by Tony Nester

Let Justice Roll down like Waters
Tony R. Nester
Amos 5:1-24

What happens when an outsider comes to town and criticizes the people who run the town?

You know the answer - he or she gets attacked. It's the same with schools, businesses, hospitals, and yes, also with churches.

We don't like newcomers criticizing policies, procedures, and traditions that we've put in place. If someone is so bold as to come in from the outside and tell us we're wrong about things we're likely to do what we can to silence our critic, or ostracize them, or drive them out of town. No one likes to be criticized and that's especially true when the critic is from out of town.

It helps to remember this whenever we read Scripture from the Book of Amos. Amos had grown up and lived in Judah. But God called him to be a prophet and sent him north to prophesy to the people who lived in Israel. There was a lot of animosity between Israel and Judah ever since the civil war separated them from one another. Amos must have been surprised that God wanted to send someone like himself from Judah to speak to the people of Israel. But Amos obeyed.

It turned out just as you would expect. The people of Judah resented Amos's intrusion into their affairs. In the seventh chapter of the Book of Amos we have a story of what happened to Amos in the town of Bethel. Bethel was the worship center for Israel - just as Jerusalem was for Judah.

The priest at Bethel - his name was Amaziah - reported Amos to the King as a troublemaker. Then Amaziah tired to humiliate Amos by telling him that he should stop peddling his prophesy in Bethel and should go back to Judah where he belonged.

Amos wasn't intimidated in the least. He blasted Amaziah with these words:

(Amos 7:14-17 NRSV) ''Then Amos answered Amaziah, ''I am no prophet, nor a prophet's son; but I am a herdsman, and a dresser of sycamore trees, {15} and the LORD took me from following the flock, and the LORD said to me, 'Go, prophesy to my ...

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