By Mark Ellis
In my morning quiet time, I’ve been reading through “The Daily Walk Bible” this year, which offers a daily devotional along with a guide to read through the Bible in one year.
My copy was published in 1997, well before the tragic and terrible events that unfolded on September 11, 2001. So I was struck when I reached the September 11th reading titled “Visions of Horror and Hope” paired with a reading in chapters eight and nine in the Book of Amos.
Amos was a man of the soil who worked his sycamore and fig groves in a small town south of Bethlehem. His prophecy announces coming judgment on the northern kingdom ofIsrael, which had strayed far from God.
The Daily Walk devotional describes disaster that would come suddenly, “like a flood, leaving the people in hopeless despair.”
In Amos chapter eight, God compared Israel to a basket of ripe fruit. “The Lord said, ‘The time is ripe for my people Israel; I will spare them no longer.’
“In that day, the songs in the temple will turn to wailing. Many, many bodies – flung everywhere! Silence!”
Part of the judgment against Israel related to financial greed and dishonest manipulation of the markets. People were eager to see the Sabbath end, so they could continue their fraudulent ways.
They asked, “When will the New Moon be over that we may sell grain and the Sabbath be ended that we may market wheat? Skimping the measure, boosting the price and cheating with dishonest scales, buying the poor with silver and the needy for a pair of sandals, selling even the sweepings with the wheat.”
On the day of judgment, the land would “tremble” and “all who live in it mourn.” God said He would “make the sun go down at noon and darken the earth in broad daylight…I will make all of you wear sackcloth.”
In chapter nine of Amos, his vision included the Lord standing by the altar, and
He said, “Strike the top of the pillars so that the thresholds shake. Bring them down on the heads of all the people.”
The tallest buildings would be no refuge in the day of judgment. “Though they climb up to the heavens, from there I will bring them down.”
Yet even in the midst of the darkness and gloom, we see God’s mercies revealed at the end of Amos, chapter nine. “I will not totally destroy the house of Jacob,” declares the Lord. “For I will give the command and I will shake the house of Israel among all the nations.”
One of the most hopeful verses is Amos 9:11 – a 9/11 vision of expectation: “In that day I will restore David’s fallen tent. I will repair its broken places, restore its ruins, and build it as it used to be.”
God’s love causes Him to pursue His people, even in the midst of their rebellion. “I will bring back my exiled people Israel; they will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them…I will plant Israel in their own land, never again to be uprooted from the land I have given them.”
In that beautiful coming day, “New wine will drip from the mountains and flow from all the hills.”
As I watched the 10th anniversary observances of 9/11, I can think of no better description than the one “The Daily Walk” gave to this section of Amos, “Visions of Horror and Hope.”