Recently my five-year-old son came home with a note from the teacher. Apparently he had consistently disobeyed the rules, and he had received a red mark related to his behavior for the day. I knew this rule-breaking required some action on my part. I believed that a conversation would provide an opportunity for better results the next day. My son’s response to my questions about his poor behavior was immediate: “I don’t know what you are talking about.” He proceeded to explain that the teacher was probably in the wrong.
Amos comes to relay word that both he and God condemn the people’s behavior. Speaking for God, Amos states, “I will rise against the house of Jeroboam with the sword.” The king, Jeroboam, and his priest Amaziah respond defensively to God’s chastisement. Self-centeredness and aversion to accountability keep them from accepting God’s call to wholeness. When called on the carpet, Amaziah, like a five-year-old, attempts to discredit the prophet and asks him to leave. That request seals the future: Sin puts an end to Jeroboam’s fruitful reign.
Often we have the opportunity to change our hearts and lives. Friends, loved ones, and sometimes even strangers remind us of God’s standard, of our own commitments. But we must pay attention and be willing to hear and obey. Like the people of Israel, we need to acknowledge that our rule-breaking days are over. The consequence for lack of obedience for Israel and for us is dire: exile.
I pray that you pay attention to the voices that cry out around you. Do not dismiss them; pay attention and look around! Opportunities for just and righteous living abound; the prophet’s voice is calling you back. Listen!
God of new life, help us see the ways that we have not lived up to our call. May we be willing to redirect our lives as we pay attention to the unlikely prophets around us. Amen.