Next couple Sundays we’re reading an old time favorite Sunday school Bible story from Amos, one of the Eighth Century Prophets of Doom, so-called for reasons obvious to anyone who finishes the below passage concluding, “you yourself shall die in an unclean land, and Israel shall surely go into exile away from its land.”
The mark of a true prophet is that his prophecies come true, as Amos did the coming century when Israel was overrun by Assyria, the cruelest race of all time until the 20th century Germans, and its population deported to other lands and Israel displaced with Auslanders, who by Jesus’ time were called “Samaritans,” hated, usurping, filthy, unclean foreigners in the Promised Land.
Which of course is the tie to Sunday’s gospel about the “Good Samaritan,” an oxymoron if ever there was one, as in the mind of Jesus’ audience the only good Samaritan would have been a dead Samaritan. I mean like, a Samaritan is my neighbor, Jesus, are you saying a Samaritan is my neighbor? To use a 21st century chat acronym, love a Samaritan, AYFSM? But love is not a feeling, is it, love is how you treat others. An interesting idea for Americans in this election year, and so submerged in blind, selfish arrogance are we that we just don’t get it.
At any event I love the way this story starts out. “… with a plumb line in his hand, and said to me, ‘Amos, what do you see?’ And I said, ‘Well, duhhh, Adonai, a plumb line.’”
“Amos, what do you see?” Today anak, tomorrow, “Well, duhhh, qayis.” A charm of Amos is his gift for metaphor.
This is what the Lord God showed me: the Lord was standing beside a wall built with a plumb line, with a plumb line in his hand. And the Lord said to me, "Amos, what do you see?" And I said, "A plumb line."
Then the Lord said, "See, I am setting a plumb line in the midst of my people Israel; I will never again pass them by; the high places of Isaac shall be made desolate, and the sanctuaries of Israel shall be laid waste, and I will rise against the house of Jeroboam with the sword."
Then Amaziah, the priest of Bethel, sent to King Jeroboam of Israel, saying, "Amos has conspired against you in the very center of the house of Israel; the land is not able to bear all his words. For thus Amos has said, `Jeroboam shall die by the sword,
and Israel must go into exile away from his land.’"
And Amaziah said to Amos, "O seer, go, flee away to the land of Judah, earn your bread there, and prophesy there; but never again prophesy at Bethel, for it is the king's sanctuary, and it is a temple of the kingdom.”
Then Amos answered Amaziah, "I am no prophet, nor a prophet's son; but I am a herdsman, and a dresser of sycamore trees, and the Lord took me from following the flock, and the Lord said to me, `Go, prophesy to my people Israel.’ "Now therefore hear the word of the Lord. You say, `Do not prophesy against Israel, and do not preach against the house of Isaac.’ Therefore thus says the Lord: `Your wife shall become a prostitute in the city, and your sons and your daughters shall fall by the sword,
and your land shall be parceled out by line; you yourself shall die in an unclean land, and Israel shall surely go into exile away from its land.'"