International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday July 30, 2017
Purpose: To acknowledge that faithfully serving God often invites criticism from others
Bible Lesson: Amos 7:10-17
Background Scripture: Amos 7
Key Verses: Amos answered Amaziah, “I am not a prophet, nor am I a prophet’s son; but I am a shepherd, and a trimmer of sycamore trees. But the Lord took me from shepherding the flock, and the Lord said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel.’” (Amos 7:14-15)
Amos 7:10-17 (CEB)
(10) Then Amaziah, the priest of Bethel, reported to Israel’s King Jeroboam, “Amos has plotted against you within the house of Israel. The land isn’t able to cope with everything that he is saying. (11) Amos has said, ‘Jeroboam will die by the sword, and Israel will be forced out of its land.’”
(12) Amaziah said to Amos, “You who see things, go, run away to the land of Judah, eat your bread there, and prophesy there; (13) but never again prophesy at Bethel, for it is the king’s holy place and his royal house.”
(14) Amos answered Amaziah, “I am not a prophet, nor am I a prophet’s son; but I am a shepherd, and a trimmer of sycamore trees. (15) But the Lord took me from shepherding the flock, and the Lord said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel.’
(16) “Now then hear the Lord’s word. You say, ‘Don’t prophesy against Israel, and don’t preach against the house of Isaac.’ (17) “Therefore, the Lord proclaims: ‘Your wife will become a prostitute in the city, and your sons and your daughters will fall by the sword, and your land will be measured and divided up; you yourself will die in an unclean land, and Israel will surely be taken away from its land.’”
Some Thoughts by Burgess Walter
First let me give a little tutorial. There are two terms with which may not be familiar to you. Exegesis (ek-si-jee-sis) is defined as a critical explanation or interpretation of a biblical text. Exegesis seeks to be an objective attempt to determine the meaning and implication of the text. The other, even less familiar word is eisegesis (ahy-si-jee-sis). Eisegesis is the process of reading into the text our own presuppositions and biases.
Most of us are aware that America was founded on Christian based principles, but it was also established with a separation of Church and State. Historically when that separation did not exist as in the Roman and other European countries there was a conflict of interest. Which is what lead to the new settlers coming to America.
At the time of Amos, approximately 750 B.C. there was a divided nation of Israel, Israel being the northern kingdom and Judah the southern kingdom. The king in the northern kingdom was Jeroboam II. The southern kingdom was ruled by Uzziah at this time.
Amos lived in the southern kingdom of Judah, but was called by God to preach and prophecy in the northern kingdom of Israel. Amos was unique in that he was not a professional prophet nor even the son of a prophet. He had not received any formal training, he was a shepherd and farmer.
What Amos had to say in Bethel did not go over well with the King Jeroboam II or with the priest Amaziah. After all things were pretty good in Israel, Assyria, which had been a threat to Israel and Judah for many years, was experiencing a period of decline with problems of its own. With it posing less of a threat, and Israel having to pay less to a foreign power, Abraham’s descendants could benefit greatly by engaging more freely in international trade. This was especially true for the northern kingdom of Israel.
However, God saw an injustice taking place, the poor were still poor and the wealthy were the only ones benefiting from this period of peace and prosperity. In addition, the Church leaders were also aligning with government of the north, hence Amaziah, the priest, comments to Amos.
Which brings us to today’s problem in our own country. Which side are we to be on, the church or the state? Many things that the Church promotes is not popular with those that have no Christian understanding. The Church’s “Shall nots” come in conflict with the state's “rules and laws.”
Like Amos we may have to choose, the state or the church. Like Amos, our choice may be directly opposed to what is popular with the state. Are we willing to face unhappy friends, neighbors or family for the sake of Christ? No one wants to hear the truth about what might happen, we prefer the ostrich approach.
My hymn for this week is “God Bless America.”