"Let just roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream" Amos 5:24 (KJV). (Other scripture references NLT.)
Why do bad things happen to good people? It is an age-old question, one that theologians have debated throughout church history. I have three reasons:
Pretense: Those “good” people really are not so good. Injustice: The good are being punished and the bad rewarded. Testing: Our loyalty to God is being tested.
Let me give you my answer right up front. Bad things are happening to good people because a good thing is happening to bad people - I AM is not havin' it!
If ever you’ve been falsely accused of something you didn’t do, charged for crimes you didn’t commit. If ever you’ve been treated differently because of the color of your skin, treated differently because of the part of town you live in. And it’s happened not once, not twice, but again and again. If ever you’ve been demoted when you should have been promoted, unjustly fired, let go, downsized, denied unemployment benefits. If ever you’ve lost a love one to or through some senseless crime, and it’s happened not once, not twice, but time after time. If ever you’ve been ostracized, criticized for your Christian beliefs, then you know that pain is unreal and sometimes there just is no relief!
Look around you. There is too much hatred and bitterness out there. How did it get that way – too much pain, agony, grief, despair, depression I say. It’s dark in America, dark in Louisville - too many people escaping through sex, violence, drugs, and the pill! We need to reclaim our heritage with dignity and say it loud – “I am black! I am proud!” Above all, the whole world has to know I AM not havin' it no more! Without justice there is no truth. Without justice there can be no peace.
It’s a beautiful thing to see I AM not havin' it. I’m talking about the Magnificent, Marvelous, Matchless One, the Mighty Judge of heaven and hell, the Majestic I AM, the Lover of our souls. It’s a beautiful thing to see I AM when He’s sore, handling His business, settling the score. It’s a beautiful thing to see I AM not havin' this mess anymore. You see, it’s happened before. I AM not havin' it no more!
I AM became angry in the book of Amos. He had Amos pronounce judgment on Judah, Israel as well as on Israel’s neighbors, the people of Damascus Syria, the Philistines in Gaza, the people of Tyre, Edom, Ammom and Moab. Why? They had all sinned again and again. I AM had had enough. I AM convicted and condemned them. He sent Amos two years ahead of time to serve notice - guilty as charged! The sentence death by natural disaster, an earthquake.
What infuriated I AM so? What caused Him to become angry, particularly with the people of Israel? They were caught up in their prosperity. They were oppressing the poor, worshipping idols, dabbling in the occult and other false religions. We’re caught up in all that mess today. Exactly, what did I AM say?
God said in chapter 3:9, “My people have forgotten what it means to do right. Their fortresses are filled with wealth taken by theft and violence.” In chapter 6:1 He said, “How terrible it will be for you who lounge in luxury and think you are secure in Jerusalem and Samaria. You are famous and popular in Israel, you to whom the people go for help.” He called them out, the leaders. The leaders had gotten caught up in their prosperity, their summer homes and their winter homes, fine jewelry, fancy cars, their Rolls-Royces, chauffeured limousines, their expensive minks and furs. They had gotten “stuck on self,” “stuck on stupid,” the men blinded by power and "bling bling,” the women blinded by power and the “ding-a-ling.”
The people of Amos’ day were delusional, drunk with military power. God warned them about it before through Joel, Hosea, Isaiah and Micah. They were all warned, Israel and her enemies. In Amos, the enemies of Israel were being convicted for persecution of God’s people. Edom - her sin was an unmerciful, unwearied, pursuit of the people of God. The Edomites were cowards. They would wait until another enemy attackedJudah and Israel and then they would jump in. They were the least courageous. The least courageous are often the cruelest people.
The Israelites - God gave it to them, too, for being “punch drunk” with military power and might. We read in chapter 6 beginning at verse 12: “Can horses gallop over rocks? Can oxen be used to plow rocks? Stupid even to ask – but that’s how stupid you are when you turn justice into poison and make bitter the sweet fruit of righteousness. And just as stupid is this bragging about your conquest of Lo-debar (nothing). You boast, “Didn’t we take Karnaim (horns) by our own strength and power?” Don’t they sound like a country you know today, always hollering “We’re big and we’re bad and that’s a fact, we ain’t never scared, never scared of Sadam, Iraq!”
Have you ever been accused of things you didn't do? In Amos, the guilty were being freed for crimes they had committed. This happened not once or twice, but again and again. The innocent were experiencing unjust punishment, torture for no good reason, for things they had not done. They kept getting pulled over by the police for driving while being black. God’s so-called people had become cold, cruel. They had become maniacal, manipulative, mean, despicable and diabolical.
The people of Judah and Israel were committing idolatry, dabbling in the occult and astrology. In chapter 5:25 “God said, “ Was it to me you were bringing sacrifices and offerings during the forty years in the wilderness, Israel? No, your real interest was in your pagan gods – Sakkuth your king god and Kaiwan your star god - the images you yourselves made.” I AM not only called out their sins, He named names – Sakkuth and Kaiwan.
I pray for our preachers everywhere. We are doing what Judah and Israel were doing, committing idolatry, dabbling in the occult, astrology, and worshipping God any kind of way. We have witches, and warlocks, and wizards posing as pastors, preachers, and teachers. I AM didn’t have it then. I AM not having it now! Wake up! The wolves are eating the sheep!
Not only were the Israelites worshipping idols, they were offering strange fire, bringing offerings to God any kind of way when God had given them express instructions on how to do so. Then, they were bragging about it and about how they were such great tithers. Is this not going on today?
It’s dark outside and it’s partly our own fault. We are not standing for truth and justice like we’ve been taught Instead, Christians are drunk and out of their mind, stumbling, staggering, and falling dead in the streets. We keep looking for the next miracle with our name on it, asking God to bless us indeed. He won’t bless you if you don’t care to read. We need to His Word and about the works that He’s already done. We were taught a long time ago to name and claim, yes – name and claim our history, our heritage, this is our fame! Name and claim Martin, Marcus, Malcolm, DuBois and Booker T., too; claim Harriet, Sojourner, Ella and Fannie Lou; claim Tubman, please, so that we can get off this boat. It’s got too many holes and it can’t stay afloat!
We have never been in so many trying situations, but we have God our side, love and peace in our hearts, and I AM as our God. Amos tells us that the foundation of truth rest on justice, with privilege comes responsibilities and failure to live up to responsibilities brings judgment. Amos tells us God calls whom He chooses to the ministry. Amos tells us to rest assured. I AM did not have it then. I AM not havin' it now. Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream! Amen.
In memory of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King
Remember, it is not Mohmmad, Buddha, Confucius, nor New Age that saves. Jesus saves!