Going Deeper 07.07.2021

The first reading for Pentecost 7... Amos 7:7-15

This is what he showed me: the Lord was standing beside a wall built with a plumb line, with a plumb line in his hand. And the Lord said to me, “Amos, what do you see?” And I said, “A plumb line.” Then the Lord said, “See, I am setting a plumb line in the midst of my people Israel; I will never again pass them by; the high places of Isaac shall be made desolate, and the sanctuaries of Israel shall be laid waste, and I will rise against the house of Jeroboam with the sword.” Then Amaziah, the priest of Bethel, sent to King Jeroboam of Israel, saying, “Amos has conspired against you in the very center of the house of Israel; the land is not able to bear all his words. For thus Amos has said, ‘Jeroboam shall die by the sword, and Israel must go into exile away from his land.’” And Amaziah said to Amos, “O seer, go, flee away to the land of Judah, earn your bread there, and prophesy there; but never again prophesy at Bethel, for it is the king’s sanctuary, and it is a temple of the kingdom.” Then Amos answered Amaziah, “I am no prophet, nor a prophet’s son; but I am a herdsman, and a dresser of sycamore trees, and the Lord took me from following the flock, and the Lord said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel.’"

Understanding how the messages of the Old Testament prophets speak to our times and situations is both important and very challenging.  Yes, these messages do apply to us and to our time, but we must be thoughtful as to how.

Amos prophesied prior to the fall of the northern kingdom of Israel, predicting that God was about to bring His wrath upon them.  While we see the expected defensiveness in Amaziah's reaction as a prophet from the north, we can assume that Amos' message was well received by the people of the southern kingdom of Judah, who saw their neighboring relatives as rebellious enemies.  But as is often the case, what they really needed to do is listen to how the message of Amos provided warning to them as well.  The day would come in their not-too-distant future when prophets would speak of their impending doom.

After writing this devotional, I will head over to the church to join others is a challenging study of the prophet Isaiah.  We often find ourselves struggling to understand how both the warnings and the words of hope and comfort apply to us and to our times.  We do well to listen to both.  There is much to be learned from history... especially the history of God's people.  The warnings against things such as injustice, neglect of the poor and needy, empty religious rituals, and the like must be taken seriously for us and our time. 

And when times do get difficult and things fall apart, we can find comfort in the words of hope.  After all, one of the core prophetic messages to the faithful followers of God is that no matter how hard times might get, we must continue to trust in God and in His promises to deliver us.

With You in Him, 

Mark Gabbert, Pastor

Zion Lutheran Church, Wellington

"Gratefully Growing Servants"