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Friday, September 25, 2020

During Schumacher's expedition, a rare seal was found with the inscription: "To Shema slave of Jeroboam". This may be King Jeroboam II from 750BC.

During Gottlieb Schumacher’s expedition of Megiddo, a rare seal was found with the inscription: “To Shema slave of Jeroboam”. This may be King Jeroboam II from 750BC.

Amos 4

Impiety Rebuked . . . Restoration

Amos does not mince his words or couch them in easy metaphors; we can see why he was rejected. His message struck too quickly and too closely to the heart of those who by their actions did not live out the Mosaic Law of honoring the one true God. Amos lived during the reign of Jeroboam II (786-746 B.C.E.) and he pronounced his prophecy at the cult center of Bethel until the priest who was in charge of that royal sanctuary expelled him.

At this time, the northern kingdom of Israel had separated from the southern one of Judea and when we read closely we can see that the priests and the wealthy had succumbed to the lure of the power and control which their office as sacred ministers and leaders afforded them. Stated bluntly, they abused the gift and power given to them. They were more concerned about maintaining their control on the temple income derived from the people who brought their offerings as a part of their attempt to seek penance and union with God. The priests of Israel (the northern kingdom, also Samaria) had separated from Jerusalem (the southern seat of power and worship) and loved their position of wealth, plenty and power. Amos rebukes these fat, contented people just as Jesus did when he ejected the moneychangers from the temple.

Amos always understands that this perversion of the law is not permanent . . . as much as those in power may wish it to be. Amos knows that Yahweh will use this harm that the corrupt inflict on those over whom they have control . . . and he knows that Yahweh will turn this harm to good, just as he does with all things that are corrupting. Yahweh will use these stubborn acts of blindness and perversity to bring about restoration and ultimate union with God.

As with all prophets, Amos is reluctant to speak when called by God . . . yet speak he does . . . and oh, so beautifully. “His style is blunt and even offensive”. (Senior RG 362) He begins chapter 4 by calling the wealthy women cows, the wife of the priest, Amaziah, a harlot. “He is a prophet in the mold of Elijah, whose denunciations come close to cursing”. He saw himself as a poor shepherd and farmer with no influence and therefore saw no need to speak softly . . . as he did not expect to be heard. Amos pronounces doom on those who do not hear and those who are blind to their own actions, and then he goes back to his sheep and sycamores.

Amos’ offer of hope springs not from the idea that this doom and catastrophe for the controlling classes can be avoided, for it is clear that disaster is looming and in fact it does arrive in the form of the Assyrian invasion. No, the hope that Amos offers lies in the fallen hut of David, the Messiah who is to come . . . Jesus. Amos tells and foretells those who have ears to listen that we rebuke those who live in flagrant violation of the covenant and then we watch in hopeful waiting for the one who will come to deliver the justice that is so desperately needed. We wait in joyful expectation the kingdom where compassion and mercy merge with justice and righteousness, where we both rebuke and remain open to wonderful possibilities that can come only with tremendous hope.


For information about Gottlieb Schumacher’s Expedition and Report of Tell el-Mutesellim (Megiddo), visit: https://megiddoexpedition.wordpress.com/schumachers-expedition/

Adapted from a reflection written on December 22, 2007.

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.RG 362. Print.

To read more about Jeroboam II, click on the image above or go to: http://ramsesii-amaic.blogspot.com/2009/10/jeroboam-ii.html

For more on the Megiddo Seal above, go to: http://www.biblewalks.com/Sites/megiddo.html

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Thursday, September 24, 2020

head_29[1]Amos 9:14-15

Raising Up

I will bring about the restoration of my people Israel; they shall rebuild and inhabit their ruined cities, plant vineyards and drink the wine, set out gardens and eat the fruits. I will plant them upon their own ground; never again shall they be plucked from the land I have given them, say I, the Lord, your God.

Evidence and judgment, words and woes, threats and promises, visions of locusts, fire, the plummet, and the fruit basket, condemnation of priests and leaders, prophecy against greed and corruption, the final vision before the altar and then the winnowing sieve. This prophecy is too much to bear yet just as we are about to put aside forever its dark images and frightening premonition of doom . . . Amos leads us to the place he was always leading us. Amos brings us to the Christ, the Messiah.

God says: You most often find me in the dark valleys of your life for it is the failures, the betrayals, and corruption that bring you swiftly to my side.  Just so does my prophet Amos warn you that my little ones must be shepherded.  My lambs must be tended, my sheep must be led.  Through the suffering, pain and sorrow I am with you.  I have created you and you are mine.  I have loved you and I will never leave you.  I have already rescued you and placed you within the protective walls of my vineyard. You have been planted upon your own ground and you will never again be plucked from the place I have given you. Yours is the place of honor in my own sacred heart.  This I have promised.  This is the raising up you have been seeking.  This is your raising up that is my gift to you this day.

