“But let justice run down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream.” ~Amos 5:24
“The opposite of poverty isn’t wealth. The opposite of poverty is justice.” ~Byron Stevenson
You may be thinking, “Is this a repeat from yesterday’s DBO?” Nope. It’s the just the Holy Spirit communicating to us via two authors on the same verse. So buckle up, He must want us to really hear something.
In April 2018, I joined pastors and leaders from across the US in Memphis to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy on the 50th anniversary of his assassination. The conference was a diverse representation of unity, but as we gathered around the Lorraine Motel, I realized we were only celebrating half of his legacy. We embodied reconciliation, but what about justice? That aspect of his famed “I Have a Dream” speech wasn’t really highlighted on the agenda. And justice, like reconciliation, begins with our personal and community behavior.
The Kingdom of Israel was feeling powerful, nationalistic, self-righteous, and overconfident. They were anticipating the “Day of the Lord,” a day where God would validate their actions and beliefs. It is into this fervor that Amos is called. He proclaims the unpopular message that the “Day of the Lord” is coming, but it won’t be a celebration of Israel’s “righteousness” over its neighbors or enemies. It will be a judgment of the evil inside its own house for their over-indulgence and detestable attitudes and behavior toward the poor and marginalized.
Dr. King includes Amos 5:24 in his “I Have a Dream” speech. In its context in Amos, and in his speech, this verse paints a less aspirational picture of hope. The hope that is promised is one that the people don’t actually want (Amos goes into exile). Amos delivers a warning that the status quo will be undone, and to those who seek selective justice, one that doesn't disrupt their lives, he proclaims, "Woe to you who desire the day of the Lord!" (5:18) For God will wash away such "justice" with mighty waters.
It doesn’t take much effort to see that injustice is all around us. God hears the pleas of those in our communities who are being treated unjustly. He doesn’t call us to join in with the abuse or to “pray” that someone will do something, but to be His hands and feet in the rescue. The waters of justice are coming; don’t be swept away.
Daily Battle Order:
Amos’s instructions are clear, “Seek good and not evil, that you may live; so the Lord God of hosts will be with you" (5:14).
Today’s Battle Order is just as simple: Use your position, resources, or influence to do tangible good for someone facing an injustice today. Be curious, have a conversation with them. Act and pray.