Betrayal is a very strong word.
In fact, just looking at that word in print — thinking about it, remembering how it feels, maybe even sensing guilt over being the betrayer in a situation — brings up emotions and feelings and painful memories for many of us.
And honestly, I wasn’t sure how to write about betrayal. I wasn’t sure how to put into words my own experiences. I was having a conversation with Jesus, telling him how I signed up to write this post and how I didn’t know what to write.
Now, I am a multitasking person. I generally have two or three or five things going at one time. Numerous tabs on my web browser, a couple notebooks, to do lists, piles of papers and even open apps on my phone can be seen quite often on my desk at home, not to mention dinner and laundry. I happened to be having this conversation with Jesus while working on a project and methodically doing my Bible-In-A-Year reading.
Yes. All at the same time. If you multitask, you know it is possible.
Anyway, I’m talking to Jesus, reading and occasionally glancing up at the program open on my screen. And Jesus says, “You are reading about betrayal.”
Jump into my Bible reading plan with me. We are going to be on day 346 in Amos 7. Ready?
Ok, start reading with lots of deep voices and dramatic pauses…
10 Then Amaziah the priest of Bethel sent a message to Jeroboam king of Israel: “Amos is raising a conspiracy against you in the very heart of Israel. The land cannot bear all his words. 11 For this is what Amos is saying: “‘Jeroboam will die by the sword, and Israel will surely go into exile, away from their native land.’”
12 Then Amaziah said to Amos, “Get out, you seer! Go back to the land of Judah. Earn your bread there and do your prophesying there. 13 Don’t prophesy anymore at Bethel, because this is the king’s sanctuary and the temple of the kingdom.”
14 Amos answered Amaziah, “I was neither a prophet nor the son of a prophet, but I was a shepherd, and I also took care of sycamore-fig trees. 15 But the Lord took me from tending the flock and said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel.’
These six verses paint a very real picture of overseas life and how betrayal can quickly come alive in our line of work. We are going to walk through them quickly together in normal terms.
First, we have Amaziah. He is a long-standing priest in Israel with ties to the King. Second, we have Amos, a shepherd who left his sheep to be a prophet of God in a new place. Amos arrives in Israel, starts doing his thing and following what God asked him to do. Amos has been around awhile and he does not like what he is hearing and seeing of the new guy. So, Amaziah goes to the king and tattles. Then, he goes to Amos and tells him to stop doing what he was doing. He actually tells him to go home and make money there! Amos speaks up, gives some history, defends himself a bit, and proceeds to walk his calling from God.
Lots of betrayal going on here.
Amos should have had a friend, a co-worker, and a faithful confident in Amaziah. They should have been on the same team, cheering each other on.
Amaziah had an opportunity to build a friendship, pour time into the newbie, help him in the challenges, give advice where needed, and support new work. Instead, he ran to the King and told Amos to leave.
Amaziah didn’t ask questions. He didn’t try to get to know Amos and see his heart. He didn’t invest time or energy or seek God for wisdom. He just acted on perceptions.
And sadly, this little story of betrayal plays out time and time again in our lives and in our work.
Where we should have friendships, kindness and support, we often get gossip, hurt and brokenness. Where we should have healthy questions, discipleship and relationship, we have judgment, quick words and false perceptions.
It can be the newbie, the oldie, the supporter, the home church, the family member, the team member, a neighbor… anyone.
We ALL get hurt. We all feel betrayal. We all can relate to the story above.
Back to my multi-tasking conversation with Jesus. I said, “Um… well, how does the story end? Where is the pretty forgiveness scene, the man-hug and the moral of the story? Where is the lesson? The how-to? The happy ending?”
There isn’t one.
No tools. No tips. No man-hugs.
We actually don’t see anything from Amaziah again. Amos speaks truth and then goes on prophesying, doing the work of God as He felt called to do.
That stirs up all kinds of things in my heart. After even a hint of betrayal, I want to make it better. I want to dig in, figure out the problem, fix it, make sure I’m heard, discuss, discuss, discuss. I want the forgiveness scene and the hug at the end.
If I had been Amos, I would have been dragging Amaziah all the way to the King for a pow-wow.
But, in truth? It doesn’t always happen that way.
Sometimes we have to be quiet and trust that God will work it out. That He will work in hearts and bring truth to light. We have to be patient while time passes and false perceptions fade. We have to follow God’s advice in Amos 5:5 where he says, “Seek me and live…” and then, in 5:13, “Therefore, the prudent man keeps quiet in such times…”
Seek God. Keep quiet. Trust.
What kind of betrayal are you currently walking through? Is it possible that just being quiet and trusting could be the key to healing? Do you find yourself needing discussion and hugs, struggling to feel peace if things are left unsettled? How do we know when to make it right or let it go?