When disaster strikes, financial or otherwise, one of the responses often seen in people is to pray to God. Even people who may not normally pray turn toward Heaven and ask him to deliver them from the hardships and disasters that have come upon them.
It occurs to me that the first kind of prayer that ought to be offered is one of humble submission and perhaps even repentance. Many disasters in scripture came as a result of repeated disobedience to God. There are many examples of economic disasters. They were not called depressions or recessions, but things like droughts, famines, and things of that nature.
There was a time of "prosperity" in Israel. They reclined on beds of ivory (Amos 6:4), had plenty of meat to eat, had beautiful music (Amos 6:5), built fine houses and planted pleasant vineyards (Amos 5:11). They had the finest perfumes and scents (Amos 6:6). They were so prosperous that they were "head of the nations" (Amos 6:1). However, the time would come whey they would be at the "head of the exiles" (Amos 6:7). There would be wailing of the farmers and in the vineyards, which indicated economic disaster (Amos 5:16-17).
Why these disasters? They had acted wickedly. They sold out the righteous for money and the needy for a pair of sandals (Amos 2:6). They were guilty of sexual immorality and pagan worship (Amos 2:7-8). They became rich at the expense of the poor, the rich and powerful could buy "justice" while the poor had no justice (Amos 5:10-11, 12). They were a proud and arrogant people (Amos 6:8).
As a result God brought on a series of hardships, including a lack of bread and rain, poor crops due to bug infestations, a drought, plagues, war, etc. (Amos 4:6-11). God remarked that in spite of each of these, they "still have not returned" to Him. What was the message in all these hardships?
"Seek the LORD that you may live, Or He will break forth like a fire, O house of Joseph, And it will consume with none to quench it for Bethel" (Amos 5:6).
"Seek good and not evil, that you may live; And thus may the LORD God of hosts be with you, Just as you have said! Hate evil, love good, And establish justice in the gate! Perhaps the LORD God of hosts May be gracious to the remnant of Joseph" (Amos 5:14-15).
"But let justice roll down like waters And righteousness like an ever-flowing stream" (Amos 5:24).
Clearly, the message was one of change and repentance. These disasters did not just happen, but were one way of God trying to get the people's attention.
In the midst of our recent economic meltdown, rather than beginning with prayers for deliverance, perhaps we need to be silent before him and tune in to what he may be saying to us. Is there a message for the nation? Is there a lesson for the church? Is there a challenge for us individually? Is there a message about our lifestyles? Do we uncritically accept the economic values of this world without evaluating them theologically? What would it mean to be the Kingdom of God, to be salt, and light in the midst of all of this? Might we, the church, have a prophetic voice to turn people towards God and the Gospel of Christ?
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