Amos 7:7-15 - Being a true priest without pedigree

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This is what adonay Yahweh showed me: adonay was standing beside a wall built with a plumb line, with a plumb line in his hand. And Yahweh said to me, “Amos, what do you see?” And I said, “A plumb line.” Then the adonay 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 Yahweh took me from following the flock, and Yahweh said to me, 'Go, prophesy to my people Israel.'”


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This is the track 2 optional Old Testament reading for the seventh Sunday after Pentecost [Proper 10], Year B, according to the lectionary for the Episcopal Church. If chosen, this will be accompanied by a partial reading from Psalm 85, where David sang, “I will listen to what ha-el Yahweh is saying, for he is speaking peace to his faithful people and to those who turn their hearts to him.” Those readings will then precede the Epistle selection from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, where he wrote: “[You] had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; this is the pledge of our inheritance toward redemption as God's own people.” That will all accompany the Gospel reading from Mark, where we read: “The king was deeply grieved; yet out of regard for his oaths and for the guests, he did not want to refuse her. Immediately the king sent a soldier of the guard with orders to bring John’s head.”


It should be noted that the above English translation [said to come from the NRSV] has been amended such that it is seen where Amos actually wrote “adonay” and “Yahweh,” which are not to be generalized as “Lord God.” This is because Yahweh is not to be seen as an external Spirit that commands human beings to act. A soul is the “lord” of one’s flesh and a soul will quite often become lorded over by the flesh it possesses. Many things of the world can then become “lords” over a soul-flesh entity, all allowed by Yahweh. Thus the combination of “adonay Yahweh” becomes a statement that one’s soul has married Yahweh, so His Holy Spirit has become the “Lord” over one’s flesh, through its union with one’s soul, giving the soul the strength to overcome the influences of the flesh to sin.


In this translation, the introduction that says, “This is what adonay Yahweh showed me” actually comes from verse one, which has now been superimposed onto verse seven. The first six verse tell of “adonay Yahweh” allowing Amos to see and “behold!” locusts devouring the crops and grasses, followed by a fire that spread across the land. Both times Amos prayed for Yahweh to make those things go away. With that having been symbolically shown to Amos, as the kings acting as locusts who destroy the source of spiritual bread for the Israelite people, the fire is symbolizing the coming ruin from invaders that will rage uncontrollably. Now, after Amos prayed to make it stop, he was shown the symbolism of a plumb line.


The metaphor of a wall needs to be seen as the split that had occurred that divided Israel from Judah, after the death of Solomon. Jeroboam was the first King of Israel, which would become known as the Northern Kingdom. They refused to follow Rehoboam, who was the son of Solomon and thereby the first King of Judah, the Southern Kingdom. The plumb line being held by “adonay,” which is a statement of Amos seeing his own soul holding it, at the direction of Yahweh, means the wall was not upright. Yahweh said the measure of that necessary perfection was “in the midst of my people,” which needs to be better understood.


The name Jeroboam means “May The People Contend” or “He Pleads The People’s Cause” [Wikipedia], while also meaning “May The People Increase” or “Whose People Are Countless.” This says that Jeroboam [most likely] took a kingly name that became like a pope being elected and losing his given name, in order to be known by a symbolic name. This says Jeroboam was the puppet creation of the people, because the people wanted more ability to do as they pleased; and, they feared following a son of Solomon might force them to give their souls to Yahweh and become true priests of Him, rather than being allowed to be the self-serving evil creatures they wanted to be. Thus, in the haste to break from the monarchy of one Israel, they threw down some rocks and called it a wall of separation, with nothing square, nothing upright, not the people and not the king.


When Yahweh told Amos the plumb line was in the “midst of the people,” the Hebrew word “bə·qe·reḇ” means “in the inward part,” which is the “soul” [or the “heart”]. Yahweh was not calling Amos to serve him because he wanted him to go present arguments that would change the brains of selfish people, to warn them that they were all leaning askew and about to fall over. Yahweh was telling His new prophet that the souls of the Israelites had not been eating spiritual food and the new change of separation was about to bring a swarm of manna-eating locust kings and queen all over Israel, creating a famine that would dry out their souls, making them become kindling for the first spark of lightning that would throw those souls into the eternal fires of hell and damnation. Kings were just the front men. Yahweh wanted Amos to go to the new temple Israel had set up in Bethel, where a real crooked cornerstone had been laid with Amaziah [a false prophet].


When Yahweh told Amos, “I will never again pass them by,” this is a reference to their souls no longer being saved from death, as the firstborn of Yahweh’s priests established to feed the truth to the world. By breaking away from the place where Isaac was placed on an altar by Abraham, to be sacrificed to Yahweh as a lamb of God, Isaac was passed over and a ram would take his place. That place of sacrifice was Mount Moriah, where Solomon had built a Temple. By breaking from Judah, the “high places of Isaac would become desolated” by the Israelites no longer going there. The inference is then that the Israelites would begin to ignore the Passover commitment that kept their souls married to Yahweh, through the rituals of their bodies of flesh. Therefore, Amos was told to tell them their souls were in grave danger.


