Amos for today
Image credit: FountainintheCityChurchAustralia


The book of Amos opens with knockout (KO) punches, in Chapter 1, against five nations that border Israel; and three more KO against Moab, Judah, and Israel in Chapter 2. Many readers are not able to go beyond these KO chapters, and so miss out on the relevant message Amos has for the world we live in today.

Amos preached in the nation of Israel, and not in Judah, What is the difference? When King Solomon died, the United Kingdom of Israel had a civil war. The poorer ten tribes in the north broke away and were called Israel, while the richer two tribes in the south (Judah and Benjamin) were called Judah (see 1 Kings Chapters 11-15).

Amos preached in Israel about 150 years after the civil war; this was 800 years before Jesus was born, and 2800 years from today. At that time Israel was experiencing economic boom; the rich had winter and summer homes (mansions) decorated with ivory (Amos 3:15), and slept in beds made with ivory (Amos 6:4).

Meanwhile Amos 2:6-8 (Easy-to-Read Version Bible) tell us: ‘This is what the Lord says: “I will definitely punish Israel… They sold honest people for a little silver. They sold the poor for the price of a pair of sandals… They stopped listening to suffering people. Fathers and sons had sexual relations with the same woman. They ruined my holy name. They took clothes from the poor, and then they sat on those clothes while worshiping at their altars. They loaned money to the poor, and then they took their clothes as a promise for payment. They made people pay fines and used the money to buy wine for themselves to drink in the temple of their god.’ 

International trade was booming; a small number of people became very rich; they partied heavily, hunted sexual adventures, and were wicked to the many poor people. This was in direct disobedience to Deuteronomy 15:1-18 where God told them to be generous to the poor, to lend to the poor without interest, and to forgive debts. We see a  similar pattern in many countries today – to be continued next week.

Lord, forgive us when we have hurt the poor; help us do better, Amen!

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