, as well as the best body lotions—all would be destroyed.
Read Isaiah 58. In what ways does this chapter capture aspects of present truth? In what ways, though, is our message to the world much more than this?
The Bible clearly teaches that social justice should be a natural product of the gospel. As the Holy Spirit makes us more like Jesus, we learn to share God’s concerns. The books of Moses insist on the fair treatment of foreigners, widows, and orphans (Exod. 22:21-24). The prophets speak of God’s concern about the just and compassionate treatment of less privileged people (Isa. 58:6-7). The psalmist calls the God who lives in His holy dwelling “a father of the fatherless, a defender of widows” (Ps. 68:5, NKJV). Christ showed great concern for those who were rejected by society (Mark 7:24-30, John 4:7-26). The Lord’s brother James calls on us to put our faith into action and help the needy (James 2:14-26). No follower of Christ can do anything less and really be a follower of Christ.