Bible Reading Plan
This week our Bible Reading Plan turns to Amos. Scholars consider Amos to be the earliest book of prophecy in the Bible, from the mid-700s BC. Amos, it says, was a shepherd from the Southern kingdom of Judah, with a message of judgment from God for the northern kingdom of Israel. (I wonder how that went over in the North?) Today Amos is best known for his words repeated by Martin Luther King, Jr.: “Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” Amos’ message is at once economic, political and religious—and he does not mince words (he calls privileged women from a wealthy area “cows of Bashan”).
In four sections, here is what to look for as you read Amos, which is both ancient and relevant today:
1:1 – 2:16 Amos announces judgment on several neighbors of Israel (probably earning Israel’s cheers), before turning the judgment back on Israel itself. We, too, may be more comfortable with criticism of injustice in other countries than in our own.
3:1 – 6:14 Amos addresses people who felt secure because of Israel’s national defense, those who were comfortable in their affluence, and those who were busy with religion, but who seemed untroubled by the poverty and suffering of those around them. Hmmm . . .
7:1 – 8:5 In four visions or illustrations, Amos shows that Israel does not “measure up” to God’s standards of justice and righteousness.
8:4 – 9:15 While covering various subjects, this section begins and ends with condemnation of allowing the poor to be oppressed.
If Amos were addressed to us today, we would probably be offended . . . and possibly changed and transformed.