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Amos: God’s Justice – Universal

No nation, be it America, Ireland, Russia, China, or Israel, can escape the watchful eye of God. His gaze falls upon His creation relentlessly, every second of every day, throughout all ages. Down there, amidst the chaos, evil lurks, and He meticulously keeps track of it all. His scrutiny upon us is akin to our observation of ants. We scurry about, burdened by the weight of boulders that symbolize either good or evil. We stack them, one atop the other, forming mounds that represent the accumulation of our deeds. With each action, we construct either glorious abodes that honor God or we store up wrath for the day of tribulation and distress. There is no evading this. We are entrapped in His unwavering gaze.

Romans 2:3-16 But do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment on those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God? 4 Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? 5 But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, 6 who WILL RENDER TO EACH PERSON ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS: 7 to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life; 8 but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation. 9 There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek, 10 but glory and honor and peace to everyone who does good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 11 For there is no partiality with God.

12 For all who have sinned without the Law will also perish without the Law, and all who have sinned under the Law will be judged by the Law; 13 for it is not the hearers of the Law who are just before God, but the doers of the Law will be justified. 14 For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, 15 in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them, 16 on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus.

To the Jew first and also to the Greek, this speaks of the universal nature of the judgment of God. No man lives as an island unto himself. No man can hide or escape the judgment of God. God brings you into the world and God will take you out of the world. And that is not all…

Hebrews 9:27 And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment.

In other words, you are on a conveyor belt that you cannot get off and it drops you in a courtroom. Paul warns of this.

I thought of Romans 2 after I read Amos 1-2. I am convinced that Amos, in his timeless wisdom, planted the seeds of inspiration that would later blossom within Paul’s writings. It is through his deep familiarity with Amos that Paul acquired the profound insight to articulate such profound truths (see 2 Tim 3:15).  Despite the vast chasm of seven centuries, Amos’ modest volume houses enduring truths that can never truly fade away, although they may occasionally slip from our grasp.

Amos’s words still hold a profound significance in our lives today.  I want to highlight one crucial aspect of his message – the universal nature of God’s justice. I strongly urge you to immerse yourself in this book, reading it from cover to cover, repeatedly, until its essence becomes ingrained in your very soul. Pay attention to every word. While there may be unfamiliar names and places, they merely serve as placeholders for things that exist in similar forms today. My aim is to illuminate some of these connections for you. Together, we can strive to elevate the standards of our nation and our people. Perhaps, by doing so, we can even avert the avalanche of stones we’ve piled high and look ready to fall down upon us.

In my last post on Amos, we listened to Glen Currie’s overview of the Book of Amos. Glen showed how Amos focuses on God’s justice and judgment against Israel and surrounding nations. Glen provided background on Amos and outlined the book’s structure, which included oracles against nations, sermons on coming judgment, and visions of Israel’s fate. Three key themes were highlighted: insincere worship, injustice against the poor, and fascination with the day of the Lord. The message emphasized God’s care for the oppressed and His judgment against those who mistreat them or practice false religion. Currie also drew parallels to modern-day issues and encouraged sincere faith and just treatment of others.

Today I want to look at the universal nature of God’s justice. I will limit this look to the first two chapters. Amos speaks for God and thus we hear directly from God as He pronounces judgment upon 8 nations.   Imagine this happening today; imagine this happening now. Imagine going into the courthouse to hear 8 different cases involving 8 different defendants. What I have prepared below is not the full court transcripts, but just the court docket listing each case; who was involved, what they were charged with, and what the sentence was. Later, we will dive deeper on each of these, but for now, we will just read the court docket.

The point I wish to convey is this: Pay close attention to the universal nature of God’s justice. It hovers in the air, a tangible yet intangible presence that permeates our world today. We may not see it, we may not feel it, and that tempts us to believe it is absent, that it will never manifest. But let me assure you, this is not the case. These eight nations stood before the court, their crimes exposed, their fates decided, and their sentences passed. This fact should give us pause, prompting deep reflection on what we encounter in Amos 1-2. It should compel us to ponder our own actions moving forward.  We need to ask ourselves this question as God looks down upon us. Am I pushing pebbles around to build a home that glorifies God or am I just storing up wrath for myself in the day of wrath?

