Summary: Children are defenseless and it is up to us to seek justice for them
Seek good and not evil, that you may live; and so the LORD, the God of hosts, will be with you, just as you have said. Hate evil and love good, and establish justice in the gate; it may be that the LORD, the God of hosts, will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.
I hate, I despise your festivals, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain 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 5:14-15, 21-24
We live in a society which “fixes” one crisis of problems after another; yet, to borrow from the political slogan barrel, are we any better off today? Are we as the man who ran from a lion only to encounter a bear – who fled to the safety of his own home, leaned against his “safe” wall and got snake-bit? Are we just jumping out of one frying pan into another fire?
The current environment in which American families raise their children causes me to tremble when I consider answering those questions. Instead of justice rolling down like the waters of an ever-flowing stream, it is more like a stagnant little mud-puddle.
And we’re not the first culture with that problem. Amos was a simple shepherd. God called him out of a little village called Tekoa in the mountains of southern Judea to go preach to the northern cities of Israel. (Amos was a good ol’ boy sent up north to preach to the Yankees!)
News traveled slowly back then. Who knows how much Amos knew of Samaria, Jerusalem and Damascus, even as he journeyed to the north on his mission? It didn’t take him long to find out, however. A simple man, Amos had spent his life in the hills, raising sheep. His days were all about protecting sheep from wolves and other predators. He could recognize danger. A simple man can see injustice – and Amos saw clearly; Amos saw the human predators:
•At Damascus Amos saw God’s own people buying and selling each other at slavery auctions (Amos 1:3-9).
•He saw brothers killing each other in Edom (Amos 1:11-12).
•He saw children in Ammon ripped from mother’s wombs (Amos 1:13).
•He saw in Judah pagan worship rituals among people who were supposed to be God’s own (Amos 2:4).
•He saw oppression of the poor and sexual perversion in Israel (Amos 2:6-7).
Amos saw then and there, what we see now in America! It is hard to deny that we live in a land where the tide has turned from a safe-haven for Godliness and moral living to seeing the worst humanity has to offer. These past few weeks following the New Orleans flooding we have seen heroism, and people stepping-up to help out their neighbors; we have seen far more of the other – looting, crimes against women and children. We have seen the depravity of humankind on display in full color, covered live on CNN.
Amos couldn’t believe his eyes; in the midst of all the flagrant sinning, the total disregarding of God’s commands, the people of Israel were still holding their worship services and rituals…and God said through the prophet, I cannot stand what I see…it doesn’t matter how many prayers you send up here…I’m not having any of it…you get your lives straightened out, and do it now!
It is amazing how the people were going to worship, praying, and counting on God to answer and provide for them, all the while not giving the slightest attention to doing right, or being obedient. Things have not changed!
God was not amused in Amos’ day, and He still isn’t. In so many ways the people to whom Amos preached were the stereotypical “Sunday-morning Christians”. They were out hustling in the world during the week, cheating on the stock market, short-changing an employer, embezzling like an EnRon specialist from 9 to 5. After hours and on Saturday nights they populated the bars, brothels and honky tonks. Come Sunday morning they were filling the pews at 11am, smiling and “Amen-ing” with the best of ‘em. If ever a house-cleaning was needed; it is no wonder God wanted justice to roll-down like a Tsunami over that bunch…and maybe over America as well.
Are We Better Than That?
The question in American culture…in Randolph County…in Bethany United Methodist Church is: Are we better than that?
Where are we today in terms of the way we treat the weakest and least protected of our society? Amos’ whole ministry was consumed with passion for the underdog, those who had little power. In our day it is the little ones, children. How are we doing with caring for the children?