Amos 9:1–4 (ESV)
I saw the Lord standing beside the altar, and he said:
“Strike the capitals until the thresholds shake,
and shatter them on the heads of all the people;
and those who are left of them I will kill with the sword;
not one of them shall flee away;
not one of them shall escape.
“If they dig into Sheol,
from there shall my hand take them;
if they climb up to heaven,
from there I will bring them down.
If they hide themselves on the top of Carmel,
from there I will search them out and take them;
and if they hide from my sight at the bottom of the sea,
there I will command the serpent, and it shall bite them.
And if they go into captivity before their enemies,
there I will command the sword, and it shall kill them;
and I will fix my eyes upon them
for evil and not for good.”
This section is intense, maybe too intense. The Lord’s judgement on Israel will be total. There’s no escape. Not one of them shall flee away. They cannot flee the heights of heaven, nor to the depths of Sheol. The Lord will pursue them to the top of Carmel and to the bottom of the sea.
But then the LORD says something so extreme it almost doesn’t make sense. “I will fix my eyes upon them for evil and not for good.” That’s puzzling given that God cannot sin. Can a holy God even say this?
The Hebrew word translated here as “evil” (רָעָה “ra-ah”) means “evil, misery, distress, injury.” The word translated as “good” (טֹובָה “tovah”) means “pleasing, good.”
So, this isn’t about good and evil in the moral sense. It’s about good and bad outcomes.
Notice the words, “I will fix my eyes upon them.” God pays attention. This highlights two things. First, it’s not the Assyrians they want to run away from; it’s God. Second, running away from God is nuts.
One of the funniest things reported in scripture is Adam hiding from God when he saw he was naked. Not only did this have no chance of working, it “announced” that he had eaten the forbidden fruit.
Thus begins the story of sin as comedy. Never forget that we are part of that story.
These Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. The Weekend DEEPs are written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:
The weekly study guides, which include the Monday–Friday devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:
Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.