12 December 2010

Dec 12

Reference links:
Old Testament

Today, Amos is shown visions of locusts and fire that the Lord was preparing for Israel. Fortunately for them, in both cases the Lord changed his mind when asked by Amos.

After that, we learn that Amos had traveled to Israel and was making public declarations that Jeroboam would die. Jeroboam, not surprisingly, was not fond of these ideas and told Amos to go back to Judah. Amos replied by saying that he just does what the Lord tells him to do.

The Lord then shows Amos a vision of ripe fruit to imply that Israel is ripe for punishment. The Lord then vows to punish Israel and describes that punishment. In addition to the normal language of punishment, we read this intriguing bit:
“The time is surely coming,” says the Sovereign Lord,
“when I will send a famine on the land—
not a famine of bread or water
but of hearing the words of the Lord.
People will stagger from sea to sea
and wander from border to border
searching for the word of the Lord,
but they will not find it.
Beautiful girls and strong young men
will grow faint in that day,
thirsting for the Lord’s word.
I find it interesting that this is given as a punishment when one of the primary sins of the people is neglecting the Lord for other gods.

Amos then receives a vision of God's destroying punishment. That punishment includes another interesting bit that speaks to the prophet's vision of his God's universality:
“Are you Israelites more important to me
than the Ethiopians?” asks the Lord.
“I brought Israel out of Egypt,
but I also brought the Philistines from Crete
and led the Arameans out of Kir.
Israel, in both its blessings and punishments, is no more special than any other people. How different this is from the presentation of Israel as God's especially chosen ones.

The book ends with a description of Israel's promised restoration.

New Testament

The church in Philadelphia is praised for their obedience in spite of their small strength. Because of this, they will be protected in the terrible times to come (which, as is commonly the case, is described as soon). Those who make it victoriously through those times will becomes citizens of the new Jerusalem.

The church in Laodicea is lukewarm. This, declares the vision of Jesus, is worse than being either hot or cold. The people of the church are well off and complacent and do not realize their own misery. But if they let Jesus in, they still have a chance to join the side of victory.

That ends today's reading the the letters to the churches.

Psalms and Proverbs

Today's proverb encourages humility.