Archive for the ‘Amos 7’ Tag

Devotion for Proper 4, Year D (Humes)   2 comments

Above:  Nicodemus Coming to Jesus, by Henry Ossawa Turner

Image in the Public Domain

Salvation and Damnation

JUNE 3, 2018


Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ,  who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236


Amos 7:1-17 or Proverbs 8:1-21

Psalm 118:14-29

1 Timothy 5:1-16

John 3:1-21


Divine judgment and mercy exist in balance in the Old and New Testaments.  They find balance in Jesus in John 3.  Those who reject the light condemn themselves to the darkness.  God sends nobody to Hell.  All who go there send themselves.  We read of the impending doom of the northern Kingdom of Israel in Amos 7.  In that passage, we also read that God is in judgment mode.

Proverbs 8 speaks of divine wisdom.  That is the wisdom, the persistent, collective rejection which led to the pronouncement of divine judgment in Amos 7.  The word of God that Amos proclaimed was treasonous, according to authorities in the Kingdom of Israel.  That word of God condemned the leaders who labeled that truth as treason.  The Assyrians arrived in force, right on schedule, though.  The truth was not treason.

The reading from 1 Timothy 5 speaks to divinely-mandated ethics.  The passage also contains some culturally-specific elements that may be irrelevant to your context, O reader.  May we not become distracted by those culturally-specific details.  The timeless principle is mutuality:  We are res[pmsob;e to and for each other.  In that timeless context, individual and collective responsibility also exist in balance.

I admit without apology that I am pedantic.  My pedantry extends to theology.  In the Gospel of John, eternal life is knowing God via Jesus (John 17:3).  Within the Johannine context, as in John 3:16, therefore, there is no eternity apart from God–Jesus, to be precise.  In other words, eternal life and the afterlife are not synonyms in Johannine theology.  “Eternal” describes the quality of life, not the length thereof.  I am a generally Johannine Christian, so I understand “eternal life” according to the definition in John 17:3.  Nevertheless, outside of the Johannine tradition in the New Testament, the meaning of “eternal” is “everlasting.”

I am not shy about saying and writing openly what I really think:  I remain unconvinced that my Jewish elder brothers and sisters in faith are doomed to go to Hell.  No, I affirm that their covenant remains in effect.  According to Covenantal Nomism, consistently and unrepentantly disregarding the ethical obligations of the Law of Moses causes one to drop out of the covenant.  Salvation comes via grace, but damnation comes via works.

The more I age and move away from reflexively Reformation-influenced theology, the more comfortable I become embracing the relationship among faith, works, salvation, and damnation in both Testaments.  God cares deeply about how people treat each other, the Bible tells us.  We mere mortals may deceive ourselves and each other.  We cannot, however, pull the proverbial wool over God’s equally proverbial eyes.  Our creeds become evident in our deeds.

Nevertheless, may we avoid the trap of thinking that we deserve salvation.  That remains a gift.  All who receive it may experience a degree of shock when they realize who else has received it.  So be it.








Devotion for Monday After Proper 19, Year C (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment


Above:   Shipwreck

Image in the Public Domain

Our Decision to Make

SEPTEMBER 12, 2022


The Collect:

O God, overflowing with mercy and compassion,

you lead back to yourself all those who go astray.

Preserve your people in your loving care,

that we may reject whatever is contrary to you

and may follow all things that sustain our life in

your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 47


The Assigned Readings:

Amos 7:1-6

Psalm 73

1 Timothy 1:18-20


You will guide me by your counsel,

and afterwards receive me with glory.

–Psalm 73:24, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)


Judgment and mercy exist in balance in the Bible.  The reading from Amos 7 emphasizes mercy, but, just a few verses later, God promises to destroy the dynasty of King Jeroboam II of Israel (reigned 788-747 B.C.E.), without relenting.  Judgment and mercy are collective in Amos 7, but judgment is individual in 1 Timothy 1.

By rejecting conscience, certain persons have made shipwreck of their faith.

–verse 19b, Revised Standard Version–Second Edition (1971)

In both instances rejecting divine counsel leads to negative consequences.  God might relent in, for example, sending fire or a plague of locusts, as in Amos 7, but consequences will arrive consequently.  On the other hand, we can love God fully and our neighbors as ourselves.  That will not mean that nothing bad will happen to us, but we will please God and help many people.

