Amos certainly likes his patterns. We started off with the “For three transgressions and for four I will not revoke” of the first two chapters, then we had the torrent of God’s rhetorical questions welcoming us to chapter three, and now in chapter four, we’ve got the mantra “Yet you have not returned to me.” The latter half of the chapter comprises a litany of disciplinary judgments intended to bring Israel back to their Creator, each punctuated by God’s observation that it didn’t work.
There’s a story behind this bar. Awhile ago, I swung by Kroger with my Plan X Media partner-in-ministry, Ash Green, to restock my chocolate supply. The standard price for the Vosges caramel bar you see above was $5.49, and while I like caramel well enough, I prefer straight-up dark chocolate, so I normally wouldn’t have given it a second thought. But, as Ash pointed out, the bar was on sale for $2.79, an absolutely crazy markdown. He talked me into grabbing the Vosges bar on sale, and I’m glad he did. This is the good stuff.
If you’ve made an appointment, you walk together. It’s what you do. If you’re a young lion who’s captured something, you growl from your den. It’s what you do. And if the Lord God has spoken, you prophesy. It’s what you do.
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.
It’s time for some new prophecy. Today we start the book of Amos, who was a shepherd by trade when God called him to be a prophet. At the time, Israel and Judah had divided into two separate kingdoms; during Amos’ ministry in the mid-eighth century BC, Uzziah ruled Judah to the south, and Jeroboam ruled Israel to the north. Amos was an older contemporary of two prophets whose messages we’ve already seen: Isaiah and Hosea. When you consider that multiple prophets were on the scene at the same time, you have to conclude their audience was in dire need of their message. That audience, of course, is primarily Israel.
Welcome back to our study on thankfulness, “Totally Hip Gratitude.” Get it? It’s a play on attitude? Like cool–you know, forget it. Before returning to the minor prophets, we’re going to look at thankfulness in the Torah, like we intended to in the first installment of this series before we got distracted by portions of the Torah where any mention of thankfulness is conspicuously absent. And this time around? There’s gonna be more of my other favorite food, Biblical Hebrew, so crack open your Strong’s Concordance and let’s get to word-studyin’.
Joel may not spell out Israel’s sins as explicitly as Hosea does, but he certainly spells out the sins of the foreign nations.
Theo’s 70% Dark Chocolate is neither my favorite pure dark chocolate (that would be Equal Exchange’s Panama Extra Dark), nor my favorite offering from Theo’s (that would be their orange chocolate), but it’s still a good chocolate.
The second chapter of Joel begins with a trumpet warning of war–if you can call it a war. Joel sees a vision of an advancing foreign nation, and he devotes nearly half the chapter to describing their power. Even at a distance, it’ll be clear to the people of Israel that they’re terrifyingly outclassed by the horde; Joel prophesies, “Before them the people are in anguish; all faces turn pale” (6). The advancing crowd are disciplined soldiers, besieging cities with ease, and their power even shakes heaven and earth with apocalyptic might. And on top of that, they’re sanctioned by God.
The last time we saw the Sad Zone–also known as the Cry Hole–it was on an individual level, yet it was the subject of a song to be performed in a communal religious context. Today, though, the prophet Joel begins his message to Israel by calling for a nationwide Sad Zone.