Lenten journey from Amos Through Jeremiah
Prepare your hearts by reading Amos 4 -9
“Traveling through the OT”, a study designed to help the traveler maneuver through the old testament, an analogy to the AT, the Appalachian trail, which can take months to accomplish. Many hikers choose to hike different sections of the trail or travel straight through. The goal for this journey, a thru-hike of 40 days, will be to prepare our hearts during the lenten season, as we study the time period before the people of Israel were taken into captivity, before the great exile. What can we learn about this time period and apply it to today? Are those times much different than what we are experiencing in 2021?
We will begin, right where we left off previously, with Amos, right in the middle of the trail. To the thru-hiker, this could be Virginia; to the old testament scholar, this could be the minor prophets. The time is 760 bc, 17 years before the time period of Israel’s conquest and exile to Babylon. This journey will travel through the OT up until the captivity time period. And maybe that’s a great place to immerse ourselves during this season. A reminder to us, to prepare our hearts to step away from what captivates our own hearts and minds away from God. So let’s begin……
A little review…… The book of Amos was set in 760 bc during the time of King Uzziah of Judah and Jeroboam II, king of Israel. We pause at this moment in time when king after king had rebelled against the Lord. A few of these men attempted to follow God’s decrees and laws but in the end, they fell captive to their idols. The story of Amos is the first revelation of the collapse of Israel, the northern kingdom. Amos was a shepherd in Judah. God spoke to him through visions and called him from his fields. Amos stated in 7:14-15, “I have no history of being a prophet, nor am I related to a prophet. My work is out in the fields. But God called me. He showed me things I cannot explain. He spoke to me and I had to listen.” (paraphrased) Amos left his home. He didn’t go far. Just to the territory next door, in Israel. But he had a very powerful and contrasting message to tell. I would imagine a very difficult message to share. Amos stated “People hate this kind of talk. Raw truth is never popular.” (Message translation, Amos 5:10-12) Many theologians historically have asked, “what is truth”? This is not man’s truth. This is God’s truth. Amos was not a preacher. God took him from his flock and said “go tell them what I have to say”. And he did.
And what did Amos have to say? They were not pleasantries or glossed over transgressions. These were downright “calling it like it is” moments.
“‘Your wife shall be a prostitute in the city,
and your sons and your daughters shall fall by the sword,
and your land shall be divided up with a measuring line;
you yourself shall die in an unclean land,
and Israel shall surely go into exile away from its land.’” ( 7:17)
What if God was trying to convey the same messages to us today? Are there not parallels to the crazy perilous times we live in our world today? Take a glimpse at some of the transgressions beheld by the nation of Israel.
“Woe to those who live in luxury
and expect everyone else to serve them!
Woe to those who live only for today,
indifferent to the fate of others!
Woe to the playboys, the playgirls,
who think life is a party held just for them!
Woe to those addicted to feeling good—life without pain!
those obsessed with looking good—life without wrinkles!
They could not care less
about their country going to ruin” (6:3-6)
What do you think? Take a few moments and review your steps on this trial. There are themes among the pages. Can you list a few of these themes?
Oppression to the poor and needy, religion for the sake of religion, injustice to others, idolatry.
Are there any of these themes that speak truth in your life?
Let’s spend the next 40 days together. We will travel from the book of Amos through Jeremiah, up until the days of captivity. And while we are traveling, think about what holds your heart captive? Let’s learn from history. Please, let’s not repeat history. I do not wish to go into exile, how about you?
In my opinion, every great Lenten study must include music. As I have done in the past, I will conclude each day with music for meditation. Music to open your heart as you hike down the trail of the OT. Follow us on Spotify at thehopeforpain, and go to “Travel the OT” playlist. Today’s song is “Run to The Father” by Cody Carnes, released in 2020. Beautiful lyrics, beautiful song. “My heart needs a surgeon, my soul needs a friend. So I’ll run to the Father. Again and again. “