“Woe to you who desire the day of the Lord! For what good is the day of the Lord to you? It will be darkness, and not light. It will be as though a man fled from a lion, And a bear met him! Or as though he went into the house, Leaned his hand on the wall, And a serpent bit him!” (Amos 5:18-19 NKJV)
People from many different religious persuasions have some kind of concept of the end of times. In the last days, the good guys (us, whoever “us” may be) will be vindicated and honored by our deity while the bad guys (them, whoever “them” may be) will suffer horrendously. After all, “we” deserve that kind of justification, that glory, and that honor. As Amos thundered against the injustices of the northern kingdom of Israel, he let them know that they might not get what they were hoping for. In fact, as we think about Israel’s apostasy that began when Jeroboam set up the idols in two of the cities of the breakaway kingdom, we realize that they may have used the name of the Lord as they worshiped and sacrificed, but all of it was meaningless because their worship was in itself an act of rebellion against God as they sacrificed on the calf idols set up by Jeroboam.
The problem Israel had was that they had turned the worship of the Lord into a politically convenient act. Those worship centers were set up to keep the people from going to the Temple in Jerusalem. They didn’t have the grounding of Scripture in their beliefs and activities. They attached the name of the Lord to whatever they were doing, whether it was good or evil. While our circumstances are different, because of the sacrifice of Jesus, how often do we fall to the same temptation. We proclaim that God told us to do something, when He didn’t. We live without the guidance of God’s word. We eagerly anticipate the day of the Lord, the return of Jesus, knowing that God will vindicate us and destroy our enemies, not even considering whether or not we’re walking in the way God has set before us. We embrace evil and look askance on those who are doing good, all the while proclaiming how close we are to God. We are called to look forward to Jesus’s return, but in the meanwhile, we’re responsible to care for the people in the world around us and show them the love of Jesus.
Lord, as I look forward to Your return, keep my head on straight. Help me to love good and hate evil. Use me as a witness to others of Your love and grace and an example of Your justice to others.