The Dillard Doctrine

Urban Conservative Commentary on Politics & Life

The Prophets of Social Justice

This week in my Old Testament class, we studied the prophecies of Amos, Hosea, and Micah, who were considered “social justice” prophets. Here’s the resulting assignment…

Hosea 4.6 (NRSV)

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to me. And since you have forgotten the law of your God, I will also forget your children.

Many people use the opening line of this passage-“my people are destroyed for lack of knowledge-“ as a justification or motivation for their educational pursuits (that is the most common context that I’ve heard this passage used in). That said, in reading the entire verse, there is more to the passage than that.

I believe this passage shows the difference between ignorance-reduced to the simple act of not knowing something-and willful ignorance-the act of knowing something and choosing to ignore what’s learned, or refusing to learn altogether. A “lack of knowledge” is detrimental to the individual, but does not necessarily lead to outright rejection, because it is correctable (a person can always learn). On the contrary, a person who knows and chooses to ignore, or who refuses to learn, is usually rejected from society in general because their behavior places them outside of what we consider mainstream. If people can always learn, then those who refuse to do so or apply those lessons are considered deviant by society.

God’s view, I believe, is no different from ours. He wants us to learn and understand Him, and while, in most faiths, not knowing God leads to destruction (in the form of separation from Him), it remains correctable; the knowledge and understanding of God can come to anyone, at any time. However, those who have the knowledge of God and choose to reject it are-at least in the period of Hosea’s prophecy-doomed to rejection by God as well as condemnation of their future generations.  We see this often in the “fallen preacher” model; a preacher with the knowledge and understanding of God continues to sin, and that sin ultimately leads to a downfall that often extends beyond the reach of his ministry.


Micah 4.9 (NRSV)

Now why do you cry aloud? Is there no king in you? Has your counselor perished, that pangs have seized you like a woman in labor?

No specific analysis of this scripture, outside that it seems to be a scriptural reference for a gospel song by Donald Lawrence entitled, “There Is a King In You” (lyrics here). The contexts differ (Lawrence’s song is more inspirational), but he does make specific mention of this verse in his song.


Micah 2.1-5 and 3 (the entire chapter)

                Analyzing the prophets from a political perspective (which I probably shouldn’t do!), you can find ideologies that would appeal to both political liberals and political conservatives, as well as prophecies that carry much relevance to current situations. Micah is one that would offer equal judgment on both sides. In Micah 2.1-5, he offers condemnation for creditors who “through manipulation of credit and courts, foreclose on family farms (NRSV, p. 1308).” One can look at the housing crisis of 2008 for examples of the sort of business practices Micah (and by extension, God) would condemn.  In chapter 3.1-4, he offers further condemnation for corrupt judges. In Micah 3.5-8, he offers condemnation for corrupt religious leaders who are “crowd pleasers, inspired on commission (NRSV, p. 1309). “


Written by Coby Dillard

September 18, 2011 at 8:00 am

Posted in School Assignments

One Response

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  1. Ezekial 46:18 is a really good answer to those “prophets” who want to equate Christianity and the Bible with socialism, especially when read in the NIV edition.
    “Moreover the prince shall not take any of the people’s inheritance by evicting them from their property; he shall provide an inheritance for his sons from his own property, so that none of My people may be scattered from his property.”
    There are those within the church who claim to be Christian who espouse “spreading the wealth,” but this scripture clearly repudiates such a view. I heard a visiting pastor claim that socialism and Christianity are the same; that the Bible is a socialist book. The head pastor stood up after him and told us not to be concerned about words like socialism and communism, because at its very basic element that’s what Christianity is. We must be very careful today and make certain that the sermons pastors preach line up with the truths of scripture. The only way to refute such blatant error is for each person who does follow Jesus Christ to spend time each day in the Bible searching for what God has to say on issues.


    September 18, 2011 at 1:46 pm

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