Scripture: Amos 7:10-17
Key verse: (14) Then Amos answered Amaziah, “I am no prophet, nor a prophet’s son; but I am a herdsman, and a dresser of sycamore trees, 15 and the LORD took me from following the flock, and the LORD said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel.’
Reflection: Speaking for God is a weighty and often dangerous task — for all of God’s people. Amos was a prophet from the small village Tekoa. He was a shepherd in the southern kingdom of Judah, and he prophesied in the northern kingdom of Israel. After a series of visions from Amos, Amaziah, the priest of Bethel, was deeply disturbed. He sent word to King Jeroboam that Amos was conspiring against him and claims the kingdom will be destroyed. Amos is ‘preaching’ an uncomfortable message, and both Amos and Amaziah are faced with a dilemma.
Amos is faced with suspicion and fear from the people and the priests. Amaziah tries to discredit Amos by claiming he is an outsider, speaking only for income. Amos responds, “I am not a professional prophet, or even a prophet’s son; I grew up in the fields, watching over the sheep. But I have a calling on my heart, a divine nudge to tell you what I have seen, for I believe God is using me to tell you these things” (my words).
The difference between Amos and Amaziah is that prophets operate outside the sanctuary, while priests like Amaziah are responsible for what happens inside the sanctuary. Amos cannot not tell the powerful word he has received; at the same time, Amaziah is charged with keeping political equilibrium, censoring uncomfortable proclamation.
Too often we are quick to critique Amaziah’s response as he defends the order and status quo, and we cheer alongside Amos and his unabashed proclamation. How do we speak God’s powerful truth like Amos when we are in a position like Amaziah? How do we speak an uncomfortable truth in a way that is both challenging and receivable?
I wonder what uncomfortable message you may need to hear/speak this advent. I wonder if we are able, by the grace and mercy of God, to allow that message to press us to the edge of comfort. I wonder how that message may change as we watch and wait for Immanuel, who comes to eternally reveal God’s incarnate love and grace for us.
Prayer: Word of God, you have equipped your people with visions of judgement and mercy. Awaken in us the courage to speak your truth, the truth that pushes us to the edge of comfort, so that all who have ears to hear may know of what you require: to act justly, love kindness, and walk humbly alongside you. Your Word made flesh. Amen.
Author: Ben Brannan
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].