Let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream! Amos 5:24
When John Lewis, an American congressman and civil rights leader, died in 2020, people from many political persuasions mourned. In 1965, Lewis marched with Martin Luther King Jr. to secure voting rights for Black citizens. During the march, Lewis suffered a cracked skull, causing scars he carried the rest of his life. “When you see something that is not right, not just, not fair,” Lewis said, “you have a moral obligation to say something. To do something.” He also said, “Never, ever, be afraid to make some noise and get in good, necessary trouble.”
Lewis learned early that doing what was right, to be faithful to the truth, required making “good” trouble. He would need to speak things that were unpopular. The prophet Amos knew this too. Seeing Israel’s sin and injustice, he couldn’t keep quiet. Amos denounced how the powerful were oppressing “the innocent and tak[ing] bribes and depriv[ing] the poor of justice in the courts,” while building “stone mansions” with “lush vineyards” (Amos 5:11–12). Rather than maintaining his own safety and comfort by staying out of the fray, Amos named the evil. The prophet made good, necessary trouble.
But this trouble aimed at something good—justice for all. “Let justice roll on like a river!” Amos exclaimed (v. 24). When we get into good trouble (the kind of righteous, nonviolent trouble justice requires), the goal is always goodness and healing.
Where do you sense the Holy Spirit might be prompting you to make some good trouble? How can you discern the godly way to do just that?
Heavenly Father, if I’m left to myself, I’ll likely play it safe, stay comfortable, keep quiet. But I know that You might ask something different. Help me discern what to do to honor You.
While Jeremiah prophesied the fall of the Southern Kingdom of Judah, Amos was called to declare the judgment of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. We know little of his life aside from glimpses of information embedded in his book of prophecy, but we do know that he was from the village of Tekoa (Amos 1:1), a few miles south of Jerusalem. This means that Amos was a prophet from the Southern Kingdom who was sent to minister to the Northern Kingdom. His prophecy contains lament about and response to the destruction of the kingdom of Israel by the Assyrians.