Saturday 22 May 2021

Bible Book:

The time is surely coming, says the LORD, when the one who ploughs shall overtake the one who reaps and the treader of grapes the one who sows the seed. (v. 13a)

Amos 9:1-15 Saturday 22 May 2021

Psalm 138


This dramatic reading brings our journey through the book of Amos to a close. It has been a bit of a rollercoaster ride!

Amos looks to the future, and as with some other Old Testament prophets like Hosea, he speaks of a somewhat happier time for the people of Israel. After all the dreadful warnings about judgement and destruction which have pervaded the earlier chapters, this passage ends in a more upbeat fashion.

However, there is still work to be done before we get to the ‘happy’ ending. At the beginning of the chapter, Amos’ words are still bleak. Even if the people travel down into the depths (Sheol) (v. 2) or to the top of the highest mountains (Mount Carmel) (v. 3), God will still find them and bring them to judgement. Throughout the book of Amos, the people of God and of Israel are found wanting because of their complacency and lack of compassion for the poor.

The next section emphasises God’s control over nature – “who touches the earth and it melts” (v. 5). It may be that various natural disasters are being described here, such as earthquakes and floods. The previous assumption that the people of Israel are God’s chosen people is also casually dismissed – with the suggestion that they may not be all that special, indeed God has also helped other tribes and races (vs 7-8).

But it is here that the narrative starts to shift. According to Amos, the people of Israel, the house of Jacob, will not be completely destroyed (verse 8). The image of a sieve (v. 9) is important here – it implies that the people will be tested, but no more.

The final section of the passage presents a vision of restoration, a promise for the future, using many images with which Jewish readers would have been familiar. “The booth of David” (v. 11) refers to the booths traditionally put up during the Feast of Tabernacles and may be an oblique reference to the Temple in Jerusalem, or indeed Jerusalem itself. Territories will be restored, most notably from the neighbouring Edom (v. 12). Again, images from nature and especially the countryside at harvest time are used to point to a better future.

To Ponder:

  • Do you think people listened to Amos? Would you have done?
  • How does Amos challenge Christians today? 

First published in 2018

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