Amos 1-2

I broke down the first two chapters into this chart. If you read this chart that I have put here, you will be reading through the first two chapters of Amos. Look carefully for similarities in each court case. Notice too, the geographical location of these places. As you discover the places on these maps, ask yourself if God’s all seeing eye ventures beyond these boarders, applying His unyielding standards to the wider world. Does He alter His code or does He lose interest as He ventures farther away from these regions? And what about the passage of time? Does the passage of time diminish His interest and involvement? 

Amos 1:1-2 The words of Amos, who was among the sheepherders from Tekoa, which he envisioned in visions concerning Israel in the days of Uzziah king of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam son of Joash, king of Israel, two years before the earthquake. 2 He said, “The Lord roars from Zion And from Jerusalem He utters His voice; And the shepherds’ pasture grounds mourn, And the summit of Carmel dries up.”

The House Of Pleasure In The Valley Of Iniquity

Now, in verses 3-5 notice the places and the people.

Amos 1:3-5 Thus says the Lord, “For three transgressions of Damascus and for four I will not revoke its punishment, because they threshed Gilead with implements of sharp iron. 4 “So I will send fire upon the house of Hazael and it will consume the citadels of Ben-hadad. 5 “I will also break the gate bar of Damascus, and cut off the inhabitant from the valley of Aven, and him who holds the scepter, from Beth-eden; so the people of Aram will go exiled to Kir,” Says the Lord.

This section mentions the transgressions of Damascus along with the following places and people.

First, the places: Damascus is a city in Aram which is North of Gilead.

The valley of Aven and Beth-eden refer to places not found on this map, but most likely lay within the region of Aram. Just like the world today has its Las Vegases and Red Light Districts, the valley of Aven and Beth-eden most likely referred to the “Valley of Wickedness” and the “House of Pleasure.”

Aven Valley… Betheden. There are many problems with the two names of places in this verse. Different suggestions about their location have been given (see commentaries). For translation the problem is that the names in Hebrew have two purposes: they are names for areas in the normal meaning of place names, but they are also moral descriptions of those areas. “Biqat-Aven” sounds in Hebrew like “valley of iniquity,” and Betheden sounds like “house of pleasure.” The translator has to decide which names or parts of names he will translate and which he will handle as ordinary names.[1]

So the Hebrew conveys a bit more information to our understanding.

Now, what about the house of Hazael and the citadels of Ben-hadad?  If you know your Bible history, you may recognize these two names. The house of Hazael stems back to the servant Hazael who was made king. This story is worth repeating.

When Elisha was at Damascus, Hazael was sent by his master [Ben-hadad], then ill, to consult the prophet respecting his recovery (2 Kings 8:7-13), about 843 B.C. The answer was that he “shall surely recover.” “But,” the prophet added, “the Lord has shown me that he will certainly die.” [Elisha] then looked steadily upon Hazael until he became ashamed, upon which the man of God wept. Upon Hazael’s asking, “Why does my lord weep?” Elisha replied, “Because I know the evil that you will do to the sons of Israel,” etc. Hazael exclaimed, “But what is your servant, who is but a dog, that he should do this great thing?” The prophet responded, “The Lord has shown me that you will be king over Aram.”

Hazael returned and told Ben-hadad the prophet’s answer. The next day he took a cloth, dipped it in water, and spread it over the face of the king, who, in his feebleness and probably in his sleep, was smothered and died what seemed a natural death (2 Kings 8:15).

Hazael ascended the throne and was soon engaged in hostilities with Ahaziah, king of Judah, and Jehoram, king of Israel, for the possession of Ramoth-gilead (2 Kings 8:28).

