Amos paper for my OT class

My percept paper from my Survey of the OT class at Princeton Seminary that I got an 85% on. I used some of this in my recent sermon.

———

Justice and worship within the biblical world are inseparable. Amos’s oracles “took place in the Northern Kingdom of Israel, possibly during cultic celebrations at Bethel”[1]. Amos’s oracles also “mainly condemned the ruling classes in the north for their oppressive treatment of the poor and needy members of society, and threatened Israel would be punished by God”[2]. Furthermore, Amos “announces to the people of Israel that, because of their social injustice and religious arrogance”[3] the Lord will destroy them. This turning away from their destructive ways would have been to reverse these economic injustices. In this book “he concentrates on the treatment of one section of society by another”[4]. In this book Amos has a profound message of the need for social justice. If Israel does not turn away from evil, divine punishment will come. Within this book, we see some covenantal language in regards to the relationship between Israel and God. In essence, the people of Israel are breaking their sacred bond with their God due to arrogance and greed.

Within the book of Amos, Amos is telling the Israelites that they should have no other gods other than The Lord. Here is what it says in Amos 5:5 in the NRSV: “Seek me and live; but do not seek Bethel….” In the New Living Translation on verse 5 it says, “Don’t worship at the pagan altars at Bethel; don’t go to the shrines at Gilgal or Beersheba” and in The Living Bible it says, “Don’t seek the idols of Bethel, Gilgal, or Beersheba”.[5] And since the Israelites were indeed doing those things Amos is talking about, God will bring judgment on the people. Furthermore, the Israelites are not doing justice either, since they are not worshiping The Lord, they leave out the poor, they literally trample the poor as verse 11 of chapter 5 states. In addition, the leaders are taking bribes and “push aside the needy in the gate”. Since they break the first couple of commandments in the Ten Commandments, God brings judgment.

A constant theme throughout Amos 5 comes in verse 14 and 15 where it says seek the good and not evil so you may live! Furthermore, “Hate evil and love good, and establish justice at the gate…” The Israelites were not seeking the good, instead they were seeking evil by their sins and not worshipping the Lord. In addition, they were loving evil and hating good and they were not establishing justice at the gate. In essence, the Israelites were not in right living with the Torah. They were worshipping idols and other gods at shrines. When they did worship, they were not in right worship as verses 21-24 state.

In the commentary on 5:4-7, it states, “This passage contrasts “seeking the LORD”-through social justice-with “seeking” Bethel….-i.e., going to offer worship at these shrines which (the prophet believes) are in any case going to be destroyed”[6]. In line with those commentary notes, it seems that they were going to be destroyed due to their lack of social justice and incorrect worship. If you seek the Lord wrongly through other means than what the Lord has taught, you will be destroyed, like it states in the passage.

In a sermon on Micah, Dr. Carol Dempsey states: “For Micah and for all the prophets, the heart of life was right relationship—right relationship with God, with humankind, and with all communities of life.”[7] That was not happening in the book of Amos, nor was it happening in Amos 5. Since they were not in right relationship with God nor with each other, God was going bring judgment upon them. When the people are not in right relationship with God or one-another, they are not worshipping correctly nor will justice happen, since the relationships have been cut off. Consequently, “The people seem to have forgotten their “story” and in doing so, have forgotten their saving God. Thus, the reason why the people have fallen out of “right” relationship with their God and consequently with one another is because of a lack of mindfulness.”[8] Amos is trying to bring back to people that they should seek the Lord and live! Further, they should hate evil and love good. Since they were not doing any of that, they fallout of relationship with the Lord and one another. Like Carol Dempsey states, the Israelites in chapter 5 have forgotten their story and whose they belong to and whom they should be worshipping. In order for them not to be destroyed, they need to remember their story and turn back to the Lord.

In commentary notes on Amos 5:21-24 it states: “Amos regards sacrifices offered to the LORD as wholly unacceptable so long as the people who offer them are morally polluted”[9]. So in essence, when the people of God worship impurely, their worship is not accepted by the Lord. In order to worship the Lord, they must be morally pure and in right relationship with God and one another. Furthermore, “Amos frequently speaks of justice and righteousness in tandem”[10] which the Israelites were not doing due to their moral impurities. When you have right worship with Lord and in right relationship with one another then justice should lead to righteousness, which leads to right worship. And from worship, justice and righteousness should come out like an ever-flowing stream. Worship, when done rightly, should always lead the people to do and live out the Torah.

 

[1] Burton, John. “Amos.” In The New Interpreters Study Bible, 1279. Nashville: Abingdon, 2003.

[2] Burton, John. “Amos.” In The New Interpreters Study Bible, 1279. Nashville: Abingdon, 2003.

[3] Burton, John. “Amos.” In The New Interpreters Study Bible, 1279. Nashville: Abingdon, 2003.

[4] Burton, John. “Amos.” In The New Interpreters Study Bible, 1279. Nashville: Abingdon, 2003.

 

[5] Passages taken from Biblegateway.com

[6] Burton, John. “Amos.” In The New Interpreters Study Bible, 1286. Nashville: Abingdon, 2003.

 

[7] Dempsey, Carol. “Sermon on Micah 6:1-8.” Keynote speech, Presbytery of the Cascades Stated Meeting from Presbytery of the Cascades, Portland, OR, November 8, 2008.

[8] Dempsey, Carol. “Sermon on Micah 6:1-8.” Keynote speech, Presbytery of the Cascades Stated Meeting from Presbytery of the Cascades, Portland, OR, November 8, 2008.

[9] Burton, John. “Amos.” In The New Interpreters Study Bible, 1287. Nashville: Abingdon, 2003.

[10] Dearman, J. Andrew, and Gene Tucker. “Amos.” In The HarperCollins Study Bible, 1224. New York: HaperOne, 2006.

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s