Jeroboam 2nd (r. 825-784 BC) is the last king to rule over a politically expansive and economically prosperous Kingdom of Israel. Soon Yahweh will allow Assyrian aggression to end the Kingdom of Israel for its chronic disloyalty to him (2 Kings 14:23-29).
During this time of illusory rejuvenation, Yahweh calls the shepherd Amos (active 797-787) away from his flocks in Judah to warn Israel of its impending destruction.
Through Amos, Yahweh challenges Israel’s devotion to Jupiter (false god of politics). Fighting back, royal officials forbid prophets to speak the challenging but liberating words of Yahweh (Amos 2:12). Yahweh persists in sending these defiers of a destructive status quo because he does not act without first revealing his intentions to his people through his prophets (3:3-8). Yahweh tells the leaders of his people to seek good and not evil by establishing Yahweh’s justice.
Vulcan is the false god of technology. He bullies, bribes, and deceives us into building cities. Since Cain, builder of the first city, cities have always been expressions of our own self-centeredness, monuments to Vulcan, artificial contexts separating us from the context of creation which Yahweh intended for us, and focal points for the action of all six false Olympian gods against humans and the people of Yahweh. Amos reveals Yahweh’s condemnation of the Philistines and Egyptians because they fill their fortified cities with disorders, oppressions, violence, and robberies (vs. 9-11).
Tocontrast the right path of Yahweh with the lawless highway of Pluto, false god of money, Amos condemns the rich for using the marginal as means of making money (Amos 2:6-8). He also condemns their practices of buying the poor, conducting business on the Sabbath, and cheating. He warns them of their coming exile.
Against Bacchus, false god of consumption, Amos calls the wealthy women of Bashan “cows” and judges them for crushing the poor to live in luxury (4:1-2). He condemns those whose leisure is made possible only by violence (6:1-3). He warns those enjoying conspicuous comfort and convenience that only the extreme discomfort of exile awaits them (vs. 4-7).
Religion is what remains when the Spirit moves on. Through Amos, Yahweh reveals to his people that he actually hates their religious ceremonies (5:21): their myriad festivals, services of worship filled with all seriousness, large offerings, even splendid music. Instead, he commands, “But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream” (5:24). He warns that the places now regarded as sanctuaries will be destroyed (7:7-9). Worst of all, “Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord GOD, “when I will send a famine on the land—not a famine of bread, not a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD” (8:11).
Yahweh sent Amos and other prophets to Israel to call them back. They heard. But they did not repent.
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