Meet Amos, he gave M.L.K. Jr a dream…
21 “I hate, I despise your religious festivals;
your assemblies are a stench to me.
22 Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings,
I will not accept them.
Though you bring choice fellowship offerings,
I will have no regard for them.
23 Away with the noise of your songs!
I will not listen to the music of your harps.
24 But let justice roll on like a river,
righteousness like a never-failing stream!
25 “Did you bring me sacrifices and offerings
forty years in the wilderness, people of Israel?
26 You have lifted up the shrine of your king,
the pedestal of your idols,
the star of your god[a]—
which you made for yourselves.
We should not think that prophets only exist in the Bible. God speaks through ordinary people to bring about transformation in societies. Amos was such a person. He was not a professional theologian. He was a shepherd and a fig farmer. You could say he didn’t give a fig for those in power. The wealth and prosperity of the Northern Kingdom of Israel had brought with it trade deals that saw the synchronisation of the Jewish religion with the belief systems of the surrounding Kingdoms. He finds himself speaking out against the corruption and social injustice in a nation where the rich become more prosperous off the backs of the poor.
He is denounced by Amaziah the chief priest and deported from the Kingdom. Amos is a complex character, he is seen as meddling in politics and ethics that belong to another jurisdiction. Amos however believes that the whole world is responsible to God and that injustice has to be opposed where ever it is found. Instead of keeping quiet he was one of the first prophets to begin to write down his prophecies and reflections hoping that his words would bring about a reformation in society.
Amos’ influence continues to this day. Martin Luther King’s speech I Have a Dream, quotes the Book of Amos; We will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream. It is still this message of social justice that continues to inspire people from all nations to believe that a day of justice and equity will one day be achieved for all.
Almighty redeemer and protector
This is your world
You are in control
You direct the lives of all your people
All are equal in your eyes
All nations will be treated justly
You judge all without discrimination
You demand justice and equity for the poor
You call all people to act with integrity and mercy
You do not require great sacrifices of wealth and power
You ask for simple obedience
You despise those who speak of justice but act corruptly
Purify our hearts Oh God by your Spirit
that we may cry allowed for justice to the nations.
May we proclaim you are the God of all the nations
There is none like you.