A text from Asshur mentions the significant dynastic change at Damascus and strikingly confirms the biblical account of Hazael’s accession: “Adadidri forsook his land [i.e., died violently or was murdered]. Hazael, son of nobody, seized the throne.” Evidence from the stela of Ben-hadad from the region of Aleppo in N Syria, discovered in 1940, indicates that the Adadidri of this account is none other than Ben-hadad I and that the Ben-hadad in the biblical account is neither an error nor a gloss for Adadidri, as E. J. Kraeling surmises (Aram and Israel, pp. 77, 79, n. 1), but is the same person (Albright, Bulletin of the Am. Schools of Oriental Research 87:26).[2]

melqart or bir hadad stele jpg

As seen at https://en.wikipedia-on-ipfs.org/I/Melqart_or_Bir_Hadad_stele.jpg.webp

So, I have given some background to the first few verses in Amos. Now, as you read this court docket, you can more easily imagine the full court transcript behind it and the rich history that Amos recalls in summary form. For now, just notice what is on the one page sheet. Notice who is involved, what they did, and what the judgment was. And then, try to answer the question I left at the bottom of this table. See if you can answer it before you read the answer I gave. 

Who

Transgression

Judgment

Amos 1:3 Thus says the Lord,”For three transgressions of Damascus and for four I will not revoke its punishment,

Because they threshed Gilead with implements of sharp iron.

4 “So I will send fire upon the house of Hazael and it will consume the citadels of Ben-hadad. 5 “I will also break the gate bar of Damascus, and cut off the inhabitant from the valley of Aven, and him who holds the scepter, from Beth-eden; So the people of Aram will go exiled to Kir,” says the Lord.

Gaza
-inhabitant from Ashdod
-Ekron
-remnant of the Philistines

Amos 1:6-8 Thus says the Lord, “For three transgressions of Gaza and for four I will not revoke its punishment,

Because they deported an entire population to deliver it up to Edom.

.

7 “So I will send fire upon the wall of Gaza and it will consume her citadels.

8 “I will also cut off the inhabitant from Ashdod, and him who holds the scepter, from Ashkelon; I will even unleash My power upon Ekron, and the remnant of the Philistines will perish,” Says the Lord God.

Tyre

Amos 1:9-10 Thus says the Lord, “For three transgressions of Tyre and for four I will not revoke its punishment,

Because they delivered up an entire population to Edom and did not remember the covenant of brotherhood.

10 “So I will send fire upon the wall of Tyre and it will consume her citadels.”

Edom
-Teman
-Bozrah

Amos 1:11-12 Thus says the Lord, “For three transgressions of Edom and for four I will not revoke its punishment,

Because he pursued his brother with the sword, while he stifled his compassion; His anger also tore continually, and he maintained his fury forever.

12 “So I will send fire upon Teman and it will consume the citadels of Bozrah.”

Ammon

-wall of Rabbah
-their king
-his princes

Amos 1:13-15 Thus says the Lord, “For three transgressions of the sons of Ammon and for four I will not revoke its punishment,

Because they ripped open the pregnant women of Gilead in order to enlarge their borders.

14 “So I will kindle a fire on the wall of Rabbah and it will consume her citadels amid war cries on the day of battle, and a storm on the day of tempest. 15 “Their king will go into exile, He and his princes together,” says the Lord.

Moab

-Kerioth
-judges
-princes

Amos 2:1-3 Thus says the Lord, “For three transgressions of Moab and for four I will not revoke its punishment,

Because he burned the bones of the king of Edom to lime.

2 “So I will send fire upon Moab and it will consume the citadels of Kerioth; and Moab will die amid tumult, with war cries and the sound of a trumpet. 3 “I will also cut off the judge from her midst and slay all her princes with him,” says the Lord.

Judah

-Jerusalem

Amos 2:4-5 Thus says the Lord, “For three transgressions of Judah and for four I will not revoke its punishment,

Because they rejected the law of the Lord and have not kept His statutes; Their lies also have led them astray, those after which their fathers walked.

5 “So I will send fire upon Judah and it will consume the citadels of Jerusalem.”

