Advent Readings Day 13

Reading: Amos 8:4-12

“Hear this, you who trample the needy and do away with the poor of the land, saying, ‘When will the New Moon be over that we may sell grain, and the Sabbath be ended that we may market wheat?’— skimping on the measure, boosting the price and cheating with dishonest scales…” Amos 8:4 – 6

If you are still reading, then you may be wondering why we keep turning back to what seems to be Old Testament gloom and doom.  Come on, when can we get to the angels and the shepherds and the wise men, that’s the Advent I know.  Can we at least move to the New Testament and read about Jesus rather than reading from yet another Prophet?  We are getting there, I promise.

The issue is that today’s reading from Amos gives us a glimpse into God’s heart for the poor and oppressed.  As they looked towards The Messiah coming, they were looking towards someone who was going to restore all things and make all things right.  Righteousness and Justice would be marks of His ministry.  They were not looking towards someone who would come and die or who would only be coming to forgive sins.  Rather, they were looking for a radical reordering.  Amos’ warnings give us a glimpse of God’s heart that then point towards a piece of what Jesus would be restoring.

In this passage God very clearly speaks through Amos about a kind of faith that looks really good on the outside, yet that ignores the plight of the poor and takes advantage of them.   He talks about people who have great outward observance – even keeping the Sabbath – but who can’t wait for the sun to go down so that they can start selling again and cheating while doing so.  Greed had gone untouched in their lives by their faith in God and the outward expression of that greed is that the poor are being oppressed.

Amos accuses them of trampling the needy, pushing them off of land, anxiously waiting to sell again to make more, unfair pricing, cheating scales, enslaving those who had debts and selling impure goods.   To this God adds, “I will never forget anything they have done.”  Gulp.

The Good News is that as Jesus’ followers we are covered by grace and He does forget the things we have done.  However, the challenge still stands.  As followers of Jesus, we are called to grab hold of God’s heart and have it change us.  Amos is speaking to you and I, too.   The Good News of Jesus’ coming is also for the poor and as His followers we are called to act in ways that demonstrate justice and righteousness toward them.   The problem is that choosing to follow Jesus does not always sink into the places of greed in our hearts.  We need to invite him there.

I have a person that I am always forced to do business with.  There is no one else in his position.  He professes to be a Jesus follower.  But he also loves to cheat me.  He will lie and overcharge and work every angle to see more of my money land in his pocket.  He is my brother in Christ, yet I guard my pockets every time I see him coming.

Before I am too hard on him, I need to recognize that greed also has a grip on me.  It is easy for me to unknowingly (or knowingly) further oppress the poor and refuse to share. It is easy for someone to become indebted to me(and thereby enslaved by me).  It is easy for me to cut corners.  I need Jesus to do his deep work of transformation in me.

As we remember Jesus’ coming, may we become more mindful that He has come to restore everything and that includes changing my heart of greed so that I can become an agent of justice and righteousness to the poor and oppressed.

May Jesus, The Great Liberator bring that change in our lives, even at Christmas.

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