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No holds barred

"Israel, prepare to meet your God.” Amos 4.12

While Hosea forgives and Joel promises, there are no concessions in the prophecy of Amos. The judgment he pronounces is uncompromising. He starts with a sweep over the surrounding nations, before homing in on Judah and Israel. In his condemnation of his fellow citizens Amos is quite specific: owners of two homes, fathers and sons who share the same prostitute, women who abuse their husbands for alcohol. It is a sordid litany - all the more shocking in that it was hidden by a veneer of prosperity. On the surface everything looked so good!

What God objects to, through Amos, is the insincerity which corrupts the outward appearance of virtue. It was not just a matter of personal immorality but the social and structural wickedness, which oppressed the poor and denied the rights of those needing help, such as widows, children and migrants. At the very end Amos concedes that there is hope - and God will restore Israel. But that is for another day...



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