Amos 8:9-12 and Difficulty with Prophecy

thecrucifixionPeople can have a difficult time interpreting prophecy. This ought to be an established fact. After all, there are very faithful Jewish people who do not see that many prophecies in the Old Testament were about Jesus Christ, and there are almost as many different interpretations of Revelation among different groups of Christians as there are grains of sand on the seashore.

Part of the problem with interpreting prophecy is that rarely does the prophet tell us if the image used to describe the future action ought to be taken symbolically or literally. Also, chronological time does not always go in order with a prophecy. Take this passage in Amos for example:

    On that day, says the Lord God,
        I will make the sun go down at noon,
        and I will darken the earth in broad daylight.
10 I will turn your feasts into sad affairs
        and all your singing into a funeral song;
    I will make people wear mourning clothes
        and shave their heads;
    I will make it like the loss of an only child,
        and the end of it like a bitter day.
11 The days are surely coming, says the Lord God,
        when I will send hunger and thirst on the land;
    neither a hunger for bread, nor a thirst for water,
        but of hearing the Lord ’s words.
12 They will wander from sea to sea,
        and from north to east;
    they will roam all around, seeking the Lord’s word,
        but they won’t find it.

The second half of the prophecy explicitly tells us that the hunger and thirst are for a prophetic word. This is the situation prior to the coming of Christ. There were no prophets for almost 300 years, and the people were hungry for a word from the Lord. This is one of the reasons why everyone expected God to act soon before Christ was born. They saw the fulfillment of this prophecy.

The first half of this prophecy can deal with the crucifixion itself. The sky went dark at noon. God the Father’s only Son died. The apostles and disciples were mourning the loss of Jesus. And this comes in the prophetic record before the discussion of the state of the Jewish people prior to the incarnation, longing for a prophet.

This is why anyone who wants to dig into prophecy needs to do so with a group of people who not only have the same desire, but some knowledge of how the Holy Spirit has guided the Church to understand these things for the last 2000 years (or at least for the first 300 years of the life of the Church before it became entangled with the Roman Imperial government). It is easy to gather around us people or books that agree with what we think we already know about something in the Bible. It is much more faithful to gather around us people or books that are well rounded and very well informed. In this way we will not fall for 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Happen in 1988 or be cautiously optimistic/fearful of Four Blood Moons.

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