Amos 7: 7-17
Amos, a simple goat herder and pruner of sycamore trees, became the quintessential prophet of doom. He wasn’t apolitical prophet, like Samuel. He never names the Assyrians or Babylonians who would in fact devastate the two Jewish states as he prophesized.. He said simply, you are a corrupt, self-indulgent, irresponsible people; reform or God will punish you. The image of the straight plumb line of God symbolizes the God-given knowledge of what is right or wrong hanging among a crooked people Amos’s surviving work is small, but he is a major prophet in that he pronounced a radically new idea: God, he said, wants amoral behavior and obedience to law rather than sacrifices and Temple ritual. Little wonder that Amaziah, the chief priest at Bethel, banishes him. Amos’s prophecy of the doom that waits upon Amaziah and his family chills one to the bone.
ALTERNATIVE FIRST READING
Deuteronomy 30: 9-14
There may have been a historical Moses, but the Moses we know is a figure of myth. Genuine myths based upon folk stories passed on by many generations are conveyors of truths. They don’t tell what happened: that is the job of the historian. They tell in narrative form the meaning of what happened or will happen. The mythical Moses of our lesson is at the end of his life. He has led a great mass of people on a forty-year trek from Egypt to Moab, and stands on Mount Nebo looking across the Jordan to the land God promised them. The people are young and vigorous, for most were born during the long journey and have buried their parents in the wilderness. Moses is old and cannot cross with them, but must die here. He has given them the Law. We hear today part of his address to them about keeping the Law.
Colossians 1: 1-14
This letter, written to the local church at Colossae, in Asia Minor, says explicitly what Paul and his colleagues, Epaphras and Timothy, hoped to accomplish in their missionary work. Paul gives the Colossian church an A+ for their accomplishments. We hear in the lesson about their faith, hope, and activities. Paul and Timothy give thanks for what they have done and cheer them on with prayer, reminding them that God has brought them to Christ, who has redeemed them.
©Arthur H. Cash