We are preaching through the book of Amos at Providence Church. The series is titled, “Listen & Live”. Here are some thoughts from Amos 5:18-27.
“We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied, as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating “For Whites Only”. We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.”
These are the words of Martin Luther King Jr. August 28, 1963, only a brief 50 years ago from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. as he delivered his “I have a dream speech.”
Mr. King was making a clear and powerful point. Those committed to civil rights would not stop their advance until the atrocities that were occurring were brought to an end. They would not relent until justice rolled down. And to make this point Mr. King quotes the prophet Amos from Amos chapter 5 verse 24. Seeing how Mr. King used this passage illuminates what God was saying to Israel in Amos’s day.
God was saying, I have set my judgment upon you and I will not relent, I will not turn back until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream. What was needed was righteousness and nothing else would suffice to stop the coming judgement of God. Like Israel we seek to ignore warnings of judgment, we convince ourselves that such warnings are not true or that they do not apply to us. Some seek to appease God by attending church every now and then or doing a good deed when the opportunity presents itself. But the reality is that all of our efforts fall short. We do not have what is needed for what is needed is a mighty flood of righteousness. Christ is that righteousness and he is the only one who can save from the advance of God’s judgment.