Today’s Chocolate: Endangered Species Dark Chocolate with Forest Mint
Today’s Passage: Amos 2
I’m pretty sure the only reason Amos 1 and 2 aren’t a single chapter is to keep the chapters short enough to read in under two minutes.
Remember the formula from the first chapter? “For three transgressions of Nation X and for four I will not revoke its punishment, because they did Terrible Thing Y, so I will send fire upon the wall of Nation X and it will consume her citadels, garnish as necessary with additional judgments?” In this chapter it continues. However, it only runs through one foreign nation (Moab) before turning to Israel and Judah. Yes, that’s right. For all the attention God gives the heathens abroad for the abuse they’ve heaped on his people, now he’s turning his attention to his people’s own biggest abusers: themselves.
Judah gets the standard formula, no elaboration. But as God starts enumerating the sins of Israel, he just keeps going, as if he can’t believe how far they’ve strayed. He starts recalling everything he and Israel have been through together: “Yet it was I who destroyed the Amorite before them…It was I who brought you up from the land of Egypt, and I led you in the wilderness forty years” (9-10). The foreign nations don’t have a history with God; they only take on importance for Amos’ prophecy insofar as they’ve committed injustice against Israel. God’s ready to drop the quick-and-dirty justice formula on them: burn the citadels and be done with it. But Israel? There’s no “so I will send fire upon Israel” coda. We’re just getting started.
So what’s Israel done to divide themselves from God and incur his ire and sorrow? Crud, where do we start? God starts with greed: “They sell the righteous for money and the needy for a pair of sandals” (6). They value cash and material goods more than people. Compassion fails them, to the point where they’ll even sell out the poor to line their own pockets, and they don’t even respect moral integrity; they’ll sell the righteous man for a buck too. In Amos’s Israel, the rich get richer and the good get poorer.
I could hit any number of other notes from the charges against Israel, but let’s look at sexual sin. Amos reports, “A man and his father resort to the same girl in order to profane My holy name” (7). I can’t help recalling Paul’s indictment of the Corinthians’ licentiousness: “It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and immorality of such a kind as does not exist even among the Gentiles, that someone has his father’s wife” (1 Corinthians 5:1). You’ve got a very similar situation going on here, if not an identical one. And of course you don’t see such a thing mentioned in any of the preceding charges against Damascus, Gaza, and the like. The NASB has a translation note for the word “girl:” “Possibly a harlot, or a temple prostitute.” The nation may very well have idolatry and worship of false gods tied up in its sexual sin.
Whatever the case, I’ve only scratched the surface here, touching on a few of the charges as God shifts into a monologue that’s as much lament as courtroom verdict. God’s chosen people are neck-deep in their own filth, and God is weighed down with the burden of a straying nation.