Exploring the interplay between ortho-doxy (right belief) and ortho-praxy (right action)...

...and encouraging a life where these intertwined thoughts and deeds simply happen... by default.

21 November 2007

Amos 5:18-7:17 (targum)

'Targum' (plural is 'targumim') is a literary genre in which parts of the Hebrew Bible are 'modernised' and/or re-interpreted for the current time (specifically, it means an Aramaic translation.). This genre has been around for at least 2000 years, because some of the writings from the 'Dead Sea Scrolls' consist of 'targumim' fragments. Brian Walsh and Sylvia Keesmaat, in their book 'Colossians Remixed: Subverting The Empire' use this genre quite well - I think - to suggest how the message of certain parts of Paul's letter to the Colossians might be heard in modern, western culture.

Anyway, our church is almost finished teaching through the book of Amos, (I've just recently finished a course called 'Prophets in Context' by Tim Bulkeley at Carey Baptist College and his Amos commentary is - in my humble opinion! - the best fully-online commentary on this book.) and I recently preached on the text of 5:18 - 7:17. Here, for your enjoyment, discomfort (or both!?) is my 'targum' of this passage...


(Judgment against hollow worship - 5:18-27)

"You want Jesus to come back? Yeah right! You know when He comes, He's going to judge the wicked, don't you!!?? It's not going to be fun for you! God says, 'Nothing makes me sicker than your conferences. I want to vomit during your church services. Even though you offer your so-called 'worship' I couldn't care less! I don't listen to junk like that! Will you please just shut up already?? I don't want to be your boyfriend! I want you to be passionate about justice! I want you to live lives that are righteous! Hello? Did you organise music festivals, worship conferences and other such 'Christian' things? I'll make your 'Hill' songs into 'Valley' songs – for the 'god' that you are worshipping is the music god you've made for yourself!!! I'm going to make you completely and totally irrelevant and non influential in your own culture. No one will care AT ALL what you have to babble on about!

(Judment against excessive consumption - 6:1-14)
"You are so comfortable, so 'spiritual' and so 'successful'. You're RICH as well! Your
ridiculous obsession with video games, new clothing and entertainment and eating – YUCK!
Don't you care? Would you turn off your 'worship CD's' long enough to consider your out-right hypocrisy? This is why no one listens to what you say! Don't you get it!!?? It's not just the fundamentalist weirdo Christians who make a bad name for us, it's YOU – yes YOU – you hypocrite! The bach and your holiday home? I'll smash them to pieces! You've absolutely wrecked my project for justice and righteousness! Again, this is why Christians aren't listened to in Western Culture. The things you spend time and money on have more to do with the world's stupid notions of 'success' than MY values of simplicity and self-less-ness!

(The three 'visions' - 7:1-9)
God gave me three word-pictures. Check them out…

First, He showed me a timer counting down rapidly toward zero, and it was like the number of professing believers in New Zealand. I prayed to God, 'Please forgive us! There won't be any of us left!' He had mercy because of this and said, 'OK. This won't happen.'
Second, God showed me a Smith & Caughey's Christmas display –with Carols echoing 'God and sinners reconciled' -but next to it was a sexual advert objectifying men and women made in God's image! God said this was exactly like the mixed message that comfortable, affluent Christians are sending to the world, and therefore our influence will perish. I prayed, 'No! Please! We're weak!' He again had mercy…
Lastly, God showed me a funeral service. He asked me, 'What do you see?' I said, 'People weeping and mourning.' Then He said, 'See, I'm causing my people to weep and howl and mourn, because I am incensed at their hypocrisy! I will not stay silent. I will show them that their lack
of works means their faith is DEAD!!!'

(The brief encounter narrative - 7:10-17)
Now, the most 'spiritual' and 'successful' Christian in Auckland complained to his pastor, saying "This guy is preaching against us and we can't stand his muttering. He says we're missing the point of the Gospel." So he went to me and said, "Your so divisive! Spare us your theological musings! Save it for your dead spirit-less church! Don't quench what the Spirit is doing with us!" And I said, "Hey, I'm not saying anything that you need a Masters in Divinity to understand! I saw hypocrisy, and God compelled me to call it what it is. I cannot BUT speak! You say, 'Don't touch the Lord's anointed', therefore God says, 'You will be seen to be hypocrites by the entire world. Your self-serving hollow worship and your romanticised moment-spirituality will leave you dry, naked and poor! Your sons and daughters will reject the faith you've taught them because they will see how shallow it really is!' "


Do compare it with the original, and if you can/want to, do comment with thoughts (positive or negative) that come to mind!



1 comment:

Morange! said...


Totally awesome, and one which strikes me as quite an accurate (and very pointed) targum.

high five!