How does the prophet Amos speak to us today? What foreshadowing does he share? What hope does he bring? What is his promise of raising up for you? When we consider our world today, many will say that we need the words of Amos more than ever. When we contemplate our surroundings, many will say that it is time to heed the prophecy that  reminds us God is always raising us up.

Amos sheep


Use your own commentary or one of the links below to learn a bit more about his prophecy.

http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/21356/Amos

http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/112277/jewish/The-Prophet-Amos.htm

http://thisischurch.com/christian_teaching/sermon/amos.pdf


Images from: http://www.faithvillage.com/article/0531061aff6d4f0c81db56f7d5fc3f35/the_boldness_of_amos and http://www.liquidthinking.org/archive/2005_09_01_archive.htm

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Wednesday, September 16, 2020

fat_cow[1]Amos 4:1-2

Cows of Bashan

Hear this word, women of the mountain of Samaria, you cows of Bashan, you who oppress the weak and abuse the needy; who say to your lords, “Bring drink for us!” The Lord God has sworn by his holiness: truly the days are coming upon you when they shall drag you away with hooks, the last of you with fishhooks; you shall go through the breached walls each by a most direct way, and you shall be cast into the mire, says the Lord.

Bashan: the region east of the Sea of Galilee, famous for its rich pasture and fattened herds, to which Amos likens the indolent women of Samaria.” (Senior cf. 1129)

“The phrase ‘cows of Bashan’ was therefore a harsh but fitting symbol for Israel’s wealthy, pampered, self-indulgent women, who maintained their lifestyles by exploiting the poor and speaking demandingly – even to their husbands”. (Zondervan cf. 1451)

God says: You only deceive yourselves when you insist on having your own way. You win petty arguments yet lose your soul.  You bully and browbeat yet you throw away your heart. You adorn yourselves with fake jewels yet you toss out my love like the scraps of a meal. 

Amos speaks to people who believe they are immune to any negative consequence. They store up wealth against difficult days; they cultivate political alliances to protect themselves from civil turmoil; they love little but themselves and think nothing of their neighbors.  Amos warns. Yet the warning goes unheeded.


 Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.1129. Print.   

Image from: http://www.liberalrev.com/?p=1145

ARCHAEOLOGICAL STUDY BIBLE (NIV). Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2005. 1451. Print.

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Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Amos 3:14-15

Ivory Apartments

On the day when I punish Israel for his crimes, I will visit also the altars of Bethel: the horns of the altar shall be broken off and fall to the ground. Then will I strike the winter house and the summer house; the ivory apartments shall be ruined, and their many rooms shall be no more, says the Lord.

“The reference to ‘houses adorned with ivory” in Amos 3:15 finds confirmation in the discovery of the Samaria Ivories, a collection of hundreds of pieces of artwork, including over 200 fragments uncovered in the rubbish heap of a building on the city’s acropolis.  This ‘ivory building’ is associated with the Israelite king Ahab (c. 874-853 B.C.), who is said to have constructed a palace ‘inlaid with ivory’ in Samaria (1Ki 22:39)”.  (Zondervan 1449)

God says: You are my chosen people. I have created you and I love. I have protected you, guided you, redeemed you and made you a holy people; and yet you turn from me. You have hidden away in your ivoried apartments and begun to worship this life of luxury you have fashioned for yourself. You have set up your own temple. You have begun to worship pagan gods who love nothing about you . . . for you are created in my image and not theirs.  ou are made to live with me in the towering forests and running streams of my heart. You are made for goodness rather than evil. You have no need of ivory and you have no need of the exclusive places apart into which you withdraw. Come out of your imagined shelter and serve my weak and little ones. For they are the ivoried pieces that adorn my heart.

We are easily drawn in by the lure of the false life of living as gods and we turn away from life in the Spirit of God.  We are called to live as the shimmering image of God.  Let us climb down out of the false ivory apartments in which we have taken illusory shelter; let us unite with Christ’s mystical body of love; and let us live and love in the Spirit of God who loves us so.

Tomorrow, the Cows of Bashan.


“The Samaria Ivories.” ARCHAEOLOGICAL STUDY BIBLE (NIV). Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2005. Print.

