The casual reader of the Minor Prophets might come away with the impression that the Old Testament prophets were nothing more than prophets of doom. Time and again, these men foretold God’s judgement on his people for their sin. While this is true, it is evident that the prophets also weaved hope into their declarations of doom. We see this at the close of Amos’s prophecy.
Amos once again reiterated that judgement is inescapable (vv. 1–9). “All the sinners of my people shall die by the sword, who say, ‘Disaster shall not overtake or meet us’” (v. 9). But vv. 10–15 paint a glorious picture of hope. The declaration of disaster was attended by a reassurance of restoration. With Yahweh, there is always hope in judgement.
If it seems contradictory to find hope in judgement, it will help to consider that the discipline brought on God’s people is corrective. It might be better described as chastening rather than judgement. Its intent is to purify.
This, of course, is not always the case when God judges—at least not always when he judges unbelievers. The final judgement, for example, will be punitive and will result in eternal destruction from the Lord’s presence. But, when he judges his people, his goal is correction. There is hope in correction. As JoAnna Hoyt observes, “Discipline is not the opposite of hope. Rather, for those who are Yahweh’s people, it is an integral part of hope…. Yahweh loves them enough to discipline them. They can endure their discipline because they know it is not the end. There is something better that will come on the other side of the purifying discipline.”
Consider three wonderful truths of the hope that is set before us in this chapter.
First, there was hope for the faithful remnant. As you read the minor prophets, you may get a sense of an earlier prophet’s complaint that he alone was faithful to Yahweh. The words of the prophets often give the impression that no one but the prophet himself believed God. But, as God reminded Elijah, he always keeps for himself a remnant who will not bow the knee to Baal.
The remnant in Amos’s day must have wondered what the reward for their faithfulness would be. Were they destined to be destroyed with the faithless rebels? What was the point of their unwavering allegiance if it all resulted in punishment? They desperately needed this promise of hope.
Second, there was hope for the faithless rebels. While God was willing to offer hope to his faithful people, he was equally willing to extend hope and forgiveness to any of the rebels who might turn to him in repentance and faith.
God’s “people Israel,” which had largely turned its back on him, was assured of restoration. No matter how unfaithful the nation became, God was always willing to forgive and restore the repentant. The rebels needed to hear this to be encouraged that there was hope in the judgement.
Third, there was hope in the foretold Redeemer. Ultimately, it was not because Israel deserved fit that the offer of hope was extended. The offer was extended in and because of a Redeemer—because of the Redeemer.
Centuries later, when the young new covenant church faced questions regarding the validity of Gentile salvation, James, on behalf of the apostles, appealed to this very chapter to argue for indiscriminate salvation in Christ (Acts 15:16–18). This Scripture (specifically, vv. 11–12), he said, supported Peter’s assertion that “we [Jews] will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they [Gentiles] will” (Acts 15:11). The hope of restoration was found in Christ alone.
As you meditate on Amos 9 this morning, be thankful that, even in his judgement, God offers hope—for his remnant as well as for rebels—in and through his appointed Redeemer, Jesus Christ.