Amos 1

Amos is a shepherd who has a message from God that starts with condemnation of Israel’s neighbours.

It is interesting how god paints his relationship with sin and his involvement in the world here.

The repeated refrain is that not for a few sins does he condemn a society, but then lists a very corrupt and brutal act, and then a judgement in the form of a political defeat or natural disaster that will break up their power.

It reminds me of the bit where St Paul talks about civic order being a gift from God. Obviously your average government is not a holy empire. It’s a mix of good and bad. God here is saying he engages with it. If it gets too bad, too brutal, does more harm than good, it gets a knock.

In the background is human nature, in which there is good but which is corruptible, and trends towards greed. And God’s nature, in the refrain that comes back over and over though the old testament, slow to anger.

One difference between the old and new testaments is how god is more concrete in the old, and in the new many of the concrete concepts are revealed as spiritual truths. I see this as a kind of progressive revelation.

When Jesus came, the disciples still struggled to understand that he wasn’t planning to be an earthly revolutionary who would restore Israel’s political and material fortunes. It takes a lot for us to understand the nature of our personal need to know the love of God.

And ditto here. I’m getting the message that God is patient but also just, and that his patience is not forever, through simple concrete examples.

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