I have had this dilemma before, beloved reader. Neither of the Old Testament passages appeal to me. One from Amos, a prophet not very popular in his life time; but then when was a prophet of the Divine popular in that prophet’s life time! The other passage from Deuteronomy – a book that I am hard pressed to find appeal in. The shorter passage is in Deuteronomy, so that would be a plus! But . . . . Deuteronomy!
Oh, beloved reader, you are surprised to hear that I do not have affinity for the entire bible! And you are surprised that I do not bring myself with great joy and abandon to commenting on scripture?! I am human, and as much subject to the frailties as anyone else.
Amos said of himself, “I am no prophet, nor a prophet’s son; but I am a herdsman, and a dresser of sycamore trees, and the LORD took me from following the flock, and the LORD said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel.’ (Amos 7:14b – 15) Beloved reader, I am not Amos either! Despite his feeling at a disadvantage because he was called out of the blue, he let forth with the loud and mighty words that his Lord God told him to say. “Now therefore hear the word of the LORD. You say, ‘Do not prophesy against Israel, and do not preach against the house of Isaac.” Therefore thus says the LORD: ‘Your wife shall become a prostitute in the city, and your sons and your daughters shall fall by the sword, and your land shall be parceled out by line; you yourself shall die in an unclean land, and Israel shall surely go into exile away from its land.'” (Verses 16 – 17)
I remember when I first felt the call to enter into service to the Divine. I was literally backed into a corner. I had retreated from the Voice of the Divine in a hallway and was up against a gate that could not be opened. There was no where to hide, and turning back from whence I came meant (in my mind) acceding to the Will of Divine. Now some twenty-seven years hence I am still sometimes dragged kicking and screaming to where the Lord God calls me.
The Deuteronomy passage says, “and the LORD your God will make you abundantly prosperous in all your undertakings, in the fruit of your body, in the fruit of your livestock, and in the fruit of your soil. For the LORD will again take delight in prospering you, just as he delighted in prospering your ancestors, when you obey the LORD your God by observing his commandments and decrees that are written in this book of the law, because you turn to the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Surely, this commandment that I am commanding you today is not too hard for you, nor is it too far away. It is not in heaven, that you should say, “Who will go up to heaven for us, and get it for us so that we may hear it and observe it?” Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, “Who will cross to the other side of the sea for us, and get it for us so that we may hear it and observe it?” (Deuteronomy 30:9-13) You didn’t really think (and I knew so) I could avoid Deuteronomy. (Nor it seems turn completely away from the Amos passage.)
What the writer of Deuteronomy says is very true – in a spiritual sort of way. I do not have wealth or accumulation of resources. But in the undertakings of ministry I have prospered in my faith life. And I have heard enough from others that I ministered to that they have been blessed by my work. And while I may put up protests and fervently wish to defer in some instances of being called, I do answer the call. And I feel the Spirit lift me up and carry me along. Because, since the moment I willing walked toward the Divine’s calling I have found it to be very true . . . . “No, the word is very near to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart for you to observe.” (Verse 14) Selah!