Old Testament reading: Amos 1-3
Amos begins with a pronouncement of God’s judgment on seven nations: Syria (Damascus), Gaza, Tyre, Edom, Ammon, Moab, Judah and Israel. Each declaration is marked by the phrase, “for three transgressions… and for four.” The number three indicates fullness, and the adding of a fourth indicates an overflow. Thus, three transgressions are a fullness of iniquity, but four marks an overflow of wickedness. In using this terminology, God was actually declaring His great mercy to show Himself not as some fickle, capricious Deity who delights in punishing the slightest sin. Among the most well known phrases in the book is Amos 3:3, “Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?” Most understand the prophet to speak of the need for unity of mind and purpose between the people and God. But this is the first of a series of rhetorical questions that more likely speaks to the unity between the prophet and God. Concluding these questions in verse 6, the prophet points to himself as God’s servant who speaks when the lion (God) roars. God was roaring against the seven nations, and no one took note or feared. Amos said, “The Lord God has spoken! Who can but prophesy?” (3:8). It was Amos and the Lord who were walking together in verse 3.
New Testament reading: Ephesians 4-6
“‘Honor your father and mother,’ which is the first commandment with promise” (Eph 6:2). Paul quotes the fifth commandment in the Decalogue, noting it is the first given with a Divine promise attached, namely, well being and long life. I believe this promise is fulfilled by the actions of the children who see how their own parents treat their grandparents. When children see their own parents sacrifice and take care of the grandparents in their old age and various needs, they are taught by example to do the same for their own. Thus, honoring father and mother is an act that is done not only in youth but also throughout middle age. We are never at liberty to dishonor our parents (cf Lev 19:32, Isa 3:5). In fact, we honor God when we honor our parents at every stage of life.