Jeremiah will witness the very thing he is preaching about. I wonder when he figured out that he wasn’t warning the people of something that would happen way into the future. His words were nearly coming true as he said them. My heart breaks for him being separated from his children never to see them again. I can relate to being apart from my kids now that they are grown, but we regularly connect thanks to the technical advances in visual communication!
But imagine the terror of uncertainty Jeremiah must have faced. Have you ever lived through a natural disaster or perhaps even lived in a war zone, where terror is fresh and real? Perhaps you were on high alert for something you expected to happen. It serves us well to see how Jeremiah handles this pressure.
Do the people understand who they should really be fearing? It’s not the army from the north, it’s the LORD himself. They’re being told to “Run for your lives!” That sounds dire, like a message they should be listening to. But they are stuck. Stuck in sin.
These people are truly who the apostle Paul likes to describe as “slaves to sin.” It’s like they are captive to it and can’t break the chains. They aren’t even trying anymore to break the chains because it has become comfortable and “normal.” Romans 6:16 reads, “Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living.”
Have you ever gone to bed hungry? Thankfully, I do not answer “yes” to that question. But there are plenty of people in this world who do. Paul was probably not immune to that reality, yet his faith was strong.
Some of the most faithful people I’ve encountered are those in poverty. Their trust in God’s provision and the resulting joy the experience is infectious. It’s also humbling to realize how weak my own dependence on God is in comparison.
Micah is not bringing news of great joy. His predictions of the Lord’s coming do not call for a triumphant entry full of praise. God’s anger toward his people was burning bright, and we are given a glimpse at the path the conquerors will take in destroying the land of Israel and Judah.
Micah is beside himself with grief. Israel is where it will all begin, but his own homeland in the southern kingdom is not secure. Micah uses such descriptive language to describe his own emotional state. “I will mourn and lament. I will walk around barefoot and naked. I will howl like a jackal and moan like an owl.” Have you had a time in your life when you have felt so desperate? How did you get through that time?
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.