Wow. There are just certain parts of scriptures that scare me. I was reading Amos last night, a shorter book in the Old Testament that was written by a shepherd from a town near Bethlehem. He starts his letter by telling us this so my expectation is that his writing is going to be on the "pastoral" side of things. Not!
Amos, who was a prophet if only for a short while, wrote about the pending destruction of the northern kingdom of Israel and the destruction of other surrounding kingdoms (Moab, Philistia, Edom). In the first few sentences of his letter, he paints the historical context of when he spoke these words - when Uzziah was king of Judah and Jeroboam was king of Israel, two years before an earthquake that hit the land. I did a little research and found that this was 50-70 years before Israel was actually destroyed and taken away into captivity.
In the grand scheme of history, 50-70 years does not seem like a long time to me. However, if you were there, listening to his words, 50-70 years would feel like what he was saying was never going to come true. I believe that this is a tool of the devil in humanity - scoffing at the future, knowing that there is righteous judgement, but saying and really believing that it is never going to happen to us and therefore what we are doing must be OK in God's eyes. We mistake the patience of God for his approval. We mistake his forbearance for lack of judgment.
I love what Peter says about this in his second letter (II Peter 3:9):
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand
slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but
everyone to come to repentance.
His heart is bent on our redemption. His heart is set on grace. His heart is set on bring us to himself, not on judgement. He is patient. He is loving. He desire is that EVERYONE comes to him, but he will have to judge or he is a liar.
God gave the nation of Israel men like Amos to warn of impending judgement. God gave them plenty of time to repent, to turn around, to follow him. Through guys like Amos, he gave specific behaviors that they needed to repent from. The unfortunate thing is that they did not repent and eventually all the things that Amos prophesied came true.
So I ask myself this question - what behaviors do I need to change? What areas of my life am I practicing sinful patterns and since things are going OK, I think that I am OK. What are areas that, as a nation, we are practicing and since things seem to be OK, we think that we are OK. What things are we as believers passively tolerating even though God is not. What areas are you practicing that need to be changed?
There is another verse that strikes me as I think of this - Do not be deceived, God will NOT be mocked, whatever a man sows, he will reap. If he sows to the flesh, he will from the flesh reap destruction. If he sows to the Spirit, he will from the Spirit reap life. God will NOT be mocked. He will judge. He desires repentance and redemption, but if that does not happen, he will judge. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but it will come. Make sure you are on the blessing side and not the judging side; please.