Photo by Drew Rae from Pexels
In the past few weeks I have had more than one person respond to my Facebook posts with some variation of the following sentiment.
"Why should we care if children are placed in cages and shot in schools?
Why should we care if Christians are misrepresenting God and trying to make America into a "Christian" White Supremacist paradise?
"Why should we care about racists, xenophobes and misogynists masquerading as God's chosen messengers?
"Why should we care about economic juggernauts that destroy the environment and trample on the rights of the poor and vulnerable?
"Why should we care about women being harassed and assaulted by powerful sexual predators?
"Why should we care that our leaders are wantonly destroying the Earth?
We should be HAPPY because those are signs that Jesus is coming soon!!"
Now, of course, they don't use exactly those WORDS. But that is clearly the underlying sentiment.
That is not the viewpoint of the God I worship. And some reflection, I recalled that the one of the Old Testament prophets specifically addresses pious people anxiously awaiting "the Day of the Lord." Reading that passage again and reflecting on it, I was forceably struck by the uncanny parallels between Israel at the time of the prophet Amos and America in the 21st Century.
I don't want to put words in the Prophet's mouth, or to twist scripture to make a point, but to me the similarities are inescapable. See what you think. I'll quote the text with the parallels I see in parentheses with question marked.
Amos emphatically condemns a nation full of greed, oppression, corruption and evil. A nation where people claim to be righteous and waiting for the "Day of the Lord," but are more concerned about their own welfare and their selfish interests than about the needs or the suffering of the poor, vulnerable or marginalized.
"There are those who hate the one who upholds justice in court
and detest the one who tells the truth. (Robert Mueller, Dr. Blasey Ford?)
"You levy a straw tax on the poor (tax cuts, drastic cuts to social services, unliveable minimum wage, gutting healthcare coverage for the poor?)
and impose a tax on their grain. (Tariffs?)
"Therefore, though you have built stone mansions, you will not live in them; (Trump Tower, Mar-a-Lago, monopolistic companies who trample on the rights of workers and prioritize profits over morality?)
though you have planted lush vineyards, you will not drink their wine.
"For I know how many are your offenses and how great your sins.
There are those who oppress the innocent and take bribes and deprive the poor of justice in the courts." (Prosecuting humanitarians at the border, separating immigrant families, depriving death row inmates of spiritual comfort, eviscerating environmental regulations?) (Amos 5:10-12)
God then forcefully expresses his indignation against those who claim to be His people and make a show of serving him, while involved in the evil and unjust activities He hates, or while turning their backs on the suffering of others:
“I hate, I despise your religious festivals;
your assemblies are a stench to me.
Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings,
I will not accept them.
Though you bring choice fellowship offerings,
I will have no regard for them.
Away with the noise of your songs!
I will not listen to the music of your harps."
He explains why he hates their worship.
“Did you bring me sacrifices and offerings
forty years in the wilderness, people of Israel?
You have lifted up the shrine of YOUR KING, (Donald Trump, as "Cyrus," corrupt religious leaders?)
the pedestal of your idols,
the star of YOUR GOD —which you made for yourselves." (supporting policies that harm others for selfish reasons, twisting Christianity to make it a White American religion, despising people of other races, cultures and religions?) (Amos 5:25, 26)
And explains what he really wants from His people.
But let justice roll on like a river,
righteousness like a never-failing stream!
Then Amos gives counsel for escaping the judgment of God.
"Seek good, not evil,
that you may live.
Then the Lord God Almighty will be with you,
just as you say he is.
Hate evil, love good;
maintain justice in the courts.
Perhaps the Lord God Almighty will have mercy
on the remnant of Joseph."
But if God's people do NOT take this counsel to heart and repent of their greed, oppression, evil and corruption, and their indifference to the suffering of others, God gives them severe warnings.
"Therefore this is what the Lord, the Lord God Almighty, says:
“There will be wailing in all the streets
and cries of anguish in every public square.
The farmers will be summoned to weep (tariffs, climate change?)
and the mourners to wail. (Burgeoning hate crimes, school shootings)
There will be wailing in all the vineyards,
for I will pass through your midst,” (natural disasters, droughts caused by our own abuse of the Earth?) says the Lord.
"Woe to you who long for the day of the Lord!
WHY DO YOU LONG FOR THE DAY OF THE LORD?
That day will be darkness, not light.
It will be as though a man fled from a lion
only to meet a bear,
"as though he entered his house
and rested his hand on the wall
only to have a snake bite him.
"Will not the day of the Lord be darkness, not light—
pitch-dark, without a ray of brightness.
Jesus said pretty much the same thing another way:
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
"For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger (immigrant) and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison (on death row) and you did not look after me.’
“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” (Matt. 25-31-46) I don't know about you, but it sounds to me like the Bible says that if we don't care about alleviating the suffering and oppression of others on Earth, Jesus may not come for US!