Saturday, May 12, 2018

The climax of judgment

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Amos 6-9; Psalm 127

TO CHEW ON: "Shall the land not tremble for this .... I will make the sun go down at noon .... I will turn your feasts into mourning .... I will send a famine on the land ... of hearing the word of the Lord." Amos 8:8,9,10,11

Amos's prophecy starts with a vision—a basket of summer fruit. As if the image of fruit (an understandable metaphor for consequences) isn't enough, apparently the Hebrew word for fruit (qayits) and end (qets) sound almost identical. And so we have a word-play pun underlining this vision's message of judgment.

The judgment was for Israel's secularism and greed. The prophet reports their talk: "'When will the New Moon be past, / That we may sell grain? / And the Sabbath / That we may trade wheat?'" - Amos 8:5.

The judgment was also for their deception and unfairness. He reminds of what they do: "Making the ephah small and the shekel large, / Falsifying the scales by deceit" - Amos 8:5. (The ephah was a measure of grain. Making it small was lowering the amount of it. The shekel was money. Making it large was increasing the price of whatever commodity was being sold.)

The "fruit" of this is interesting to see. I read the consequences as being delivered in increments.
- There are natural disasters - earthquakes and unnatural daytime darkness (coming from volcanic eruptions, perhaps or wildfires) - Amos 8:8,9.
- Life's milestones and even religious celebrations that are usually occasions of joy become times of lament. They are characterized by mourning, premature aging and disease, ("...baldness on every head ...") and tragedy ("... like mourning for an only son") - Amos 8:10.
- But the climax of judgment is God's silence that results in a desperate but futile search for Him - Amos 8:11,12:
“I’ll send a famine through the whole country.
    It won’t be food or water that’s lacking, but my Word.
People will drift from one end of the country to the other,
    roam to the north, wander to the east.
They’ll go anywhere, listen to anyone,    hoping to hear God’s Word—but they won’t hear it - Amos 8:11,12 MSG (emphasis added).

My questions: 
  • Do we understand what a grave place we put ourselves into when we stop listening to God, ignore His invitation to eternal life and live in selfishness and disobedience—as a nation, as churches, as individuals?
  • Do we understand God's ensuing silence as the climax of judgment and ultimate consequence that it is?

Dear Father, please help me to keep the channel of communication with You open.

PSALM TO PRAY: Psalm 127

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked MSG are taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

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