Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Then the Sovereign LORD showed me another vision. In it I saw a basket filled with ripe fruit. “What do you see, Amos?” he asked. I replied, “A basket full of ripe fruit.” Then the LORD said, “Like this fruit, Israel is ripe for punishment! I will not delay their punishment again. Amos 8:1 - 2 (NLT)
Amos, prophet from the Southern kingdom of Judah, had been sent by the Lord to the Northern Samaritan king Amaziah, to announce God’s judgment on Israel for their constant wickedness. Amos presented three visions of judgment, but each time God delayed bringing the hammer down!
King Amaziah railed against Amos; the prophet stood his ground. It’s hard to imagine this as a standoff; that presumes there are two nearly equal opponents. Amaziah was a king with an army; Amos was a poor country boy who had a few fruit trees and sheep. This was not going to be a fair fight!
King Amaziah didn’t stand a Chance
Amaziah was merely the king of Samaria; Amos was the prophet of Jehovah, owner of Samaria and the rest of everywhere else in the universe!
God directed his prophet’s attention to a basket of summer fruit. The word for “ripe” comes from “cutting” (as in ready for harvest). The word for “punishment” comes from “end” (as in no more time). The two words sound alike in Hebrew. The point is made in picture (the basket) and sounds (of similar words)….Amaziah, Israel, your time is up!
Sometimes Quite Uncomfortable
God’s Word has a way of making one quite uncomfortable at times…a lot of times! Have you ever had that awful sense, down deep in the pit of your stomach that Scripture is speaking to you? (Well….only every moment of my life!).
But, by comparison with God, my life is lived in absolute wickedness. I think one of the reasons I gravitate to using a daily devotional guide like the Book of Common Prayer, is that it always begins with confession:
Most merciful God, we confess that we have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done, and by what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We are truly sorry and we humbly repent. For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, have mercy on us and forgive us; that we may delight in your will, and walk in your ways, to the glory of your Name. Amen.
I need this every day. It’s hard to go six minutes without a thought that should have gone “un-thought”!
My lack of doing that which I should do is awfully like Amaziah’s group…content to let the world go by while I do my religious stuff and feel good about it.
Yesterday we went out Christmas shopping and there was that homeless guy…again….. I gave him the cup of coffee that the drive thru had messed up. Hey, it was still hot, and I wasn’t going to drink it anyway; and why waste a $2 latte? Ooooh, that’s real spiritual, Russell! When’s the last time I got up close and personal with meeting the need of human touch?
Where are you going with this?
Before this just becomes confessional unleashed, let me make a relevant point:
Amaziah had no idea his world was about to come crashing down around him. And none of us has any assurance that ours won’t do the same. With all the hurry up and intensity of the Christmas season, it’s easy to get lost in tasks and tinsel while the summer fruit basket over-ripens.
Try to keep in mind that, no matter what the calendar or your To-Do list says, as a follower of Jesus Christ you are on a mission….always! Giving out a “throw-away” latte isn’t evil, but it isn’t exactly missional either!