Wednesday, July 10, 2013

God's Tough Word Amos 7:7-17

Read Amos and there's no doubt: here is a word of law from a holy God. This prophet spoke to someone in particular: Amaziah (Amos 7:14-17). Amos words to this religious leader 2800 years ago still ring clear. John Holbert observes wisely,

Amos is tough; Amos is blunt; Amos says things that no one wished to hear 2800 years ago, things no one much wishes to hear today either.
Amos thought of himself as a cattleman (Amos 7:14-15). He was no priest or professional holy man but he had a vision of plumb line he'd seen God hold. He was no priest but he named the standard held by God for Israel--in particular Israel's religious leaders (Amos 7:7-9). It was clear God wanted something different from those who claimed to represent him.

Luther, so critical of ecclesial abuses in his day, saw something familiar in Amos' prophetic word,
This account is well worth noting. In it one can see what that ungodliness is and what it thinks of the Word of God, how it despises everything that is of God in order to keep its own things safe. Here the wicked priest Amaziah mocks and despises the pious prophet Amos, a contemptible, lowly shepherd. So he urges the king not to believe the prophecy of Amos. He says that it is a lie since Amos indeed speaks against the king and against the kingdom which they were very sure God had instituted. This is how the wicked blind and mislead each other with their wickedness, Luther, M. Vol. 18: Luther's works, vol. 18 : Minor Prophets I: Hosea-Malachi (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald & H. T. Lehmann, Ed.). Luther's Works (18:176). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.
Amos calls to modern religious leaders too. He gives warning: serve God and not earthly power. When we serve earthly power rather than God we bring trouble upon ourselves (Amos 7:17). Amos is not unique among God's prophets calling religious leaders and powerful people back to God. There is something dangerous in assuming God's approval--no matter what. We know God loves and forgive and we even search scripture for words of comfort and acceptance. But reading Amos we hear God's judgment particularly of Israel's religious and royal establishment. Here is our warning: religion and politics aren't the same. God wants us first to seek after the Kingdom of Heaven.
Peace and thanks for reading, John


Anonymous said...

Chapter 7 verse 14 second half, what is a dresser of a sycamore tree?


John, an unlikely pastor said...

Hey Todd,
Amos had two jobs--one tending cattle and the other working on the trees (pruning, picking bad fruit off, and splitting the top of the fruit to make it grow faster.
hope all is well
thanks, John

Anonymous said...

aah. make sense now, I'm recouping, threw my back out last sunday. making a slow but steady recovery!