After detailing the transgressions of the rich in Israel against the poor Amos reveals the sin in their actions and the inherent judgement in what they are doing. He says,
The Lord has sworn by the pride of Jacob: Surely I will never forget any of their deeds. Shall not the land tremble on this account, and everyone mourn who lives in it, and all of it rise like the Nile, and be tossed about and sink again, like the Nile of Egypt?
Amos 8:7-8 NRSV
The Lord will not forget the victims. The transgressions of the nation are not forgotten. The life giving waters of the Nile rise up each season and churn the sediments. It’s inevitable. Amos speaks of the destruction of Israel because of their pride, the life giving waters, their wealth churns up their folly. Then Amos ends,
I will restore the fortunes of my people Israel, and they shall rebuild the ruined cities and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and drink their wine, and they shall make gardens and eat their fruit. I will plant them upon their land, and they shall never again be plucked up out of the land that I have given them, says the Lord your God.
Amos 9:14-15 NRSV
Suddenly in the text there is a people God does not destroy. Those left behind are able to rebuild in the midst of the judgement.
The theme of exile is also here, exile from Eden mirroring the exile from the promised land, the people brought back under Moses. The vision is one of a new returning to a renewed Eden.
Those who were taken away were the ones judged by God whereas those left behind were the remnant who receive grace and are renewed. Grace is shown that they will no longer to be plucked away as a judgement and, further more, the nation taken away in judgement with those who hear God’s calling, will return to share in the abundance.
So much to ponder.
But wait this is important now, for our time. After speaking of the Nile, Amos conjures this image,
On that day, says the Lord God, I will make the sun go down at noon, and darken the earth in broad daylight. I will turn your feasts into mourning, and all your songs into lamentation; I will bring sackcloth on all loins, and baldness on every head; I will make it like the mourning for an only son, and the end of it like a bitter day.
Amos 8:9-10 NRSV https://bible.com/bible/2016/amo.8.9-10.NRSV
This is made real in the death of Christ and recalled in Luke 23.
It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, while the sun’s light failed; and the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” Having said this, he breathed his last.
Luke 23:44-46 NRSV
Also James uses this section of scripture, from the Greek Bible as a proof text for the inclusion of the Gentiles in to the people of God,
‘After this I will return, and I will rebuild the dwelling of David, which has fallen; from its ruins I will rebuild it, and I will set it up, so that all other peoples may seek the Lord— even all the Gentiles over whom my name has been called. Thus says the Lord, who has been making these things
Acts 15:16-17 NRSV
Or as the Hebrew Bible says,
On that day I will raise up the booth of David that is fallen, and repair its breaches, and raise up its ruins, and rebuild it as in the days of old; in order that they may possess the remnant of Edom and all the nations who are called by my name, says the Lord who does this.
Amos 9:11-12 NRSV
This is made real in the resurrection of Christ and the gift of the Spirit at Pentecost.
It is true now, and has always been that God really cares for the poor and marginalised and has formed creation so that the pride of those who trust in wealth is punished without mercy by the inevitable flow of history, evil begetting evil. Amos sees this and experiences it. This is the sin of the world; pride and the forgetting of the poor, which leads us to forget God.
But suddenly in Christ this changes and out of the devastation God brings a new life. The wounds we have recieved and the wounds we have inflicted are healed. Jesus delivers us from the sin of the world. We are born once more to love. This love wounds us again and again, as we seek to follow the calling of Christ, being transformed by turning again and again to him in our need.
Jesus died to deliver us from the power of the sin of the world and his grace to all is that in the cross there is healing so that we may live a resurrection life where love transforms all in all. The sin of the world is defeated in Christ and we are called to live a life in a new kingdom under the rule of Christ which is love. Here we find abundance that transforms the devestation.
First our wounds are healed, and then we are faced with our part in the inflicting of wounds, horrified at the wounds we inflict on the One who is love. Grace says even though God will not forget the evils done, God does not forget the victim, and tribulation will follow, God says you are remembered, washed and clean, and will prevail to abundance. God acts in our lives, not because we deserve it, preserving us to the end; never forgetting us, giving up on us or leaving us.
First we experience love, and in Christ we learn love, finding healing in his life. Then, love draws us to goodness and we find grace. No prayer has earned this, we find God because God seeks us. We love God because God first loves us. We are delivered from sin through the work of Christ.
For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.
Colossians 1:19-20 NRSV