Sunday, July 20, 2014

The End of Amos

I continue to confess to my Bible study companions that I "am not getting much" out of these books from the Minor Prophets of the Bible. As one lady said, it seems so repetitive...Israel sins and walks away from God, God gets angry, God sends a prophet, the prophet speaks God's words to His people and then some form of punishment ensues. She's right about the gist of these books and after all of the pronounced judgements against Israel, Judah and the surrounding nations, I was inclined to agree with her.

So I've been asking God's Spirit, repeatedly, to speak His discernment and wisdom into these words so that I can make them applicable to my life. Be careful what you ask for. Right?

It began in Hosea where one by one the Spirit began showing me the subtle idols that I have defiantly clenched in my fists. Learning to let go of some of these, like pride, acceptance and personal comfort will take a lifetime to overcome, I am certain.

Then hot on the heels of Hosea, Joel reminded me that radical devotion to Jesus will not look like most lives we see in our culture. Jesus is just as controversial today as He was 2000 years ago. And even if the revelation of God's Spirit is radical, uncomfortable, unusual and even seemingly foolish, it is never meant to be selfishly hoarded...but to be shared in communion with other believers.

Now Amos has challenged me to remember that God often uses the common person...even a sheepherder...right where they a mighty way. This is not because of the attributes, the energy or the sacrifice of the person but rather, because the true character (aka glory) of a holy and righteous God can best be displayed when our lives speak of amazing things that are absolutely beyond anything we could conjure up in our own finite strength.

So yes. I have actually been learning a lot from these ancient men and the God who interrupted their ordinary lives with revelations and judgements for His wandering people. 

In the last half of Amos, I have seen that God's call to justice for the oppressed, poor and marginalized of our society is nothing new. (See Amos 6:12 and 8:4-6) Isn't it comforting to know that consistently throughout time, our God has been an advocate for the week, needy and desperate? 

But perhaps the most disconcerting verses in the book of Amos are found in chapter 8, verses 11 and 12

"Behold, days are coming," declares the Lord GOD,
"When I will send a famine on the land,
Not a famine for bread or a thirst for water,
But rather for hearing the words of the LORD.
"People will stagger from sea to sea
And from the north even to the east;
They will go to and fro to seek the word of the LORD,
but they will not find it."

A famine for "hearing the words of the LORD"? I cannot imagine. 

His Word is life-giving, life-affirming, and the rhythm of my life longs to beat to the cadence of His Word. When I am out of sync with His Word...every part of my life knows it. Just like a heart-pounding bass drum keeping time to the music, my soul reverberates to and resonates with the sound of His Word. To neglect His Word is stupidity on my part.

To have no access to His Word? Unimaginable.

Even with the plethora of Bibles at my disposal, I am thirsty and long to be thirstier still. Intentionally committing Scriptures to memory brings with it the blessing of God's Word leaping to the forefront of my mind at times when it is most needed.

This isn't a post about Bible memorization or how our churches aren't preaching the true word of God. I do believe we are living through an outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Joel 2:28). I am thankful that His Word will go out into the darkest of places and shine forth with prevailing power. But maybe this is more likely a post of cautionary joy.

While I don't think there will be an end to access to God's written Word in the developed Western Judeo-Christian world anytime soon, maybe the appropriate question to ask ourselves is this...

Are we thirsty for it?