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Posts Tagged "Amos 8:4-7"

Never Forget

September 22, 2019
By Rev. Peter Heckert

+ Grace to you, and peace, from God our heavenly Father, and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. + Amen.

The text for our meditation is from our Old Testament text where Amos records, The Lord has sworn by the pride of Jacob: “Surely I will never forget any of their deeds.” Here ends our text; dear Christian friends…

When you read the entirety of Amos’s prophecy, you find that he is not one to mince words when it comes to the rich taking advantage of the poor – and this text is absolutely no different. It comes on the heels of a devastating vision YHWH has just given to Amos wherein the prophet is shown a basket of summer fruit, fully ripe and ready for harvest. He is then told, “The end has come upon my people Israel; I will never again pass by them. The songs of the temple shall become wailings in that day,” declares the Lord God. “So many dead bodies!” “They are thrown everywhere!” “Silence!”

Dark and foreboding, but then we get into why this people, this summer fruit is ripe for destruction. Amos declares, “Hear this, you who trample on the needy and bring the poor of the land to an end, saying, ‘When will the new moon be over, that we may sell grain? And the Sabbath, that we may offer wheat for sale, that we may make the ephah small and the shekel great and deal deceitfully with false balances, that we may buy the poor for silver and the needy for a pair of sandals and sell the chaff of the wheat?’” These hucksters are so base, so evil, so fallen from who they were called to be as God’s people that they were anxiously waiting for the Sabbath day to be over and done with, so that they can resume their shady business practices, shakedowns, and all-around malfeasance. The Sabbath day of rest, intended by God to be a time of worship and rest and re-creation … was something that these hypocrites couldn’t wait to be over. They wanted to get back to making money and taking advantage of the poor, and not be bothered by these archaic rules that had no meaning to them and just got in the way of their bottom line.

Well, YHWH will NOT let this stand. Amos continues: The Lord has sworn by the pride of Jacob: “Surely I will never forget any of their deeds.” If you are one of the monsters who was perpetrating these heinous crimes against God and neighbor, these words ought to have left you shaking in your boots. Just that phrase, I will never forget any of their deeds, is terrifying. The Hebrew phrasing is even more bone-chilling: I will not forget FOREVER their deeds.

Chilling as those words are, YHWH doesn’t stop there. Going beyond our text, He continues by saying, “Shall not the land tremble on this account, and everyone mourn who dwells in it, and all of it rise like the Nile, and be tossed about and sink again, like the Nile of Egypt?” “And on that day,” declares the Lord God, “I will make the sun go down at noon and darken the earth in broad daylight. I will turn your feasts into mourning and all your songs into lamentation; will bring sackcloth on every waist and baldness on every head; will make it like the mourning for an only son and the end of it like a bitter day.”

This Day that YHWH metes out His punishment is not going to be pleasant. It is not going to be fun. But frankly, it is well-deserved. These people were treating their fellow Israelites more shamefully and more abusively than the Egyptians did while they were still in bondage! They, who once had been oppressed sorely by Egypt were now oppressing their brothers and sisters, with no remorse, no contrition. This is wholesale sin, as bad as it gets, and they were reveling and wallowing in it like pigs rolling in manure … and YHWH was not going to forget.

The time had come and gone for Israel to repent of her sins. She’d had innumerable prophets beckoning her, pleading with her, to return to YHWH her God, but she would not listen. The people of Israel hardened their hearts, and they forgot the Lord almost altogether … but YHWH would not forget them. He would always remember the unfaithfulness, the cruelty, the evil and wickedness of that godless people.

And He did remember, as He meted out His divine justice in 722 B.C., when the Assyrian empire washed over the wicked land of Israel like a flood of swords and death. The celebrations of the wicked were cut short in that day, as Israel was rightly punished for her perversity and godlessness and contempt for the less fortunate. They were snuffed out or sent to the four corners of the earth, never again to know what it means to be a member of God’s people. YHWH promised He would not forget their deeds, and He didn’t.

But … He has also promised to always remember the righteous who endured Israel’s godless deeds, and yet believed the promises that YHWH their God had given them. The reality is that God remembers the poor, the needy, the outcast – not on the basis of their poverty, but on the basis of their faith. “Blessed are the poor in spirit,” Jesus would say nearly 750 years after Israel’s destruction, “for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”

Our heavenly Father remembers us, His people, poor and destitute in spirit as we are. He remembers us, knowing full well that we could not save ourselves. Thus, He sent Jesus to become poor and needy and outcast. The incarnate, sinless Son of God became sin, and as a result would incur the full wrath of God. The land did, indeed, tremble as He breathed His last upon the cross. The sun would indeed go down at noon and darken the land until Jesus yielded up His spirit in death. God Himself … would bear the punishment we rightly deserved, all to save us from a fate worse than death.

That’s the reality. He remembers you and me, not in our poverty of possessions or income, but in the poverty of spirit. We are a needy people, so hopelessly lost without the grace, the divine intervention of our God and our Lord. But we rest upon His promises that, for the sake of Jesus, our crucified and resurrected Lord, God will never forget us nor forsake us, forever.

+ In the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. + Amen.

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