The Psalm speaks of the land of Israel having God’s blessings. It needed it. God’s blessing was both a protection and a source of bounty. The gist is that if Israel’s people were being blessed by the land, including peace from war, bountiful crops, and growing families, then God should be at the forefront of the list of giving thanks.
The US has long held itself (with some rationale) as a blessed and fertile land. Yes, there were blips (droughts—including the blight that was part of the Great Depression, blights, pests, etc). As a whole, however, the US continues to have bountifully producing lands. Historically, we have been relatively free from war and conflict. Our families could grow large if we wanted.
Yet, a common refrain, especially during any so-call culture wars/battles, is that things would get better if we returned to God wholeheartedly. The problem with that is that people see all the blessings, so are confused as to why they should be looking to God. That may have well the same issue with the Israelites.
The refrain of returning to God is rising again. Most of us think only of the political “right” when it comes to that. It is true that many of the religious folks that are calling for a “return to God” are aligned to the “right” politically. However, there are voices on the political “left” that are also speaking prophetic language. Words such as “reckoning” are coming out. That’s a very Biblical concept. Those aligned politically on the “left” don’t use much religious language because the “right” appears to own it (they don’t), and will delegitimize those on the “left” who use religious language. However, for both “sides”, they actually have a similar vision…things will not work the way they have been.
The political jostling distracts from the prophetic words coming from both “sides” of the political divide. That both agree (in different words, granted) that this is not as God intended should be something that everyone should be paying attention to…especially in the church. In an era that is becoming more politically rigidly divided, every prophetic bone in every Christian, along with the Holy Spirit present in each one of us is screaming, “LOOK AT THIS!”
In Amos, we see a picture of Israel that is so loved by God it had been—up to this point—able to avoid the natural punishment that had come to those around it. God’s love had kept them from the consequences. That protection was on its last legs. This is the roaring lion of Judah in Amos. It isn’t the lion that protects. It is the lion that warns.
The lion is roaring, church! Are you listening?
Once we listen, if we choose to, what then?
Paul tells the church to act wisely and to make the most of every opportunity to share about Jesus and the Gospel. If you read that passage, verses 5 and 6 almost don’t seem to fit. In my imagination, I see Paul writing this letter from jail, and one of his jailers comes in and it clicks with Paul as he has been sharing with his jailers about Jesus that the Colossians should, too. That Paul seems to interrupt his chain of thought to mention this should wrap this in neon lights and glitter. All our sharp rhetoric and political bludgeoning aren’t how this is supposed to work…not for the church, at least. Sharp rhetoric and political bludgeoning are the way of the world.
The lion is roaring, and we claim it’s at the culture, the system, etcetera. The lion is roaring at the church to say, “get to the work of the kingdom!”
- What do you see with your heart when you read the Scriptures? Do you take away something different?
- How can prophetic voices from different political poles still speak prophetically to the church and the world and both be authentic?
- Is there a particular issue that the lion roars for you? What is the human (not political) person like on the “opposite” side? Is it really opposition rather than perspective? (Advice: don’t let the politics deceive you about people)
Lord, we of your church have lost our prophetic voice with far more issues than we have retained. Guide our hearts to seek your will, to be your witnesses, and to be the needed prophetic voice to your bride—the church—and then to the world. Amen.