Subject: Redeemer Downtown Devotional: Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost - September 2, 2012

Downtown Devotional Email Template
Photo by Ashley Buechele 

Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost - September 2, 2012

These devotionals are to help you prepare for each Sunday to come in the Christian Calendar.* 

[10] They hate him who reproves in the gate,
  and they abhor him who speaks the truth.
[11] Therefore because you trample on the poor
  and you exact taxes of grain from him,
you have built houses of hewn stone,
  but you shall not dwell in them;
you have planted pleasant vineyards,
  but you shall not drink their wine.
[12] For I know how many are your transgressions
  and how great are your sins—
you who afflict the righteous, who take a bribe,
  and turn aside the needy in the gate.
[13] Therefore he who is prudent will keep silent in such a time,
  for it is an evil time.
[14] Seek good, and not evil,
  that you may live;
and so the LORD, the God of hosts, will be with you,
  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.
[16] Therefore thus says the LORD, the God of hosts, the Lord:
“In all the squares there shall be wailing,
  and in all the streets they shall say, ‘Alas! Alas!’
They shall call the farmers to mourning
  and to wailing those who are skilled in lamentation,
[17] and in all vineyards there shall be wailing,
  for I will pass through your midst,”
says the LORD.
[18] Woe to you who desire the day of the LORD!
  Why would you have the day of the LORD?
It is darkness, and not light,
[19] as if a man fled from a lion,
  and a bear met him,
or went into the house and leaned his hand against the wall,
  and a serpent bit him.
[20] Is not the day of the LORD darkness, and not light,
  and gloom with no brightness in it?
[21] “I hate, I despise your feasts,
  and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies.
[22] Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings,
  I will not accept them;
and the peace offerings of your fattened animals,
  I will not look upon them.
[23] Take away from me the noise of your songs;
  to the melody of your harps I will not listen.
[24] But let justice roll down like waters,
  and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.

Amos 5:10-24 (ESV)
We tend to think that by helping our neighbors in need, we are fulfilling God’s call to work for a more harmonious world. And it is certainly true that we are called to help those in distress who are around us. But seeing a need and filling it is not, according to Scripture, the sum total of God’s desire for us and for this world. God’s call is also for his people to address the sources of need so that none of our neighbors is forced into the position of needing help. This is part of what is meant by justice in the Bible. Compassion means caring for someone in need; justice means working against those factors that cause another to become needy.

Amos provides stern words for those in Israel whose worship was disingenuous because they were complicit in economic exploitation. Amos says that the Lord will not accept the worship of those involved in these acts of injustice (vv. 21-23), acts that are especially grievous since they were committed by the powerful against the powerless (v 12). Throughout the Old Testament, the gate was a symbol of judicial authority, since it was at the village gate that the elders would preside over cases and adjudicate grievances among different parties. Amos proclaims that in addition to the crimes of economic mistreatment (“you trample on the poor and you exact taxes of grain from him” v. 11), blatant miscarriages of justice were committed by people whose very role was to preserve equity and righteousness (“you who afflict the righteous, who take a bribe, and turn aside the needy in the gate” v. 12). Amos concludes his provocative passage by observing that God is angered by such actions and that He will not abide them forever.

We live in a world full of injustice, but like Amos our hope is in a coming world in which these injustices will no longer occur, when justice itself will “roll down like waters” and righteousness “like an ever-flowing stream” (v. 24). This will be a world where those with power will not take advantage of those without and where those with material resources will not use them to amass more wealth, but rather a world where the powerful and wealthy will instead use what they have in service of those without power and resources. Is this world of heavenly love and justice something that you hope for? Is it something that you are working to see “on earth as it is in heaven”?

John C. Lin, Downtown Lead Pastor

Lord of all power and might, the author and giver of all good things: Graft in our hearts the love of your Name; increase in us true religion; nourish us with all goodness; and bring forth in us the fruit of good works; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Collect** from The Book of Common Prayer

You are subscribed to the Downtown Devotionals.
Manage your subscriptions or {unsubscribe}.