This is what the Lord says to Israel: “Seek me and live; do not seek Bethel, do not go to Gilgal, do not journey to Beersheba. For Gilgal will surely go into exile, and Bethel will be reduced to nothing.” Seek the Lord and live… (Amos 5:4-6)
Amos doesn’t get much air time, but he should. Living and prophesying ~750BC, Amos wrote about the waywardness of God’s people. The “threat” from which Israel was tempted to flee was not famine, disease, or even warring enemies. No, the people were guilty of forsaking God’s laws, mistreating one another, and worshipping false gods – and God was going to discipline them.
That’s actually what makes the passage above so amazing. The people were flat out guilty before God. God knew it, and they knew it. With that awareness, the people had some choices to make. They could try to run from their guilt to various cities like Bethel, Gilgal, or Beersheba. But those towns were also within Israel – their citizens were just as guilty as those in Jerusalem. So while their address may change, their hearts would not. They would remain spiritually dead there.
Because running from God and their guilt would only lead to death, God invited them to seek Him and live! It was the most counter-intuitive thing – but the God whom they had offended was the same God who welcomed them to turn to Him and find life!
Folks, the ancient Israelites weren’t the last of God’s people to stray from Him. The human heart is prone to wander. But when we wake from our sinful stupor, what do we do? The sin within our heart tells us to flee from God – but He tells us to come to Him instead. Where do you run – to God, or away from Him? –Dave
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