Monday, May 26, 2008

Amos vs. Amaziah

My lesson yesterday, on Amos 7:1-8:3, is my second favorite in the book (after week 1 on Amos' structure). It is the one significant narrative piece of this prophetic book-- and as usual, Biblical narrative is rich with application and theology.

God gives Amos five visions in the last three chapters of Amos-- four of them in this passage. In the middle of the 2nd and 3rd visions, Amos is confronted by Amaziah-- the high priest for the (false) religion of the Northern Kingdom (Israel).

Amaziah accuses Amos of treason and twists his prophetic message when retelling it to King Jeroboam II. We're not given the king's response, but afterwards, Amaziah forcefully tells Amos to go away and accuses Amos of ill motives. (Interestingly, Amos is not threatened with his life.) Amos defends himself and then responds with a rough prophecy for Amaziah-- interestingly, based on Amaziah's perversion of his earlier prophecy.

Here, I'll focus on the conversation between Amaziah and Amos.

In verse 13, Amaziah (properly/ironically) identifies the sanctuary and temple as the king's not the Lord's. In verse 12, Amaziah accuses Amos of being a prophet-for-hire (seer), when of course, it's Amaziah who's in it for the power, perqs, and pay.

Often, people accuse others, assuming the accused is motivated by the same things.

In verses 14-15, Amos gracefully but forcefully defends himself-- not so much for himself, but to convict Amaziah and to maintain the integrity of his message-- by saying that this isn't his day job, he's quite busy with other things (including a part-time gig with figs), and he's been called by God to deliver this message.

Often, we are guilty, defend ourselves for (far) lesser motives, or defend ourselves defensively.


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