Amos 7-9, pt.1

This week we are concluding our discussion of Amos with his Five Visions of Judgment found in Amos 7-9.  You will find this reading different than the first part of Amos. Within the first six chapters, Amos addresses the people of Israel. In this concluding section, it is God who addresses Amos within the visions. (The exception is Amos’s personal address to the high priest Amaziah in 7:12-17 and his address to the merchants in 8:4-14.) 

In the first two visions (7:1-6), Amos sees Israel overcome by locusts and fire.  Upon seeing these visions, Amos successfully pleads with God to relent.  This intervention recalls Abraham’s unsuccessful intervention on behalf of Sodom (Genesis 18:22-33) and Moses’ successful intervention on behalf of Israel after the golden calf incident (Exodus 32:11-14). Think about what it means that God’s anger can be relented simply through the plea of a prophet.  Does God “change his mind” or is something deeper at work?

The third vision (7:7-9) is of God’s plumb line. The image of the plumb line is used by other prophets such as Isaiah (Isa. 28:17), Zechariah (Zech. 4:10), or those who prophesized against King Manasseh (2 Kings 21:10-18). The key to the plumbline is both its simplicity (a weight with a string) and its exactness (it is always straight). Think about what the plumbline represents and how God is using it within this vision.  Charles Spurgeon sets forth an incredibly detailed understanding of Amos’ plumb line in this sermon.

The fourth vision (8:1-3) is of a basket of summer fruit. The vision itself is based upon a word play between “summer fruit” (Heb. qayits) and the “end” (Heb. qets).  Think about what mature fruit and the harvest have to do with destruction. Jesus uses a similar metaphor in the parable of the weeds in Matthew 13.

The final vision (9:1-4) is that of an earthquake and total destruction. Look at the location of the vision and where the destruction begins. Also, look at the thoroughness of God’s divine pursuit of those who seek to escape the divine wrath.  Compare Amos’s understanding of the ubiquity of God’s presence with that experienced by the psalmist (Psalm 139) or Jonah (Jonah 1).

I have attached Chapters 5 and 6 of Heschel’s discussion of “The Meaning and Mystery of Divine Wrath.”  Throughout this discussion and particularly in the chapter “Ira Dei”, Heschel confronts the idea that divine wrath is something to be explained away or to be avoided.  If you have the time, please read through this discussion, and see if you agree that divine wrath is simply part of the manifestation of God’s love and concern for his creation.  Also, see if you agree with Heschel’s criticism of how the Church has handled the issue of Divine Wrath.

Dinner is at 6. The menu is Jambalaya. Discussion about 6:45. Hope to see you here.

The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. He told those who were selling the doves, “Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!” The Jews then said to him, “What sign can you show us for doing this?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”

John 2:13-19.

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