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Archive for July 17th, 2015

 Amos 7:7-15 English Standard Version (ESV)

This is what he showed me: behold, 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, “Behold, I am setting a plumb line
    in the midst of my people Israel;
    I will never again pass by them;
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.”10 Then Amaziah the priest of Bethel sent to Jeroboam king of Israel, saying, “Amos has conspired against you in the midst of the house of Israel. The land is not able to bear all his words. 11 For thus Amos has said, “‘Jeroboam shall die by the sword,
    and Israel must go into exile
    away from his land.’”12 And Amaziah said to Amos, “O seer, go, flee away to the land of Judah, and eat bread there, and prophesy there, 13 but never again prophesy at Bethel, for it is the king’s sanctuary, and it is a temple of the kingdom.”14 Then Amos answered and said to Amaziah, “I was no prophet, nor a prophet’s son, but I was a herdsman and a dresser of sycamore figs. 15 But the Lord took me from following the flock, and the Lord said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel.’

Comments

This is the time of the divided Kingdoms, the Southern Kingdom, Judah and the Northern Kingdom, Israel.  The Lord sent the prophets to preach His Word of judgment and promise.  Amos was a prophet in the northern Kingdom.  The Lord uses the image of a plumb line.  As seen in the photo above, a plumb line is a builder’s tool to determine a straight, vertical line in building such as a home, temple or government edifice.   He is quite clear:   Israel is not growing straight, according to the Word of God.

Israel is not plumb. Why? Answer:  Israel was more concerned about their  houses and mansions, in this time of material prosperity than the House of the Lord and His Word ,Amos 5:11 

Israel was worshiping the almighty dollar and caring not for the poor and spurning God’s Word.  The national shrine at Bethel was established by the first Jeroboam as a counter to the Temple established by the Lord Himself in Jerusalem.  Bethel was the very site that Jacob had his dream and he declared it “Beth-El”, House of God and it had become in the 8th century BC a kind of a mega-church.

Questions for Reflection and Discussion:  How is the Church plumb or not plumb?  Our Nation?  Your life?

Amaziah, priest at Bethel, wanted Amos to go into exile.  First: Amaziah did not tell the truth in reporting Amos’ sermon as Amos did not say the king would die by the sword, but the Lord will be against “the house of Jeroboam”.  False news reports are nothing new, especially when it comes for the worldly to report the Word of God as preached and taught in the Church.  For instance, the Church is for life, so it is regularly reported the Church is against women, while actually being for life which means the Lord is for women and men and children, from conception to death.   Second:  Amaziah calls Bethel “the king’s sanctuary”, and he did not mean the King of Israel!  In other words, Bethel devolved into a nationalist shrine, utterly confusing nation and Temple (church).  The great political/religious struggle of our day is who will be the chaplains of the United States:  conservative or liberal Christianity.  Conservative Christianity once held sway but now it is liberal Christianity.  Conservative Christianity rightly supports morality but at the expense of the purpose of the Law:  to point us to Jesus Christ.  Liberal Christianity now supports  the immorality of abortion and false marriage and so can not point to Jesus Christ.  Both uncritically supports doctrines and practices contrary to Biblical faith. Both are essentially Christ-less, so God-less and make “Providence” bend to their political platforms.   We do not need them  support the Church!  

 For thus says the Lord to the house of Israel:

“Seek me and live;
    but do not seek Bethel,
and do not enter into Gilgal
    or cross over to Beersheba;
for Gilgal shall surely go into exile,
    and Bethel shall come to nothing.”

Amos 5: 4-6

Neither did the Lord need Bethel!

Questions for Reflection and Discussion:  As Christ’s Church, what do we need from the government? Does government and culture ever tell us to flee, go somewhere else? If so, in what ways?  What does it mean for the Church to be “Bethel”, the House of God?

Amos was a humble man of God, as were all the prophets.  His call was so matter of fact sounding.  His job was a humble one as, “a herdsman and a dresser of sycamore figs”.  As he went about with his herds he also took care of sycamore figs.  The way to hasten their ripening is to pinch them or scrape them. Amos’ preaching of the Word of God certainly pinched many people and scraped their fine religious and spiritual sensibilities!  In their religion they were looking very much inward, but not out to the Lord and His Word and their poor neighbors.  

Questions for Reflection and DiscussionWhere does the Church need to be pinched and scraped in order to ripen?  You?  How does Christ’s Crucifixion ripen faith in us? How does Christ’s death and resurrection strengthen us for living and for the good fight of faith?

Let us pray…

O Lord, You granted Your prophets strength to resist the temptations of the devil and courage to proclaim repentance. Give us pure hearts and minds to follow Your Son faithfully even into suffering and death; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

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Quote of the Day

Word and Sacrametn

Lutherans worship Christ wherever He is, including the sacraments, and thus Luther genuflected before the baptismal font and the sacrament. Christ is not tucked away in some distant heaven, but at God’s right hand He is among us in preaching and the sacraments.

David P. Scaer, Understanding Four Views on the Lords Supper, John H. Armstrong, ed., p . 148 (Zondervan, 2007)

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