Image from: https://www.redzonetech.net/blog/are-boards-suffering-from-its-ivory-tower-syndrome/

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Monday, September 14, 2020

mind[1]Amos 3:1-2

Words and Woes

Hear this word, O you of Israel, that the Lord pronounces over you, over the whole family that I brought up from the land of Egypt: You alone have I favored more than all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your crimes.

These are harsh verses to hear from a God whom we see as forgiving and merciful; yet Amos speaks these words and woes.

God says: I have created you in my image.  I have brought you out of exile. I have healed you, clothed you, and fed you. I have loved you. When you are in crisis I walk with you. When you are fear-filled I protect you. When you are libeled and slandered I defend you. And when you turn away from me I cry out to you. When calamity strikes I am beside you even though you may not see me or feel my presence. I am ever waiting. I am ever yearning. Come to me with all that you have and all that you are.

From Luke 6: Jesus departed to the mountain to pray, and he spent the night in prayer to God. When day came, he called his disciples to himself, and from them he chose twelve, whom he also called Apostles: Simon, whom he called Peter, and his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, Simon who called a Zealot, and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.  And he came down with them and stood on a stretch of level ground. A great crowd of his disciples and a large number of the people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the coastal region of Tyre and Sidon and came to hear him and to be healed of their diseases; and even those who were tormented by unclean spirits were cured. Everyone in the crowd sought to touch him because the power came forth from him and healed them all. 

Wisdom 9:13: Who can know God’s counsel, or who can conceive what God intends? For the deliberations of mortals are timid, and unsure are our plans.

We cannot understand the mind of God and yet we see God’s mercy.

We cannot know how God will judge and yet we see God’s justice.

We cannot comprehend the heart of God and yet we see God’s goodness.

Let us go to God with our own words and woes and let us listen for God’s voice.


Image from: http://37stories.wordpress.com/2008/06/30/the-mind-of-christ/

To understand more about the Northern Kingdom of Israel, visit: http://www.gotquestions.org/Israel-Northern-Southern-kingdoms.html

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Sunday, September 13, 2020

Bible_Warrior_Angel_37877871-P-1024x531[1]Amos 1 & 2

The Swift-of-Foot and the Stout-hearted

When we scan the list of crimes committed by the many nations who shared the Mediterranean Levant in ancient days, we see that they are indeed serious. And perhaps most appalling is that God’s chosen people number in the list of offenders. For this reason Amos speaks out clearly.

God says: Aram, Philistia, Tyre, Edom, Ammon, Moab, Judah, Israel . . . for three crimes and four I will not revoke my word. Because they threshed Gilead with sledges if iron; because they took captive whole groups; because they did not remember the pact of brotherhood; because he pursued his brother with a sword; because they ripped open expectant mothers; because he burned to ashes the bones of the king; because they spurned the law of the Lord; because they sell the just man for silver . . . they shall be exiled; they shall perish; I will send fire; their king shall go into captivity; I will root out the judge from her midst and her princes I will slay. The swift of foot shall not escape, nor the horseman save his life. And the most stout-hearted warriors shall flee naked on that day.

When we scan the headlines on our smartphones and cable channels we see these ancient crimes repeated. Amos sees direct cause and effect in the disaster that befalls humans as a result of their own action. With a good commentary we can understand the gravity of the atrocities committed here and we pause to reflect we see this list of crimes as a stark contrast to the list of gifts God bestows on us. We are an ungrateful people and so Amos warns us that there are consequences for our refusal to see clearly. Amos asks us to re-think and repent all that we do individually and collectively. Amos opens a window onto a final world that we will not want to visit. To the swift-of-foot and the stout-hearted who believe themselves safe or immune . . . there is no escape.

These are heavy words.  hese are dark images. This is a world to which God continues to call out in hope.

Tomorrow, words and woes.


Image from: http://www.stephanielandsem.com/2013/03/5-ways-the-bible-wins-and-5-not-so-much/

Locate the nations named in this reading with an online Atlas at: http://bibleatlas.org/

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Saturday, September 12, 2020

Mount Carmel Today

Mount Carmel Today

Amos 1:2

The Lion’s Roar

The Lord will roar from Zion, and from Jerusalem raise his voice: the pastures of the shepherds will languish, and the summit of the Carmel wither.

As the sacred high place of Carmel withers and the simple shepherds suffer, God roars out a warning through the prophet Amos.  What is it that we hear?

God says: You ask for my wisdom and I give it to you; yet you pause for my words do not always match your desire. You ask for my consolation and I bestow it on you; yet you mourn for what you do not have. You ask for redemption and I breathe new life into you; yet you hesitate . . . for you struggle to cast off your old complaints. They have become too familiar and too comfortable to you.

