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Saturday, January 13, 2018

“God’s Ever Flowing Stream”

Amos 9:9-15

This is the conclusion of the prophecy of Amos.  Throughout the book Amos has challenged Israel and Judah’s confidence in their religious practices which was not matched by their behavior, especially with regard to their treatment of the poor.  As we have seen, Amos portrays God as being fully active in human affairs and holding his people accountable.  The longed for “Day of the Lord” will bring judgment not redemption.  This concluding section opens with God’s statement of judgment pictured as the shaking of a sieve.  There is the ominous statement that “All the sinners of my people shall die by the sword.”  This would turn out to be the fate of both Israel and Judah as each later went into captivity, having been defeated “by the sword” of a foreign nation.

The Lord has made clear that this is a just fate given the widespread corruption of both nations.  This then would appear to be the end of Israel, the end of Jerusalem and the end of the royal line of David.  From a purely human and historical point of view this is completely evident.  Yet the ending of the Book of Amos reminds us of two central Biblical points.  One is that human beings are seriously flawed and indeed sinful.  As the prophet Isaiah says, “All people are grass, their constancy is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades. . . . (Isa. 40:6-7).  The second is that judgment is never God’s final word.

After predicting the destruction of Israel God goes on to say that he will raise up the “booth of David.”  God will restore the fortunes of Israel.  This restoration will include creation itself.  In poetic terms God says that “the mountains shall drip sweet wine, and all the hills shall flow with it.” How can this be?  This underscores that God’s new life is a gift completely.  Salvation is all of grace.  We cannot understand this fully until we see how fallible we human beings are.  We dare not use this as an excuse for our neglect of God and his justice.  On the other hand, however we can never despair.  It is God alone who rebuilds the ruins of our lives.  God promises this because God is God.  There is no other reason.  God’s way of salvation is summed up in Jesus Christ.  After the crucifixion there is the resurrection.  God be praised!

Eternal and loving God may I take your judgment seriously.  Keep me from following the injustice of the world.  Build up my hope in your grace and mercy.  I pray this in Jesus’ name, Amen.