Scripture Focus: Amos 8.5-6, 11
When will..the Sabbath be ended
that we may market wheat?
…buying the poor with silver
and the needy for a pair of sandals…
“The days are coming,” declares the Sovereign Lord,
“when I will send a famine through the land—
not a famine of food or a thirst for water,
but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord.
From John: In this year of many kinds of hardships for service and retail workers, this post from 2018 has a heightened meaning. May we carry the kindness and grace of Jesus when we encounter retail and seasonal workers. If not, we may find ourselves facing a famine, not of profit, or water, or food but of the Word of God.
Reflection: Better Things to be Doing
By John Tillman
At this time of year a basket of ripe fruit brings connotations of joy and celebration, but as God explained to Amos, the ripeness of the fruit was not the ripeness of joy, but of inward sin.
The people of Israel only seemed religiously observant. Inwardly, they wished that the bothersome business of worshiping God could be over with so they could get back to making money.
In a day when only openly religious businesses dare to be closed on Sunday, we may not comprehend a time when no business in the nation-state of Israel would dare to be open on a religious holiday.
In our culture, extended holiday hours are expected. They are a fact of life and many work additional jobs during the holidays to get by.
Although I’ve never rushed out of church to open a grain market, at times I have needed to get to the mall and open a Santa set. In my own life and the lives of many others, additional holiday employment doesn’t supply luxuries or money for presents, it is needed to get by. The additional work I get around the holidays has at times provided nearly a third of our yearly income. The gig economy is not always pretty.
Amos is right. The poor are indeed bought with silver.
Economic sins are prioritized by the Lord’s prophets. Amos is just one echo of their repeated theme. The wealthy market owner’s uncaring attitude started with a greedy lie that he had better things to do than worship God—namely, to wring out profit from every minute, every worker, and every square foot of land.
As we move into a cultural season in which we will all interact with many seasonal workers—often undertrained and often sleep-deprived—may we at a minimum interact with them with mercy and grace. And, for those who are supervisors and managers, may we work to humanize our treatment of our employees and better their lives encouraging as much rest as is possible in this season of economic frenzy.
And in moments of worship, whether private or corporate, may we remember there is nothing more profitable that we could be doing than worshiping God.
Amos is clear that if we don’t value worshiping God, the punishment is a famine—not a famine of profit, or water, or food, but a famine of the Word of God.
Divine Hours Prayer: The Call to Prayer
Come, let us bow down, and bend the knee, and kneel before the Lord our Maker.
For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture and the sheep of his hand… — Psalm 95.6-7
– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertimeby Phyllis Tickle
Amos 8 (Listen – 2:16)
Luke 3 (Listen – 5:24)
Read more about Facing a Biblical Disaster
Their spiritual diet depends more on news programs than Bible passages.This is the true biblical disaster of 2020.
Read more about Confessing Idolatry—Guided Prayer
God, your prophet tells us Israel built many places for worship, had many “sacred stones,” but their hearts were far from God.