I don’t know. Maybe reading the prophets during a pandemic isn’t such a good idea — at least if you don’t want to think about the possibility that God allows what’s happening on earth below in order to point our eyes, tune our ears, and set our hearts on things above.
But what if the prophets’ messages to wayward ancients in Israel are also “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” for us moderns in North America (spoiler alert: they are)? Then maybe we’d do well to at least entertain the thought that the God who is the same yesterday, today, and forever, actually operates the same. To at least be willing to have ears to hear what the Spirit might be saying to the churches.
Reading in Amos this morning.
First observation. Nothing happens on earth apart from passing through God’s fingers in heaven.
Does disaster come to a city, unless the LORD has done it?
(Amos 3:6b ESV)
Rhetorical question. Understood answer: No. Because a Sovereign God is, well, sovereign. Even over disaster.
Second observation. It’s not like God woke up one morning and, out of the blue, decided “Today’s the day that I will send My wayward people into exile.” No, He’d been trying to get their attention through tribulations over many iterations so that they might heed the word of the prophet’s revelation (Amos 3:7). But their response, time and again (like 5 times in Amos 3), was the same:
. . . yet you did not return to Me,” declares the LORD.
So, what’s a fellow to do with such information? What’s a guy to do if this is what’s on his plate for meditation?
Perhaps wonder if our current season of “disaster” might not be a time intended for us as God’s people to consider our ways?
Today we don’t have prophets connecting the dots (if there are dots are to be connected), as did God’s people of old. But we do have the Spirit. We do have God’s breathed-out Scriptures. We do have the promise of our King that His thinking would abide in us if we purposed to abide in Him. Seems we have more than enough spiritual resources to discern the connection between what seems to a crucible of circumstance and the impurities that God might want to address by allowing the heat to be turned up.
At the very least, this guy could be asking the question, “God, is there something I need to repent of? How do I need to return to You?” Perhaps not just a question I am to ask as an individual, but perhaps a question we, as the body of Christ, should also be asking of our Head.
Or, as another has so penetratingly put it:
Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!
(Psalm 139:23-24 ESV)
Again, not wanting to see our current hardships as judgment for today every time I read a prophet from yesterday. But does disaster come unless the LORD has done it? And, if a Sovereign God has allowed a persistent pandemic, could it be, at least in part, a means for purifying His people? Worth asking the questions, I think. Worth praying the prayer:
Search me, O God, and know my heart!
By His grace. For His glory.