“So that my holy name is profaned”

How is God’s name profaned? Two days ago we started reading the prophecy of Amos, he ministered at about the same time of Hosea, about thirty years before the collapse and captivity of the northern kingdom, and the seeds of godlessness that Ahab and Jezebel had sown were bearing evil fruit.

Israel and Judah both claimed to know and serve the living God, the only God. Amos gives details of their bad behaviour, his comment on their sexual misconduct made us think of the way of life today in so many countries that were formerly, to some degree, Christian and still profess a form of Christianity. He says, “a man and his father go into the same girl so that my holy name is profaned” (2:7) and “in the house of their God they drink … wine” (verse 8) instead of going there to worship.

God’s name, i.e., his good name, his reputation, is profaned, by the bad behaviour of those who claim to serve him. When Priests on both sides of the First World War blessed and prayed to apparently the same God for his help to the soldiers going into battle against each other, God’s name was profaned – and many turned away from Christianity and churches have become increasingly empty over the last 100 years.

Today’s chapter tells us of “this word that the LORD has spoken against you … against the whole family that I brought up out of the land of Egypt: you only have I known of all the families of the earth” (3:1,2). God had “known” them and had made a covenant with them giving them the Ten Commandments and other laws. Their special standing in his sight should have been reflected in their behaviour. Then, because it didn’t, God causes the prophet to say “therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities” (verse 3).

Special blessings and privileges should so lift up our minds and aims in life that we joyfully live at a high spiritual level – and this gives glory to God’s name. How little is this happening today! Depravity is seen on every side. How long before Amos’ message applies to this age? It already has, but it will apply more and more – for he said, “Does disaster come to a city unless the LORD has done it?” (verse 6). We need to reflect more on the words of God’s prophets, “For the Lord GOD does nothing without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets” (verse 7).