Wednesday, December 4, 2013
This is what the LORD says: “A shepherd who tries to rescue a sheep from a lion’s mouth will recover only two legs or a piece of an ear. So it will be for the Israelites in Samaria lying on luxurious beds, and for the people of Damascus reclining on couches. “Now listen to this, and announce it throughout all Israel,” says the Lord, the LORD God of Heaven’s Armies. Amos 3:12 - 13 (NLT)
Amos was a shepherd, so he knew that when a lion gets hold of a sheep there’s not much left! As a reluctant prophet Amos didn’t have much “warm and fuzzy” to tickle the ears of those who would listen. He was from a poverty-stricken area of the Southern kingdom of Judah, and his message was to the affluent Northerners dwelling in Samaria. Amos was a poor-boy “nobody” prophet coming to town like the Beverly Hillbillies wearing a signboard warning about the end to come.
Few paid attention.
What did Amos’ message mean?
Samaria was full of rich folks who had gotten that way primarily by oppressing the poor. The picture Amos paints is how the fat (prosperous) lambs of Samaria are going to be torn apart by the lions of Assyria, the few people left like discarded legs and ear parts the lion missed after the attack; few would escape this carnage. Out of their ease and luxuriant lifestyle would come devastation and hardship. One day you’re eating “high on the hog”; the next day you’re skewered on the rotisserie pole over an open fire!
How could God let this happen to His own?
Well, God didn’t let it happen; God caused it!
God sent the Assyrians to devastate Samaria (and eventually Judah/Jerusalem) because they were His own, with a mandated message to proclaim to the world of holiness, righteousness and God’s sovereignty. But, instead of proclaiming TO the world, Israel had become part of the world’s system.
Nothing New under the Sun
The church in America parallels what we read in Amos; instead of preaching an unadulterated Gospel of the Kingdom of God, we opt for cultural relevance. We want our culture to understand the Gospel on their terms, so we try hard to not offend. We try so hard we take the offense of the cross away and make following Jesus all about being nice, prosperous and good for whatever’s broken in you. There’s hardly anything about denying self, taking up a cross and following Christ.
In this part of world history, the premier “super-power” has been America and western culture. Americans are accustomed to being in-charge in the world – just like lions in the jungle. And, just like lions ruling the jungle, we can fall in love with the sound of our own roaring while failing to notice Assyria getting bigger in the rear-view mirror.
We forget that our strength in time-past has been because we understood that our riches and power are gifts to be used for blessing God’s world – not a soft couch to live the good life! If we are blessed of God, surely we (like Israel) have a mandate and a message. If we will not do God’s bidding, can it be long before we wind up legs and ear flaps strewn on the ground?
TodayIs it your practice to pray for our government’s leadership?
And do you pray that God will only uphold leaders who will stand up for the oppressed, instead of standing with the oppressors?