The pastures of the shepherds mourn, and the top of Carmel withers. – Amos 1:2b
Scripture reading: Amos 1:2; Deuteronomy 8:1-20
Amos could see Mt. Carmel in the northwest, with its fertile soil and abundant rain. He saw the rich valley pasture lands where the sheep were grazing. These were symbols of fertility and growth for a kingdom that was enjoying unprecedented peace and prosperity. Amos declared what must have seemed unthinkable to the average Israelite: the pastures will mourn under the burden of drought; Carmel will wither in the blistering heat of the sun.
The LORD is God. If He should choose to shut up the skies and dry up the economy, there is nothing Israel could do about it. When the source of their wealth and pleasure and power was removed, to whom then would they turn? Baal, the Canaanite god of rain and fertility, in whom they trusted, was powerless to save them. All the idols on all the high places could not deliver them.
We know a whole lot more about weather and agriculture today than the Israelites of Amos’s day. The progress of climate and agricultural science in the last century alone has been staggering. And yet, we are still no closer to being in control of our lives. There is only One who rules the wind and makes plants grow and upholds the laws of nature He designed. “In Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28).
When God withholds blessings from His people it is to remind us that man cannot live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord.
Suggestions for prayer
Praise God for His works in creation. Be specific. Pray for a deepening of your trust in Him, especially where He is withholding blessings in your life.
Rev. Gary Zekveld is the pastor of New Westminster United Reformed Church in British Columbia, This daily devotional is available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional.