Scripture: Come back to the Lord and live! (Amos 5:6).
Read: Amos 5:1-15
Years ago, a stray cat began to visit my parents’ house. After several back-door bowls of milk, they decided to adopt him and name him Theo. He enjoyed being petted and fed, but he often left for days and returned with bloodied ears, smelling like a trashcan. But my parents were always happy when he came home.
My parents’ unconditional love for Theo reminds me in part of God’s persistent longing for the Israelites to return to Him. During the time of Amos’ prophecy to the nation, the people had been worshiping at altars and shrines of false gods. Staying true to His loving covenant with His people—blessing for obedience and discipline for disobedience (Deuteronomy 28:1,15)—God didn’t pursue His people with promises of ease and affluence. He allowed them to experience a series of challenges: famine, drought, mildew, locusts, plagues, and death (Amos 4:6-10).
In this case, hardship wasn’t simply a punishment for His people’s unfaithfulness. It was something more—something God allowed because He wanted to have a spiritual reunion with Israel. Through Amos, God voiced His greatest desire for His people: “Come back to the Lord and live!” (Amos 5:6).
When, like the ancient Israelites, we stray from single-hearted devotion to God, the painful consequences for sin may be one way to remember God’s love calling out to us, longing to draw us closer to Him. Amos’ words remind us of God’s love: “Do what is good and run from evil so that you may live! Then the Lord God of Heaven’s Armies will be your helper, just as you have claimed” (Amos 5:14). If you’re in pain because of your sin or the sin of others, never doubt God’s heart of love for you—instead, turn to Him for healing and restoration.