Thread: Let Justice Roll Board: Kerygmania / Ship of Fools.

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Posted by Gramps49 (# 16378) on :
Amos 5:18-24

18 Alas for you who desire the day of the Lord! Why do you want the day of the Lord? It is darkness, not light; 19 as if someone fled from a lion, and was met by a bear; or went into the house and rested a hand against the wall, and was bitten by a snake. 20 Is not the day of the Lord darkness, not light, and gloom with no brightness in it? 21 I hate, I despise your festivals, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. 22 Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; and the offerings of well-being of your fatted animals I will not look upon. 23 Take away from me the noise of your songs; I will not listen to the melody of your harps. 24 But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.

This is the appointed OT lesson for next Sunday, at least in the Lutheran version of the RCL.

I came across a video that explains the Biblical concept of justice quite well, though it does not specifically mention Amos. However, I think Amos had this in mind when he spoke these words.

The Bible Project: Biblical Thermes: Justice
Posted by Jammy Dodger (# 17872) on :
Cracking video!
Posted by Mamacita (# 3659) on :
Gramps49, while the Bible Project folks do indeed produce good videos, a posted link, be it to a video or an article, is not much of a discussion opener for a Ship of Fools thread. Further, many people who click on the link may decide they don't have 6 minutes to spare.

Can you summarize the video's key ideas - or at least the ones that appealed to you - in a line or two? For example: Which point or points made in the video do want to discuss? What do you agree with, disagree with, or simply find interesting and wanting more thoughts on?

Mamacita, Keryg Host
Posted by Gramps49 (# 16378) on :
Sorry, there is too much information in the video to summarize in two sentences. Feel free to delete this thread if you want I will be more circumspect in the future.
Posted by Mamacita (# 3659) on :

What do you want to discuss? You must have had something in mind when you decided to start the thread. Where would you like the conversation to begin?
Posted by Gramps49 (# 16378) on :
Not really wanting to discuss anything in particular, but wanted to provide information that I found for anyone considering preaching on the Amos passage.

But here is one question: The video mentions the difference between retributive justice and restorative justice. What are some examples of the two?
Posted by Mamacita (# 3659) on :
Originally posted by Gramps49:
The video mentions the difference between retributive justice and restorative justice. What are some examples of the two?

There ya go. Retributive and restorative justice in Scripture.
Posted by Nick Tamen (# 15164) on :
Originally posted by Gramps49:
But here is one question: The video mentions the difference between retributive justice and restorative justice. What are some examples of the two?

Retributive justice focuses on payback or evening the score—you killed a member of our family so we will kill a member of your family.

Punitive justice focuses on punishment—you killed someone so you must be imprisoned or put to death.

Restorative justice focuses on healing the harm caused by wrongdoing. Community service might be a form of restorative justice if the service is tailored to the original wrong. Restitution might be a form of restorative justice as well. And the the work of South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission was heavily based on restorative justice principles.
Posted by Nigel M (# 11256) on :
I was thinking about verse 5:24, which the NET Version translates as: “Justice must flow like torrents of water, righteous actions like a stream that never dries up.”

I used to understand this in the terms suggested by quite a few English Versions: A call from God for his people to enact proper justice and loyalty. The translations suggest this is something that should happen, and that when it does it is like a welcome relief – water in a parched land that is nourishing.

Examples of this type of translation:
NIV: But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream
RSV: But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream
NJB: but let justice flow like water, and uprightness like a never-failing stream!

Taking a look at the text, though, I am changing my mind. I think now that this is a reference to God’s justice coming upon Israel – and it will not be a pretty sight.

The Hebrew verb at the beginning of verse 24 is galal in its Nifal form [= יִגַּל]. It has the sense of being rolled up or rolling away. I think here the picture is of an overwhelming flood, carrying rolling stones in its wake, sweeping away and crushing all in its path. The verb controls both of the images in the verse: the rolling waters and the deluged wadi. Justice (mishpat will come crashing through the people, God’s loyalty to the covenant (tsedaqah) constantly sweeping over the land in what will feel like a never-ending deluge.

This understanding fits better with the bracketing texts. In verse 17 God says he will pass right through the middle of his people and from v.18 warns them that when he does (on his day) it will not be pleasant. Down in verse 27 he also tells the people that exile awaits, caused by the Supreme Commander of the military (God).

There could be a few senses of justice here. It is a punishment on those who have reneged on their covenant obligations to God and community. Could it also be restorative? Victims have had justice denied them in the courts (the gates), so God steps in to apply proper justice. Mind you, there doesn’t seem to be a reference to any restoration for those victims. There is a sense of retribution, too; God pays back those who have denied justice.

Perhaps Amos never really intended to get into the detail of the effects of God’s justice. A simple reading might conclude that the metaphors of deluge and flash floods imply a taking away of both victim and perpetrators of injustice. This is quite likely what happened with the Assyrian exile; possibly it did not distinguish between the two types.

Getting to grips with Amos here is an interesting exercise. I guess it is possible to conclude that this passage is only a warning. It is God telling his errant children, “Don’t make me come back there to sort you out – you will not like it.” In effect it is not determining that there will necessarily be a Day, but if the time comes when God has had enough and has to step in, then the result will be overwhelming for all. That is the picture of El in the Ancient Near East. He is something of an absentee landlord, but when he does intervene to sort out a chaos that his junior gods and humans have made, it is somewhat memorable.

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