Saturday after the Twentieth Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: Amos 1-5 (NKJV)
1:1 The words of Amos, who was among the sheepbreeders of Tekoa, which he saw concerning Israel in the days of Uzziah king of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel, two years before the earthquake.
2 And he said:
“The LORD roars from Zion, and utters His voice from Jerusalem; The pastures of the shepherds mourn, and the top of Carmel withers.”
3 Thus says the LORD:
“For three transgressions of Damascus, and for four, I will not turn away its punishment, because they have threshed Gilead with implements of iron. 4 But I will send a fire into the house of Hazael, which shall devour the palaces of Ben-Hadad. 5 I will also break the gate bar of Damascus, and cut off the inhabitant from the Valley of Aven, and the one who holds the scepter from Beth Eden. The people of Syria shall go captive to Kir,” says the LORD.
6 Thus says the LORD:
“For three transgressions of Gaza, and for four, I will not turn away its punishment, because they took captive the whole captivity to deliver them up to Edom. 7 But I will send a fire upon the wall of Gaza, which shall devour its palaces. 8 I will cut off the inhabitant from Ashdod, and the one who holds the scepter from Ashkelon; I will turn My hand against Ekron, and the remnant of the Philistines shall perish,” says the Lord GOD.
9 Thus says the LORD:
“For three transgressions of Tyre, and for four, I will not turn away its punishment, because they delivered up the whole captivity to Edom, and did not remember the covenant of brotherhood. 10 But I will send a fire upon the wall of Tyre, which shall devour its palaces.”
11 Thus says the LORD:
“For three transgressions of Edom, and for four, I will not turn away its punishment, because he pursued his brother with the sword, and cast off all pity; His anger tore perpetually, and he kept his wrath forever. 12 But I will send a fire upon Teman, which shall devour the palaces of Bozrah.”
13 Thus says the LORD:
“For three transgressions of the people of Ammon, and for four, I will not turn away its punishment, because they ripped open the women with child in Gilead, that they might enlarge their territory. 14 But I will kindle a fire in the wall of Rabbah, and it shall devour its palaces, amid shouting in the day of battle, and a tempest in the day of the whirlwind. 15 Their king shall go into captivity, he and his princes together,” says the LORD.
2:1 Thus says the LORD:
“For three transgressions of Moab, and for four, I will not turn away its punishment, because he burned the bones of the king of Edom to lime. 2 But I will send a fire upon Moab, and it shall devour the palaces of Kerioth; Moab shall die with tumult, with shouting and trumpet sound. 3 And I will cut off the judge from its midst, and slay all its princes with him,” says the LORD.
4 Thus says the LORD:
“For three transgressions of Judah, and for four, I will not turn away its punishment, because they have despised the law of the LORD, and have not kept His commandments. Their lies lead them astray, lies which their fathers followed. 5 But I will send a fire upon Judah, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem.”
6 Thus says the LORD:
“For three transgressions of Israel, and for four, I will not turn away its punishment, because they sell the righteous for silver, and the poor for a pair of sandals. 7 They pant after the dust of the earth which is on the head of the poor, and pervert the way of the humble. A man and his father go in to the same girl, to defile My holy name. 8 They lie down by every altar on clothes taken in pledge, and drink the wine of the condemned in the house of their god.
9 “Yet it was I who destroyed the Amorite before them, whose height was like the height of the cedars, and he was as strong as the oaks; Yet I destroyed his fruit above and his roots beneath. 10 Also it was I who brought you up from the land of Egypt, and led you forty years through the wilderness, to possess the land of the Amorite.
11 I raised up some of your sons as prophets, and some of your young men as Nazirites. Is it not so, O you children of Israel?” says the LORD. 12 “But you gave the Nazirites wine to drink, and commanded the prophets saying, ‘Do not prophesy!’
13 “Behold, I am weighed down by you, as a cart full of sheaves is weighed down. 14 Therefore flight shall perish from the swift, the strong shall not strengthen his power, nor shall the mighty deliver himself; 15 He shall not stand who handles the bow, the swift of foot shall not escape, nor shall he who rides a horse deliver himself. 16 The most courageous men of might shall flee naked in that day,” says the LORD.
