Priests do not come off looking very good in this passage. Amaziah is the priest in Bethel where Amos is announcing judgment upon King Jeroboam and upon Israel. Amaziah, on the king’s payroll, doesn’t take kindly to Amos’ words of criticism and condemnation. Amaziah doesn’t seem to care about the veracity of what Amos is saying. He feels threatened because he has hitched his wagon to the king’s fortunes. Amaziah is in a clear conflict of interest.
If we read earlier in the book of Amos, we begin to understand the reason for God’s fierce anger toward Israel. They “afflict the righteous?take a bribe, and push aside the needy in the gate.” (Amos 5:12) In short, they don’t respect God and they trample the needy. Amos poetically states what God really wants: “But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” (Amos 5:24)
Where do our interests lie? Do we align our interests with the vulnerable people of this world or do we align our interests with the people in power? It’s a tough question that calls for sober self-reflection.
Guardian of the poor, open our ears to hear the prophets in our midst who name the inconvenient truths and painful realities in our own time. Give us ears to hear and the courage to act. Amen. — RF