My Bible reading this morning was from the book of Amos. Although written in the eighth century before the Common Era, I was struck at how God’s accusations then still stand today. Here are some extracts from chapter 5:
Ah, you that turn justice to wormwood,
and bring righteousness to the ground! (Verse 7)
They hate the one who reproves in the gate,
and they abhor the one who speaks the truth. (Verse 10)
… you trample on the poor
and take from them levies of grain … (Verse 11)
… you who afflict the righteous, who take a bribe,
and push aside the needy in the gate. (Verse 12)
Seek good and not evil,
that you may live;
and so the Lord, the God of hosts, will be with you,
just as you have said.
Hate evil and love good,
and establish justice in the gate; (Verses 14-15)
But let justice roll down like waters,
and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. (Verse 24)
Amos was speaking at a time of peace and prosperity, when an elite was rising among the people, an elite resting on their wealth and position. Amos is describing the kinds of injustice God hates; hated then and hates now: economic practices that disadvantage the poor. The prophets repeatedly call out this behaviour.
Today, you may hear people complaining about how much aid pours into Africa but are you aware that approximately three times the amount leaves that continent via tax dodging by big multinational corporations? We might think that all in the UK pay a fair tax, but the poorest in our society pay disproportionately a lot more than the wealthiest. (Source: Church Action for Tax Justice – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PTsHELllcqk). It is against these sorts of injustices that the Church is called to take a stand and the followers of Christ to play their part.
O God, help us to understand your will for justice today. Help us to stand against greed and the inappropriate use of power that we might be your co-workers in bringing to birth the sort of world you envisaged. We pray for those who suffer from the injustices of this world, that voices will speak out for them. In the name of Jesus, who turned over the tables, we pray. Amen.