Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.
Read: Amos 9 in the English Standard Version (ESV). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: That God is always with us, that we can never go so far that we are outside His presence, is one of the precious truths we are taught as children growing up in church. But, unless your Sabbath school teacher was particularly sinister, we less often hear of its reverse: that God is always with us and that we can never escape His presence. A classic formulation of this can be found by comparing the poetic and comforting language of Psalms 139:7–12—“I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence! If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave, you are there . . .”—with the “No one will escape!” language of Amos 9:2–4.
As we see elsewhere in the Bible, this is an appeal to the foundational power of God. In the Book of Job, the power, sovereignty, and creatorship of God were offered as answers to the questions of human suffering and universal justice. For Job, this seemed a satisfactory response. The overwhelming revelation of God—even if primarily in the wonders and mysteries of the natural world—were sufficient for him to repent of his ignorance, even as God’s response legitimized his questions. More importantly for Job, God had heard his complaint.
Obviously, context matters. For some, the presence of God is a truth that brings ultimate assurance and comfort, even if not fully understood. For others, God is a looming and menacing presence. He is the same God. He is a God who hears and sees. But the people of Israel were being offered a choice. They could not rely on their assumption that they had God on their side. Instead, Amos was calling them to consider whether they were on God’s side—and, if they weren’t, what it would mean for them to find themselves on the side that opposes God. God was yet inviting them in, but their stubborn persistence in self-serving religion and injustice would have consequences.
Recalibrate: Why is it dangerous to assume that God is on our side? How do we ensure we are on God’s side?
Respond: Pray these words: “God, may we hear Your call and seek to align our faith, our lives and all our ways with You.”
Remember: “I will bring my people Israel back from captivity. They will build the ruined cities again. And they will live in them” (Amos 9:14, ICB).
Nathan Brown is a writer and book editor at Signs Publishing Company, near Melbourne, Australia. Nathan is author/editor of 16 books, including two this year—Of Falafels and Following Jesus and For the Least of These.
Walk around your home, your yard, or your neighborhood with your little one. Is there anywhere you can hide from God? Ask your little one if God can see them on the playground. Can God see them underneath their blankets? God sees things so clearly—He can even see into our very hearts and He knows why we do what we do, even when we don’t know ourselves. As you hold your little one’s hand, pray that your heart beats for God to restore what has been ruined and that He will give you the strength to live a life of love.
Have you ever walked along the beach and left a trail of footsteps? Sometimes when I am at the beach I like to try and follow another set of footprints up the beach. This can get a bit tricky at times because other footsteps might be crossing the path, or the waves can wash them away. Have you ever walked along the beach following footsteps? Jesus is our example to follow in life, just like we might follow a set of footprints in the sand. He wants us to follow in His footsteps and live a life like He lived.
Zan Long is GRC director for faith development for ages 0-17. She lives in Sydney, Australia, and serves at her local church in nearby Kellyville.
Jess Lee is an education consultant for the New South Wales Adventist education system. She lives in Sydney, Australia, and attends Kellyville Church.