Have you ever noticed that when a group of children is being a group of children, yours is the only one you can see or hear? There might be a big bunch of them running around and being loud, but yours appears to the loudest and the most involved. Maybe they actually are, maybe they actually aren’t, but we look at our own children with a stricter lens, so to speak, than others. Yesterday we said it’s easy to look at those who are not believers and judge what they are doing, but it’s even easier to look at our own and hold them to a higher standard.
We feel that they should know better, we feel that we have told them enough times not to do that/to do that, we feel that we have given them examples in our own behaviour and character that when they do not follow our example, this upsets us all the more than other kids tearing around wrecking the place…if ours says/does/thinks/even tries to do anything we feel like “How could you do this to me!”. Dramatic, maybe, but true to a degree, absolutely.
Here in Amos 2 we see God’s judgement on Israel, and it is around three times longer and more detailed than previous judgements. It actually carries on in to chapter three, but for now we see a couple of really important things that show us that the privilege we have as God’s people brings us a responsibility to live accordingly.
In Exodus 22 we read
“26 If ever you take your neighbor’s cloak in pledge, you shall return it to him before the sun goes down, 27 for that is his only covering, and it is his cloak for his body; in what else shall he sleep? And if he cries to me, I will hear, for I am compassionate.”
Here in Amos we see that the people lay themselves down beside every altar on garments taken in pledge…a clear cut example of the fact that Israel should have known better.
Verses 10 and 11 are key, too,
“10 Also it was I who brought you up out of the land of Egypt and led you forty years in the wilderness, to possess the land of the Amorite.
11 And I raised up some of your sons for prophets, and some of your young men for Nazirites. Is it not indeed so, O people of Israel?” declares the LORD.”
God brought them out of Egypt, they have this reminder of His wonderful power and how it worked in their favour. God took them from slavery (brought you up out of the land of Egypt), cared for them in the interim (led you forty years in the wilderness), gave them land in which to dwell (to possess the land of the Amorite), and provided for their spiritual needs too (I raised up some of your sons for prophets, and some of your young men for Nazirites).
Their rejection of God’s ways and their lifestyle of habitual sin is all the worse, then, because they had first-hand eye-witness testimony of God miraculously working among them. Their privilege became a responsibility they could not carry.
We too have a huge responsibility as we bear the name of Jesus (Christian means, literally, little Christ), and we are called to display this clearly and for all to see (Matthew 5.14-16).
This is our privilege, and this is our responsibility.