First Tuesday in Advent

First Tuesday in Advent     LAST DAYS  God’s word scarce  3

Scripture: Amos 8:4-11

Listen to this, you who rob the poor
    and trample down the needy!
You can’t wait for the Sabbath day to be over
    and the religious festivals to end
    so you can get back to cheating the helpless.
You measure out grain with dishonest measures
    and cheat the buyer with dishonest scales.
And you mix the grain you sell
    with chaff swept from the floor.
Then you enslave poor people
    for one piece of silver or a pair of sandals.

Now the Lord has sworn this oath
    by his own name, the Pride of Israel:
“I will never forget
    the wicked things you have done!
The earth will tremble for your deeds,
    and everyone will mourn.
The ground will rise like the Nile River at floodtime;
    it will heave up, then sink again.

“In that day,” says the Sovereign Lord,
“I will make the sun go down at noon
    and darken the earth while it is still day.
10 I will turn your celebrations into times of mourning
    and your singing into weeping.
You will wear funeral clothes
    and shave your heads to show your sorrow—
as if your only son had died.
    How very bitter that day will be!

11 “The time is surely coming,” says the Sovereign Lord,
    “when I will send a famine on the land—
not a famine of bread or water
    but of hearing the words of the Lord.

Some thoughts:

     You might be thinking at this point, “I wonder why all this attention to the Last Days and Final Judgment?” Good question. As we said, it is important to remember to grasp the whole of the significance of the Nativity of Jesus. This baby came essentially to die to make possible the restoration of a fallen creation. The Fall meant that sin had entered the world and there was only one solution―God himself in the form of a baby.

     In Amos’ day, not unlike the days in which we live. The accumulation of wealth by any and every means was the driving force of those in business. The Sabbath was barely tolerated; in truth it was like any other day. Sound familiar? The merchant cheated by adding chaff to the grain to make it bulk up visually. Then their quart basket wasn’t quite a quart. They would use heavy weights when the buyer put their coins on the scale to pay. Not surprisingly, the buyer would then have to add more coins to balance the scale. In effect, they were being cheated twice. To no one’s surprise such kind of activity continues to this day. Through Amos, the Lord condemned this kind of activity. 

     But what does this have to do with advent? Amos is reminding the people that though the Lord is long-suffering, he will bring judgment on all who oppress the truth then and in our day. There are haunting words in this passage about “a day when the sun goes down at noon and darkens the earth while it is still day” and your celebrations turn into times of mourning and weeping and sorrow. Do those words remind you of the sun growing dark at noon on Good Friday . . .  and sorrow in Amos’ words, “as if your only son died?” How bitter that day will be. As often happens in Scripture, a specific prophecy can speak to several levels. There is the immediate situation, but it may also be a shadow of a future event. Such is the case here.

     Our pericope concludes with another prophecy that challenges our day. “The time is surely coming when I will send a famine on the land―not a famine of bread or water but of hearing the words of the Lord.” [Italics mine.] Not only has our secular culture utterly rejected any aspect of Judeo-Christian values, but many mainline Christian denominations have abandoned the authority of the Scriptures succumbing to the culture, making their own twisted interpretations resulting in the hearing of the infallible words of the Lord scarce. The world is filled with all manner of “spirituality” though absent of the presence of the Holy Spirit of God. 

     Through Amos God is warning his people and us that his ultimate plan for final judgment and the restoration of all his peoples and creation will most certainly come to pass. He closes his prophecy with wonderful words of healing and fulfillment to the children of Israel. His final words are, “I will firmly plant them there in their own land. They will never again be uprooted from the land I have given then,” says the Lord your God (9:15). That came true in 1948.  The baby of Bethlehem will most certainly return as Lord and King. Amos give us God’s word, warning, and promise.

Music: “Advent Hymn” Christy Nockels


Grant us, Lord, to imitate the watchfulness of those who waited for your resurrection, so that day and night, Lord, our souls may be turned toward you. In that hour when we shall be separated from men, from the traffic of men, be to us, Lord, a Giver of good things; bring joy to our sadness, your peace into our hearts, and your rest to all our striving, that the darkness of that night may be to us as day. Amen.  ―St. Ephraim, from In the Presence of My Father, p.173-174

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