Scripture: Amos 6-9
Key verse: (9:11) “On that day I will rise up the booth of David that is fallen, and repair its breaches, and raise up its ruins, and rebuild it as in the days of old.”
Reflection: Today we finish the prophet Amos. His work would never be described as “cheery.” The herdsman of Tekoa wasn’t one to mince words. His most well-known words call for “justice to roll down like water and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” That is preceded in chapter 5 with the very direct chastisement, “I hate, I despise your festivals, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies.” Today’s section is also filled with pronouncements of judgment against Israel that land Amos in trouble with the “big-steeple preacher” of his day, the court prophet Amaziah, who was always eager to tell King Jeroboam whatever he wanted to hear. (see Amos 7)
The last five verses of the book, Amos 9:11-15, offer a stark contrast of hope. There’s a promise for redemption and abundance and joy. It’s so starkly different from the rest of Amos that many scholars believe it was tacked on to the book at a later date. Maybe, maybe not. Regardless, those final five verses offer an important theological reminder. God’s word to us is never simply judgment. There is certainly a lot of judgment in scripture, but that’s never all there is. God’s judgment is always for a purpose. The goal is redemption. Judgment is part of the process, but it is only the means to a new end, a new day, a new life. That’s even true for old, grumpy Amos!
There’s an awful lot of judgment in our world these days. It seems to be judgment simply for the sake of tearing down our opposition, whomever they may be. I wonder what we could learn from the end of Amos. How might imagining a redeemed relationship with those we judge change the way we pass judgment on others?
Prayer: In the midst of a world too often defined by brokenness and bitterness, where judgment of the other often defines the day, give us hearts to hope for a new day, where even our relationships with those we judge might be redeemed. Amen.
Author: Joe Clifford
[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].