In both of these passages, I was struck with the heavy warnings of God’s judgment.
Imagery of fire, sword, famine, death, conquering, these aren’t things I typically spend very much time on.
It can be uncomfortable to think of God as judge, even if he is the one true righteous judge, there’s something in our humanity that fears that, and doesn’t want it to come.
But there is always hope tucked in small refrains like this one from Amos 5:14+15
Seek good and not evil so you can live!
Then the Lord, the God who commands armies, just might be with you,
as you claim he is.
Hate what is wrong, love what is right!
Promote justice at the city gate
Maybe the Lord, the God who commands armies, will have mercy on those who are left from Joseph.
I’m reminded of two things today when we’ve gone astray and fear judgment, or when those we love are possibly living in judgment or facing it in the future:
1. Like a parent disciplining a child, God’s reproof is always with the goal of reconciliation. His warnings are always with the hope that we will return and he can relent from what he intended. But there’s no trick way out, it’s a repentant heart change.
2. When God has no choice left but to reprove, judge, correct, his heart absolutely aches, because he is defined by his lovingkindness, and sometimes that requires discipline. The idea that when God needs to use the rod of correction, he is hesitant to do so and does it out of love, has helped me to see him in a new light through passages like this.