“Seek good, and not evil, that you may live; and so the LORD, the God of hosts, will be with you, as you have said…it may be that the LORD, the God of hosts, will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.” Amos 5:1-17
As we were studying the book of Exodus in our adult Bible study one season at Saint Luke’s in Colorado Springs, a participant brought a friend one morning. The visitor was quite surprised that we were studying an Old Testament book. She said they only read the New Testament in her congregation. She visited our Bible study only once.
I find it troubling that Christians so often ignore the Old Testament. Many assume that there is only Law in the Old Testament and only Gospel in the New. As Lutherans, we believe there is Law and Gospel on every page of Holy Scripture, and indeed, in every chapter and verse! Today’s reading from Amos is a fine example of that.
The first lesson we have in our appointed lectionary is indeed a passage in which the LORD, speaking through the prophet, is judging the people for their sin and disobedience. Amos begins this chapter saying, “Hear the word which I take up over you in lamentation, O house of Israel…” The people have fallen, says Amos, and the Lord God “knows how many are your transgressions and how great are your sins…for it is an evil time.” And yet, again and again the Lord, through Amos, calls the people to repent and return to Him. The refrain is, “Seek me and live…seek good and not evil, that you will live; and so the Lord of hosts will be with you…”
Amos speaks a word of hope, saying, “It may be that the LORD, the God of hosts, will be gracious…” We hope and trust and know that truly the Lord, the God, of hosts is gracious and has come to be with us in Jesus—the only Son of God. We know that for all who repent and return to the Lord, there is grace, mercy and forgiveness! There is no cheap, easy grace—but there is grace, won for us by the death and resurrection of our Savior, Jesus Christ!
Lord God, by your Holy Spirit, help us to seek you and live. Be gracious to us and forgive us our sins, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.