Please Forgive Us
30 June 2017
Reading: Amos 7-9; Psalm 104; Titus 2
1 The Sovereign Lord showed me a vision. I saw him preparing to send a vast swarm of locusts over the land… 2 In my vision the locusts ate every green plant in sight. Then I said, “O Sovereign Lord, please forgive us or we will not survive, for Israel is so small.” 3 So the Lord relented from this plan. “I will not do it,” he said. (Amos 7:1-3 NLT)
I owe Amos an apology! I’ve never enjoyed reading his little book all that much. I suppose I’ve preferred the better-known prophets like Daniel, Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Jeremiah – the ones we call the “Major Prophets.” Here’s what I noticed about Amos:
• Amos wasn’t a professional prophet. Amos was a shepherd and orchardist who left his comfortable home in Judah and traveled to Israel to warn the people of God’s coming judgment for their sins.
• Amos’ message was a warning of impending judgment, but unlike Jonah, who prophesied judgment on Nineveh and then sat under a tree to eagerly watch for his message of doom to be fulfilled, Amos interceded for Israel, identified with Israel, and prayed for Israel. (He prayed, Please forgive “us” not “them!”)
• Amos, unlike Jonah, was rejected by everyone he tried to warn. The priests tried to run him out of the country for preaching against false religion, and the king considered him a traitor because he predicted the nation would fall to the Assyrians.
Here are a couple of things this makes me think about:
• There are plenty of “prophets of doom” today whose message is that we’re facing inevitable political, social, and economic destruction.
• The Fundamentalists, whether they are Christian Fundamentalists, Islamic Fundamentalists, Conservative Fundamentalists, or Liberal Fundamentalists, mostly place all the blame on the “other guys” and say, “they’re the problem” instead of acknowledging that “we’re the problem.”
• I have more respect for the prophets who are asking God for his mercy on all of us, and who use the terms “we and us,” rather than “they and them.”
• We need prophets who will say “we have sinned,” search for answers instead of merely fixing blame, and labor sacrificially to forge unity out of division.
Father, with Nehemiah, I acknowledge that we have sinned. With David, I acknowledge that I have sinned. And with Amos, I pray you will please forgive us and have mercy on us. Amen.