Eighth Sunday after Pentecost (AUG 4)

Pastor's Summary of Amos 7:7-17

The reign of King Jeroboam II (786-746 B.C.) was a time of prosperity for Israel, the northern kingdom. social and religious corruption were rife, many worshipped materialism and other gods. Amos was both a breeder of cattle and/or sheep ("herdsman",v. 14; "flock", v. 15) and a fruit farmer ("dresser of sycamore trees", v. 14). Born in Tekoa, in the hill countryin northern Judah, he likely also owned land in the Jordan valley, where sycamores flourished. (Palestinian sycamores bear fruit much like figs, which has to be dressed (punctured) to make it edible.) God has called him to leave behind his prosperity, to warn the north about impending doom, a result of their waywardness.

In vv. 1-6, God shows him two visions of planned devastation: of locusts devouring the crops, and of fire consuming the whole of creation. ("Jacob' v. 2, is Israel, the first "mowings", v. 1, a tax.) In both cases, Amos intercedes with God on behalf of the people, pointing out that Israel is weak and helpless (spiritually). God listens and cancels his plans. But now vv. 7-9: when Israel is tested like a "wall" with a "plumb line", she doesn't measure up. Amos raises no plea against divine judgement. God will no longer ignore the people's errancy ("never again pass them by", v. 8). He will destroy both the "high places" (v. 9, mountain-top altars where early Israel, and pagans, worshipped) and "sanctuaries" dedicated to him. He, via the Assyrians, will end Jeroboam's line "with the sword".

"Bethel" (v. 10) was the principal northern shrine to God, and Amaziah was the royal priest there. To the king; he accuses Amos of treason, for upsetting civil order. He quotes Amos out of Context (v. 11) and banishes Amos to Judah (vv. 12-13). Amos replies that he is not a professional prophet, paid to say what the king wishes to hear, but one called by God (v. 15). Because Amaziah has contradicted God's orders (v. 16), Israel will be invaded (v. 17); there will be rape, slaughter of innocents and plunder; Amaziah (as a priest, keen on remaining rituallly clean ), will be exiled to idolatrous Assyria. ("an unclean land").