“Alas for you who desire the day of the Lord! Why do you want the day of the Lord? It is darkness, not light; as if someone fled from a lion, and was met by a bear; or went into the house and rested a hand against the wall, and was bitten by a snake. Is not the day of the Lord darkness, not light, and gloom with no brightness in it?
I hate, I despise your festivals, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. Even though you offer me your burnt offerings, I will not accept them; and the offerings of well-being of your fatted animals I will not look upon. Take away from me the noise of your songs; I will not listen to the melody of your harps. But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream." - Amos 5:18-25
Do you ever see injustice happening and wonder where God is?
Have you seen people hungering for food or shelter and wondered where they will find it and how will they get it?
Have you noticed those running from the experiences they have had in fear of the emotional pain and baggage they carry?
If we are honest with ourselves and really take a good look we have probably noticed and witnessed others who are struggling to navigate this life. And if we look real hard we may even notice ourselves in the mirror. Often we wake up and move forward with our own priorities not batting an eye at the injustice present in this world. It takes time to truly recognize and understand the complexities of problems which is difficult in our busy lives. We have to ask what truly matters. This challenge before us is exactly what the old Testament Prophet Amos faced.
The Old Testament Prophet Amos was a citizen who owned sheep, cattle, and goats in a small town called Tekoa. He lived a safe and comfortable life taking care of himself and his animals. But then something life changing happened. Amos opened his eyes and noticed those around him. It was in the action of seeing, where he heard God calling him to be the voice for those who did not have one. He was propelled to action leaving his safe, comfortable home to speak God's words of justice to the people of Israel.
Not being from a prophetic guild Amos became the first independent prophet. He boldly and harshly spoke out against the transgressions happening in Israel. The text is not cheerful at all as he throws insults and criticizes the people. So why in the world would this be a scripture to focus on?
What this text does not tell you is that the poor are being used as slaves to pay off debts, wealthy people falsified weights and traded dishonestly, and even the courts were corrupt because the judges were being bribed to cheat out the poor of what was rightfully theirs. They had injustice in their society and the people turning a blind eye.
The wealthy got wealthier and the poor got poorer. People turned their heads and acted like nothing was happening. The people looked the other way and neglected to really look around them. Have you turned your head? Have you looked away pretending you didn't see anything? Everyone thought they were people of God because they followed the rules and rituals of the covenant. However the covenant made by their ancestors, was to pursue justice and righteousness, not to follow the exact rules given. Rituals were a response to God’s mercy in their lives not an ongoing act to be used over the values they symbolized.
Amos courageously spoke up with an unpopular message. A message that God cares and is concerned for all of God's children. It's not about prosperity its about equality. He was hoping people would open their eyes and see the oppression happening to their brothers and sisters. He calls them to pursue justice and righteousness, by making right and equitable relationships while seeking wholeness with the divine.
Today the message still applies to us. "Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream." This powerful metaphor of unbelievable hope can be the force to change who we are and what we see. It's an invitation to find wholeness with God in our lives while seeking the best for those in our community. Will we not move out from our safe and comfortable environments to loudly proclaim all have worth? Will we not carry the unpopular message to ensure our brothers and sisters are treated fairly?
Open your eyes to the injustice happening around you today. What inequity do you notice? How will you stand tall and courageously speak justice into the world? Let our voices bind together like drops of water to flow downstream as a powerful river. May the raging waters cleanse each of us and be the vessel to heal the brokenness we see. Let us be fearless. God is calling you to stand. What will your response be?
The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Community of Christ. We believe individuals should be allowed to have their own opinions and be at different places in their faith journey.