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Lenten Devotion 7 March 4, 2020

Amos 5: 14-15
14 Seek good and not evil,
that you may live;
and so the LORD, the God of hosts, will be with you,
just as you have said.
15 Hate evil and love good,
and establish justice in the gate;
it may be that the LORD, the God of hosts,
will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.
Who was Amos?
Amos was a sheep breeder and tender of sycamore trees in Judah, the southern Jewish kingdom. He was called to preach to the upper class of Israel, the northern Jewish kingdom. The upper class of Israel was enjoying incomparable prosperity. Yet, the majority of the people lived in poverty and oppression. The ruling class saw these blessings as a sign of God’s favor, though they ignored the plight of the lower class. Amos came to warn of God’s judgment for the failure of Israel to care for the poor and the oppression heaped on the underclass by the wealthy.
Why is Amos important?
Amos was not a magical predictor of the future. He was a reader of the signs of the times. He knew that God expected the wealthy to care for the poor the way God had provided the necessities of the people of Israel (and Judah). Their failure to do this would not go unnoticed by God. There would be consequences.
In our passage today, Amos tells the ruling class of Israel that all is not lost. It is not mere worship that will change God’s mind, but the seeking of good and not evil. The good is the care for the poor and oppressed. The evil is not caring. Changing from not caring to caring will encourage God’s grace and provision for Israel.
What might this mean in 2020? Does the US care for the poor and oppressed? Do we in the general population even know? We listen to the politicians. “People need to work and there are plenty of jobs.” Is that true? What kinds of jobs? Do they pay a living wage? Or this. “People are suffering and disadvantaged. We need to provide a safety net.” Are people suffering and disadvantaged? What kinds of benefits do they need? And then there is this: Does our political party (either one) and its candidates really take care for the poor and oppressed? How? According to Amos, these were the kinds of things God wanted Israel to think about. I bet God wants us to think about them, too.

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