The choice is ours, for we have the free will to decide.







Proper 10, Year C   11 comments

Above:  The Good Samaritan’s Inn

Image Source = Library of Congress

Compassion and Scandal

The Sunday Closest to July 13

Fifth Sunday After Pentecost

JULY 10, 2022


The Assigned Readings:

Amos 7:7-14 and Psalm 82


Deuteronomy 20:9-14 and Psalm 25:1-9


Colossians 1:1-14

Luke 10:25-37

The Collect:

O Lord, mercifully receive the prayers of your people who call upon you, and grant that they may know and understand what things they ought to do, and also may have grace and power faithfully to accomplish them; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


Some Related Posts:

Prayer of Praise and Adoration:

Prayer of Confession:

Prayer of Dedication:


The road from Jerusalem to Jericho was notoriously difficult due to its geography and the reality that robbers used it as site of frequent crimes.  Did only fools travel it alone?  If so, everyone except the inn keeper in the Parable of the Good Samaritan was foolish.  Those who passed by the crime victim probably did so for more than one reason.  Safety was a concern, for sometimes bandits preyed on compassionate responses.  Other reasons for moving along included apathy and a concern for maintaining ritual purity.  But the unlikely hero was a Samaritan–a heretic, a half-breed, and a marginalized person.

The scandal of the Parable of the Good Samaritan has at least two layers.  Even the possibility of a Good Samaritan proved scandalous to many people originally.  Unfortunately, the parable has become hackneyed for many modern Christians, so I propose pondering who our “Samaritans ” are then paraphrasing the story to restore its fully scandalous nature.  The “Samaritan” should always be the most “other ” person one can name.  So, for one hates Gypsies, the Samaritan might be a Gypsy.  For a xenophobe the Samaritan might be an immigrant.  For an ultra-orthodox person the Samaritan might be a the most relatively heretical individual.  For someone with an especially strong political point of view the Samaritan might be a person from the opposite end of the spectrum.  For a homophobe the Samaritan might be a homosexual.  For a homosexual the Samaritan might be a homophobe.  For an Orangeman the Samaritan might be a Roman Catholic.  The more provocative the paraphrase, the more accurate it is.

Another layer of scandal in the parable is the lesson that sometimes respectable religious concerns and practices obstruct active compassion.  I am convinced that most religious people seek to obey the divine will as they understand it.  But too often many of us do not love our neighbor as we love ourselves.  Too often we make excuses for those who exploit the weak and the vulnerable, including widows, orphans, and the poor.  Too often we seek God’s ways and follow other paths.  Too often we therefore sow the seeds not only of the destruction of others but also of ourselves.  Yet, as Deuteronomy 30:9-14 reminds us, the law of God is very near us–inside us, in fact.  Too often we look for this law in the wrong places.

This law is as simple and difficult as following our Lord and Savior’s instruction:

Go, and do the same yourself.

–Luke 10:37b, The New Jerusalem Bible

In 2001 or 2002 I listened one evening to a public radio program about Hanukkah.  My memory of one story from that program is partial, but the summary of that tale remains with me.  In ancient times there was a rabbi who lacked most of what he needed to observe Hanukkah properly.  He was an especially pious yet closed-minded man at the beginning of the story.  At the end, however, he was pious and open-minded, for a succession of especially unlikely outsiders provided all that he needed.  A Greek wrestler even gave the necessary oil.  That tale, a wonderful piece of Jewish wisdom, is consistent with the readings for this Sunday.  The “other” might be a means of grace, and neighborliness crosses a variety of human-created barriers.

Go, and do the same yourself.







Proper 10, Year B   14 comments

Above:  The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist, by Caravaggio, 1608

Of God, Potentates, and Prophets

The Sunday Closest to July 13

The Seventh Sunday After Pentecost

JULY 11, 2021



2 Samuel 6:1-5, 12b-19 (New Revised Standard Version):

David again gathered all the chosen men of Israel, thirty thousand.  David and all the people with him set out and went from Baalejudah, to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the name of the LORD of hosts who is enthroned on a new cart, and brought it out of the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill.  Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, were driving the new cart with the ark of God; and Ahio went in front of the ark.  David and all the house of Israel were dancing before the LORD with all their might, with songs and lyres and harps and tambourines and castanets and cymbals.

