Ninth Sunday after Pentecost (July 17th)

Pastor's Summary of Amos 8:1-12

God has shown Amos three visions of devastations he plans. Amos has persuaded him neither to ruin the crops nor to consume the land with fire, but when God has shown him that the Israelites don't measure up, he has entered no plea: God will destroy all sanctuaries, both to him and to pagan gods.

Now God shows Amos another vision. There is a play on words: in Hebrew, "summer fruit" and "end" (v. 2) sound alike. God will not "pass them by" (v. 2), i.e. he will no longer ignore the Israelites' erring ways: "the end has come". The end-times (that day", v. 3) were known as the Day of the Lord. God will punish because merchants "trample on the needy" (v. 4): prohibited from commerce on the day of the "new moon" (v. 5) and on the Sabbath, they can't wait to resume their fraudulent business practices: selling partial measures of wheat and including chaff ("sweepings", v. 6). (Wheat was weighed in shekels, a standard unit of weight, with "balances" (v. 5). The "ephah" was about 20 litres or 4-5 gallons.) They will be charged and found guilty! (v. 7)  To Israelites, sin literally polluted the land: earthquakes will occur because of human sin (v. 8); the land will rise and fall, killing many, as the "Nile" floods annually.  People expected eclipses to precede the Day (v. 9). This day, expected to be a time of rejoicing over redress for oppression by enemies, will be a day of gloom (v. 10). People donned "sackcloth" (drab garb) and shaved their heads in mourning; "it" is the earth.) Israel has failed to heed God's "words" (v. 11), spoken through prophets; therefore, as punishmnt, God will cease to speak, i.e. provide his advice to Israel. the country being (at least in theory) a theocracy; it will lack the ability to select leaders, to know when to wage war, etc. Without God's word, it will be a mess religiously and politically. They will frantically seek his word everywhere, from the Mediterranean to the Red Sea ("from sea to sea"), v. 12) "but they shall not find it".

 

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