Saturday, December 5, 2015

Seventh Day of Advent: The Rants of Amos

The prophet Amos (c. 750 B.C)  reminded Israel that God speaks in the present through the remembrance of sacred past events.  Israel had a special task and destiny as a people, but they had forgotten their calling and their history.   Amos, by helping them recall this sacred past, was providing an opportunity for Israel to change her ways.

Israel had the absurd notion that God was their national god, to be mobilized in the service of their self interests.   They believed this divine favoritism provided immunity from catastrophe, regardless of their conduct. Their relationship (so they believed) with God was God’s only relationship, therefore, it was their divine right to prosper and to be more blessed than other nations.  Amos’ attempt to tell them that their special calling did not entitle them to special privilege, but only to greater responsibility, fell on deaf ears.  God was the God of all nations, said Amos, active in the history of those nations as well as in the history of Israel.  Israel did not listen.

Amos prophesied in a time of great prosperity—but it was a false prosperity in that it benefited only a few. The poor and defenseless were exploited while the rich were “lying in beds of ease.”  The religious community did not protest against this social injustice, in fact, the religious community supported it.  All had become callous, no one seemed to care.  Except God, Amos declared, because God has a heart.

So it was that Israel could not hear any new divine promises because they were already convinced that “God is with us (Amos 5:14).”  Are we not of the same mind?  If so, then perhaps we need to change if we want to hear the divine promises of  this Advent!

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