Simple Bible Reading Guide
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"The revelation of Your words sheds light, giving understanding to the simple." —Psalms 119:130
God's word is intended for all people. For thousands of years God has communicated to millions of simple people through His word. In fact, many things are hidden from the learned and clever but revealed to the merest children (Lk 10:21). Of course, God's word is sometimes so difficult to interpret that we need the Church to teach us. Therefore, highly academic Bible study has its place, but it is not the principal approach to God's word. The word is not primarily for an educated elite but for everyday people praying and reading by the power of the Spirit.
Nevertheless, not many books about the Bible are written to help the average person. What most people need is something short, simple, and practical that encourages, motivates and guides. We need something that will help us read the Biblical texts and not just about the text. This is the purpose of this simple Bible reading guide. "We have aimed to please those who prefer simple reading, as well as to make it easy for the studious who wish to commit things to memory, and to be helpful to all (2 Mc 2:25).
Note: The breakdown of the Bible into chapters (although not always adequate) has served God's people for centuries. So in general we will use a chapter-by-chapter structure for our comments.
Be sure to read each chapter of the Bible along with the introductory comments.
P.S. We have prayed before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament about our choice of the verses in this reading guide. We hope the Scriptures will have a prophetic, life-changing power for you.
Am 1 — RIGHT ON
"The words of Amos, a shepherd from Tekoa, which he received in vision concerning Israel, in the days of Uzziah, king of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam, son of Joash, king of Israel, two years before the earthquake..." Amos 1:1
Unlike any other prophet, Amos began with the oracles against the nations. He wasted no time in condemning Aram, Philistia, Tyre, Edom, Ammon, Moab, and even Judah and Israel.
Prayer: Father, make me straightforward, bold, and courageous.
Am 2 — SOCIAL JUSTICE
"For three crimes of Israel, and for four, I will not revoke My word; because they sell the just man for silver, and the poor man for a pair of sandals. They trample the heads of the weak into the dust of the earth, and force the lowly out of the way." Amos 2:6-7
Last in the condemnations, but not least, Amos castigates Israel, especially for injustices against the poor.
Prayer: Father, may I not participate in oppressing the poor through my life-style.
Am 4 — WOMEN
"So now I will deal with you in My own way, O Israel!" Amos 4:12
Israel's women led it to destruction. Despite famine, drought, blight, searing wind, pestilence, and upheavals, Israel refused to repent.
Prayer: Father, raise up holy women who will renew us rather than promote our spiritual deterioration.
Am 6 — PLEASURE-SEEKING?
"Woe to the complacent in Zion, to the overconfident on the mount of Samaria." Amos 6:1
The Israelites didn't think they would be destroyed. They distracted themselves by living a pleasure-seeking life-style. "Lying upon beds of ivory, stretched comfortably on their couches, they eat lambs taken from the flock, and calves from the stall! Improvising to the music of the harp, like David, they devise their own accompaniment. They drink wine from bowls and anoint themselves with the best oils; yet they are not made ill by the collapse of Joseph!" (6:4-6)
Prayer: Father, stop me from living for self and pleasure. Lead me to repentance.
Am 7 — KICKED OUT OF TOWN
"Then the Lord God showed me this: He was standing by a wall, plummet in hand." Amos 7:7
Amos concluded his book of prophecies with several visions. Amos interceded twice for Israel to be spared from a plague of locusts and judgment by fire. When Israel refused to repent, the Lord decided to wipe out the house of Jeroboam, the king, and to exile Israel. When Amos prophesied this, he was thrown out of Bethel by the priest Amaziah.
Prayer: Father, may I listen to things I don't want to hear.
Promise: "The Lord took me from following the flock, and said to me, Go, prophesy to My people Israel." 7:15
Am 8 — FRUIT BASKET
"Yes, days are coming, says the Lord God, when I will send famine upon the land: not a famine of bread, or thirst for water, but for hearing the word of the Lord. Then shall they wander from sea to sea and rove from the north to the east in search of the word of the Lord, but they shall not find it." Amos 8:11-12
God showed Amos a basket of ripe fruit. This indicated that Israel was ripe for destruction due to its oppression of the poor.
Prayer: Father, may I heed You as You warn me in the details of my everyday life. May I repent now before it's too late.
Am 9 — THE REPENTANT FEW
"I will bring about the restoration of My people Israel; they shall rebuild and inhabit their ruined cities." Amos 9:14
Amos' final vision was of the altar. The Lord stood beside the altar and promised inescapable destruction; but a remnant would survive.
Prayer: Father, may I choose to be in the remnant that repents and turns to You.
Promise: "Yes, days are coming, says the Lord, when the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the vintager, him who sows the seed; the juice of grapes shall drip down the mountains, and all the hills shall run with it." 9:13
Nihil obstat: Reverend Robert L. Hagedorn, April 3, 1997
Imprimatur: Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, April 8, 1997
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