Amos – A Loving God?
I can’t tell you the number of times I have shared my faith over the years and heard the objection, “How could a loving God send anyone to hell?” If you are a believer in Jesus Christ you may already have a response to this very short-sighted question. Maybe your answer is, “God doesn’t send anyone to hell, they choose hell when they reject Jesus Christ as saviour.” If that’s your answer you’re correct, but your response may be missing the actual question.
I suspect that when they ask “How could a loving God send anyone to hell?” they may actually want to know if, “God really is a loving God?” In the book of Amos we find God warning the Northern Kingdom Israel of their impending destruction as retribution for their continuous wickedness. Why then, you may ask would I use anything in Amos to demonstrate God’s goodness toward man? Isn’t doing so like attempting to douse a raging fire by pouring gasoline on it? On the contrary. I think we run the risk of painting the wrong picture of God when we cherry pick our way through the Bible only sharing verses about God being a God of love with unbelievers.
God is a God of love. His love toward us is so deep and so pure that the human mind will never fully comprehend it. But Yahweh is also a God of Justice and judgement. He is righteous, Holy, Pure and Perfect. Even though Yahweh is incredibly patient there is a limit to His patience. He is Gracious and Merciful beyond measure, and yet He pours out His wrath. God is nothing like us. His ways are higher than ours, His thoughts different from ours. We cannot know God unless He reveals Himself to us and yet He created us in His image and calls us to be like Him.
Now for the gasoline apparently fueling the fire of “How could a loving God send anyone to hell?” In Amos 4:6-11 God enumerates all of the bad things He did to the capital city of Samaria and her people.
- Yahweh gave them famine – verse 6
- Yahweh withheld rain – verse 7
- Yahweh blasted them [their crops] with blight and mildew – verse 9
- Yahweh sent locust to devour their vineyards, fig trees, and olive trees – verse 9
- Yahweh sent a plague of Egypt – verse 10
- Yahweh killed their young men with a sword – verse 10
- Yahweh caused so much death and destruction their camps were a stench – verse 10
- Yahweh overthrew some of them as he overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah – verse 11
Read it for yourself, all of what God did to them is plainly stated in the Bible. God did these things to them. How can I still proclaim God to be a loving God? Isn’t the evidence against God being loving overwhelming? It would be if this was all the evidence. Read Amos 4:6-11 again and you’ll notice what I left out. Consider the following references.
“Yet you have not returned to me says the LORD.” – verse 6
“Yet you have not returned to me says the LORD.” – verse 8
“Yet you have not returned to me says the LORD.” – verse 9
“Yet you have not returned to me says the LORD.” – verse 10
“Yet you have not returned to me says the LORD.” – verse 11
Now do you see it? God is a loving God! Israel rejected God. They rejected His goodness, and yet He offered them repentance through discipline. They flat out refused to return to God. They chose their own demise by rejecting both God’s goodness and His correction.
God is a loving God.
John 3:16-17 is a great New Testament summary of Amos 4:6-11.
16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
All Scripture quotations from The New King James Version. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982. Print.