Israel

Amos 2:6-8 Thus says the Lord, “For three transgressions of Israel and for four I will not revoke its punishment,

Because they sell the righteous for money and the needy for a pair of sandals. 7 “These who pant after the very dust of the earth on the head of the helpless also turn aside the way of the humble; and a man and his father resort to the same girl in order to profane My holy name. 8 “On garments taken as pledges they stretch out beside every altar, and in the house of their God they drink the wine of those who have been fined.

The rest of the book.

QUESTION:  How does Amos differentiate his messages when addressing Gentile nations versus the Jews?

Amos differentiates his messages when addressing Gentile nations versus the Jews by emphasizing different aspects of accountability. When speaking to the Gentile nations, he holds them accountable for transgressing the moral law written in their hearts and their inherent knowledge of right and wrong. In contrast, when addressing the Jews, he specifically mentions the law of the Lord, highlighting their violation of the divine commandments given to them. This distinction underscores the universal principles of justice and righteousness that apply to all, regardless of their familiarity with the Mosaic law.

So, we are back to the beginning. I will repeat what we heard at the beginning of this lesson and what Paul said in his letter to the Romans. I will let his questions be the point of application for us. Listen to what he says. Answer the questions he asks. And may God impress upon our hearts today and for all eternity the universal nature of the judgment of God.

But do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment on those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who will render to each person according to his deeds: to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life; but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation. There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek, but glory and honor and peace to everyone who does good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For there is no partiality with God.

For all who have sinned without the Law will also perish without the Law, and all who have sinned under the Law will be judged by the Law; for it is not the hearers of the Law who are just before God, but the doers of the Law will be justified. For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them, on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus.

Rom 2:3-16
How does God deal with such a nation as Israel today?  How did He deal with them in the past?  How similar are today's sins like those of the past?  These are some of questions we will ask in this study of Amos.
Click on the "Amos" tag below to see all the posts in this series. To go to the start of this series click here. To join me in this study on Gab click here. 

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  1. United Bible Societies, UBS Old Testament Handbook Series

  2. Unger, Merrill F.; Harrison, R. K. (Editors), New Unger’s Bible Dictionary

Amos: God’s Justice

How does God deal with such a nation as Israel today?  How did He deal with them in the past?  How similar are today's sins like those of the past?  These are some of questions we will ask in this study of Amos.

26:00 “As I look at our own history of America in this subject of mistreating people one of the giant warts upon our country was slavery in America.”

Every nation has had slaves. America has treated Blacks better than all the rest of the world, even better than Black nations. There is no room for criticism here. To talk like this is to slap Whites with the back of your hand and say to them that White nations are for everyone but Whites. If you must criticize, criticize the majority stockholders in the slave trade era which were overwhelmingly Jews. Jews have a motive to subvert other nations.  

Zionism has got to go. It has made it impossible for many to interpret the Bible.

“Also among the prophets of Jerusalem I have seen a horrible thing: The committing of adultery and walking in falsehood; And they strengthen the hands of evildoers, So that no one has turned back from his wickedness. All of them have become to Me like Sodom, And her inhabitants like Gomorrah.

Jeremiah 23:14

Sermon Outline

I. Introduction to Amos

A. Background of Amos
B. Historical context
C. Book structure

II. Key Themes

A. Insincere worship
B. Injustice against the poor
C. The day of the Lord

III. God’s Judgment

A. Against surrounding nations
B. Against Judah and Israel
C. Reasons for judgment

IV. Application to Modern Times

A. Sincere worship
B. Treatment of the disadvantaged
C. Preparing for the day of the Lord

V. Conclusion

A. Call to repentance
B. God’s justice and care for the oppressed

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Click on the "Amos" tag below to see all the posts in this series. To go to the start of this series click here. To join me in this study on Gab click here. 

The End Has Come For My People Israel

Imagine you are playing a game with your friends, and you’ve been very patient with them, giving them extra chances even when they break the rules. But at some point, you feel like enough is enough. When you say, “I will spare them no longer,” it’s like saying you won’t give them any more extra chances or let them off the hook anymore. From now on, the rules will be strictly followed, and there won’t be any more leniency or forgiveness for breaking them.

After reading Amos 6-9 today, these two verses stood out to me.