So David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obededom to the city of David with rejoicing; and when those who bore the ark of the LORD had gone six paces, he sacrificed an ox and a fatling.  David danced before the LORD with all his might; David was girded with a linen ephod.  So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the LORD with shouting, and with the sound of the trumpet.

As the ark of the LORD came into the city of David, Michal daughter of Saul looked out of the window, and saw King David leaping and dancing before the LORD; and she despised him in her heart.

They brought in the ark of the LORD, and set it in its place, inside the tent that David had pitched for it; and David offered burnt offerings and offerings of well-being before the LORD.  When David had finished offering the burnt offerings and the offerings of well-being, he blessed the people in the name of the LORD of hosts, and distributed food among all the people, the whole multitude of Israel, both men and women, to each a cake of bread, a portion of meat, and a cake of raisins.   Then all the people went back to their homes.

Psalm 24 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1 The earth is the LORD’s and all that is in it,

the world and all who dwell therein.

For it is who founded it upon the seas

and made it firm upon the rivers of the deep.

“Who can ascend the hill of the LORD?

and who can stand in his holy place?”

“Those who have clean hands and a pure heart,

who have not pledged themselves to falsehood,

nor sworn by what is a fraud.

They shall receive a blessing from the LORD

and a just reward from the God of their salvation.”

Such is the generation of those who seek him,

of those who seek your face, O God of Jacob.

7  Lift up your heads, O gates;

lift them high, O everlasting doors;

and the King of glory shall come in.

8  “Who is this King of glory?”

“The LORD, strong and mighty,

the LORD, mighty in battle.”

9  Lift up your heads, O gates;

lift them high, O everlasting doors;

and the King of glory shall come in.

10  “Who is he, this King of glory?”

“The LORD of hosts,

he is the King of glory.”


Amos 7:7-15 (New Revised Standard Version):

This is what the Lord God showed me: the Lord was standing beside a wall built with a plumb line, with a plumb line in his hand. And the LORD said to me,

Amos, what do you see?

And I said,

A plumb line.

Then the Lord said,

See, I am setting a plumb line

in the midst of my people Israel;

I will never again pass them by;

the high places of Isaac shall be made desolate,

and the sanctuaries of Israel shall be laid waste,

and I will rise against the house of Jeroboam with the sword.

Then Amaziah, the priest of Bethel, sent to King Jeroboam of Israel, saying,

Amos has conspired against you in the very center of the house of Israel; the land is not able to bear all his words. For thus Amos has said,

“Jeroboam shall die by the sword,

and Israel must go into exile

away from his land.”

And Amaziah said to Amos,

O seer, go, flee away to the land of Judah, earn your bread there, and prophesy there; but never again prophesy at Bethel, for it is the king’s sanctuary, and it is a temple of the kingdom.

Then Amos answered Amaziah,

I am no prophet, nor a prophet’s son; but I am a herdsman, and a dresser of sycamore trees, and the LORD took me from following the flock, and the LORD said to me, “Go, prophesy to my people Israel.”

Psalm 85:8-13 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

8 I will listen to what the LORD God is saying,

for he is speaking peace to his faithful people

and to those who turn their hearts to him.

9 Truly, his salvation is very near those who fear him,

that his glory may dwell in our land.

10 Mercy and truth have met together;

righteousness and peace have kissed each other.

11 Truth shall spring up from the earth,

and righteousness shall look down from heaven.

12 The LORD will indeed grant prosperity,

and our land will yield its increase.

13 Righteousness shall go before him,

and peace shall be a pathway for his feet.


Ephesians 1:3-14 (New Revised Standard Version):

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love. He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and insight he has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will, so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; this is the pledge of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s own people, to the praise of his glory.


Mark 6:14-29 (New Revised Standard Version):

King Herod heard of it, for Jesus’ name had become known.  Some said,

John the Baptist has been raised from the dead; that is why these powers are at work in him.

