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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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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Prudence

Michael Whelan: Prudence

Amos 5:7-17

First Woe

You shall not live in the houses you fashion for yourself.  You shall not drink of the wine from your vineyard.  You have taken bribes and oppressed the just.  Therefore, the prudent one is silent at this time.

Today Amos announces the first of three woes and he is quite clear about the consequences that will befall those who allow themselves to slide into corrupt and evil ways.

God says: You hear today about wailing and crying.  This need not take place.  You read about destruction and loss.  This need not happen. You see images of evil against good.  This need not be so.  Put down your arms. Cease your self-defense.  This is how we put an end to mourning and lament.  Celebrate what is good in each of you. Cease judging.  Praise what you find to be positive in both yourself and others and begin with that. The smallest ounce of goodness is ample space for me to gain a foothold in your heart.  This woe is taken from your shoulders when you turn and return to me.

As we watch our evening news we see interviews with family members of those who have been murdered who choose diverging paths. Some want to exact revenge.  Others are willing to forgive, knowing that revenge eats holes only in those who exact a price.

As we watch the evening news we see nations striking out at one another, seizing assets, prevaricating and stirring discord.  We may think we gain anonymity when we hide in a crowd of millions or even billions and say nothing about injustice, and yet . . . God knows how willing we are to live in and for all that Christ teaches us.

Today we consider the images Amos brings to us, we examine our hearts and minds, and we consider . . .

Tomorrow, the second woe of Amos.

Michael Whelan images at: http://www.michaelwhelan.com/shop/reproductions/all-reproductions/prudence-2/

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