  • Amos 7:8 The Lord said to me, “What do you see, Amos?” And I said, “A plumb line.” Then the Lord said, “Behold I am about to put a plumb line In the midst of My people Israel. I will spare them no longer.
  • Amos 8:2 He said, “What do you see, Amos?” And I said, “A basket of summer fruit.” Then the Lord said to me, “The end has come for My people Israel. I will spare them no longer.

God was telling them, “They are on the hook!”

If you were one of those friends who were breaking the rules repeatedly and heard someone say “I will spare you no longer,” what would you do?

If it were me, I would understand that they meant business and that there are no more extra chances. I would make sure to follow the rules carefully and respect such decision. I would apologize for any past mistakes and try to show you that I can play fairly and responsibly from now on. Would that be too much to ask Israel?

As seen at The Times Of Israel

‘The war is the last straw’: Secular Israelis fed up with politics and prices think about leaving

After years of stigma, one says, ‘there’s no shame’ in emigration anymore.

For some Israelis, the toll of political turmoil, war and rising costs of living has prompted them to consider life abroad.

Sarah Mann of Tel Aviv sees the war as just the latest among many reasons to leave Israel, at least temporarily.

Sarah Mann of Tel Aviv sees the war as just the latest among many reasons to leave Israel, at least temporarily. Photo by Susan Greene

By Susan Greene February 9, 2024

TEL AVIV – From its inception, Israel stigmatized the idea of its citizens leaving the country. It’s embodied in the Hebrew word for emigrés, yordim, which means those who go down — while those who move to Israel make aliyah, or go up.

That stigma had lifted somewhat in recent years as higher-paying medical, academic and high-tech jobs drew scores of Israelis abroad.

Now, with the Oct. 7 Hamas terror attack and looming regional threats having shaken Israelis’ sense of security, and internal political divisions flaring over fundamental questions like democracy, people are talking about leaving even more openly.

“There’s no shame in it,” said Sarah Mann, a 55-year-old editor in Tel Aviv weighing whether to take a few-months break from the country or leave it altogether. “Are you kidding?” she asked rhetorically. “This is a matter of survival.”

The Israeli government and nonprofits working to promote immigration publicly celebrate the number of people moving here. Unsurprisingly, given the war and protest movement before it, aliyah dropped significantly in 2023, to 45,533 people from 76,616 in 2022. Still, the Jewish Agency says it got 4,715 new requests to open aliyah files in the last quarter of 2023, more than double the same period in 2022.

It is trickier, though, to gauge how many Israelis move away. Many people go abroad at first for six months or a year and end up staying; it can take a while for the government to catch up. The latest publicly available data from Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics is for 2021, when about 18,200 people moved away for a year or more, fewer than 2020 (20,800) but more than 2019 (15,500) or 2018 (14,000). I could not find any government official or independent group tracking departures since Oct. 7.

I could not find any government official or independent group tracking departures since Oct. 7.

In a nation where new opinion polls seem to be published every week, there are also a surprising lack of recent surveys tracking Israelis’ thoughts on moving abroad.

It seems the last poll to ask the question was aired by Channel 13 in July, after the Knesset passed the first judicial overhaul law (which has since been overturned by the Supreme Court). It found 28% of Israelis were weighing leaving the country. The free daily newspaper Israel Hayom published a poll in 2022 showing 69% of Israelis interested in moving abroad for work reasons, up from 46% the year before.

Fleeing the Promised Land

Many Israeli Jews say the Oct. 7 attack — in which thousands of Hamas militants breached the border fence, killed 1,200 people and abducted about 250 — burst any sense of security they felt in this small country surrounded by enemies.

Leemore Landis, an information technology executive who moved here from the New York area 11 years ago, said she was so scared and stressed out by the attack that she fled on the first flight to Sydney, Australia, where her husband is from. The couple and their young daughter returned home to Ramat Hasharon, a coastal suburb of Tel Aviv, in December, but are making plans to move to the U.S. this spring.

“I feel like we Anglos are wired a little differently when it comes to sirens and rockets,” Landis told me. “Neither of us were raised having to deal with these kinds of threats and it’s harder for us to feel totally confident that things will, you know, that things will come out OK.”

