I knew it was wrong
Out there in desert winds
I sensed your honour
I knew of your love
And also of your terror.
The ewe would tend each tiny lamb
Much like you
The lion would roar and descend
The sweetness would come
Unto the sycamore.
The scorching heat
And water with the delicious sound
Of its flowing
Proved the greater of riches.
Trips to market showed me
The callous cheating
And the haunted eyes of the starving
And the lonely.
The perverted holy days
Of the North
Full of pomp and form
Missing anything of mercy
Or of honour
Deserving of your wrath
Then and now.
We have seen the locust
Drought and dearth.
Lord will you stay your hand?
Must you lay out that plummet
Measuring Israel for the crash?
Its crafted idols for the flames?
How little you desire sacrifice
Looking rather for sweetness of the heart
And true reverence.
Finding it so rarely.
And they call me deluded, un-schooled
Scarce worth the notice.
21 I hate, I despise your feast days, and I will not smell in your solemn assemblies.
22 Though ye offer me burnt offerings and your meat offerings, I will not accept them: neither will I regard the peace offerings of your fat beasts.
23 Take thou away from me the noise of thy songs; for I will not hear the melody of thy viols.
24 But let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream
I Will Not Smell, I Will Not Hear…
Amos was a farmer, a shepherd and a tender of sycamore fruit in the Southern Kingdom of Judah. His very name meant “Burden” or “Burden-bearer”. He was destined by the will of God to deliver a message of warning and rebuke to the idolatrous Northern Kingdom. There was no prophet or priest in his family line; no formal training. But his words were articulate and his message as sharp as a surgeon’s scalpel.
Many of the warnings ring true in our age:
1. You have assimilated the idolatry and false hopes of your neighbours.
2. You see no coming rod of correction.
3. You delight in the excess of ill-gotten gain snatched from the poor and the vulnerable.
4. You see nothing but clear skies ahead.
5. You can hardly tolerate the pause of the sabbath.
6. Your sacrifices are insincere. I will not smell them.
7. Your praise is irreverent. I will not listen.
8. Your idea of the Day of the Lord is simply more pandering of yourselves.
9. If you were to serve me in truth, there would be much more charity and social justice.
10. You are experiencing a famine for the Word of God in progressive measure.
11. I have laid a plumb-line to that which you have built; found it grievously wanting; intend serious judgment.
12. Many a difficulty, many a disaster have I set before you to cause you to return to me.
13. A remnant shall be saved and brought again to blessing and security.
If one looks at the last recorded messages of Jesus in the Letters to the Seven Churches in Revelation one sees much of the same “burden”. (See Robert Murray M’Cheyne’s excellent book on this. Banner of Truth Trust) Today’s churches miss this. They emphasize that Jesus is love; Jesus is inclusive; Jesus’ mercy rejoices against judgment. Pastors will not issue the necessary rebukes. Sometimes even when they try, the message falls upon deaf ears. (Ezekiel 33: 30-33) Is it too late?
Be warned! The “famine” is coming; has already come.