"Amos' Call -
  To Israel
  and to Us"

    Saturday Reflection

  9th October 2021

...'Not a call for a day of fun'...

14  Seek good, not evil, that you may live.
   Then the Lord God Almighty will be with you,
   just as you say he is.
15  Hate evil, love good; maintain justice in the courts.
   Perhaps the Lord God Almighty will have mercy
   on the remnant of Joseph.

.....Amos 5:14,15

The word "call" has a lot of usages in the English language.
Children are called to the table for supper.
We call in sick to work.
Football games begin when the visiting team calls heads or tails.
Friends call one another to talk.
And in the past, there have been calls to arms
as our nation fought for its liberty,
its unity, and against evil.

Not all calls are good though. Children, and adults, are called names.
People are called in for audits by the tax people, and we receive
devastating calls on the phone.

Then there's the call of the prophet Amos.
Amos issues a different kind of call. Not a call for a day of fun or pleasant
conversation. Rather, Amos calls his people to hear God's Word
and to repent.

Amos is interesting character because in his call to be prophet,
we see that God can use anyone to deliver His message.
Amos wasn't special, he was just a shepherd who also tended sycamore (fig)
trees. He was minding his own business when God called him to preach,
around 750 BC.

At this time, the nation of Israel was divided into two kingdoms.
The Southern Kingdom was called Judah, while the Northern Kingdom
retained the name Israel.
Amos was from a town in Judah, which was just a stone's throw from
Bethlehem, but he was sent north to Israel.

When he arrived in the Northern Kingdom of Israel
he found a very successful nation.
They had conquered their enemies, their borders were secure, and it
was a time of great prosperity. They were a happy gathering and they
were certain that the good times were going to continue because God
was with them; they were God's chosen people.

But when Amos arrived in the town of Bethel, he didn't praise them,
he didn't promise great blessings, instead he condemned them for their
sinful behavior and for their rejection of God.
They took advantage of the poor, they cheated in business,
they lied and shouted down those who told the truth,
they neglected the beggars who sat by the city gates.
They remained silent when they should be speaking out
against the sinful things going on around them.
And last, but certainly not least,
they worshiped golden idols shaped like bulls.

If there was a sin to be had, you could find it in Israel.


So Amos is clear. He says,

6  Seek the LORD and live,
or he will sweep through the tribes
of Joseph like a fire; it will devour
them, and Bethel will have no one
to quench it.'

Amos is speaking hardcore Law. He is laying out before them
all they've done wrong. They thought that nobody noticed or cared
about what they did, but God did, and He was angry.

Amos called for them to repent, because God didn't want to destroy
Israel, He doesn't want destroy anyone. God is loving and gracious,
He always wants to forgive, but if Israel continued to live in its sin,
if it continued to revel in its disobedience,
things weren't going to end well for them.

Now fast-forward 2,800 or so years, and imagine that Amos was
standing here before us. What would he say to us?
Solomon said that 'there is nothing new under the sun',
Ecclesiastes 1:9,
so the sins of Amos' time are the same sins as today.

The poor are neglected; the unborn are killed.
We may not have big, golden calves that we bow down before,
but idolatry is still a problem for this materialistic nation.
What do we worship?
What do we make more important than God?
What do we trust in?

We are blessed, more blessed than many other nations in the world,
but often what we've been given is wasted.
And often times we are silent when we should speak out.
Maybe we're afraid of what others might say or
maybe the subject just doesn't mean anything to us.

But as Dietrich Bonhoeffer said,

"Silence in the face of evil is itself evil:
God will not hold us guiltless.
Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act."

We are called to speak for the helpless and to speak the Word of God
in a world that doesn't want to hear what He has to say.
Amos was kicked out of Israel, nobody wanted to hear what he had to say.

Are we willing to take the same kind of stand,
to speak in the face of total opposition?
Amos refers to those who are hated because they speak the truth.
Jesus spoke the truth and was hated.
He didn't just speak the truth though, He is the Truth,
and the Truth is that we are forgiven and loved by God.

Amos refers to a remnant of Joseph.
That's us!
We have been saved and because we are children of God and
we've been called into a new relationship with Christ Jesus.

God calls to us, He calls us to life everlasting,
He calls us to receive His mercy.

When we listen to the call of the Lord
we will hear words of love and forgiveness.

It may be interesting to watch,
or just listen to a song
"We are called"