Friday 11 May 2018

Bible Book:

“Prepare to meet your God, O Israel!” (v. 12)

Amos 4:1-13 Friday 11 May 2018

Psalm: Psalm 57


Amos, a sheep breeder from Judah was active as a prophet around 750BC. Israel, despite many warnings about its neglect of the marginalised in its society, despite repeated punishments, had not repented and so God would punish it.

In Amos 3:15 the prophet declared that the luxurious houses and palaces of the ruling elite would be destroyed, as a military judgement from God.

Verse 1 addressed the wives of the rich (“cows of Bashan”). Bashan was a fertile region and its cows were known for being fat and healthy. Amos accused them of oppressing the poor and crushing the needy.

Then Amos outlined seven disasters which would/had fallen on Israel as punishment: exile, famine, drought, blight, plague, slaughter, devastation. Yet they have not repented. The confusion of tense gives a dynamism to the judgement. Hads time already run out?

Amos mentioned that the cows would be led away with hooks. Pictures on Assyrian freezes show they did lead prisoners away with hooks through their noses.

Verses 4-5 are an ironic insert into the catalogue of disaster. Amos mockingly invited the Israelites to worship the Lord, not to glorify God but to transgress against God. He was suggesting the emptiness of their worship. This was not worth that God required, but just living.

“Prepare to meet your God” was possibly a liturgical phrase, with the meaning of accountability for unacceptable behaviour to God.

Verse 13 is a doxology. The God who it was awful to meet, was also the amazing creator, who enabled mortals to know God’s own thoughts. (Here, it was through the prophet Amos.) Making the morning darkness was perhaps a suggestion that the God who created the source of all light, could also remove it again.

To Ponder

  • If you were one of the rich wives whom Amos was addressing, what might you say to your friends about him? If you were trying to justify yourself, what would you say?
  • What do you find helpful or unhelpful in Amos’ depiction of God in this chapter?
  • What resonances do you think Amos’ message has today?
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