But others said,

It is Elijah.

And others said,

It is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.

But when Herod heard of it he said,

John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.

For Herod had sent and seized John, and bound him for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife.  And Herodias had a grudge against him, and wanted to kill him.  But she could not, for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and kept him safe.  When he heard him, he was much perplexed; and yet he heard him gladly.  But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his courtiers and officers and the leading men of Galilee.  For when Herodias’ daughter came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests; and the king said to the girl,

Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will grant it.

And he vowed to her,

Whatever you ask me, I will give you, even half of my kingdom.

And she went out, and said to her mother,

What shall I ask?

And she said,

The head of John the Baptist.

And she came in immediately with haste to the king, and asked, saying,

I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.

And the king was exceedingly sorry; but because of his oaths and his guests he did not want to break his word to her.  And immediately the king sent a soldier of the guard and gave orders to bring his head.  He went and beheaded him in the prison, and brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl; and the girl gave it to her mother.  When his disciples heard of it, they came and took his body, and laid it in a tomb.

The Collect:

O Lord, mercifully receive the prayers of your people who call upon you, and grant that they may know and understand what things they ought to do, and also may have grace and power faithfully to accomplish them; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


Some Related Posts:

Proper 10, Year A:

The Feast of the Beheading of St. John the Baptist, Martyr (August 29):

2 Samuel 6:

Amos 7:

Mark 6:


The prophet Amos had been condemning the policies of King Jeroboam II of Israel, whose regime controlled certain religious sites.  There being no separation of religion and state in this context, the prophet faced a royal order to go home to Judah.  At least Jeroboam did not command the execution of Amos.

Herod Antipas, Tetrarch of Galilee and Perea from 4 B.C.E. to 39 C.E., had entered into an incestuous marriage to Herodias.  John the Baptist had condemned this, and thus found himself in prison.  The combination of lust and pride led Herod Antipas to order John’s execution.

We read in Ephesians about redemption through the blood of Jesus.  The Roman authorities had ordered his execution, of course.

The powerful seem to have won immediately.  But look again; they lost in the long term.  The last vestige of the Roman Empire ceased to exist in 1453 C.E.  The Emperor Caligula exiled Herod Antipas to Gaul in 39 C.E.  And Jeroboam II died more than 2,750 years ago.  He failed to silence Amos, whose words are available in translation today.

Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul….–Matthew 10:28a, New Revised Standard Version

God will win.  That is how the story will end.  I know, for I have read the book.  So I take courage and seek to play my part in the work of righteousness.


Week of Proper 8: Thursday, Year 2   7 comments

Above:  King Jeroboam II

Righteous Judgments and Mercies

JUNE 30, 2022


Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), of The Episcopal Church, contains an adapted two-years weekday lectionary for the Epiphany and Ordinary Time seasons from the Anglican Church of Canada.  I invite you to follow it with me.


Amos 7:1-17 (TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures):

This is what my Lord GOD showed me:  He was creating [a plague of] locusts at the time when the late-sown crops were beginning to sprout–the late-sown crops after the king’s reaping.  When it had finished devouring the herbage in the land, I said,

O Lord GOD, pray forgive.  How will Jacob survive?  He is so small?

The LORD relented concerning this.

It shall not come to pass,

said the LORD.

This is what the Lord GOD showed me.  Lo, my Lord GOD was summoning to contend by the fire which consumed the Great Deep and was consuming the fields.  I said,

Oh, Lord GOD, refrain!  How will Jacob survive?  He is so small.

The LORD relented concerning this.

That shall not come to pass, either,

said my Lord GOD.

This is what He showed me:  He was standing on a wall checked with a plumb line and He was holding a plumb line.  And the LORD asked me,

What do you see, Amos?

I replied,

A plumb line.

And my Lord declared,

I am going to apply a plumb line to My people Israel; I will pardon them no more.  The shrines of Isaac shall be laid waste, and the sanctuaries of Israel reduced to ruins; and I will turn upon the House of Jeroboam with the sword.

