” … prepare to meet your God, O Israel. He who forms the mountains, creates the wind, and reveals his thoughts to man, he who turns dawn to darkness, and treads the high places of the earth — the LORD God Almighty is his name.” Amos 4.12-13.
In the days when men walked the streets of our cities carrying sandwich boards (one board in front, one board behind), a common message on one side would be “The End of the World is Nigh” and on the other the opening words of this morning’s reading: “Prepare to Meet Thy God”. But God’s exhortation to Israel here, through the mouth of Amos, does not relate to the end of the world at all. God wants sinful, apostate Israel to turn to him now and to meet with him — not so that he can blast them with his wrath but restore them in his love.
God’s description of himself is wonderful. He forms the mountains. I note the continuing nature of his activity. In Hebrews these ongoing verb forms are participles. The God who calls Israel — and me — to meet with him is a living God who not only formed the earth but continues to shape it and be involved with it. He creates the wind. The Hebrew is ruach. It is wind, yes, but it is also the breath of life in all living things and the spirit that makes me a creature with mind and will and emotions and personality. God gives me life. God makes me me.
He reveals his thoughts to man. That is not quite what the Hebrew says. A literal translation of the text is: “He declares/exposes/reveals to man what is his thought”; and that, of course, can be read in two ways. It can mean that God exposes to me what is going on in my head and heart or (per the NIV and many other versions) that God reveals to me what is going on in his head and heart. Both, of course, are true. The Lord does show me what’s going on inside me. “O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar” (Psalm 139.1-2). “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account” (Hebrews 4.13). It is his way of keeping me in a right relationship with himself.
But it is also true that he reveals his own thoughts to me too. Listen to Paul: “As it is written: ‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him’ — but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God” (1 Corinthians 2.9-11). These postings are, at their best, a sharing by me of the thoughts of God as he reveals them to me day by day by his Spirit. I have a Father who talks to me and shows me something of his heart and mind! How wonderful is that?
He “turns dawn to darkness, and treads the high places of the earth.” Dawn breaks; the sky is filled with sunshine; then the dark clouds descend and cover the mountain tops; thunder rumbles and lightning flashes; and just as on Sinai, God is present on the earth (Exodus 19). It is a picture of God’s sovereignty over his creation. He strides the mountain tops which means that everything in the valleys and plains below is his. He is Lord of all. Indeed “the Lord God Almighty is his Name”.
And he has made himself known to me in Jesus. Because of Jesus I, like Israel, am invited to “meet my God” this morning; and that I gladly do. For because of Jesus, I can come to him as “Father” and meet with him as his son.