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Sunday, April 10, 2011

Judgment Day?

One of the scripture lessons for worship this morning was Amos 5:18-24, and it was read from evangelical theologian Eugene Peterson's translation, "The Message:"

Woe to all of you who want God's Judgment Day!
   Why would you want to see God, want him to come?
When God comes, it will be bad news before it's good news,
   the worst of times, not the best of times.
Here's what it's like: A man runs from a lion
   right into the jaws of a bear.
A woman goes home after a hard day's work
   and is raped by a neighbor.
At God's coming we face hard reality, not fantasy—
   a black cloud with no silver lining.
I can't stand your religious meetings.
   I'm fed up with your conferences and conventions.
I want nothing to do with your religion projects,
   your pretentious slogans and goals.
I'm sick of your fund-raising schemes,
   your public relations and image making.
I've had all I can take of your noisy ego-music.
   When was the last time you sang to me?
Do you know what I want?
   I want justice—oceans of it.
I want fairness—rivers of it.
   That's what I want. That's all I want."

As I heard the passage being read, I couldn't help think of my fellow Christians who are gleefully awaiting Judgment Day (some believe that it will occur on May 21, 2011 -- see "Family Radio Worldwide"), a topic on which I've written before ("Advent and the Rapture"). They are evidently confident that Christians will be spared God's wrath. After listening to Amos, I'm not so sure. I'm not so sure that we should be any more sanguine about 'Judgment Day' than the Israelites should have been about the 'Day of the Lord.' Shortly after Amos proclaimed his message to the northern kingdom of Israel (he was from the southern kingdom of Judah), the northern kingdom fell to Assyria and its inhabitants were deported and lost to history (the ten lost tribes of Israel).

What's the old saying? Be careful what you wish for. It might actually come true.

1 comment:

  1. Just a note about Brother Camping (he rejects all other titles, including "Reverend"), the leader of Family Radio. He is a Calvinist of sorts and argues that there are no guarantees. He differs from Jonathan Edwards and other early Calvinists in arguing that the fate of those left behind is not eternal anguish, but death. This, he says, is a sign of God's love for all of humankind. He also advises people to get down on their knees and beg God to change his mind; to change the decision he made before the dawn of time. Personally, I can't wait until May 22.

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