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Amos 3:1-8, Israel’s Guilt and Punishment

Monday, November 13

Cause and Effect

Narrative Lectionary Daily Devotions written by Kace Leetch from Clergy Stuff.

God has banished the people from their homes and sent them into exile. But it is not simply a vengeful God that has done this. The people of Israel have sinned. The consequence of their sin is exile. God makes it abundantly clear that there are two parties involved here -- God and the people. God does not unilaterally make a decision for the people -- they have brought the calamity upon themselves by their own actions. Their behaviors are as responsible for their consequences as prey is responsible for a lion's roar, or a trap is for an ensnared bird. One does not exist without the other.

It is easy to blame God for things we don't like. But God doesn't just dole out punishments arbitrarily. God has created a world that is filled with dangers, perils, illness, natural disasters. In this world, bad stuff happens. And sometimes it. Just. Happens. No reason. No purpose. Just ick and mess and yuck. But it's not arbitrary. It's because we are living in a world of dangers, perils, illness, and natural disasters that these things happen. Perils are responsible for injuries. Natural disasters are responsible for disaster. One does not exist without the other.

But God also created a world filled with creativity, productivity, relationships, beauty, wisdom, and so much more. And these are responsible for art, technology, science, math, and music. It's because we are living in a world of creativity, productivity, relationships, beauty, and wisdom that we can know and love God. Art helps us express our love for God. The experience of wisdom helps us express our love for one another. One does not exist without the other.

So they live intertwined -- creativity, dangers, productivity, perils, relationships, illness, beauty, natural disasters, wisdom. Whether we are punished or rewarded, we are always in relationship with God.

Narrative Lectionary Text: Amos 3:1-8

Hear this word that the Lord has spoken against you, O people of Israel, against the whole family that I brought up out of the land of Egypt: You only have I known of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities. Do two walk together unless they have made an appointment? Does a lion roar in the forest, when it has no prey? Does a young lion cry out from its den, if it has caught nothing? Does a bird fall into a snare on the earth, when there is no trap for it? Does a snare spring up from the ground, when it has taken nothing? Is a trumpet blown in a city, and the people are not afraid? Does disaster befall a city, unless the Lord has done it? Surely the Lord God does nothing, without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets. The lion has roared; who will not fear? The Lord God has spoken; who can but prophesy?