March 15, 2011

Minor Prophets XL: Prophetic Funeral Dirge

Amos 5 sees us at a point of no return. We read Amos' prophetic lament or what is considered a prophetic funeral dirge. Doom is about to befall Israel.

"Hear this word, Israel, this lament I take up concerning you:“Fallen is Virgin Israel, never to rise again, deserted in her own land, with no one to lift her up.” Amos 5:1-2

“Fallen is Virgin Israel, never to rise again…with no one to lift her up.” This is definitely a funeral dirge. “Never to rise again” sounds pretty terminal to me. These laments are characterized by short, nearly sobbing lines of dramatic contrast and role reversals from strong to weak or strong to dead (Hubbard 165). Normally laments were over people but in the case of prophets they could often be about a city, people or even the nation (Walvoord, Zuck 1438)

We can find two other prophetic "laments" in the Old Testament and one in the New Testament.

We see the same sort of language in and pattern followed by Jeremiah in relation to Judah in Jeremiah 7: 27-34 [paraphrased] “the nation that has not obeyed the LORD its God or responded to correction… Truth has perished; it has vanished from their lips…Cut off your hair and throw it away; take up a lament on the barren heights, for the LORD has rejected and abandoned this generation that is under his wrath… The people of Judah have done evil in my eyes, declares the LORD. They have set up their detestable idols in the house that bears my Name and have defiled it …I will bring an end to the sounds of joy and gladness and to the voices of bride and bridegroom in the towns of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem, for the land will become desolate.”

We see the same thing in Ezekiel multiple times: Ezekiel 19:1 (the princes of Israel)-“Take up a lament concerning the princes of Israel…” and also Ezekiel 26:17-18, 27:2, 32, 28:12 & 32:2. The entire Book of Lamentations constitutes a prophetic lament (Walvoord, Zuck 1438).

To me the best New Testament reference is Matthew 23:37-39
“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hubbard, David Allan. "Judgment Speech: Perversion of Worship and Justice." Joel and Amos: an introduction and commentary. Leicester, England: InterVarsity Press, 1989. 165. Print.

Sunukjian, Donald B.. "Description of Certain Judgment ." The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition Of The Scriptures. Ed John Walvoord & Roy Zuck. Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1985. 1438. Print.


Don and Shelly said...

Andy, really good post and powerful picture as the lead.

Andy Pierson said...

Thank you but credit goes to God. I try to use the most appropriate image to accompany the post to add to the visceral impact to drive point home to those that have taken the time to read them.

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