3:1 Hear this word that the LORD has spoken against you, O children of Israel, against the whole family which I brought up from the land of Egypt, saying:
2 “You only have I known of all the families of the earth; Therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.”
3 Can two walk together, unless they are agreed? 4 Will a lion roar in the forest, when he has no prey? Will a young lion cry out of his den, if he has caught nothing? 5 Will a bird fall into a snare on the earth, where there is no trap for it? Will a snare spring up from the earth, if it has caught nothing at all? 6 If a trumpet is blown in a city, will not the people be afraid? If there is calamity in a city, will not the LORD have done it?
7 Surely the Lord GOD does nothing, unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets.
8 A lion has roared! Who will not fear? The Lord GOD has spoken! Who can but prophesy?
9 “Proclaim in the palaces at Ashdod, and in the palaces in the land of Egypt, and say: ‘Assemble on the mountains of Samaria; See great tumults in her midst, and the oppressed within her.
10 ‘For they do not know to do right,’ says the LORD, ‘Who store up violence and robbery in their palaces.'”
11 Therefore thus says the Lord GOD:
“An adversary shall be all around the land; He shall sap your strength from you, and your palaces shall be plundered.”
12 Thus says the LORD:
“As a shepherd takes from the mouth of a lion two legs or a piece of an ear, so shall the children of Israel be taken out who dwell in Samaria—in the corner of a bed and on the edge of a couch!
13 Hear and testify against the house of Jacob,” says the Lord GOD, the God of hosts,
14 “That in the day I punish Israel for their transgressions, I will also visit destruction on the altars of Bethel; And the horns of the altar shall be cut off and fall to the ground. 15 I will destroy the winter house along with the summer house; The houses of ivory shall perish, and the great houses shall have an end,” says the LORD.
4:1 Hear this word, you cows of Bashan, who are on the mountain of Samaria, who oppress the poor, who crush the needy, who say to your husbands, “Bring wine, let us drink!” 2 The Lord GOD has sworn by His holiness: “Behold, the days shall come upon you when He will take you away with fishhooks, and your posterity with fishhooks. 3 You will go out through broken walls, each one straight ahead of her, and you will be cast into Harmon,” says the LORD. 4 “Come to Bethel and transgress, at Gilgal multiply transgression; Bring your sacrifices every morning, your tithes every three days. 5 Offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving with leaven, proclaim and announce the freewill offerings; For this you love, you children of Israel!” says the Lord GOD.
6 “Also I gave you cleanness of teeth in all your cities, and lack of bread in all your places; Yet you have not returned to Me,” says the LORD.
7 “I also withheld rain from you, when there were still three months to the harvest. I made it rain on one city, I withheld rain from another city. One part was rained upon, and where it did not rain the part withered. 8 So two or three cities wandered to another city to drink water, but they were not satisfied; Yet you have not returned to Me,” says the LORD.
9 “I blasted you with blight and mildew. When your gardens increased, your vineyards, your fig trees, and your olive trees, the locust devoured them; Yet you have not returned to Me,” says the LORD.
10 “I sent among you a plague after the manner of Egypt; Your young men I killed with a sword, along with your captive horses; I made the stench of your camps come up into your nostrils; Yet you have not returned to Me,” says the LORD.
11 “I overthrew some of you, as God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, and you were like a firebrand plucked from the burning; Yet you have not returned to Me,” says the LORD.
12 “Therefore thus will I do to you, O Israel; Because I will do this to you, prepare to meet your God, O Israel!”
13 For behold, He who forms mountains, and creates the wind, Who declares to man what his thought is, and makes the morning darkness, Who treads the high places of the earth—the LORD God of hosts is His name.
5:1 Hear this word which I take up against you, a lamentation, O house of Israel:
2 The virgin of Israel has fallen; She will rise no more. She lies forsaken on her land; There is no one to raise her up.
