Morning Musing: Amos 9:1-4

“I saw the Lord standing beside the altar, and he said, ‘Strike the capitals of the pillars so that the thresholds shake; knock them down on the heads of all the people. Then I will kill the rest of them with the sword. None of those who flee will get away; none of the fugitives will escape. If they dig down to Sheol, from there my hand will take them; if they climb to up to heaven, from there I will bring them down. If they hide on the top of Carmel, from there I will track them down and seize them; if they conceal themselves from my sight on the sea floor, from there I will command the sea serpent to bite them. And if they are driven by their enemies into captivity, from there I will command the sword to kill them. I will keep my eye on them for harm and not for good.'” (CSB – Read the chapter)

I was in middle school when one of the most sensationalized murder trials in American history took place. The defendant was Hall of Fame running back, O.J. Simpson. He was charged with murdering his ex-wife, Nicole, and Ron Goldman. A great deal of that case has entered our cultural memory as a nation from the nationally televised police chase as Simpson foolishly tried to evade capture in his white Ford Bronco to the bloody gloves found at the crime scene with his DNA on them. I remember when, after weeks of the trial, the jury’s verdict of “not guilty” was rendered in just four hours in spite of a mountain of evidence – including his DNA (which was still a fairly new form of criminal evidence and not yet well understood) found on the bloody gloves at the crime scene – suggesting powerfully that he was in fact guilty. By most accounts, Simpson had escaped justice. Sometimes that happens in our unjust world. There is a day coming, though, when no one will escape justice. Let’s talk about it.

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Digging in Deeper: Amos 5:24

“But let justice flow like water, and righteousness, like an unfailing stream.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Karl Marx is infamous (or perhaps famous depending on your perspective) for his observation that “religion is the opium of the people.” As you can perhaps guess, he wasn’t a fan of it. That disdain lives on in our culture today in a variety of places including the church on occasion. It is trendy for some churches to talk about how religion is bad, but a relationship with Jesus is good. In this passage from Amos, God seems to agree. Let’s talk about why and what’s really going on here.

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Morning Musing: Amos 5:7

“Those who turn justice into wormwood also throw righteousness to the ground.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

We live in a society that highly values the idea of justice. It’s baked into our very existence as a nation. Our Pledge of Allegiance closes by describing our country as a place of “liberty and justice for all.” One of our first and most popular superheroes’ slogans for a long time was that he stood for “truth, justice, and the American way.” Our ideals as a nation are indeed high and mighty. There’s a reason far, far more people leave their homes around the world in an attempt to live here – even illegally so – than the other way around. And yet, justice isn’t always something we get right. No society does. Let’s talk this morning about justice, God’s passion, and our aim as followers of Jesus.

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Morning Musing: Amos 5:1-3

“Listen to this message that I am singing for you, a lament, house of Israel: She has fallen; Virgin Israel will never rise again. She lies abandoned on her land with no one to raise her up. For the Lord God says: The city that marches out a thousand strong will have only a hundred left, and the one that marches out a hundred strong will have only ten left in the house of Israel.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Have you ever had to do something you didn’t want to do? Probably so. That’s eventually part of life for all of us. Perhaps there is someone wealthy enough to have avoided that for a long time, but it doesn’t last forever. Besides, we don’t want what is good for us on our own, so having to do what we don’t want to do is part of growing up. Given that, what kind of attitude did you bring to doing it? It wasn’t likely a very good one. There was a heaviness to your doing it. You did it grumpily, angrily even. What we find here in Amos is God having to do something He didn’t want to do. Let’s talk about why that matters.

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Morning Musing: Deuteronomy 24:17-18

“Do not deny justice to a resident alien or fatherless child, and do not take a widow’s garment as security. Remember that you were a slave in Egypt, and the Lord your God redeemed you from there. Therefore I am commanding you to do this.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Experience is a teacher. Exactly what kind of teacher it is depends. Depends on what? Well, to a very great extent, it depends on us. It depends on how we respond to it and the lessons we learn from it. The people of Israel had been through a school of experience in Egypt and God wanted to be sure they learned some particular lessons from it in terms of how they treated others. We may not be Israel, but I think there is something here for us too if we’ll pay attention. Let’s talk about it.

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