Advent with the Earth: Day 5 (Dec. 7)

We know this scene in Amos 7.

“This . . . Shall Not Be”

Amos 7:1 – 17

“This is what the Lord God showed me: the Lord God was calling for judgment by fire, and it devoured the great deep and was eating up the land. Then I said, ‘O Lord God, cease, I beg you! How can Jacob stand? He is so small!’ The Lord relented concerning this; ‘This also shall not be,’ said the Lord God.”
– Amos 7:4 – 6, NRSVUE

We know this scene in Amos 7. We have witnessed devastating wildfires burning across continents in recent years. We have watched downpours flood, tornadoes demolish, and hurricanes wreak havoc. We have beheld the horrific aftermath of land turned to ash and homes to rubble, and we have mourned the loss of human and non-human life from these climate disasters.

What is striking about this passage is how both Amos and God oppose the prospect of a destructive fire as a mode of judgment. An imagined future appears, and not only does Amos protest, but the Lord also shuts the door on that future and declares, “This shall not be” (see v. 6). God shows Godself to stand against judgment by fire and its horrific aftermath for the people and land.

In a time when our society is “not relent[ing]” in ecological destruction, what might God’s “this . . . shall not be” reveal to us about our mistreatment and misjudgment of creation?

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Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version updated edition of the Bible

Image of trees and smoke is by Joanne Francis on the Unsplash website