[May 22]—Vindication

Amos 7:10-17

            Websters.com defines vindicate as “confirm, substantiate. . . to provide justification or defense for,” in other words, to prove someone or something right when accused. That’s the word that comes to mind when I read today’s passage.
            The first king of Israel as a separate nation, Jeroboam, was concerned that his subjects would make pilgrimages to the temple in Jerusalem, so he set up altars in Bethel as rival worship centers. In Amos’s day it was still the center of worship in the northern kingdom. The priests were appointed by the king, so naturally their message would have to be fully approved by him. Thus there continued to be an incestuous relationship with state and religion.
            Apparently the high priest of this worship center was Amaziah, and it’s quite possible that Amos came to preach at the very doorstep of his temple in Bethel. That way Amos could proclaim his messages of warning and repentance to everyone coming there to worship.
            And oddly enough, this state-appointed priest didn’t take too kindly to Amos’s message, especially the part about the king and nation falling to a foreign invader. Imagine that! I can't possibly understand why he didn’t embrace it with open arms, can you?
            Amaziah was completely loyal to his Master, the king of Israel. But Amos was loyal to his King as well.
            We can gain an insight into Amaziah’s view on prophets by way of his accusation against Amos, by the way. To his mind, Amos had to have been sent by Judah (their rival) in order to foster rebellion against their king. Also, based on what he was used to, a prophet got paid. And if you didn’t like what a prophet was saying you could intimidate or threaten him.
            If Amos had been a paid prophet sent by an earthly power (or just trying to make a buck somehow), then this might've worked. But Amos completely went against what was commonly thought of concerning prophets. He was an obscure shepherd and farmer until the God of Israel sovereignly called him as a representative. When he refers to a “son of” a prophet, he’s referring to a disciple of one, like the ones who gathered around Elijah and Elisha. In other words, Amos in no way sought out this job, nor was he hired out by anyone. He was called.
            Amaziah insulted, tried to intimidate, and threatened Amos, ordering him to leave the country. But Amos couldn’t leave until he completed his mission. He was bound and determined to dispatch his duty to his King, and nothing could deter him.
            And since Amaziah took a personal interest in opposing Amos, then Amos—inspired by the Lord—repaid the favor and took a personal interest in Amaziah. His wife would become a prostitute, his children would be killed, and he’d end up in exile in a foreign country until the day he died. He’d live to see all of this happen to him and his loved ones. I wonder if he ever replayed this conversation in his head years later, once Amos was. . . vindicated.
            I see two main applications here, and both sting quite a bit. First, once again I need to ask myself: “How do I respond to criticism, both from God’s word and from godly friends? David made this odd request once, and I think it’s a great one: “Let a righteous man strike me—that is a kindness; let him rebuke me —that is oil on my head.” Obviously Amaziah forever stands as a negative example for me to avoid. I need to look at him and say “I sure don’t want to end up like that guy!!!”
            Second, I don’t know about you, but I really need to be a lot bolder in talking to nonbelievers about the truth. Just like Amaziah, Amos forever stands as an example, but in his case it’s someone I need to emulate.
            What about you?

Holy Spirit, I plead with you to be a guard over my mouth. So often I need to speak up when I’m silent, or I speak up when I need to keep my trap shut. Yes, I really really need this. 

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