Bold Witness (Oct. 14)

Amos 7:10-15; Acts 4:13-22

Comment


Here’s what your former pastor, Bob Baker, had to say about Amos:

What do you think about when you hear the word “prophet”? What images are conjured up in your mind whenever that word is used? A crystal ball gazer? A future events predictor? An Ouija  board user? A séance convener?  An “end of the world” prognosticator?

The Hebrew word for prophet is nabi a word that refers to one who has been chosen to deliver and proclaim a message on  behalf of another. The “ another” for whom Old Testament prophets spoke and delivered a specific message was God! In fact, these prophets often prefaced their messages and remarks with the formula “Thus says the Lord” (for example, Amos 1:3, 9, 13).

The Lord’s words to a particular people via the prophets focused more on the present than on the past or the future. Granted, at times prophets reminded people of the history of their faith, particularly calling them to remember how God had provided deliverance and guidance (3:1-2). Prophets also referred to future happenings, especially in terms of how such happenings would be the result of choices and decisions that people made in the present. Yet, the prophets were largely concerned with the present: delineating wrong conduct; calling for repentance; and reminding folks of God’s judgment, forgiveness, and grace (2:6-8, 5:14-15; 6:1-8).

Old Testament prophets, then, were actually preachers and/or proclaimers more than they were predictors. Their primary task was to proclaim a message from God to a particular people in a particular historical setting.

Amos is often regarded as the first of Israel’s writing prophets. Although there were certainly other prophets prior to Amos (Elijah, Elisha, and Nathan), Amos was the first prophet to have had a book named after him. Along with Hosea, Isaiah, and Micah, we regard Amos as one of the leading prophets of the eight century B.C., known as the “golden age” of Israelite prophecy.

(Amos: Doing What is Right, Robert Baker, Smyth & Helwys, 1995, pp. 1-2)

Reading the Scripture

Here are some ways you might read the scripture or tell the story:

•    Audio:
o    Faith Comes by Hearing: You’ve Got the Time (Dramatized New Testament we used a few years ago during Lent. Available in the library and the church office.)
o    The Bible Experience: The Complete Bible (“presented by a stellar ensemble of today’s top-name actors, musicians, clergy, directors, and award-winning producers.” Available from Keith).

•    Video:
o    Acts: The Visual Bible (Dramatized video movie, word for word from the NIV text. Available from Keith or the web page: http://www.lexingtonavenue.org/sunday-school-supplements/).
o    WatchWord Bible, New Testament on DVD is available in the library. (These videos display and read the text in Contemporary English Version with background pictures, video and sound. Not exactly dramatized or all that exciting, but could be another way to read the text.)

Teaching Suggestions

•    Remind class members of the guidelines for healthy dialogue.

•    The Central Question for this lesson is: “When must I speak out? When is silence the better option? (p. 42)

This activity available in the church office.

•    I don’t know that this is really a teaching suggestion, but how do you feel about Amaziah? I think he was an annoying, cowardly, weasel. His attack on Amos sounds like a bad campaign attack ad. Consider the contrast in this passage between integrity, courage, and godliness of Amaziah and Amos?

•    For a picture of the “Gate Beautiful” where Peter and John brought healing to the man they are on trial with, an article, and a map of the area, see “Teaching and Healing in the Temple Complex,” in A Visual Guide to Bible Events (Baker Books, 2009), pp. 218-219 available in the library.

•    Rosa Parks refused to give up her bus seat to a white man and thus disobeyed an unjust law. Parks’ act of civil disobedience marked the beginning of the civil right movement. See a video about Rosa Parks on the website (http://www.lexingtonavenue.org/sunday-school-supplements/).

•    The Lord’s Prayer, we pray each Sunday, includes the prayer, “Thy Kingdom come thy will be done. Suggest to the class: “As you pray the Lord’s Prayer in worship this morning remember that if the demands of our earthly kingdoms are in conflict with the kingdom of God, as Christians we are called to boldly obey God.”

Resources


I have set aside a shelf in the library with resources for Sunday School teachers. I will place there resources of general interest and some specifically applicable to current lessons.

•    For additional commentary on the text see these commentaries in our library:
o    Mercer Commentary on the Bible (Mercer University Press, 1995)
o    Harper’s Bible Commentary (Harper & Row, 1988)

•    Robert G. Baker, former LABC pastor, has written a book, Amos: Doing What is Right (Smyth & Helwys, 1995). Available in my office.

•    “Teaching and Healing in the Temple Complex,” in A Visual Guide to Bible Events (Baker Books, 2009), pp. 218-219.