Walk the talk….

28 12 2011

DAY ONE HUNDRED AND NINETY-SIX : Amos 1 v. 1 – 2 v. 16; Romans 2 v. 17 – 3 v. 8; Proverbs 17 v. 5 – 14

– a few introductory quotes from my Wesley Study Bible :
* Amos is generally considered to be the earliest of the writing prophets…preaching to the Northern Kingdom in the 8th century BC, when Jeroboam II was ruling.
* Amos’ moral sensibilities were shocked at the perversions of Israel’s worship that he observed in Bethel
* Jeroboam I had set up shrines at Bethel and Dan and erected golden bulls (1 Kings 12 v. 28). These pagan practices exercised a continual detrimental influence on the spiritual life of the northern kingdom
* Israel was experiencing great prosperity and international prestige…however, accompanied by an excessive pursuit of luxury, self-indulgence, and oppression of the poor by the rich
* This book stands as an eloquent witness against those who subordinate human need and dignity to the pursuit of wealth and pleasure

Introduction – Amos introduces himself as a shepherd from Tekoa (in Judah, southern kingdom, 12 miles south of Jerusalem), and claims he ‘saw’ things concerning Israel ‘two years before the earthquake’.
‘THE LORD ROARS FROM ZION AND THUNDERS FROM JERUSALEM’ (it’s not going to be a gentle message, then!)

Judgment on Israel’s Neighbours – Damascus (capital of Syria) gets the first blast, for its several sins (including threshing Gilead with iron-toothed sledges); God will send fire to consume fortresses, break down gates, and destroy the king.
Then Gaza gets it (the main city in Philistia), for taking captive whole communities, God will send fire to consume fortresses, and destroy the king, and all the Philistines.
Then Tyre (leading Phoenecian city) comes under God’s scrutiny, for selling people into slavery, God will send fire to devour the palaces.
Then Edom (south of Judah), condemned for its anger, and brutal sword-attacks, ‘stifling all compassion’, God will send fire to consume its fortresses.
Then Ammon (east of the Jordan), for its inhumanity to Gilead, God will send fire to consume fortresses, and send her king and officials into exile.
Then Moab (east of Jordan, south of Ammon), for burning Edom’s king’s bones (considered sacred), God will send fire to consume fortresses, and her rulers and officials will be killed.
Then Judah, for having rejected the law of the Lord, turning from His decrees, led astray by false gods, God will send fire to consume Jerusalem’s fortresses.

God is not happy about acts of inhumanity, nor about turning from His commands, nor about worshipping false gods

 Judgment on Israel – God then turns His attention to Israel, and He lists His complaints :
~ selling people (particularly the poor or the righteous) into slavery
~ ‘trampling on the heads of the poor, denying justice to the oppressed’
~ temple prostitution is rife

Notice how God’s complaints against the enemies of Israel were around how they had treated their ‘neighbours’, whereas Israel is condemned for the way it treats its own people…

The Jews and the Law – for the Jews, who rely on the law and brag about their relationship to God, knowing His will and instructed by the law, who see themselves as guides for the blind, a light for those in darkness, instructor, teacher…’do you not teach yourselves?’
The implication of Paul’s rhetorical questioning is that
– those who preach against stealing, steal
– those who warn people against adultery, practise adultery
– those who abhor idols, rob temples
– those who brag about the law, break it and dishonour God
In other words, they don’t practise what they preach ! (Do as I say, not as I do…)
What’s the point of being circumcised if you only go on to break the law?
Those who keep the law are those who are truly ‘circumcised’ (even if not actually circumcised)
It is not enough to be a Jew ‘outwardly’; ‘no, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit…’

Paul is beginning to expound the difference between the life which is ‘by the Spirit’ and the life which is ‘by the written code’ alone.

God’s Faithfulness – What advantage, then, in being a Jew, or being circumcised?
Well, firstly, in ‘having been entrusted with the very words of God’.
And a lack of faith does not nullify God’s faithfulness towards us.
Our unrighteousness cannot be used to condemn God as unrighteous.
Neither can we justify living unrighteously by saying it enhances God’s faithfulness – there are no ‘good’ motives for practising what God has judged to be ‘evil’.

‘He who mocks the poor shows contempt for their Maker;
Children’s children are a crown to the aged…
He who covers over an offence promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.
If a man pays back evil with good, evil will never leave his house.
Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out.’




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