Going Deeper 9-17-19

The first reading for Pentecost 15…

Amos 8:4-7   Hear this, you that trample on the needy, and bring to ruin the poor of the land, saying, "When will the new moon be over so that we may sell grain; and the sabbath, so that we may offer wheat for sale?  We will make the ephah small and the shekel great, and practice deceit with false balances, buying the poor for silver and the needy for a pair of sandals, and selling the sweepings of the wheat."  The Lord has sworn by the pride of Jacob: Surely I will never forget any of their deeds.

 

God’s children have always been called to seek righteousness and justice.  (IMPORTANT: we are talking about people who understand that they have become God’s children because of God’s action, not their own, and who are being taught how to live as children of God.)  Righteousness in Hebrew is “TSEDAQAH” and in this context it has to do with right relationships among God’s people, which leads to seeking fairness for all.  The Hebrew word for Justice is “MISHPAT”, which has to do with actions taken to correct unfairness.

 

In our text, Amos is condemning injustice.  Prophesying during a time of peace and prosperity, Amos is crying out against those who are exploiting and cheating the poor in order to get rich, as well as those who have wealth but ignore the poor.  The rich kept getting richer and the poor kept getting poorer… and this was/is not to be the case among God’s people.  It is not wrong to earn wealth, as long as it is not on the backs of the poor.  As a matter of fact, among God’s people there was to be a general principle always in play: we are blessed in order to be blessings.  Wealth which leads to compassionate generosity is a beautiful thing!

 

The people of God are the people of God because of God’s goodness and grace.  Our healthiest way of living is to respond to God’s love by becoming increasingly loving, and to God’s generosity by becoming increasingly generous.  Self-centeredness hurts everyone… it hurts the one who lives only for himself, and it hurts everyone around him.  When we seek to live more and more fully in the way modeled by Jesus, the way of love, grace, compassion, and generosity, things go well.  But when we live only for ourselves, neglecting or exploiting others, things will soon fall apart.

 

That is the message of Amos… for his time and for ours. 

 

With You in His Service,

 

Mark Gabbert, Pastor

Zion Lutheran Church, Wellington, Colorado

 

“No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.”