It is uncanny that the inspiration of an earlier day re-emerged on the day of John Lewis’ funeral. This version of Amos’ dissertation to his people. This version is Eugene Peterson’s translation known as “The Message”. This version is different from the King James Version that was made famous in Martin King Jr.’s “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech. Where Dr. King implores as did Amos ” . . . But let justice run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream.” [5:24]
The Message Version
This version in its plain, almost colloquial English reveals the callousness of the divided Hebrew kingdom at that time. But as we’ve learned so assuredly through the years, the word of God is not some vacuous dead declaration. The Word lives and reaches through the years to speak to an unimagined modern America. The word lives and speaks to convict those actively working to oppress the people.
Re-reading these words will speak again to us and will hopefully ignite the passion to fight injustice as it dares rear its head in the year 2020 to vex those in high office in these United States and beyond. These words don’t stop at international boundaries or wide oceans. These words stand staunchly against hypocrisy and haughtiness. These are the words of Amos to us in this present day from chapter 5 verses 10-13 and 21-24.
People hate this kind of talk.
Raw truth is never popular.
But here it is, bluntly spoken:
Because you run roughshod over the poor
and take the bread right out of their mouths,
You’re never going to move into
the luxury homes you have built.
You’re never going to drink wine
from the expensive vineyards you’ve planted.
I know precisely the extent of your violations,
the enormity of your sins. Appalling!
You bully right-living people,
taking bribes right and left and kicking the poor when they’re down.
Justice is a lost cause. Evil is epidemic.
Decent people throw up their hands.
Protest and rebuke are useless, a waste of breath.
“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.