As recent posts suggest, I’ve been reading the so-called minor prophets. Called “minor” because their writings are relatively short, their writings should in no way be regarded short on substance.
Lately, I’ve read and re-read Amos, because I keep wondering if he was writing to America. So, let’s spend this week with Amos.
We sometimes call the U.S. a Christian nation. Though there’s thin evidence the founders had that in mind, some Christians have it in mind today. Moreover, while Americans (Christians or not) may be reluctant to openly call ourselves “God’s chosen people,” it’s likely we think that way on occasion. So, looking at Amos as an oracle to our country, in addition to ancient Israel, might be compelling.
During the 40+ year reign of Jeroboam II, the Northern Kingdom of Israel (usually called Israel, sometimes Ephraim) was a military power and had amassed great wealth. Hmmm. Its motto could have been, “God is with us!”
Israel was awaiting “the day of the Lord,” a time of great light when God would declare Israel the ruler of all. In America, we’re awaiting the return of the designation as the world’s undisputed premier superpower.
Enter Amos who hailed from the Southern Kingdom, Judah. Amos was a shepherd, a layman in today’s religious parlance. He said, “I was neither a prophet nor…son of a prophet…But the Lord took me…and said…’Go prophesy…'” (7:14-15)
He was to deliver bad news to Israel: the day of the Lord would be a time of darkness; God wasn’t impressed with their wealth and military prowess; God was only concerned about justice to the poor.
Yikes! The stage was set for a time of repentance or a time when all hell would break loose. And Amos began: “The Lord roars from Zion and thunders from Jerusalem.” (1:2)