Amos, Part 1: God’s judgment on nations in the Old Testament

Starting into Amos proper this week…

PODCAST for Wed 13 May: 

Israel and Judah split apart about 920 BCE, and Amos is speaking around 160 years later. He has come from from Judah to announce a message to Israel. People in Israel will say, he’s not one of us! Is he on the side of our enemies?

  • Can you imagine Amos 1-2 being preached to an audience in Israel? How would they be hearing the judgement on the six other nations, then Judah, … and then themselves. (See Amaziah the priest’s reaction to Amos in Ch.7. Might Paul have gotten the idea for the turn in Romans 1-2 from Amos 1-2?)
  • Did he present his message to the other nations, or do you think that was just for Israel’s benefit? Here’s a summary: 

The specific accusations in the first six sayings all have to do with crimes in war. Damascus has treated the people of Gilead with extreme cruelty, grinding them as grain is ground on a threshing floor. The Philistines and the people of Tyre have been involved in large-scale programs of deportation. Tyre has violated an international treaty, the “covenant of brotherhood.” The Edomites are accused of pitiless and ongoing cruelty against a “brother” people. The atrocity of the Ammonites is especially reprehensible: Innocent civilians, pregnant women, are killed by the sword, taking two lives at one blow. If the Ammonites exterminated life before birth, the Moabites are accused of extending their atrocities beyond death, in this case for white-washing walls (the same word is translated “plaster” in Deut. 27:2, 4). [Limberg, Interpretation: Hosea-Micah, p.89]

  • Is right worship expected from gentile nations in Amos 1-2? Is right behavior expected? Are only notorious outrages being condemned? 
  • How does the relationship between Israel/Judah and gentile nations then compares to the relationship between Christians and non-Christians today? — or between supposedly Christian nations, and others?
  • Some highly audible American Christians expect God to judge America and America’s enemies. Does Amos support that idea? Does the New Testament? … How would you tell conclusively one way or the other?

* NOTE
Remember that we pick messages not for agreement in every detail, but for their discussion value. See How home groups work at Imagine and The next ten weeks… for a current outline.

“Everybody wants justice. Nobody wants to be judged?”

PODCAST for Wed 6 May
Sandy Wilson: God’s Lawsuit Against Us (US 2008; 8.6M @52 mins, MP3)
Remember that we pick messages not for agreement in every detail, but for their discussion value. See How home groups work at Imagine.
 
This one is about the end of Joel, not the start of Amos, but makes a perfect introduction to the subject of judgement. See The next ten weeks… for an outline.
QUESTIONS
  1. “Everybody wants justice; nobody wants to be judged?” — Discuss. Does your understanding of God’s judgement line up with your understanding of justice in general?
  2. Do you feel comfortable or uncomfortable with the idea of God’s judgement of both Israel and other nations, or both on Christians and non-Christians? Are there parts that seem OK and others that don’t? If you try to write out a list, what falls into each category? Bring it along.

The next ten weeks…

The Darlinghurst study group — dinner and discussion group — meets on Wednesday nights. It’s shaping up like this for the next 10 weeks:
  1. Special subject: Judgement and Justice <– This week, Wed 6 May
  2. Judgement on nations (Amos 1:1-2:16)
  3. Social justice (Amos 3-6)
  4. Prophetic visions (Amos 7-9)
And after that,
  • 4 weeks in Hosea (TBA)
  • 2 weeks on the other minor prophets form the 8th century BCE (Micah & Joel, probably)
Each week we listen to a podcast before hand. The podcast will be out by Saturday morning each week. 
Planning and ideas are on the wiki… Email for a login if you want to help organise the outline, or claim a week to prepare.
Contact: Nigel, <hello@imagine.org.au>.

Second Quarter: Amos, Hosea, Isaiah

Second quarter is starting Wed 29 Apr. We’re looking at the main Eighth century prophets: Amos, Isaiah, and Hosea. We’ll be following the usual approach: readings or podcasts each week, followed by dinner and discussion on Wednesday nights. Email with inquiries. 

[Israel] was a prosperous society and complacent society — or rather, the upper-classes were; but Amos had eyes to see the great rift between rich and poor, between upper classes and lower classes, and the fact that the function of due legal process was all too often to aid the rich and defraud the poor. Israel was riddled with legalized immorality – and with prostituted religion. Under the veneer of law and equity, everything conspired against the poor man. If his case were good, the judge could easily be bribed to declare against him (“They sell the innocent for silver”, 2:6); he could be fined and have his property seized; and finally he would have no option but to sell himself into slavery, when his debts became too heavy. (Payne, p.239.)

We’ll be developing the outline on the wiki page.