Sunday, January 24, 2010

Social Justice and Amos


1. Oracles against the nations (1:3-2:16)
a. Damascus
b. Gaza
c. Tyre
d. Edom
e. Ammon
f. Moab
g. Judah
h. Israel
2. Further oracles against Israel
a. 3:1-6
3. Visions of Judgment
a. 7:1-9:4
4. On the sovereignty of God and restoration of Israel
a. 9:5-15

Purpose and Message:
1. (2:6-16) Amos denounces sin and forecasts national disaster due to covenant consequences
2. (3:1-6:14) Amos condemns specific acts of social injustice and religious hypocrisy <4:1, 5:11-12, 6:4-8>
3. (7:1-9:4) Amos relates several visions he has seen relating with God’s judgment and the exile of Israel <8:4-6>
4. (9:5-15) Amos concludes with the promise of Messianic restoration and blessing

Major Theme: Social Justice
6:12, 5:24
Social Service and Social Action are differenciated in John Stott's: “Involvement: Being a Responsible Christian in a Non-Christian Society, Vol. 1” I'll summarize the differences below; but it's important to keep in mind that the Bible, in this case Amos, suggests that we engage in both sorts of social justice.
Social Service:
-Relieve human need (5:12)
-Philanthropy (4:5; 6:4-7)
-Ministering to individuals/ families (4:1; 5:6-7)
-Works of mercy (4:1; 6:4-7)

Social Action:
-Remove causes of human need (8:4-6)
-Political and economic activity (5:10-11, 15)
-Transforming the structures of society (4:4-5; 7:7-9)
-Quest for justice (2:6-8; 5:7, 24; 6:12)

5 Areas of Christian Teaching that Foster Meaningful Involvement in Society:

1. A doctrine of God as the creator and sustainer of creation, merciful God of all nations, a God who hates injustice and is concerned for humankind (2:10; 4:13; 5:8, 15; 9:7)

2. A doctrine of humanity that understands that all persons are God’s creatures, created in His image, and valuable (1:9; 2:1; 9:7)

3. A doctrine of Jesus as Messiah that understands the renewal and restoration associated with true redemption (9:13-15)

4. A doctrine of salvation that admits human fallenness and sin, looks beyond to God for the solutions to the problems of sin and evil in the world, and truly “does justice” (2:4; 3:2; 5:4-6, 14-15)

5. A doctrine of church as a community that sees responsibility to be an agent of reconciliation and restoration for our fallen world (3:1; 9:11-15)

(From B. Thorogood’s “On the Book of Amos as an Old Testament Paradigm for Social Concern”)

From Other Passages:
1. In the Minor Prophets – Haggai 1:5-7; Malachi 1:8; 2:10, 17)
2. In the Wisdom Books – Ps. 140:12
3. In the Historical Books – Boaz and Ruth
4. In the Gospels – Mt. 6:19-21
5. In the Epistles – James 2:15-16

Further Reading:

“Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger” Sider
“Involvement: Being a Responsible Christian in a Non-Christian
Society, Vol. 1” John Stott
“Churches that Make a Difference: Reaching Your Community with
Good News and Good Works” Sider, Olson, and Unruh
“The Church in Response to Human Need” Samuel and Sugden
“A Quiet Revolution: Meeting Human Needs Today; A Biblical
Challenge to Christians” John Perkins
“Christian Social Ethics” Cotham
“Ministry to the Social and Physical Needs of Our Society”
“Christian Principles – Missions and the Poor”
“The Gospel in Action: A Holistic Approach”
“God’s Heart for the Poor”

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