Humanity is plagued with a deadly disease: sin. Deadly in the sense that we are not simply all dying, but we are already dead. We are born dead in our sin, and we will struggle against (and with) that sin for the rest of our earthly lives. That is the harsh reality of this fallen world. However, God does not leave us without a hope; He sacrificed His Son so that we “may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10 ESV). In that way, God brings life to a world full of death. With that hope in mind, we must still be vigilant against sin in this life because we will never be fully set free from our struggle with sin until we die or until Christ comes again. In Amos 4, we are being reminded of this truth because we so easily can forget our fallen state and our desperate need for a Savior. God is explaining to His people through this chapter in Amos that he has brought several forms of trial and judgment upon them. Yet, they did not return to Him. Instead, they continued to look for hope in themselves or in the things and people around them. Over and over again in Amos 4, the structure is repeated of God saying, “I withheld the rain from you… I sent among you a pestilence… I killed your young men… I overthrew some of you…”—and yet, each section ends with “you did not return to me.”
God is clearly and repetitively driving home a point in these verses. He is giving soul-saving advice by reminding us, His people, that we are stubborn and arrogant and forgetful. We fight so hard to get what we want in life by going against the God who is the only one who can truly give us what we need. In the end, God warns that someday we will be held accountable for this rebellion, and if we are not covered by the blood of Christ, then we will exist in eternal destruction. There is a real sense of urgency in verse 12 in which God says, “Therefore thus I will do to you, O Israel; because I will do this to you, prepare to meet your God, O Israel!”
“Prepare to meet your God” really stands out here; we need to be ready, and we need to be ready now. There is no time to delay, for “the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night” (1 Thessalonians 5:2 ESV). Again in Matthew 25:13, we are warned: “watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”
That same concept is repeated again and again throughout Scripture, with each repetition reminding us to be vigilant, to seek the Lord while He may be found (Isaiah 55:6) because there will come a time when it will be too late. For those who are already saved, the message is still to be vigilant and to repeatedly seek time with the Lord in order to grow in relationship with Him. We fight the battle against sin every day, and the only way we are able to stand our ground in that battle is through the strength that can only be found in Christ. Let us not be so stubborn and arrogant and forgetful that we spend our lives with God coming against us as an adversary in order to turn us back to Him. However, we can rest in the truth that if we are His people, he will never cease to pursue us even in our rebellion. May we run to Him in our weakness, acknowledging our sin and praying for help. If we do so, God will never turn us away, and we can stand prepared for the day of the Lord with feelings of comfort and not of fear. We will stand as children of the risen King, and our battle against sin will be over because we will fully be found in Him who has already conquered sin and death for us. Therefore, let us heed God’s warning in Amos 4 to turn from our evil ways, to acknowledge our sin, to seek help in God, and to prepare ourselves for the day of the Lord.