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Faithlife

O Say, Can't You See?

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God wishes every nation to live up

Notes & Transcripts
I was a sophomore in High School. In history class. When I recited this to the class, from memory:
241 years ago, our nation’s founding fathers set out on
"When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bonds which have connected them with one another, and to assume among the Powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect of the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”
This Tuesday, our nation celebrates its 241st day of independence.
Since its humble beginnings, America has become the pre-eminent nation of the world. An economic powerhouse. The only remaining superpower. A bastion of freedom and democracy. A nation founded on a dream—the American dream. That if you work hard, wherever you’re from, whatever race or creed you adhere to, you may come to these lands and live a good life.
We reflect on what the future holds for the United States of America. As we do, we turn to an obscure book in the Old Testament. To Amos, the very first writing prophet of the Old Testament.
What can
What more can we ask for?
Why Amos?
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Because Amos the oldest prophetic book is surprisingly modern.
What can the United States of America learn from Amos?
In Amos we find God asserting his authority over the nations. In Amos we find a patient God threatening judgment on the nations for
“For three crimes and four…I will not relent.”
Eight times in Amos, stretching from six pagan nations and two nations belonging to His people, God repeats this poetic formulation. This is not a literal precise number of crimes, but connotes multiple crimes. Not isolated, but repeated. Habitual. Over long periods of time.
What can the United States of America learn from Amos?
Amos 1:3 NIV
This is what the Lord says: “For three sins of Damascus, even for four, I will not relent. Because she threshed Gilead with sledges having iron teeth,
The slaughter described here is as cruel as if someone had taken an iron-toothed threshing machine used on grain threshing floors to free the grain for winnowing, and run it over helpless people instead. The effect is imagistic, bringing to mind visions of a shamelessly brutal conquest.
Amos 1:6 NIV
This is what the Lord says: “For three sins of Gaza, even for four, I will not relent. Because she took captive whole communities and sold them to Edom,
Preying on the vulnerability of a weaker nation and gaining some economic advantages, by treating human beings as mere commodity.  "The Mosaic law required the death penalty for precisely this kind of kidnapping and selling into slavery (), and it was surely recognized internationally as a cruelty, no matter how frequently it may have been practiced in biblical times (cf. I. Mendelsohn, Slavery in the Ancient Near East [New York: Oxford, 1949])." Douglas Stuart, Hosea–Jonah, vol. 31, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 2002), 312.
Amos 1:9 NIV
This is what the Lord says: “For three sins of Tyre, even for four, I will not relent. Because she sold whole communities of captives to Edom, disregarding a treaty of brotherhood,
Amos 1:11 NIV
This is what the Lord says: “For three sins of Edom, even for four, I will not relent. Because he pursued his brother with a sword and slaughtered the women of the land, because his anger raged continually and his fury flamed unchecked,
For picking a fight.
A chip on one’s shoulder is a deeply ingrained grievance or feeling of resentment, often deriving from a sense of inferiority and marked by aggressive behavior [from an old custom of placing a chip of wood on one's shoulder as a challenge to a rival: if the rival knocked the chip off they were agreeing to fight.]
Amos 1:13 NIV
This is what the Lord says: “For three sins of Ammon, even for four, I will not relent. Because he ripped open the pregnant women of Gilead in order to extend his borders,
Carrying Damascus’ atrocities to the extreme!
Amos
Amos 2:1 NIV
This is what the Lord says: “For three sins of Moab, even for four, I will not relent. Because he burned to ashes the bones of Edom’s king,
Amos 2:4 NIV
This is what the Lord says: “For three sins of Judah, even for four, I will not relent. Because they have rejected the law of the Lord and have not kept his decrees, because they have been led astray by false gods, the gods their ancestors followed,
Amos 2:
Business exploitation of innocent and poor
Lack of legal justice for society’s oppressed
Rampant sexual immorality
Religious people enjoying the gains of oppression in their places of worship
Ignoring and rejecting those sent to keep society’s moral compass so that they abandon their high calling
O say, can you see
By the dawn’s early lights
What so proudly we hailed
At the twilight’s last gleaming
Whose broad stripes and bright stars
Through the perilous fights
O’er the ramparts we watched
O’er so galantly streaming
And the rockets red glare
The bombs bursting in air
Gave proof through the night
That our flag was still there
O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free
And the home of the brave?
It remains to be seen.
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