Seek the Lord and live…

“… or he will break out against the house of Joseph like fire,and it will devour Bethel, with no one to quench it.”

Amos.  Oh, Amos.  Thank you for making the Gospel lesson look like the easier thing to preach this week.

It would be easy to get bogged down in the if, then nature of God’s relationship with Israel that is portrayed in the lesson from Amos for Sunday.  A good Old Testament student, perhaps one that studied under Dr. Cook at VTS, might pull out their old notes on Sinai vs. Zion theology.  I’m doing it right now, in fact.

“Zion theology is supposed to always have a safety net for the people… Amos is characterized by threat, punishment, and woe – there is no promise of a remnant (or is there?)…” (Class notes from 28 March 2006)

Amos 5:14-15 “Seek good and not evil, that you may live; and so the LORD, the God of hosts, will be with you, just as you have said.  Hate evil and love good, and establish justice in the gate; it may be that the LORD, the God of hosts, will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.” (NRSV, emphasis mine)

At our weekly five15 service, we begin with a call to worship.  For most of the last three years, that call to worship has been a five15 verse from Scripture.  We have used Amos 5:15 quite often, though our version reads a little different, “Hate evil, love good; maintain justice in the courts. Perhaps the LORD God Almighty will have mercy on the remnant of Joseph.” (NIV)  But as I look at it, I’m thinking that either the New Living Translation “Hate evil and love what is good; remodel your courts into true halls of justice. Perhaps even yet the LORD God Almighty will have mercy on his people who remain” or the newly authorized Contemporary English Version (2012-D021) “Choose good instead of evil!  See that justice is done.  Maybe I, the Lord All-Powerful, will be kind to what’s left of your people.” might be preferable.

Biblical version wordplay aside, I wonder if it might be helpful here, less than 60 days away from one of the most contentious and ugly campaigns in American history to speak this word of judgment and comfort to our people.  We have chosen evil, we have forgotten justice, we have made this clear by our actions toward those who disagree with us, but there is still hope.  We can still repent and return to the LORD.  And maybe, just maybe, he’ll have mercy on us.

2 thoughts on “Seek the Lord and live…

  1. I agree, Amos is particularly relevant to this year’s election. Note, it’s not likely the most contentious ever – take a look at Jefferson vs Adams. Of course it might raise the question of how long will God’s patience last?

  2. Well, isn’t “Love and/or do good, not evil,” the message of all the prophets?
    @Fr Scott: God is patient.
    The evil we see/experience is the result of selfish acts by people, not due to abandonment by God. God is always there, by our side, leading us out of harms way. It’s not always easy to see, but the choice is there. It’s up to us to look for God’s way.
    Love justice, do mercy.

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