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Today we start the book of Amos! Amos was a unique prophet in that he was a shepherd and fig grower. His prophecies come from about 760 to 750 B.C. at a height of Israel & Judah's prosperity - materially. (not spiritually...) Though Amos was from Judah, his messages were primarily directed at Israel. A good introduction to the book of Amos is at this link. Below is an image of Amos, the "shepherd prophet":
Amos chapter 1 verse 2 sets the stage for this book and the prophecies to come: "This is his report of what he saw and heard: "The LORD's voice roars from his Temple on Mount Zion; he thunders from Jerusalem! Suddenly, the lush pastures of the shepherds dry up. All the grass on Mount Carmel withers and dies." Then in the remainder of chapter 1 and 2 there are prophecies against Israel and Judah's surrounding neighbors all starting with - ""The people of _(fill in the blank)__ have sinned again and again, and I will not forget it. I will not let them go unpunished any longer!" Is it possible that this blank could maybe be filled in on our life or habits at times? Is it possible that this blank could be filled in by nations in our world today? If God were to punish, might it be a holy discipline to bring us back to repentance and right relationship with God? Below is a portrait by artist Guy Rowe of Amos and the people:
In chapter 4 verse 2 it stood out to me how Judah was being called to the carpet as well as the neighboring nations: "They have rejected the laws of the LORD, refusing to obey him. They have been led astray by the same lies that deceived their ancestors." Do we obey God today in our lives? Are there areas in our life where we might be deceived - either by others, or maybe even in our own minds? Below is an image of Amos preaching to Kings Uzziah and Jeroboam II - from a 14th century illuminated Bible:
And Israel is called to the carpet in verses 6 & 7: "They have perverted justice by selling honest people for silver and poor people for a pair of sandals. They trample helpless people in the dust and deny justice to those who are oppressed." It seems that God is very interested in the care of the poor back then. Do you think he is still interested in the care of the poor today? Are we caring for the poor & the oppressed in our world today? In your life, are you caring for the poor & oppressed? Consistently? How?
In Amos chapters 4, 5, & 6 we read about Israel's failure to listen, a call to repentance, and warning of coming Judgment. Chapter 4 verse 13 stood out to me in today's readings: "For the LORD is the one who shaped the mountains, stirs up the winds, and reveals his every thought. He turns the light of dawn into darkness and treads the mountains under his feet. The LORD God Almighty is his name!" Here we are reminded that God is the creator of all things, and he still is in control of what happens in the present time. He is the past, present, and future. I like that phrase, "reveals his every thought." Meaning, God wants His ways, His character, His thoughts, His love to be known by all. Do you believe God reveals His every thought to us? Where might we best find out what God's every thought is? Do you want to know God's thoughts above all else?
I think chapter 5 verse 14 today is a good reminder and warning to each of us: "Do what is good and run from evil--that you may live! Then the LORD God Almighty will truly be your helper, just as you have claimed he is." I believe that sometimes we think we can overcome evil through our own sheer will power. Or that we can change evil. This verse reminds us to simply RUN! I like that reminder. Sometimes you just gotta get out of Dodge to avoid evil influencing you or overtaking you. Are there temptations or bad habits in your life that you have been trying to overcome, battle, change - and perhaps you should just RUN from them? Flee from them? So that you may truly live?
Amos chapter 6 verse 5 stood out to me for some reason today: "You sing idle songs to the sound of the harp, and you fancy yourselves to be great musicians, as King David was." I guess a couple of things jumped out at me here. First, the singing idle songs to the sound of the harp made me ask myself, are we sometimes idle with our time? When perhaps God is wanting us to be purposeful or intentional with our time? Don't get me wrong - rest is good. But, is idleness good? I think rest can be purposeful and intentional and healthy. Or it can potentially be just the opposite.
Next - do we sometimes fancy ourselves to be "great musicians as King David was" - meaning, do we sometimes try to pretend to be someone who we are not? Are we masking over who we really are, and playing fake? Should we instead be real? And sincere? And intentional and purposeful? I guess I'm just getting at here - are there times when we are being fake? When, perhaps God is simply calling us to simply be real? To be who we are? Who are you? If you need to, will you take off your mask and just be who God made you to be?
YouTube: Today's readings remind me of the Building 429 song "Always:"
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