Amaziah, the priest of Bethel, sent this message to King Jeroboam of Israel:

Amos is conspiring against you within the House of Israel.  The country cannot endure the things he is saying.  For Amos has said, “Jeroboam shall die by the sword, and Israel shall be exiled from its soil.”

Amaziah also said to Amos,

Seer, off with you to the land of Judah!  Earn your living there, and do your prophesying there.  But don’t ever prophesy again at Bethel; for it is a king’s sanctuary and a royal palace.

Amos answered Amaziah:

I am not a prophet, and I am not a prophet’s disciple.  I am a cattle breeder and a tender of sycamore figs.  But the LORD took me away from following the flock, and the LORD said to me, “Go prophesy to My people Israel.”  And so, hear the word of the LORD.  You say I must not prophesy about the House of Israel or preach about the House of Isaac; but this, I swear, is the the LORD said:  Your wife shall play the harlot in the town, your sons and daughters shall fall by the sword, and your land shall be divided up with a measuring line.  And you yourself shall die on unclean soil; for Israel shall be exiled from its soil.

Psalm 19:7-10 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

The law of the LORD is perfect and revives the soul;

the testimony of the LORD is sure and gives wisdom to the innocent.

8 The statutes of the LORD are just and rejoice the heart;

the commandment of the LORD is clear and gives light to the eyes.

The fear of the LORD is clean and endures for ever,

the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.

10 More to be desired are they than gold more than much fine gold,

sweeter far than honey, than honey in the comb.

Matthew 9:1-8 (An American Translation):

So he [Jesus] got into the boat and crossed the sea, and returned to his own city.

Some people came bringing to him on a bed a man who was paralyzed.  Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralytic,

Courage, my son!  Your sins are forgiven.

Some of the scribes said to themselves,

This man is talking blasphemy!

Jesus knew what they were thinking, and he said,

Why do you have such wicked thoughts in your hearts?  For which is easier, to say, “Your sins are forgiven,” or to say, “Get up and walk”?  But would you know that the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins on earth.

Then he said to the paralytic,

Get up, pick up your bed, and go home!

And he got up and went home. And when the crowd saw it, they were filled with awe, and praised God for giving such power to men.


The Collect:

Almighty God, you have built your Church upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone:  Grant to us so to be joined together in unity of spirit by their teaching, that we may be made a holy temple acceptable to you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.


A Related Post:

Week of Proper 8:  Thursday, Year 1:


Sometimes the words and deeds of God offend or otherwise disturb us.  How we deal with such cognitive dissonance speaks to our spiritual state.

The Kingdom of Israel had run out of forgiveness.  Amos, as we have read in previous posts in this series, announced God’s impending judgment for a variety of sins, economic exploitation among them.  The religious establishment close to King Jeroboam II commanded Amos to leave the kingdom for his homeland, for his words did not affirm the ruling class.

Forgiveness and healing, not judgment, got Jesus into trouble with his critics in today’s reading from Matthew.  There can be many causes for paralysis, as medical science tells us these days.  But religious orthodoxy in Judea understood the paralytic to be paralyzed because of sin.  This theology, which the Book of Job contradicts, blamed the victims.  (True, much suffering results from one’s sins, but much does not.  Sometimes one’s suffering results from the sins of others or another.  And, at other times, suffering has no cause one can understand.)

The paralyzed man, who does not speak in this narrative, probably believed in “sin leads to suffering” theology.  It was what his culture told him.  He probably lived with needless guilt, a burden members of his community (excluding some kind friends) imposed upon him.  Jesus removed that burden from the paralytic, giving him spiritual wholeness.

Some commentators have suggested that the man’s paralysis was psychosomatic.  So, they say, of course the man could walk again after Jesus forgave his sins.  This might be accurate.  Whatever caused the physical paralysis, Jesus took that away from the man.

Yet our Lord faced criticism for forgiving the man.  Was this blasphemy?  No, it was mercy.

When God says and/or does something hard for us digest, we can humble ourselves before God graciously, in the spirit of Psalm 19:

…the judgments of the LORD are righteous and true altogether.

We might not like, agree with, or understand these judgments, but we can at least not oppose them.  Or we can react defensively, trying to silence an annoying prophet or condemning a merciful man.  But God will still be be God regardless of what we do.