Jan. 13, 2021, Amos 5:4-15
Amos has always been a challenging prophet for me. Amos, a shepherd and fig-picker, abruptly was called by God to deliver a series of warnings to wayward people. Amos lived near Jerusalem in Judah, but his prophecy was directed on Samaria, the capital of Israel. Name a sin and this particular group of people that Amos is addressing is guilty of it: callousness, arrogance, empty ritualism, injustice, self-righteousness, hypocrisy, immorality, corruption, and greed. Probably worse of all was the indifference people had toward God.
The strong message of Amos was very similar to other prophets – to turn from sin while you have a chance. God is slow to anger and will forgive, but if you continue to sin you will experience God’s judgment.
Amos in today’s world often gets linked to justice movements or causes that deal with oppression, or fringe groups who fall victim to man-made rules or systems that take advantage of the weak among us.
And the Bible calls us to work for justice and peace as Christians. Working for justice is some of the noblest and tireless work by many in our world. In fact, my first introduction to a group that worked for the marginalized was an organization named International Justice Mission (IJM) founded by Gary Haugen. Haugen, a former lawyer who worked for the U.S. Department of Justice, conducted investigations after the Rwandan genocide in 1994. Mr. Haugen wasn’t just inspiring but also passionate in his work, and because of his work, many lives have been saved and many injustices made right.
Mr. Haugen’s life pursuit and calling have made it possible for ordinary people, like you and I, to find ways to get involved and advocate for people whose voices would not otherwise be heard. Mr. Haugen found a way to join with the voice of the marginalized and unite those around the international world to call for reform and bring about justice for disadvantaged groups.
The summer of 2020 brought an emphasis on some of the disparities of economics, race, and biases that are still present in our nation. As we look at the calling from the prophet Amos to stand up against injustices, how do you add your voice and take action steps in 2021 when you see an individual or minority group being mistreated or in need of help?
Questions for reflection:
- A lament is a poem, or song, of grief. What emotions and thoughts are associated with the various stages of grieving? What is Amos lamenting as you read today’s text?
- Complete this sentence: When the Lord comes again I will probably be found ____________.