This is what the Lord says: “A shepherd who tries to rescue a sheep from a lion’s mouth will recover only two legs or a piece of an ear. So it will be for the Israelites in Samaria lying on luxurious beds, and for the people of Damascus reclining on couches. Amos 3:12(NLT)
In yesterday’s devotion we noted that Amos had the unenviable task of strolling into Jerusalem with bad news; Jerusalem had sinned by forgetting the God they had been called to serve. In just a few verses Amos arrives at the conclusion of Israel’s fate – a few legs and a piece of ear is all you find left of God’s chosen. That’s not much for a shepherd to bring home. And frankly nobody wants to hear such news.
It’s easy to find fault with the shepherd at this point; why did he let this happen to the sheep? Why didn’t he do something?
I have been asked this question many times over the years. No, we’re not talking about wooly, four-legged sheep and a middle-eastern shepherd boy; we’ve entered the metaphor which stands for the Great Shepherd and His wandering flock of unruly believers.
The question “why” is the beginning of the blame game: Why does God let bad stuff happen to us?
It’s an easy answer to point to Adam’s original sin, because that’s ultimately the seed of rebellion which is the foundation for the harvest of all heartache. And for some bad stuff that happens, we, like Adam, like Eve, like wooly sheep wandering away from the shepherd, get ourselves in deep trouble.
But this question has never been about the easy answer. Not all our troubles are a result of our individual sins directly; but we do live in a “cause and effect” universe.
We all bear the brunt of the effect of things that “other people” cause; to wit: Adam and Eve got evicted from their first residence because of their sin, and, if you compare our digs to Eden, we have lived in sub-standard housing ever since. We pay for their sin.
But that still doesn’t let us off the hook as a society; we’ve been modifying, increasing, and perfecting their sin as well; we just do it in more up to date ways than fig leaf stuff.
Mass shootings in the U.S. tolled 447 deaths with an additional 1292 wounded just this year. Automatic weapons, bomb vests, smart bombs from drones, or drug of choice, we have been perfecting Adam’s sin for many generations.
All of this is symptomatic of the great cosmic struggle that has plagued humanity since creation…evil and good are at war…and, while we are complicit in our own sins individually, as a species we all suffer from each other’s sins.
Reading the history of legs and lamb’s ears as the result of our sins can be quite depressing, unless you’re willing to take God at His word about the outcome of His salvation, namely that He will bring this chapter of sin and wrong to a conclusion when the time is right.
Some people simply cannot trust God.
H.G. Wells was a brilliant author, but he let the “dark side” change him. In 1937 he wrote of his unfailing optimism for mankind and how we were eliminating evil, hatred and war from the earth (which sounds amazingly like a 2015 campaign speech). By 1946, following the horror of World War II, Wells wrote that mankind had run his course and we were done.
So, the “why” question has an answer – but like Israel of old, and we of the modern era, nobody really wants to accept it…but, you know that won’t stop me from saying it…
God may allow stuff to happen, but largely we do it to ourselves.
And the corollary:
Nobody is an innocent bystander. Sin is first-degree, and we all participate.
Here’s a great prayer from David, right from the center of your Bible:
I have tried hard to find you—don’t let me wander from your commands. Psalm 119:10(NLT)
Think about that out on the Rocky Road today…and have a great day!