Thoughts on the minor prophets, Day 30, Lent 2013

Today's big gulp of Bible reading covers Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, and Nahum. There is plenty to like in these books. I wanted to highlight a few morsels.
Joel has this great promise from God, which was seen in Job's story and in Jesus' promise that whatever is given up for him will be returned a hundredfold (Mark 10:28-31). The quotes below are from The Voice Bible translation that lays things out like a screenplay.
Joel 2:25 Eternal One: I will compensate you for the years that the locusts have eaten—the swarming locusts, The creeping locusts, the stripping locusts, and the cutting locusts— My great army that I unleashed against you. 26 In that day, you will eat plenty of food and always have enough, so you will praise My name, The Eternal One, your God who is merciful to you. Never again will My people be shamed among the nations. 27 Return to Me and you will know that I live among My people Israel and that I, the Eternal One, am your God and there is no other. Never again will My people be shamed among the nations. 28 Then in those days I will pour My Spirit to all humanity; your children will boldly and prophetically speak the word of God. Your elders will dream dreams; your young warriors will see visions. 29 No one will be left out. In those days I will offer My spirit to all servants, both male and female. 30 In the heaven above and on the earth below, I will give signs of My intervention: blood, fire, and clouds of smoke. 31 The sun will become a void of darkness, and the moon will become blood just before the great and dreadful day of the Eternal One arrives. 32 Then everyone who calls on the name of the Eternal One will be liberated. {Paul quotes this in Romans 10:13) Mount Zion and Jerusalem will shelter those who survive exile, Just as the Eternal says, “Among those who survived, He will call them.” (Peter quotes this big chunk in Acts 2:17-21)
Amos seems to hate on Ayn Randian economics, survival of the fittest, unrestrained capitalism. He would probably not make a popular speaker at a Republican rally.
Amos 5:10 Those of you who hold power now hate the one who judges in the courts at the gate and detest anybody who speaks the truth. 11 So because you have climbed to success on the backs of the poor and your wealth comes from taxes you impose on their harvests, You may well build mansions of expensively-cut stones, but you’ll never occupy them. You may plant beautiful vineyards, but you’ll never enjoy their delicious wine. 12 For I know the depth of evil that you’ve done, and I see the gravity of your sins: You persecute those who do the right thing, you take bribes, and you push the poor to one side in the courts at the city gates instead of helping them. 13 So the wise may decide to keep quiet just then, because truly, it is an evil time.
This makes me think of the recent mortgage crisis (too big to fail) and all those who profited and will not pay any consequence (too big to jail) while many lost their homes for a pittance of the fat cats on top. Speaking of fat cats, God is harsh on the wives of the wealthy too.
 Amos 4:1 Hear this word, you cows on the fertile pastures of Bashan, who grow fat and happy on the hillsides of Samaria, Who oppress the poor and destroy the needy while you order your husbands to do your own work. 2 The Eternal Lord has made a vow by His own holiness: Eternal One: The day will come when your enemy will drag you away with hooks like sides of beef—will subdue you with fishhooks, each and every one of you. 3 You’ll be forced to leave through breached walls, each one of you taken straight out and cast into Harmon, a place of exile.
Sometimes, oftentimes (?) our only hope for justice extends beyond this time. Will there be justice for Hitler, Mao, or Stalin? Not in this life, but I'm hoping with Amos, for justice in the next.

Russian Icon XVIII century. Prophets Amos-and-...
Russian Icon XVIII century. Prophets Amos-and-Obadiah (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Obadiah is one chapter. It promises justice.

Jonah is not about justice but mercy. With God, mercy is always available.
Jonah 4:1 The mercy God extended toward Nineveh upset Jonah terribly. The more he thought about it, the angrier he became. 2 So he prayed to the Eternal. Jonah: Eternal One, isn’t this what I said would happen when I was still in my own country? This is exactly the reason I ran away to Tarshish in the first place. I know how You are! I know that You are not like other gods, that You are full of grace and compassion, that it takes a lot to make You angry, and that Your loyal love is so great that You are always ready to relent from inflicting misery.
Micah also does not sound like Republican material. He also has a gripe with religious teachers who are in it for personal gain.
Micah 3:1 Listen to what I say, you leaders of Jacob who judge, you rulers of the people of Israel who sit in the city gates. Shouldn’t you know what justice is? 2 Yet you hate what is good and love evil; you skin the people alive and tear the meat from their bones. 3 These selfish judges eat the flesh of my people, strip off their skin, break their bones into splinters, And chop them up like stew meat for the kettle, like meat for the pot. 4 In that time something dire will happen, and they will call on the Eternal, but He will not answer them. He will hide His face from them then because they have acted so wickedly. 5 This is my message for the false prophets who have led my people so far from the truth, Who preach peace when someone pays them with food and declare war against those who don’t: 6 “It will be a dark night, too dark for you who lack vision, and it will be darkness for you who cannot divine.” The sun will go down on these so-called prophets, and the day will be black all around them. 7 The seers will be in disgrace, and those who predict the future ashamed. They will keep their mouths shut because there will be no word from God.
Nahum has a warning for Nineveh, the same empire Jonah went to.
Nahum 1:7 The Eternal One is good, a safe shelter in times of trouble. He cares for those who search for protection in Him. 8 But with an overwhelming flood, He will make a complete end to his enemies. He will chase His foes into oblivion.
Things did turn out this way, but God's patience spans generations. God outlasted Stalin, and now it is a freer country, and the oppressed church has significant authority again. God outlasted Mao, and China might have as many Christians in its population as the United States now.

I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the minor prophets tomorrow.
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