19 Sep Thursday
The prophet Amos invokes a judgment scene; God will remember all that the rich have doe to abuse the poor. Amos lists the offenses. Trampling and destroying the needy and the poor, in other words running roughshod over them. The rich violate the Sabbath in order to make more money and not miss a single opportunity for profit. The next verse regards adjusting the scales of measure to cheat people, and without telling them. Next he condemns that practice of slavery, still around today and in our own country; slavery steals human dignity from the person. Then, just as today, even the gargbage will be sold for profit; although the verse refers back to the Mosaic law of allowing some grain to remain standing in the field so that the poor can have food that they harvest on their own. Here, the “refuse of the wheat” will be sold instead, denying the poor their food.
These are not just some ancient sins, but very much thriving today in our capitalistic economic culture, where everyone has a number based on credit availability. The economics of the reign of God is not capitalism. This may sound like a heresy to most Americans. Amos worked during the reign of Jeroboam II in the 8th century, a time of economic prosperity for Israel. He boldly proclaims his visions to the nations and to their kings. God is not some local national God of Israel, but the Lord of the nations, and the nations will be judged for their oppressions, largely economic and religious. He rails against what is happening in the “sanctuaries” dedicated to the fertility deities of the ancient near East.