Amos 1:3 through 2:16

Sanctify has been studying Amos for the past few weeks on Tuesday nights. It is certainly not a light or lovey-dovey book. It's incredibly awesome. "Minor prophet" my foot. We have studied two chapters so far. Amos clearly establishes who Yahweh is, what he expects of his creation (both covenant people and non-covenant people) and why he is angry (here is a hint: everyone is screwing up). I've posted a Google Doc with more detailed thoughts from each "session" which I will add to as I make progress.

I will put kind of "big idea" posts here. Reading through my thoughts on each verse would probably get tedious for most.

So far, we have studied chapters 1 and 2 in entirety (Amos 1 Amos 2). It opens with Amos establishing that he is a farmer of sorts - he owns flocks and is probably well to do - rather than a professional prophet. He is from the southern kingdom of Judah and prophesies to the northern kingdom of Israel. The first of many hymn fragments comes along (Amos 1:2) establishing Yahweh as powerful and terrifying. Amos then tells of the transgressions of six of Israel's neighbors. Then he chastises Judah. Just when Israel is getting a swell head from how righteous they are, Amos slams them with their wrongdoings. He then promises impending doom.

The "war oracles" each tell of a nation and their wrongdoings. Some of these are pretty heinous. For example, the Ammonites "ripped open pregnant women" to "enlarge their border" (Amos 1:13-15). When Amos gets to Judah and Israel, the crimes suddenly seem less dire. They do stuff like disregard the poor, worship idols, and reject the law of Yahweh. They're not killing anyone or driving entire peoples into slavery. What's the big deal then? Aha! The Israelites are God's covenant people. They are held to a higher standard than the people around them. Then why is God punishing the others? They aren't his covenant people so doesn't that mean they aren't under the law? Aha again! Their crimes are contrary to basic human decency. The key to everyone's transgressions is that they violated the law they knew. Sometimes these nations were instruments of God in punishment of another nation. That doesn't matter - they are still held accountable. God never said "I art fair."

This teaches Christ-followers a valuable lesson. While we may not be "as bad as the next guy," we are held to a higher standard due to our covenant with Yahweh (it's easy to forget that New Testament means New Covenant). In fact, we should go out of our way to make sure the poor are treated fairly, justice is served, and the law of Yahweh is followed by our brothers and sisters.

Stuff and whatnot

To be quite frank, I am really disgruntled about school. Midterms were two weeks ago. I did poorly (48/130) on one, which I expected. Since the class grades were low (I was about the 35th percentile) the professor offered a chance to do the same exam as a take-home in order to regain credit for half the points missed. I said, "Sweet! I can make up for not learning anything so far!" So I proceeded to work like a dog over the next week to get it right. I put a lot of time and effort in and was confident in the work I had done. He posted the grades today (just the numbers, not the tests themselves) and I earned a whopping 5 additional points. Not exactly what I was expecting. More like 30. Now I have to figure out what I did wrong (aside from taking this professor a second semester in a row) and how badly I have screwed myself, i.e. can I dig my way out of the hole I am in.

Since I am doing poorly this semester and kind of hating my academic life, I decided not to take two classes in the fall. Instead, I will take one each in fall and spring, pushing my graduation date back to May of 2008. This seems a perfectly acceptable situation to me. I'd rather take an extra semester and leisurely finish my education over two semesters than rush through and have it be a painful experience for one more.

On the other hand, work has been going very well. I am working on a section of one project that involves translating a computer program from Visual Basic to C++. I predicted the process would take about a month of pretty steady work. Thanks to the clarity and meticulousness of the VB author and my own coding skills, I am nearly done after only two weeks and the initial results indicate that my work will result in a speed of a couple hours rather than a few days. Funny, this stuff is what I am best at, but I never had any formal training or schooling to speak of. I took one semester of programming in Rolla and got a C+. I wish the stuff I was doing at school was this interesting and intuitive.

March post, hopefully not the only one

I really do intend to get more regular at this. Quite a bit is going on in my life. Midterms were this week. I did poorly on one, but have the opportunity to re-do it to regain half the points I missed (as does everyone in the class). I haven't gotten the other one back. I think I did a bit better but I'm not sure how much. No one finished, so I'm not extremely worried - it was supposed to be hard.

My middle brother, Daniel, has decided to go to culinary school. Business just wasn't for him (actually, I think it is - but getting a bachelor's in business and running a business don't necessarily jive for everyone). I have never seen him nearly this excited about school. He decided on the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco. I'm going to take him up in very late March or early April (he starts April 10).

Bible study is good. I've been diligent about doing my homework for both Tuesday nights and Sunday mornings. I'm going to start posting my thoughts on what I read and study so stay tuned...