The prophet Amos was a shepherd, called by God to speak a powerful message of judgment. He began with the neighboring nations, but quickly turned to God’s people Israel.
At one point, Amos posed God’s question to Israel: “For what purpose will the day of the Lord be to you?” (Amos 5:18).
Of course, God knew His own intentions; but Israel needed to stop and think about what would happen when the day of the Lord arrived.
The Day of the Lord
Throughout Scripture, “the day of the Lord” points to a day when God promises to show up. It is a day of reckoning.
For example, in Joel, the “day of the Lord” is a disastrous locust swarm (Joel 2:15). Later in Joel the “day of the Lord” (2:31) includes judgment upon the nation and the establishment of the church. In Isaiah, the “day of the Lord” (13:6) is God’s destruction of Babylon and rescue of the faithful remnant. In Zephaniah, the “day of the Lord” (1:14) comes upon Jerusalem itself, separating evil leaders from the faithful remnant.
There are many other examples. In every, the “day of the Lord” means relief and redemption for those who are pleasing to God, and judgment and destruction to those who are not. Thus, every person ought to consider his relationship to God before the day of the Lord dawns.
To return to Amos’ message, the people of Israel had grown complacent. They assumed, thanks to their identity as God’s nation, that the coming of the day of the Lord would be a reason to celebrate.
Amos suggests they reconsider. How shocking! The dawning of the day of the Lord would find these overconfident people on the wrong side of God’s justice.
Alas, you who are longing for the day of the Lord, For what purpose will the day of the Lord be to you? It will be darkness and not light…
Amos condemns Israel for such varied and rampant sins as sexual immorality (2:7), oppressing the poor (2:8, 4:1), silencing the prophets (2:12, 5:10), lousy worship (4:4, 5:21), failing to repent (4:6-11), idolatry (5:26), and decadence (6:4-7). How could Israel possibly expect that God would ignore such abuses? The very ones looking forward to the Lord’s coming would be doomed. “Woe to those who are at ease in Zion” (6:1)!
For What Purpose Will the Day of the Lord Be for YOU?
New Testament writers pick up the “day of the Lord” theme and apply it God’s coming judgment upon the world.
For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. While they are saying, “Peace and safety!” then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief. For you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness; so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober (1 Thessalonians 5:1-6).
Don’t blithely think that because your name is on a church roster somewhere, that you can automatically join the chorus of those “looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God” (2 Peter 3:10-12). Christians ought to be able to loudly and boldly exclaim, “Come, O Lord!” (1 Corinthians 16:22, NIV). But first, let us examine ourselves (2 Corinthians 13:5) and be sure we are diligently following the Master. “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15).
Judgment begins with the household of God (1 Peter 4:17-19). We who know the truth have less excuse for ignoring it. Sadly, some who now paying lip service to Jesus will be surprised to find themselves condemned on the Judgment Day.
Not everyone who says to Me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?” And then I will declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness” (Matthew 7:21-23).
How about you. What purpose will the day of the Lord be for you?