Tag Archives: Amos 8:4-7

When Will This Be Over?

(Note this poster is from 1993…)

When will this be over?  When can we get back to doing what we were doing?

The people might have attended worship, but their minds and hearts were not in it.  They were just waiting for the moment they could get back to what they were doing – which was certainly not behaviour honouring God.

Amos 8:4-7

Israel Is Doomed

The Lord said:

You people crush those in need
    and wipe out the poor.
You say to yourselves,
“How much longer before the end
    of the New Moon Festival?
When will the Sabbath be over?
Our wheat is ready,
    and we want to sell it now.
We can’t wait to cheat
and charge high prices
    for the grain we sell.
We will use dishonest scales
    and mix dust in the grain.
Those who are needy and poor
    don’t have any money.
We will make them our slaves
for the price
    of a pair of sandals.”

I, the Lord, won’t forget
    any of this,
though you take great pride
    in your ancestor Jacob.

I’m sure all our minds wander in church…  But are we thinking of trampling the poor and needy?  Or do we think we are?

All the people were interested in was getting the best deal and advantage for themselves.

Of course, we wouldn’t do that.  Would we?

Are we more interested in a good price for what we’re buying, without caring about those producing it.

(More can be found about Fairtrade here)

Amos points us to it being our religious responsibility to care about how others are treated.  But it also goes beyond that:

Are we less than honest in our dealings with people?

Do we stand up for the rights of the poor and down-trodden?  Do we let untruths continue to be peddled without challenging them. (See the excellent Truth and Lies Report – don’t believe everything the press tells you!)

Do we take advantage of people?

All these attitudes are matters of faith.  God calls out those whose attitudes are wrong.  And it’s not just the big things, it’s the small attitudes in our lives day by day.

When will this be over?  It will be over when attitudes change.  When people want others to get as good a deal, if not better, than they are.

And by people – I mean me, and you.

Could Amos’ words apply to me?  Am I going to do something about it?  Will such behaviour be over in my life?

There is no greater prayer than this song by Graham Kendrick

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What do you want to do?

When you’re trudging along a path, it can be difficult to work out exactly where to put your feet, and easy to inadvertently stand on something delicate – a creature or a flower.

It’s not something you want to do but accidents happen.

When something is trampled on, it can be destroyed, or damaged, unless it’s very resilient it will probably never be the same again.

The same is true of people.  They may not be physically trampled on, but lives are easily crushed – often by the actions of others.

Amos had a really serious message for the people of his time – well the wealthy anyway.  They are to stop trampling on the needy and destroying the poor.

Amos lived in a time of great wealth and prosperity – but it was limited to the wealthy, and was in fact a consequence of injustice and oppression of the poor. Much of the apparent religious observance was insincere.  People were really just waiting for the holy days to be over so that they could get back on with cheating.

They might think they’re doing a good job, but God says, “I won’t forget”.  He sees what happens, the plight of the poor and the marginalised, the injustice created by those who choose to use their power wrongly – and ultimate justice will come.

Today there continues to be so much injustice and cheating in the world.  We may feel that is not our responsibility, but does the way we live our lives, the standards we demand, the choices we make affect the lives, the justice, freedom and stability, of others?

People should not treat others badly.  Injustice, dishonesty, making slaves of people is not the way to go.

Indeed, Paul suggests a much better way to live:

I ask you to pray for everyone. Ask God to help and bless them all, and tell God how thankful you are for each of them. Pray for kings and others in power, so that we may live quiet and peaceful lives as we worship and honor God.

That is the kind of behaviour that pleases God.

Through harassing and oppressing people, they will learn nothing of God.  By prayerful support people’s lives can be changed.

So it’s a simple choice really if you want to live how God wants you to.  Do we go along crushing lives, or liberating?  Cheating people or releasing them?  We can live carelessly or carefully.  We can enslave people or bless them.

What do you want to do?

What does God ask you to do?