3 For thus says the Lord GOD:
“The city that goes out by a thousand shall have a hundred left, and that which goes out by a hundred shall have ten left to the house of Israel.”
4 For thus says the LORD to the house of Israel:
“Seek Me and live; 5 But do not seek Bethel, nor enter Gilgal, nor pass over to Beersheba; For Gilgal shall surely go into captivity, and Bethel shall come to nothing. 6 Seek the LORD and live, lest He break out like fire in the house of Joseph, and devour it, with no one to quench it in Bethel—
7 “you who turn justice to wormwood, and lay righteousness to rest in the earth!”
8 He made the Pleiades and Orion; He turns the shadow of death into morning and makes the day dark as night; He calls for the waters of the sea and pours them out on the face of the earth; The LORD is His name. 9 He rains ruin upon the strong, so that fury comes upon the fortress.
10 They hate the one who rebukes in the gate, and they abhor the one who speaks uprightly.
11 Therefore, because you tread down the poor and take grain taxes from him, though you have built houses of hewn stone, yet you shall not dwell in them; You have planted pleasant vineyards, but you shall not drink wine from them. 12 For I know your manifold transgressions and your mighty sins: Afflicting the just and taking bribes; Diverting the poor from justice at the gate. 13 Therefore the prudent keep silent at that time, for it is an evil time.
14 Seek good and not evil, that you may live; So the LORD God of hosts will be with you, as you have spoken. 15 Hate evil, love good; Establish justice in the gate. It may be that the LORD God of hosts will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.
16 Therefore the LORD God of hosts, the Lord, says this: “There shall be wailing in all streets, and they shall say in all the highways, ‘Alas! Alas!’ They shall call the farmer to mourning, and skillful lamenters to wailing. 17 In all vineyards there shall be wailing, for I will pass through you,” says the LORD.
18 Woe to you who desire the day of the LORD! For what good is the day of the LORD to you? It will be darkness, and not light. 19 It will be as though a man fled from a lion, and a bear met him! Or as though he went into the house, leaned his hand on the wall, and a serpent bit him! 20 Is not the day of the LORD darkness, and not light? Is it not very dark, with no brightness in it?
21 “I hate, I despise your feast days, and I do not savor your sacred assemblies. 22 Though you offer Me burnt offerings and your grain offerings, I will not accept them, nor will I regard your fattened peace offerings. 23 Take away from Me the noise of your songs, for I will not hear the melody of your stringed instruments. 24 But let justice run down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream.
25 “Did you offer Me sacrifices and offerings in the wilderness forty years, O house of Israel? 26 You also carried Sikkuth your king and Chiun, your idols, the star of your gods, which you made for yourselves. 27 Therefore I will send you into captivity beyond Damascus,” says the LORD, whose Name is the God of hosts.
Many people think of the Bible as just another book. They may find the words of the Bible uplifting, or sometimes challenging, or possibly a fine moral compass. What is missing in all this is the fact that the Bible is God’s Word. What they miss is the fact that God is speaking through those words. It’s His line of communication to humanity. His Word is His link to mankind. Thus, when one hears the Word of God, God is speaking to that person whether the person realizes it or not.
Now a fascinating aspect of this communication is found in the opening verse of the Book of Amos: “The words of Amos, who was among the sheepbreeders of Tekoa.” Amos is hardly a man of high societal standing. And yet it is he, and other prophets like him, who is called by God to take on the powers that be; kings, or princes, or priests.
Like the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden, kings, princes, and priests, with all their supporting cast around them, looked “pleasant to the eyes.” On the other hand, this prophet was but a lowly man and his entourage was a flock of sheep.
Yet, this is a perfect image God’s Word. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” He is “gentle and lowly in heart.” He says, “I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd gives His life for the sheep.” And by God’s gracious favor, we get to be His entourage.
Um? Wait a minute. We are more than just His entourage we are “heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ.”
Dear Jesus, Thy Church with longing eyes for Thine expected coming waits. Amen.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.