The creation of new sanctuaries in Bethel would be destroyed. The house of Israel [the Northern Kingdom] would come to ruin. The sword would come from wars over centuries, with the final sword coming from the Assyrians.


The transition to Amaziah sending a message to Jeroboam, telling on Amos then says Amos did as his visions of Yahweh told him to do. That ‘in your face’ message had Amaziah seeking revenge, which required papal approval. When the translation says, “Amos has conspired against you in the very center of the house of Israel,” here, again, is the use of the Hebrew “bə·qe·reḇ,” which says Amos plucked on a “heart” string, which is connected to the ‘soul bones.’ That being in “the midst” of the house of Israel made Amos an “elohim,” whose “adonay” was Yahweh. That fear felt by Amaziah caused him to take it upon himself to cast out Amos himself, telling him: “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.” That says Amaziah knew Amos was a prophet, greater than he was, so he needed to run him off as soon as possible.


Where the translation says, “earn your bread there,” the Hebrew written is “we·’ĕ·ḵāl-šām le-hem,” which says “eat there bread.” While it has been seen as evidence that Amaziah was a hired hand prophet, who earned his keep by telling the king what he thought the king wanted or needed to hear, the meaning of “eat your bread” says “receive your manna from heaven somewhere else, other than here.” To see that as “earning” the knowledge of prophecy, that translation admits Amaziah saw Amos as one who truly could prophesy. One thing about prophecy that is revealing is it rarely says good things, like “You will win lots of friends and influence many people.” True prophecy says things like “Yahweh is going to cut Jeroboam’s head off with a sword.” To tell Amos to go to Judah with a divine message like that meant, “Yeah. Go tell someone who wants to hear that news, because we certainly don’t want that.”


When the translation says, “never again prophesy at Bethel, for it is the king’s sanctuary, and it is a temple of the kingdom,” the reality of what is written makes a stronger point of saying “Bethel is holy.” The Hebrew written says “miq·daš-me·leḵ,” or “the sacred place of the king.” That did not mean that Jeroboam hung out in the temple in Bethel, as much as it meant the king would call upon his priests in Bethel for divine guidance. While the king’s residence was nearby, in the same town, the “royalty” was earthly or worldly, not divine or heavenly. Amos had come to let that be known, but Amaziah was already acting like an advisor to a king like those other nations had, not one that had Yahweh as it King. Therefore, there was not true “sanctuary” anywhere in Bethel; and, had not been since the Ark of the Covenant was removed by the sons of Eli.


When Amos listened to Amaziah tell him to leave Israel and go to Judah, Amos told him the truth. He said he lived in Israel, as a landowner that herded sheep and tended to the fruit yielded by sycamore trees, which must be cut off when green and left to ripen. Such a landowner would have been working the land for some time, probably inheriting it from his father. One does not pack up and take sheep and sycamore trees with one to Judah. As such, Amos said he was there to stay; and, besides that, he was not some fancy robe-wearing temple priest. He was one of those influenced by David, in some way [his Psalms perhaps], who was also a shepherd, with Amos representing one of his ripened fruits whose soul had married Yahweh. It was due to that marriage commitment that Amos did as his Holy Husband said.


As an optional reading choice for the seventh Sunday after Pentecost, when one’s personal ministry for Yahweh should be well underway, Amos says how a ministry of Yahweh acts. One receives the message of Yahweh and then one goes and delivers it. Certainly there will be those who hold contempt in their souls over being told their souls are in grave danger if they keep playing gods on earth. However, a true prophet boldly goes and delivers all messages, whereas a hired hand takes offense at having the truth be told to him or her.


As a reflection of modern Christianity, Amos becomes the epitome of a true priest whose soul has found unity through commitment to Yahweh [not some "lord," which can be anything from a Bishop to a seminary Dean, to a vestry writing the paychecks for a hired hand]. A true priest listens to what Yahweh says, as one whose true "Lord" is Yahweh. So many priests who stand on podiums and deliver college-level sermons that would impress on their college professors, never inspiring a soul-body to suddenly stand up at their pew and praise Yahweh for having been delivered a message that needed to be heard, because none of those hired hands have ever been told to submit to Yahweh and become His face to the world [not anything less than Jesus resurrected within one's being]. So many priest, pastors, and ministers in Christianity today are resurrections of Amziah. That means the message of the plumb line hold true for the United States of America and all the Christian world. The true cornerstone must be put in the proper place - ONE'S SOUL - or everything will come to ruin - all the holy places will be destroyed - all the Martin Luther King and Pope John Paul II worshipers will fall before the judgment of Yahweh.