Friday, May 7, 2010

Seeing Christ in Amos

For those of you who actually read my sidebar on this blog, you may know that I've been reading through Amos in my personal time with the Lord. When you saw that you may have thought, "why read Amos? Isn't that just another one of those weird judgment prophets? The New Testament is way better."

I must admit this has been my perspective on much of the Old Testament throughout my Christian life. However, as I studied more of the New Testament, I came to see that really the Old Testament is about Christ. While this idea is littered throughout the NT in the way the authors approach OT texts, two poignant examples came to me in John and Luke's gospels.

When Jesus condemns the pharisees in John he says this: "You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.." - Jn. 5:39-40 (emphasis mine) Jesus' charge against the pharisees is that although they read the Bible, they don't see Him in it. Jesus affirms that the OT scriptures bear witness about him, so to read them and not come to Christ is inconsistent. Further, in Luke's gospel: "Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures," - Lk. 24:44-45. Jesus says everything written of Him must be fulfilled, and he opens his disciples' minds to understand and see that the scriptures all speak of Him (cf. Lk. 24:27).

As we read the OT then, I think we can be excited to find that they bear witness about Christ. We can also pray that Jesus would open our minds to see Him in the scriptures. I've been praying this as I've been reading through Amos and I believe God answered that prayer in helping me to see Christ in chapter 8. In Amos God has been prophesying judgment against Israel largely for their oppression of the poor, idolatry, and pride. This theme continues in chapter 8 as God describes what punishment will look like for these sins:

  • God will never forget their sins (v. 7)
  • The sun will go black and the earth will darken at noon (v. 9)
  • The mourning on that day will be like one mourning the loss of an only son (v. 10)
  • God will not speak to them (v. 11)
  • They will faint for thirst (v. 13)
Now right off the bat in verse 7 we have a big problem. If God will not forget our sins, what hope do we have? We've all engaged in sins no worse than Israel's (Jas. 2:10), so what hope is there for us? Well, God does actually also tell us of a day where He will remember our transgressions no longer: "And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” - Jer. 31:34 (emphasis mine)

So how is this possible? How is it that God can say He will never forget our sins and then choose to forget our sins? Our only hope is for someone else to actually bare this judgment described in Amos 8. The judgment must occur because of our sin, but if we bare it the Lord will never forget our sins. Who will then bare this judgment in our place? In Hebrews 8 we learn that Christ is the mediator of this new covenant where our sins are forgotten. Christ took the curse of Amos 8 so God could remember our sins no more. I was amazed when I considered the ways in which Christ fulfilled each of these judgments:

  • God will never forget their sins (v. 7) - On the cross Jesus is punished for our sins (Gal 3:13). God essentially "remembers" our sin when He punishes Christ for them, so that He can forget our sins when looking at us (Jer. 31:34)
  • The sun will go black and the earth will darken at non (v. 9) - When Christ is on the cross the sky turns black at noon, signifying God's judgment (Matt. 27:45). Though this darkness of judgment was what we deserved, Jesus takes it on the cross so that we can step into God's light (1 Pet. 2:9).
  • The mourning on that day will be like one mourning the loss of an only son (v. 10) - When Jesus died, God's only true son (Jn. 5:19) died. Though mourning as though one had lost their only son was a punishment we deserved, here we see God taking that punishment on Himself and mourning as His only son dies so that we will be free from mourning (Rev. 21:4).
  • God will not speak to them (v. 11) - When Christ is on the cross, God does not speak to Him. Jesus is forsaken (Matt 27:46). Though the famine from God's words was a punishment we deserved, Jesus takes that punishment on Himself so that now we can hear from God (Jn. 10:27)
  • They will faint for thirst (v. 13) - When on the cross, Jesus thirsts (Jn. 19:28). Though even physical ailment was the punishment we deserved, Jesus suffers that as well in our place so that one day we could be free from such physical pain (1 Cor. 15:50-53).
Hallelujah! What a Savior!


  1. Mike,

    As always I really appreciate your commentary. I too had similar thoughts seeing how Amos was ultimately about Christ when I read it a few months ago. I was wondering how you felt that we could apply the fact that the OT is ultimately about Christ to people of other religions who use the OT? My understanding is that their translations are slightly skewed and they are a little harder to point to Christ with their text. Any thoughts on that issue? How can we show that their OT points to Christ when they have altered translations?

  2. Aaron,

    Good question! I'm not quite sure I know how to answer it as I'm not personally aware of many alternate OT translations. I know muslims claim we have a corrupted text and so don't trust the OT. Jews on the other hand to my knowledge use the same OT. Catholics and Orthodox Christians use the same OT with some added books.

    In engaging muslims on this particular issue I'm sure you would have to go into some apologetics over the reliability of the OT canon, a task which I can assure you I'm less than fit for. Jews may remove a few messianic passages like refernces to the virgin birth, but they still have Amos 8 translated the way we do to my knowledge, as well as the law, prophets, and psalms, which Jesus says are all about Him. I'm not sure of the other translations you're referring to unless you mean Jehovah's witness or mormon translations which to my understand can be shown to be pretty easily faulty by a simple study of original languages. Hope that helps!