Amos challenges us today to listen for the roar of the lion, to tend to the altar on Carmel, to restore the shepherds to their flocks and fields. Where in our own lives do crops waste away and the sacred places fall silent?


If we have no commentary to explore the opening verses of Amos, we might use one the the following online.

http://www.clarion-journal.com/clarion_journal_of_spirit/2011/02/amos-the-lion-roars-by-ron-dart.html

http://www.easyenglish.info/bible-commentary/amos-lbw.htm

http://www.biblegateway.com/quicksearch/?quicksearch=amos&qs_version=NIV

To learn more about Mount Carmel and why it still considered a scared place, visit: http://www.bibleplaces.com/mtcarmel.htm

Image from: https://www.britannica.com/place/Mount-Carmel-mountain-ridge-Israel

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Thursday, September 10, 2020

sycamore_ashkelon-66-t[1]

A Sycamore Tree Bearing Fruit

Investigating Amos

What do we know about the prophet Amos? When we seek we will find that . . .

  • He described himself as a shepherd and farmer who tended to sycamore trees;
  • His strong verbal skills imply that he was more than an ignorant peasant;
  • He did not consider himself to be a professional prophet; he did not make a living proclaiming oracles to a patron who paid to hear what he wanted to hear;
  • He lived in Tekoa, a town about 11 miles south of Jerusalem;
  • He centered his ministry around Bethel, a major city in the north of Israel where many of the upper classes of the northern kingdom worshiped;
  • He lived during the reigns of Jeroboam II of Israel and Uzziah of Judah, 760-750 B.C.E., an era of unusual prosperity;
  • He brought a message of warning to the wealthy and powerful that they must come to see that their wealth had lured them into spiritual complacency and ethical laxity;
  • He warned his audience that judgment would be exacted for the actions of the strong against the weak. (Zondervan 1444-1445)

There is heavy emphasis on social justice in this prophecy and those of us today who live in first-world cultures do well to spend time contemplating the words and thoughts of Amos. What do we who are comfortable do for those who are not? How do we have much enact God’s Word for those who have little? Who are the peasants among us who ask for our introspection, our witness, our voices, and our action? In the time of pandemic and social unrest, how do we reflect the God who created us?

If we spend time today with the words of Amos and a solid commentary or other resource, we will hear God speak to us in our innermost refuge where we go to forget the woes of the world. If we spend time with the poetry of Amos today, we will experience the message of healing and restoration this prophet still brings to the faithful who seek God’s wisdom, to the faithful who yearn to bear fruit.

Tomorrow, an exhortation to return to God.


Adapted from a post written on September 14, 2013. 

Image from: http://ferrelljenkins.wordpress.com/2008/10/10/zaccheus-climbed-up-into-a-sycamore-tree/

ARCHAEOLOGICAL STUDY BIBLE (NIV). Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2005. 1444-1445. Print.

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Wednesday, September 9, 2020

de-dos-en-dos1[1]

Go and witness for me . . .

Amos: Without Constraint

“Amos was a shepherd of Tekoa in Judah, who exercised his ministry during the prosperous reign of Jeroboam II (786-746 B.C.). He prophesied in Israel at the great cult center of Bethel, from which he was finally expelled by the priest in charge of this royal sanctuary. The poetry of Amos, who denounces the hollow prosperity of the northern kingdom, is filled with imagery and language taken from his own pastoral background. The book is an anthology of his oracles and was compiled either by the prophet or by some of his disciples”. (Senior 1126)

“Amos is the earliest of prophets who have books in their names.  In fact, his oracles were transmitted orally, and only collected in book form much later . . . We know very little about the career of Amos . . . He was an independent agent.  He was a shepherd and a dresser of sycamores (the fruit, resembling a fig, had to be tended in order to prevent insects from destroying it), and so had his own means. He did not depend on king or priest for support, and so was not beholden to them, and did not require their permission to prophesy. This independence left him free to speak the truth as he saw it, without political constraint”.  (Senior RG 361-362)

The words and life of Amos charge us to speak without constraint. What do we do with and in our lives to live in this independence?

The oracles and visions of Amos show us the possibility of a world that delivers justice and mercy without constraint. How do we act and speak to live in this possibility?

The woes and joys of Amos guide us in the way that Jesus comes to lead us. How eager are we to follow in the witnessing we are called to perform without constraint?

Tomorrow, Investigating Amos.


For a reflection on the Book of Amos, go to the Amos-Accountability page on this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/the-book-of-our-life/the-old-testament/the-prophets/amos-accountability/

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.1126 and RG 361-362. Print.

 

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