Added her husband: “We don’t think we need to sacrifice any support for Israel just because we’re not here.”

Four couples and two individuals interviewed for this story declined to speak on the record about their departures because they fear their family and friends who are staying might find their comments insensitive or disrespectful. All said they are keenly aware that their high-tech jobs or dual citizenships give them options abroad that many of their neighbors don’t have — and three said they feel shame or guilt for packing up and leaving.

“I’m breaking my mother’s heart,” said one, a tech programmer who plans to move to Los Angeles in March. “I can’t look at her without crying.”

But Mann, who was born in Britain, said she was drawn to this country 15 years ago partly for its people’s candor and so it would feel “un-Israeli” not to speak out about why she’s leaving.

“The social contract is broken,” she started. “We live here, pay our taxes here, send our children to the army, take the rough with the smooth. We expect protection from the state. We expect to be kept safe. But clearly the government failed, the army failed, the security mechanism failed and people were burned alive, brutalized, raped.

“Why was there no security on the border of Gaza? Our government betrayed us.”

After months of sleeplessness and a recent panic attack from watching TV news, Mann sublet her apartment on Tel Aviv’s Dizengoff Street last week and plans to head soon to Southeast Asia. She’s not sure how long she’ll stay.

Mann said she has long resented paying the equivalent of $2,100 for a small apartment that her landlord refuses to renovate. She’s also irked that her Shkedia granola costs twice as much here as in London.

And she is fed up with what she calls Netanyahu’s “endless cycle of corruption” as well as the judicial overhaul pushed by his government, the most far-right and religious in Israeli history. She said she is tired of protesting and still angry about the way police roughed her up during a demonstration last year.

Mann is also concerned about efforts to roll back women’s rights in Israel and disgusted by what she sees as a lack of consensus about coexistence not only among Jews and Arabs but also the secular and religious. The death toll in Gaza, now nearing 28,000, weighs on her and she’s weary of staking her future in a nation she sees losing legitimacy internationally.

“The war is the last straw in some ways,” she said. “My friends are all urging me to go and saying don’t come back. Things are that bad here.”

Mann isn’t alone. Shlomit Drenger of Ocean Group, a company that helps people relocate out of Israel, said that safety concerns, cost of living, and political disillusionment are among the top reasons her clients cite.

Drenger said that global companies tend to move Israeli workers to Amsterdam, New York, Texas, California and the Boston area, but that those emigrating on their own seem to gravitate to Cyprus, Greece, Portugal, Spain and Canada.

Maor Wolfsmith, an Israeli native, moved from Tel Aviv to London last August with his longtime partner, a British citizen, and their two young children. He is using a sabbatical from his job as a childhood clinical psychologist and researcher to take a time-out from Israel. But his use of the past tense when describing his life in Israel made me think he’ll probably stay away.

Questioning Identity

Wolfsmith, who is gay, grew up in Salit, a settlement in the occupied West Bank. He said he “always felt that I’m living in the margins of society,” and that the alienation grew more poignant when Netanyahu allied with right-wing forces hostile to queer people. That faction’s rise in power, he noted, made Judaism feel “tyrannical.”

“So I feel not like I left, but in many ways I’ve been kicked out before I left,” he said. “It felt in Israel like you really had to conform, and it was suffocating, and I didn’t want my children to grow up in that environment.”

He said he has been disillusioned by polls showing strong support across the Israeli political spectrum to prioritize continuing the war in Gaza over clinching a deal to free hostages.

“I was speechless. I felt like what is it? Are they my people? Is this what it means to be Israeli today? To be Jewish?” he said. “There’s no room for me in that version of Israel.”

Is this what it means to be Israeli today?

Alex Paz-Goldman, a retired author and tech executive, also feels squeezed out.

His parents, both Holocaust survivors, came to Israel in 1949 from post-World War II Poland. He grew up believing this was the one place where Jews are safe. Not anymore.

