Advent Tuesday 1
Read: Amos 1:3-10
You feel exceptional, don’t you?
Growing up a citizen in the USA, almost everyone I’ve known would claim that this is the greatest country on earth. In fact, the doctrine of “American Exceptionalism” rolls off of our tongues with little or no realization of just how arrogant and proud it sounds to the unindoctrinated ear.
As it is now, so it was in Amos’ day: It’s easiest to feel “exceptional” when we’re are prosperous. And, when we experience exceptional prosperity, we can be easily convinced that God must be on our side. In both Judah and Israel, safe borders and prosperous trade had made for a higher standard of living than they had experienced in generations (well, for the rich anyway). And why not? They were Yahweh’s chosen people … Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, Solomon … what a heritage! And now, all of those “milk and honey” promises were being fulfilled, right?
Exceptional people, by definition, look down their noses at others. Those people. Uncivilized. Developing. Rogue. Not first, but second or third world. So, as Amos begins, he gets a lot of nodding heads. His opening words are bad news for three bordering states: Syria, Gaza and Tyre. God is bringing punishment on these rogues. Syria was practicing extraordinary violence (“they have threshed Gilead with threshing sledges of iron” – a gruesome image related to their advanced military armory). Gaza and Tyre were not only taking the territory of others, but were engaged in slavery and human trafficking (“they carried into exile entire communities … they delivered entire communities over”).
During Advent 2015, we see a lot of sad situations unfolding in our world that would make Ancient Middle Eastern nations blush. They should and do make us long for a better Kingdom … a good Kingdom, the one promised to us at Jesus’ second advent. Bloodshed, oppression and sorrow will cease when He “makes the nations prove the glories of His righteousness, and wonders of His love.” Of this we can be sure, and should be encouraged as we wait and hope.
But, if you’re finding yourself saying, “That’s right, Amos! Preach it! They’ll get what’s coming to them, right? Those people need to change. Those people need to be better. Those people need to be brought down a notch!” …
Know that Amos’ word for those nations is just an appetizer. The main course is a firm, challenging word for the people of God. God’s rebuke crosses the border starting tomorrow …