I’m preaching on Amos this Sunday, and in the course of my study came across D. A. Carson’s very powerful Amos-like message for us today. It seems even more poignant perhaps than when it was first published.
WOE TO CHINA. IN THIS CENTURY she has butchered fifty million of her own people in the name of equality. Proud and haughty, she maintains an officially atheistic stance, persecuting the church while that church, nurtured by the blood of the martyrs, has in half a century multiplied fifty times.
Woe to Russia. In the second decade of this century she embarked on a massive social experiment that resulted in the deaths of more than forty million people. She subjugated nation after nation, so certain was she that the tide of history was on her side. She became excellent at producing the “revolutionary man,” but could not produce the promised “new man” of Marxist thought, and so hid behind illusions and lies until her economic incompetence brought her down.
Woe to Germany. Privileged to serve as home to some of the greatest Reformers, she became extraordinarily arrogant intellectually, and in this century started two world wars that wreaked death and havoc, including the horrors of the Nazis, on countless millions. Today she builds excellent BMW’s but has a materialist soul, worshiping nothing greater than the deutsche mark.
Woe to Great Britain. At one time ruler of one-quarter of the world’s population; inheritor of some of the greatest Christian thought and literature ever produced, she became ever more proud and condescending to the nations she colonized and the people she enslaved. Having repeatedly squandered a heritage of the knowledge of God, she thrashes around directionless and degraded.
Woe to Canada. She likes to think of herself as morally superior to her nearest neighbor, while hiding under the U. S. military umbrella. Sliding toward a moral abyss, her Supreme Court issues decisions that are as morally corrosive as any in the Western world, while the English-French factionalism drives toward enmity and breakup for want of courtesy and respect from both sides.
Woe to the United States. She prides herself on being the only world power left, but never reflects on how God has brought low every world power in history. Her cherished freedoms, so great a heritage, have increasingly become a facade to hide and then defend the grossest immorality and selfishness. To the nation at large, no issue, absolutely none, is more important than the state of the economy.
This is the reasoning of Amos. In Amos 1, he circles around the pagan neighbors, articulating the judgment of God. Here in Amos 2, he moves to Moab, Judah (“Canada”), and finally brings it home to Israel. Israelite audiences would begin with smug contentment during the early parts: how would they end up? And understand: the sequence of my “Woes,” above, could have been rearranged to end with any country—with your country.
Perhaps we should go even further and ask, ‘What woes could we pronounce against ourselves in our churches?’ We are so good and thinking of ourselves as better than other churches around us, yet we often miss the sin crouching at our own door.
Check out the rest of Carson’s amazingly helpful devotional commentary in his two-volume work, For the Love of God (vol 1, vol 2).