Love GOOD, Hate EVIL, and Establish JUSTICE Always: "For I know your manifold transgressions and your mighty sins: afflicting the just and taking bribes; diverting the poor from justice at the gate. Seek good and not evil, that you may live; so the Lord God of hosts will be with you, as you have spoken. Hate evil, love good; establish justice in the gate. It may be that the Lord God of hosts will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph." (Amos 5:12, 14-15)
Some Bible scholars point out that during the reign of the second King Jeroboam, the Israelite society split vertically into two tiers based on their income level: ‘the-haves’ and ‘the-have-nots’. In fact, those people with power, money and influence oppressed the poor and downtrodden in order to maintain their lifestyles of luxury (v. 11). This was exactly what the Canaanites had done whom they had driven out from their Promised Land (see Josh. 3:10). The Israelites loved evil, hated good, and instituted much injustice in their public life (see Amos 2:6; 5:11–12; 8:4–6). No wonder God was determined to destroy them!
The prophet Amos now pleads with the Israelites to return to God in order to avoid the judgment that He was planning to bring upon them. They were to seek after and love good, and hate evil by default. To seek after good and hate evil emphasized the radical change that repentance would bring in their lives. When they love good and hate evil, they will be inclined to be just in all their public and personal dealings.
In the case of Israelites, they were to ‘love good, hate evil and establish justice in the gate’ (v. 15). In their context, the ‘gate’ was the place where civic and commercial matters were handled (see Ruth 4:1; Esth. 2:19–21; Prov. 31:23). Much of a city’s legal business was transacted in its gate, which was a large passageway with adjoining rooms. Therefore, to ‘establish justice in the gate’ meant to set laws, do business, and conduct other public transactions in ways that honor God and serve people!
Many Christians think that social reform comes mainly through spiritual regeneration. People will change the ways in which they live and treat others after they have experienced inner change as a result of salvation in Christ. This is to state that ‘grace leads to justice’. This thinking is just opposite to the admonition of prophet Amos where he challenged the Israelites to do justice first, which might lead to God pouring out His grace upon them! That is, if they changed their society into one that was more just and loving, God might change His plans to destroy them (v. 15b). God will be gracious to those who repent of their evil ways!
As we consider our influence in our society today, we should look into the impact that public justice might have on people’s openness to God’s grace. It is true that grace leads to justice, and a person transformed by the grace of Jesus Christ will treat others fairly. The transformation in Zacchaeus the chief tax collector is a clear evidence of this fact (Luke 19:8-9). On the other hand, we, as the anointed Spirit-filled children of God should work for social justice everywhere as we give people hope, and open up their hearts to hear the message of God’s love for them. Let us love God, hate evil and establish justice always!
"The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed" (Luke 4:18)