Amos had a message that was unwelcome but needed. Since he was called to speak for God to a people who had grown fat on success given by God's grace, he knew he wouldn't be heard. But sometimes--perhaps always--the job of a prophet is to speak truth even in the face of ignorance and resistance. So, Amos spoke as God directed him:
"Hear what God had to say to us, Israel, and know that it doesn't make me happy to say it for it is a sad word for me, as well:
Sweet, lady Israel is falling and will not rise from the dust.
She will be abandoned by all
and will have none to pick her up in her hour of need.
For thus says the Lord God:
only one of every ten soldiers who leaves the city shall return.
This is what God has to say to us:
Seek God and live
but don't chase after Bethel,
place no confidence in Gilgal,
and don't entrust yourselves to Beer-sheba;
for Gilgal shall be cast away and Bethel shall fade from the earth
Take time now to seek God and to find life in the seeking
or know that God's wrath--which we deserve--will consume us like fire
it will devour our sin and we will catch fire with it.
Oh, you who turn justice to vanity!
You who bring the stain of sin to righteousness!
Remember the one who made the stars that others kneel before
who brings light into the deepest darkness
who brings the dark of night to even the brightest day
who commands the chaotic waters of the seas,
who bends their wills to serve His
Remember this one! The Lord is His name
who displays even greater power still against the strong
so that even the strongest of us are nothing before Him.
Those strong ones among us hate those who correct them,
they loathe the one who has the audacity to speak truth.
So, listen up, strong people and know that because you trample the poor whom God loves
and tax the have-nots to increase your wealth
You may have built a beautiful house like none other
but you shall not live in it;
You may have planted a gorgeous vineyard, but you will not enjoys its wine.
For God knows your many sins
and knows just how grievous they are--
Yes, God knows that you afflict the righteous and are bought by bribery.
God knows you push the needy aside in public and have no patience with God's beloved.
If you know what's good for you then you'll shut your mouth;
because there is plenty of punishment to go around.
Why not try seeking God and rejecting evil?
In doing so, you might live,
and the Lord God Almighty will walk alongside you,
just as you have already claimed--it's not too late!
Despise evil and love goodness,
and reclaim the healing power of justice performed in public;
If so, it's possible that the Lord God Almighty
might offer undeserved grace to the remnant left after God's judgment.
This is what the Lord God Almighty has to say:
The cities will be filled with wailing
and in the streets the word on everybody's lips will be 'Alas!'
Farmers will turn from their hard work to the harder work of mourning,
and those whose lips are skilled in lamentation will give themselves over to wordless grief.
The vineyards will be filled with the cries of the people
for God will pass through the people in judgment.
But, woe to those who anxiously await the day of theLord's judgment!
Who would want the day of the Lord's judgment?
It is a dark day--not a bright one;
it will be as if someone fled for their life from a lion,
and ran into the arms of a bloodthirsty bear.
or went into his home--a place of safety--and rested his hand on his wall,
only to be bitten by a snake.
Is there some joy in God's coming judgment that we might look forward to it?
Is there some silver lining to that dark cloud?
Don't you get it?
God hates--despises--the festivals of our people
God takes no delight in our solemn assemblies--in all our self-obsessed pomp!
Even though we lift up offerings and sacrifices in the name of ritual
God will not receive them.
We offer our best in mechanical repetition of past ritual
but God will not even look upon the heartless offering.
God won't listen to the noise we call songs of praise if our hearts are not in the right place
God has no time to hear beautiful melodies from darkened hearts.
You want to please God?
Then, let justice roll down like waters,
and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.