December 16 | Daily Devotion

Lectio Continua: a continuous reading of every verse

Lectio Semi-continua: shorter reading selections from the passages

Lectio Divina

“But the Lord took me from tending the flock and said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel.’ Now then, hear the word of the Lord.” ~Amos 7:15-16a

OLD TESTAMENT

The country prophet isn’t exactly welcome in Bethel, the religious capital of the land. King Jeroboam II (reign: 786-746 BCE), reacting to a report from a priest, issues a royal put down: Go back to your little town. Plow your field and preach your sermons to the villagers! You don’t belong among priests and kings.

Amos is undeterred by the king’s rebuke. Moreover, he has a message from God for the king: “Your wife will become a prostitute in the city, and your sons and daughters will fall by the sword. Your land will be measured and divided up, and you yourself will die in a pagan country” (Amos 7:17). Wow! This country fellow is called of God, and he’s sticking to the job. When he was a shepherd, God told him, “Go, prophesy,” and he is going (Amos 7:15).

The rest of the people are in trouble too. God is angry over their money-loving lives. These are shrewd industrialists making as much money off their neighbors as they can. They are so greedy that they sack up the sweepings from the grain floor—getting out the dustpan and using the gritty detritus to top up the sacks (Amos 8:6)! Moreover, they are bothered by the call to observe the Sabbath—to take time for rest and worship—as it cuts into work and profit-making time.

Moses told the people to love the Lord with all their heart, soul, and mind. He warned them about the temptations that would come their way when they entered the land flowing with milk and honey. God judges those who violate His law and brings oppression to those who oppress the poor. Not because God is mean! No, it is because He is just! God longs to bless His people, to give them the good life! But He will not abide oppression, greed, and arrogance!

Do you believe that God calls you to love Him and your neighbor for His glory and your good? He gave us His word to bless us, not to harm us. God wants us to enjoy new wine so He sends His prophets to call us to love Him with all our hearts and souls (Amos 9:13).

NEW TESTAMENT

While some have taken the numbers in Revelation 7 literally, it seems best to understand them figuratively. In the ancient world, such large numbers would have seemed unimaginable. It would be like us saying, “a gazillion.”

This is the chapter devoted to the sixth seal, the period of great tribulation yet to come. Some will die, others will survive. At the end, people from every tribe, tongue, and language—the church!—will gather before God. “[H]e will wipe every tear from their eyes” (Rev. 7:17). These are words of hope and encouragement to the church. Yes, difficulties await us but so does future glory. So be faithful!


Lectio Divina is written by F. Lionel Young III, who serves as the senior pastor of Calvary Church in Valparaiso, Indiana. He is the author of A New Kind of Missionary, a popular introduction to global Christianity.