Prepare to listen. Light the 1st purple candle, praying, ‘Deliver me, O LORD, from lying lips, from a deceitful tongue.’
Prayerfully Read Amos 1:1-5
The words of Amos, who was among the shepherds of Tekoa, which he saw concerning Israel in the days of King Uzziah of Judah and in the days of King Jeroboam son of Joash of Israel, two years before the earthquake. And he said: The LORD roars from Zion, and utters his voice from Jerusalem; the pastures of the shepherds wither, and the top of Carmel dries up. Thus says the LORD: For three transgressions of Damascus, and for four, I will not revoke the punishment; because they have threshed Gilead with threshing-sledges of iron. So I will send a fire on the house of Hazael, and it shall devour the strongholds of Ben-hadad. I will break the gate-bars of Damascus, and cut off the inhabitants from the Valley of Aven, and the one who holds the sceptre from Beth-eden; and the people of Aram shall go into exile to Kir, says the LORD.
Advent begins with warnings of judgment which we don’t usually associate with the Christmas season. Messages of joy and peace seem more appropriate. It’s not that we’re wrong. Christmas is a joyous season because it marks the beginning of the end of God’s amazing plan of salvation for all creation. But Advent is also a time for repentance and thus we need to hear these messages of judgment. The book of Amos begins with warnings to seven nations surrounding the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Today’s verses are focused on Damascus, capital of Syria.
Amos begins with words to get attention: ‘The LORD roars from Zion.’ Roar isn’t a comforting word. I once spent a night in wild game reserve in South Africa and needed to go outside to use the bathroom. As I lay in bed, I heard a lion repeatedly roar nearby. There was no way I was going outside to the bathroom that night. A roar is a scary thing, but it had my attention that night. The LORD roars, we sit up, wide awake and alert.
The message wasn’t for Israel alone. It included the seven nations around Israel. God isn’t Israel’s or our private God. God is concerned about all nations. Advent begins with a reminder of this great truth and a roar from our Lord to look around at our neighboring countries and know God in Christ comes for them too, this Christmas.
Why do you think God chose a roar instead of a soft voice? What might God be calling you to repent of today?
Respond to Jesus
Lord Jesus, help me prepare to celebrate your first Advent with a humble spirit, heeding your warnings to repent and follow your way of righteousness and justice. Amen.
Go live obediently in the world, listening for the Lord who roars.