Paz-Goldman, who said he supports a ceasefire, has been particularly vocal about the move by far-right ministers to give more guns to West Bank settlers. He said he feels so threatened by what he sees as right-wing leaders inciting violence against leftist activists that he recently erased months of critical posts from his Facebook feed.

“It is not so much this war or the Arabs that people like me are most scared of right now,” he told me over coffee this week. “It’s the religious Jews who’ve been taking over our country and making us wonder when we may need to flee.

“Israel isn’t turning out to be the nation it was supposed to be. So for ourselves, for our family, people like me need someplace else to go.”

Paz-Goldman, 68, has spent the past three years seeking to become a Polish citizen. Warsaw approved his application about a month ago, and now, with a plan B firmly in his pocket, he is indignant that he may have to use it.

Paz-Goldman knows his late parents would have plotzed at the prospect of him moving back there. And, having traveled to dozens of countries, he is troubled by the fact that it’s the only one where he has faced blatant and aggressive antisemitism.

“The fact that I’m even thinking of leaving my home, my culture, my Hebrew language bothers me more than I can express,” he said. “What am I going to do living in Poland?”

—–

Correction: The original version of this article misstated the surname of the 55-year-old editor from Tel Aviv. She is Sarah Mann, not Wells. 

Susan Greene is the Forward’s Israel-based correspondent. She has spent the last quarter century reporting news in Colorado, most recently as an investigative reporter and coach for journalists throughout the state. She tweets at @greeneindenver.

Amos: A Farmer And Herdsman

How does God deal with such a nation as Israel today?  How did He deal with them in the past?  How similar are today's sins like those of the past?  These are some of questions we will ask in this study of Amos.

Summary:

The sermon from Insight for Living Ministries explores the Book of Amos, emphasizing how God can use ordinary individuals, regardless of their background or qualifications, to deliver His message. It highlights the story of Amos, a fig picker turned prophet, to illustrate that dedication and commitment are more important than traditional credentials in serving God. The text encourages readers to be open to God’s calling and to be willing vessels for His work, even in challenging and discouraging times.

Outline:

1. Introduction to the Book of Amos

2. The Unconventional Messenger: Amos

3. Lessons from Amos’s Calling

4. Challenges and Encouragements for Modern Messengers

5. Concluding Thoughts and Reflections

Study Questions:

1. How does the story of Amos challenge traditional views of who can be a spokesperson for God?[1]

2. What qualities did Amos possess that made him an effective messenger, despite his lack of formal training?[2]

3. In what ways can the modern church learn from Amos’s example in terms of selecting and equipping individuals for ministry?[3]

4. How does the concept of dedication versus qualifications apply to other areas of life beyond spiritual leadership?[4]

5. Reflect on a time when you felt unqualified or inadequate for a task. How might the story of Amos inspire you in similar situations?[5]

Letting God fill your life empowers you to live life. Life itself comes with demands that I never feel qualified for or adequate. Being a husband. Being a father. Being a grandfather. A long time ago, being a landlord. I remember leaving my apartment to go check on a problem tenant. I hated that, but I prayed as I left that God go with me and lead the way. The whole encounter was as smooth as ice. Times like that, and studies like Amos or learning about Zerubbabel really encourage me to have faith. And now I am thinking of Peter and his walk on the water. I have to remember these things and live boldly!

Multiple-Choice Questions:

1. What was Amos’s occupation before being called as a prophet?[6]

A) Shepherd

B) Farmer

C) Fig picker

D) Carpenter

2. According to this lesson, what is emphasized as more important than formal education for being a messenger of God?[7]

A) Knowledge of Hebrew and Greek

B) Wearing a tie

C) Dedication and commitment

D) Being highly polished

3. How does this lesson describe the response of some individuals when called to be messengers for God?[8]

A) Excited and eager

B) Confused and hesitant

C) Arrogant and dismissive

D) Indifferent and apathetic

4. What is the main message conveyed through the story of Amos in this lesson?[9]

A) God only uses highly educated individuals for His work

B) Anyone can be a spokesperson for God with the right qualifications

C) Dedication and commitment are key in serving God, regardless of background

D) Amos was a prophet who came from a long line of spiritual leaders

5. How does this lesson suggest individuals can overcome feelings of inadequacy in serving God?[10]

A) By seeking more formal education and training

B) By comparing themselves to others who seem more qualified

C) By focusing on their dedication and willingness to serve

D) By avoiding challenging tasks that may require stepping out of their comfort zone

