Amos ministered as a prophet to Israel at the nation’s apex of prosperity and political power. Sadly, it was a time when true worship of God had been replaced with idolatry, immorality, greed, materialism, injustice, spiritual complacency, and self-reliance. God’s people, both in Judah to the south (Amos’s home) and Israel to the north (Amos’s mission field), faced the Lord’s judgment because they had forsaken Him. In a string of dire predictions of coming doom (Amos 3:1—6:14), Amos offers this one ray of hope: “This is what the Lord says to Israel: ‘Seek me and live’” (verse 5:4).
“Seek me and live” is the central theme and primary message of Amos. The prophet repeats, “Seek the Lord and live, or he will sweep through the tribes of Joseph like a fire; it will devour them, and Bethel will have no one to quench it” (Amos 5:6). Again, he implores, “Seek good, not evil, that you may live. Then the Lord God Almighty will be with you, just as you say he is” (Amos 5:14).
“Seek me and live” is the cry of God’s heart—His appeal for people to repent and pursue His forgiveness while there is still hope of salvation. The message echoes in Isaiah’s invitation: “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near” (Isaiah 55:6). It resonates in Zephaniah’s call: “Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land, you who do what he commands. Seek righteousness, seek humility; perhaps you will be sheltered on the day of the Lord’s anger” (Zephaniah 2:3).
“Seek me and live” is God’s invitation to return to “pure and genuine” devotion to the Lord (James 1:27), which is the foundation of our life and relationship with Him. When we forsake the Lord, we must humble ourselves before Him, repent, obey His commands, and walk in His ways again. Only in this way can we receive forgiveness of sins and restoration (2 Chronicles 7:14). The prophets repeatedly warned God’s rebellious children to return to authentic worship, which is our source of spiritual life and the only hope of salvation from the Lord’s judgment and wrath.
In the book of Acts, the apostle Paul informs the people of Athens that God’s desire has always been for all people to seek Him: “His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him—though he is not far from any one of us. For in him we live and move and exist” (Acts 17:27–28, NLT; see also Psalm 14:2). God is our “fountain of life” (Psalm 36:9). From Him we “draw water from the wells of salvation” (Isaiah 12:3; see also Revelation 21:6; 22:17; John 4:10; 7:38).
We should “continually seek him” (1 Chronicles 16:11, NLT) and “sincerely seek him” (Hebrews 11:6, NLT). The people of Amos’s day claimed to follow God with their words (see Amos 5:14), but their actions and devotions revealed a different truth. Wholehearted pursuit is the key to life with God: “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13; see also Deuteronomy 4:27–29). Like David, we must hunger and thirst for the Lord with our whole being (Psalm 63:1; Psalm 84:2; Psalm 42:1).
“Seek me and live” is God’s time-sensitive opportunity. “Indeed, the ‘right time’ is now. Today is the day of salvation,” says the Lord (2 Corinthians 6:2, NLT). No one is promised tomorrow. We have this one life with breath in our lungs today to seek God and live (Psalm 95:7–8; Hebrews 3:7–15; 4:7).
Not only is “seek me and live” the central theme of Amos and the prophets, but it is also the primary message of the gospel. God loves the people of the world so much that He sent His only Son to die in our place and, through His sacrifice, give us eternal life in Jesus Christ (John 3:16). The apostle John clarifies, “And this is what God has testified: He has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God’s Son does not have life. I have written this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life” (1 John 5:11–13).
We must first believe in Him, and then the Christian walk consists of seeking the Lord through a lifelong relationship with Him. Paul expounds, “He will give eternal life to those who keep on doing good, seeking after the glory and honor and immortality that God offers. But he will pour out his anger and wrath on those who live for themselves, who refuse to obey the truth and instead live lives of wickedness” (Romans 2:7–8, NLT).