“For three sins of Ammon,
even for four, I will not turn back my wrath”
One of the great things about the Old Testament prophets is that they generate the image of God who is universal. The pagan gods were very local, but the God of Israel had a vision of the whole world. The pagan gods battled one another, so the Sumerian gods battled the Philistine gods. How do we know who won? The country who won, so the proof was that our country wins, so our gods are stronger.
Israel has a God who is concerned about Israel, but that favor is not exclusive. In this passage, God lays out judgment against Damascus, Tyre, Gaza, Edom, etc. He uses the same refrain, “For the three sins of ____ even for four, I will not turn my back” Then, Amos lays the charges and allegations against each country; the brutality of war, enslaving other peoples, etc. War may be justified, but slaughter is not justified. Then there is a judgment of Judah, but the longest judgment is against Israel. Israel has denied justice, abused the poor, they worship at pagan altars, and God will bring judgment against them Amos says.
God demands justice for the whole world not just one locale. The notion of having a battle between Allah and God betrays the notion of Amos. It is not a battle between faiths, because God is universal. There is not a cosmic struggle in Amos, because Amos knows that the pagan gods are not real. They are just stones or pieces of wood, they are not living. The God of Israel is a living God, and to be reminded of that Israel does not have images of God. Win may take this for granted that God is universal, but in the world of the Old Testament such a witness expressed a wild and radical vision of God.
I encourage you pray for a place in the world where God’s justice and mercy needs to be realized? Darfur, Rwanda, the US-Mexican border with drug wars, the people who are enslaved right now.
Where are places in the United States God’s justice and mercy needs to be shared? New Orleans, our Valley, people who are unemployed and underemployed.
Will you pray for those people and places today?