Saturday, November 15, 2014

Who Can Say?

Our adult education class at church is studying Amos. I like it because it feels like sneaking a peek a Jesus' preaching notes.

Of course, there are some very uncomfortable moments. Amos comes down hard on those who are focused on the details of religiosity, but ignore the true work of relationship with and response to God. The prophet cries out against those who use others as means to an end, particularly when the end is a lush life, a sexual adventure, a perversion of justice, or simply a picnic with the spoils of oppression.

Donald E. Gowan says we must be careful about how we apply Amos's words in a modern context:

“Have we the right (or the wisdom and insight) to make a direct application of Amos’s message to any contemporary nation or culture? With injustice still rampant, there is a strong temptation for us to do that, but that should be done with caution… We cannot make direct applications of the prophetic message in order to predict our future, but we can and should use it to diagnose the health of our society… To know whether a society is healthy, do not look at the wealthy homes or the magnificent sanctuaries, but look at the state of the poor and needy. If the words that go with them are Amos’s words- tumult, oppression, violence- then there is no health in that society, and where there is not health, death cannot be far away.” New Interpreter’s Bible Commentary, Vol. VII

So we cannot assume, without clear spiritual revelation, that we will suffer in exile as did Israel. We can, however, make an assessment about our culture's habits and our own.

That's where Amos leaves off preaching and takes up meddlin', as they say.

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