Reflection for Today ▶️ ⏩ ⏹️
Oliver Anthony, composer/singer of Rich Men North of Richmond. Speaking truth to power.
Thus saith the Lord; For three transgressions of Israel, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they sold the righteous for silver, and the poor for a pair of shoes; That pant after the dust of the earth on the head of the poor, and turn aside the way of the meek: and a man and his father will go in unto the same maid, to profane my holy name:
— Amos 2:6-7
After condemning Israel's enemies, finishing with its estranged sibling, Judah, Amos gets to the crux of his sermon. In two short verses he succinctly summarises Israel's threefold sin: greed, contempt and profanity. Amos expounds on Israel's sins in the next three chapters, but this digest is enough to bring it home to his listeners that he sees them. He knows what is going on. The rich are crushing the poor to get ever-richer and the temple has become a house of prostitution. Hedonism and corruption are rife in every quarter of the city. Amos, an outsider, does what no Israelite is able or willing to do: speak truth to power.
Having cleverly obliterated Israel's enemies already, Amos leaves the Israelites with nowhere to cast blame and thus must look to themselves. Ultimately the prophet is driven out of Israel for his presumption, but having delivered God's word this action was empty and ineffective. The man left, the Word stayed.
It sometimes takes a stranger to show us the way—especially at those times we have become so blinded by righteousness and so deafened by the echo chamber of agreement we create for ourselves that there is no one left in our circle to speak the truth. We don't want to hear the message, and often we will shoot the messenger, but in time change will take hold. Once we know, it becomes impossible to un-know.