Answers

  1. The story of Amos challenges traditional views of who can be a spokesperson for God by highlighting that God can use individuals who do not fit the typical mold of spiritual leaders. Amos, a fig picker and shepherd with no formal prophetic training, was chosen by God to deliver a powerful message of judgment and repentance to the people of Israel. This narrative emphasizes that God values dedication, commitment, and obedience over societal status, education, or noble birth when selecting His messengers. Amos’s story serves as a reminder that God’s ways are not bound by human expectations, and He can work through anyone who is willing to heed His call and faithfully proclaim His word.

  2. Amos possessed several qualities that made him an effective messenger, despite his lack of formal training. Firstly, he demonstrated unwavering dedication and commitment to delivering God’s message, showing a deep sense of obedience to his calling. Additionally, Amos exhibited courage and boldness in speaking truth to power, even in the face of opposition and rejection. His humility and authenticity resonated with the people, allowing his message to have a profound impact. Furthermore, Amos’s intimate relationship with God, evident through his prophetic visions and insights, enabled him to effectively communicate divine truths to the nation of Israel. Overall, Amos’s sincerity, integrity, and spiritual discernment were key qualities that empowered him to be a compelling and influential messenger of God, transcending the need for formal training or traditional credentials.

  3. The modern church can learn valuable lessons from Amos’s example in terms of selecting and equipping individuals for ministry. Firstly, the church can prioritize character and spiritual maturity over external qualifications or credentials when identifying potential leaders. Just as God chose Amos based on his dedication and obedience, the church can focus on nurturing individuals who exhibit a deep relationship with God and a heart for serving others. Secondly, the church can encourage and support individuals from diverse backgrounds and professions, recognizing that God can use anyone who is willing to be His vessel. Embracing a broader range of voices and perspectives can enrich the ministry and outreach of the church. Additionally, the church can provide opportunities for training, mentorship, and spiritual growth to empower individuals for effective service, mirroring how God equipped Amos for his prophetic role. By valuing authenticity, humility, and a genuine passion for God’s work, the modern church can follow Amos’s example in selecting and equipping individuals for impactful ministry in today’s world.

  4. The concept of dedication versus qualifications can apply to various areas of life beyond spiritual leadership, highlighting the importance of commitment, perseverance, and passion in achieving success. In professional settings, individuals who demonstrate unwavering dedication to their work, coupled with a strong work ethic and a willingness to learn and grow, often outshine those solely relying on formal qualifications or credentials. Employers value employees who show dedication to their tasks, take initiative, and go above and beyond in their responsibilities.

    In academic pursuits, students who exhibit dedication to their studies, engage actively in learning, and demonstrate a genuine interest in the subject matter can excel even without the highest qualifications or academic background. Dedication to continuous learning, self-improvement, and a strong work ethic can lead to academic success and personal growth.

    In creative fields such as art, music, or writing, dedication to honing one’s craft, consistent practice, and a passion for the creative process can often outweigh formal qualifications or training. Artists who pour their heart and soul into their work, persist through challenges, and stay committed to their artistic vision can produce impactful and meaningful creations.

    Overall, the concept of dedication emphasizes the importance of perseverance, hard work, and a genuine passion for one’s pursuits, transcending the need for traditional qualifications or external validation in various aspects of life beyond spiritual leadership.

  5. Personal response.

  6. Answer: C) Fig picker

  7. Answer: C) Dedication and commitment

  8. Answer: C) Arrogant and dismissive

  9. Answer: C) Dedication and commitment are key in serving God, regardless of background

  10. Answer: C) By focusing on their dedication and willingness to serve

Click on the "Amos" tag below to see all the posts in this series. To go to the start of this series click here. To join me in this study on Gab click here.