Lent Devotional: Amos 5:10-15
by Jonathan Haefs
Amos 5:10-15 (click here)
They hate him who reproves in the gate,
and they abhor him who speaks the truth.
Therefore because you trample on the poor
and you exact taxes of grain from him,
you have built houses of hewn stone,
but you shall not dwell in them;
you have planted pleasant vineyards,
but you shall not drink their wine. (Amos 5:10-11)
It’s hard to read the prophets sometimes… isn’t it? I mean, all our passages for the past few days have just felt heavy as they have exposed some extremely negative images of community.
We need this don’t we? The Bible is true to life, and not all of life is pretty, easy, and light. There are dark, broken difficulties… even in community. And, God specifically raised up prophets to call his rebellious people back to himself. Amos is no different.
Amos calls out with warnings to a community that hates “justice for all” because they love “just all for me.” They are willing to oppress, abuse, and harm anyone as long as it means gain for themselves, and they will silence anyone who tells them differently.
In ancient cities, the older men of the city often spent much of their day seated at the city gates to observe the comings and goings of the people. From this vantage point, they served as judges in the city. People brought their disagreements and grievances to them in hopes that their wisdom would render a just judgment.
Yet… Amos says that many in the community hate those old men specifically because they speak the truth and reprove them for their abuse of others.
This is a massive sign that cruciform community is breaking down and that people are no longer sacrificing themselves for others, but rather sacrificing others for themselves… the community hates correction.
The despising of wisdom, accountability, and correction is evidence that we consider ourselves our own supreme judges. We are unwilling to hear correction because we believe that we are always correct.
The warning from Amos is that even if we reject the justice of a wise community, justice will ultimately be served by an all-wise God. These people may find success in oppressing others so that they can build fine houses and plant great vineyards, but they won’t get to live in their mansions and drink their wine. In other words, even if they get their way for a little while, they will ultimately lose everything. Justice will be done… and the things they thought would bring them lasting satisfaction will pass away, and they will find themselves not in community with the only one who truly satisfies forever… God.
The question we need to ask ourselves is how do we receive correction from our community? Do we love the faithful wounds of a friend, leader, or church who are after our eternal good? Or, do we reject all correction because we believe that we are always correct?
Correction in community is a gracious gift from God that teaches all of us how to live cruciform lives where we give up sacrificing others for the good of ourselves, and become a people who sacrifice ourselves for the good of others.