1 Hear this word that the Lord has spoken against you, O people of Israel, against the whole family that I brought up out of the land of Egypt: 2 “You only have I known of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities. 3 “Do two walk together, unless they have agreed to meet? 4 Does a lion roar in the forest, when he has no prey? Does a young lion cry out from his den, if he has taken nothing? 5 Does a bird fall in a snare on the earth, when there is no trap for it? Does a snare spring up from the ground, when it has taken nothing? 6 Is a trumpet blown in a city, and the people are not afraid? Does disaster come to a city, unless the Lord has done it? 7 “For the Lord God does nothing without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets. 8 The lion has roared; who will not fear? The Lord God has spoken; who can but prophesy?” 9 Proclaim to the strongholds in Ashdod and to the strongholds in the land of Egypt, and say, “Assemble yourselves on the mountains of Samaria, and see the great tumults within her, and the oppressed in her midst.” 10 “They do not know how to do right,” declares the Lord, “those who store up violence and robbery in their strongholds.” 11 Therefore thus says the Lord God: “An adversary shall surround the land and bring down your defenses from you, and your strongholds shall be plundered.” 12 Thus says the Lord: “As the shepherd rescues from the mouth of the lion two legs, or a piece of an ear, so shall the people of Israel who dwell in Samaria be rescued, with the corner of a couch and part of a bed. 13 “Hear, and testify against the house of Jacob,” declares the Lord God, the God of hosts, 14 “that on the day I punish Israel for his transgressions, I will punish the altars of Bethel, and the horns of the altar shall be cut off and fall to the ground. 15 I will strike the winter house along with the summer house, and the houses of ivory shall perish, and the great houses shall come to an end,” declares the Lord.
We have all watched with heavy hearts this past week the fires in Maui, Hawaii. The death toll continues to climb. The extent of the devastation is truly terrifying. But did you see the story of the Maria Lanakila church in Lahaina, in western Maui? All around it is destruction where the flames swept through, but the church has apparently survived relatively unscathed.
A lot of people are calling it a miracle. A lot of other people are offended that others are calling it a miracle. And a lot of folks—and I would put myself in this group—are being pretty cautious about labeling it one way or another. After all, lots of other churches did burn, so what exactly would this being a miracle say about those churches? But, of course, it could just be a miracle!
I suppose one question that comes to my mind is this: What if God had allowed that church to burn? If God had burnedthat church, had sent fire upon it, would it have meant that He failed to work a miracle? Or might it mean something else? How about this: If God sent fire against a church might it mean that He actually loved that church and that is why He sent the fire? Now there is an interesting question!
It is interesting to see this news story out of Hawaii right now as we are working through Amos and, particularly, as we are reading Amos 3. For here, in Amos 3, and again later in the book, the Lord is essentially saying this: “Because I love you, I am going to send fire on your sanctuaries. Because I love you, I am coming after your buildings and your altars.”
Let us consider the loving, disciplining hand of God.