He Who Has an Ear, Let Him Hear

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AMOS 1:1-3:15 | REVELATION 2:1-17 | PSALM 129:1-8 | PROVERBS 29:19-20

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We enter a new book today.  A book that bears the name of the prophet that authors it:  Amos.

Amos is a shepherd chosen for the task of being yet another prophet to the people of Israel.  The judgement coming to Israel’s neighbors and eventually to Israel is yet again communicated to the people via Amos. 

Not a pretty sight it will be, but neither will it come as a surprise.  The God that took them out of the land of Egypt and provided for them for forty years in the desert before they came into the “promised land” of Canaan was apparently soon forgotten by them.

And it wasn’t long before they turned their back on him.  Therefore, after a slew of prophets had been sent to caution the people against the folly of their ways, Amos now illustrates the law of cause and effect in these verses:

3 Do two walk together
   unless they have agreed to do so?
4 Does a lion roar in the thicket
   when it has no prey?
Does it growl in its den
   when it has caught nothing?
5 Does a bird swoop down to a trap on the ground
   when no bait is there?
Does a trap spring up from the ground
   if it has not caught anything?
6 When a trumpet sounds in a city,
   do not the people tremble?
When disaster comes to a city,
   has not the LORD caused it?

He goes on to say:

7 Surely the Sovereign LORD does nothing
   without revealing his plan
   to his servants the prophets.

8 The lion has roared—
   who will not fear?
The Sovereign LORD has spoken—
   who can but prophesy?

Do you not get it, is what he’s saying! 

There’s reason for God to be upset with you, can you not see that?  And now do you not understand the gravity of the situation to come?  Because, like it or not, it’s going to happen, and here I am come to tell you of it. 

Wow!  I’d call that fair warning!

Turning now to our reading of the book of Revelation, we find another warning of sorts is being made by John, the writer.  John is writing to the seven churches in Asia Minor exhorting them to listen. 

To the church in Ephesus, the message is: 

2 I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. 3 You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.    4 Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. 5 Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.

He goes on to say: 

7 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.  Fair warning, yet again!

To the church in Symrna, the message is: 

9 I know your afflictions and your poverty—yet you are rich! I know about the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. 10 Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown.

To the church in Pergamum, the message is: 

13 I know where you live—where Satan has his throne. Yet you remain true to my name. You did not renounce your faith in me, not even in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness, who was put to death in your city—where Satan lives.  14 Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: There are some among you who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin so that they ate food sacrificed to idols and committed sexual immorality. 15 Likewise, you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. 16 Repent therefore! Otherwise, I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.

Turning now to our reading of the Psalms, we find the psalmist voicing his indignation at his enemies.  This is a cry that is most likely uttered to this day by the modern nation-state of Israel, surrounded on all sides by nary a friend.  The Psalmist cries:

5 May all who hate Zion
   be turned back in shame.
6 May they be like grass on the roof,
   which withers before it can grow;
7 a reaper cannot fill his hands with it,
   nor one who gathers fill his arms.
8 May those who pass by not say to them,
   “The blessing of the LORD be on you;
   we bless you in the name of the LORD.”

Finally, a couple of verses from Proverbs, the latter one of which bears a great nugget of wisdom:

19 Servants cannot be corrected by mere words;
   though they understand, they will not respond.

20 Do you see someone who speaks in haste?
   There is more hope for a fool than for them.

May God bless the reading and reflection of His Word.  Amen.

4 thoughts on “He Who Has an Ear, Let Him Hear

  1. Amos is a very intriguing prophet because he is clearly an outsider in the power centers of the Northern Kingdom (he’s from the south, from a rural background, and was not schooled in the prophetic tradition) and yet he fearlessly speaks out against the abuses and waywardness of both the king and the priests. I love his disclaimer that he is neither a prophet nor the son of a prophet but is a herdsman and a dresser of sycamores. That is so Upper Midwestern! 🙂 And yet he says this not to put himself down or present some false show of humility. It’s to demonstrate that the power of his message comes not from who he is but from the source of the message.

  2. Yes, very good observation. I think I have referenced that someplace else, although it is most apropos here.

    Also, yet another case in point to the workings of the Almighty: He chooses time and again, the most unqualified of people to do get the job done. Be it Moses or Mary or the fishermen that are called to become disciples, it is the least likely among us that are considered able — regardless of whether they themselves may be ready or willing.

    Thank you for your comments, as always, and God bless you.

    1. Excellent point. And this is true not only in the “heroic” figures of the bible but also in ordinary people, in ourselves. God calls us to do things we may not think we’re prepared to do or to be people we didn’t realize we could be. Sometimes the person who struggles with shyness is put in a situation where much good can come from them speaking out or taking the lead or leading a movement. Or how often children who grow up without some necessary qualities in their lives become adults who embody those qualities in great abundance. These are not always easy processes, there is pain and sorrow and growth involved. But ultimately they are truly grace-filled situations in which God brings manna in the desert, water from the rock, a feast from a few loaves and fishes.

  3. You are very gracious in extrapolating to ordinary everyday people and circumstances. Yes, I couldn’t agree more. And I very much appreciate your gift of expressing your reflections in such a poetic way.

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