Peter believed this “last days” discussion to be of utmost importance for us moving forward in faith. He isn’t discussing the “when” or “how” the last days will take place but tells of a sign we can expect. We may even be seeing good examples of Peter’s description today. He said, to expect people to be “mocking the truth and following their own desires.” You can’t turn on a news program or read news on the internet without seeing some group or individual challenging Christians and mocking the truth on which we stand. And with such a self-seeking society, people regularly follow their own desires seeking to “be happy” or to live “their” truth.
The truth Christians profess is Jesus, the Word made flesh. We know there is no other truth, yet we stand by and let other people do their “own thing” in the guise of “freedom.” Certainly, we expect the same courtesy to be able to speak the truth about Jesus, without being criticized or marginalized. Sadly, many Christ-followers keep quiet out of fear because we do take the heat for trusting Jesus.
James has an interesting way of bringing this letter to a close. There’s no “see you soon” or “have a nice life” kind of ending. This letter has been full of content from the start. Certainly, James’ parting thoughts have been full of wisdom. And his devotion to his readers by calling them “dear brothers and sisters” concludes what has been a recurring theme. James is not a stranger to his audience.
In these two short verses, we see James’ version of searching after the lost. Matthew’s gospel reveals a series of stories about lost items. Jesus used those parables to emphasize the importance of not leaving anybody behind. Or, as Paul puts it, God “wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:4)
Take a breath! If you’ve been “burning the candle on both ends,” you are ready to take a break. Amid our chaos, we can always turn to Jesus. We can always seek refreshment in the praise and worship of our king. Join with the psalmist in proclaiming, “Your unfailing love will last forever. Your faithfulness is as enduring as the heavens.”
There is a beautiful Advent message here for us as well. We are reminded of God’s promise to have a king reign forever from the line of David. Jesus is that fulfillment. He will reign supreme from above and in our hearts. We are so privileged to have that opportunity. Why do so many people ignore or avoid such a beautiful gift?
God chose Jeremiah to bring all these messages to the people in the temple where he knew they would be gathered. Yet God seems to doubt anything will change. “Tell them all this, but do not expect them to listen. Shout out your warnings, but do not expect them to respond.” Jeremiah was given fair warning about what sort of reception he’d receive.
From God’s lament here, it would appear the people “think” they are in control. After all, they can choose the way they live and pay attention to idols instead of God. We might fall into this same trap thinking we are “in control” of our lives. We, too, are able to make our own decisions in life. What happens when we make bad choices?
I love how Bernhard Anderson’s commentary on Amos states, “Christians should need no special urging to turn to the prophets of ancient Israel.” Don’t we see how Jesus’ own back story is being written in what is happening now to his ancestors. The traditions of Jesus’ day were strongly influenced by what we see happening to Amos and the people surrounding him. Yet, the wisdom being given to Amos from God could just as well be speaking to us. Do you see it, too?
As if they were already dead, in this reading Amos is singing a funeral song to the Israelites who were listening. Can you imagine the lament and feeling of despair the messenger, Amos, was feeling at having to deliver such a message to his people? But he was giving them a way out, a gift that will be left unaccepted.