Amos 6 A Dis-Eased Population

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Questions: Is it safe to enjoy life? Why or why not? Should we celebrate? When? What danger do we face? What does God hate about us? In what strength do we rejoice?

“Read More” to pursue answers from the Prophet Amos.

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Lord, make me a Fountain of your Love.
Draw me into your Presence
And fill me with your Holy Spirit
That I would know you as my Father
And manifest the image of Christ
In this world, and the world to come. Amen.

Amos 6:1-14

Woe to them [that are] at ease in Zion, and trust in the mountain of Samaria, [which are] named chief of the nations, to whom the house of Israel came!

You think you’re “all that”? Think again:

Pass ye unto Calneh, and see; and from thence go ye to Hamath the great: then go down to Gath of the Philistines: [be they] better than these kingdoms? or their border greater than your border?

I’m not sure whether these are cities that were contemporaneously better, or that were once great and had been destroyed by that time. Either way, it is a warning to not get cocky — especially when cockiness leads to clueless self-indulgence:

Ye that put far away the evil day, and cause the seat of violence to come near; That lie upon beds of ivory, and stretch themselves upon their couches, and eat the lambs out of the flock, and the calves out of the midst of the stall;

I presume that means they are so rich they can slaughter animals on a whim, rather than when one is injured or set aside for a special purpose.

That chant to the sound of the viol, [and] invent to themselves instruments of musick, like David; That drink wine in bowls, and anoint themselves with the chief ointments: but they are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph.

Huh. I presume this means the sin of “apathy.” They themselves are comfortable, so they are unconcerned with the injustice around them. “Hey, its not my problem.” Of course, it is — or will soon be:

Therefore now shall they go captive with the first that go captive, and the banquet of them that stretched themselves shall be removed.

In fact, harkening back to the early chapters of Amos, God focuses his anger on the palaces of the powerful:

The Lord GOD hath sworn by himself, saith the LORD the God of hosts, I abhor the excellency of Jacob, and hate his palaces: therefore will I deliver up the city with all that is therein.

In case that isn’t graphic enough, the prophet gives us a mini-illustration:

And it shall come to pass, if there remain ten men in one house, that they shall die. And a man’s uncle shall take him up, and he that burneth him, to bring out the bones out of the house, and shall say unto him that [is] by the sides of the house, [Is there] yet [any] with thee? and he shall say, No. Then shall he say, Hold thy tongue: for we may not make mention of the name of the LORD.

Unfortunately, I fear I don’t quite get the point. I suspect it has something to do with them not wanting to call down God’s attention, either due to fear or shame, but that’s just speculation. Still, it seems consistent with the idea that God is ticked off at them:

For, behold, the LORD commandeth, and he will smite the great house with breaches, and the little house with clefts.

Is God causing such ruin? Or is it we ourselves who have ruined our houses by abusing them in ways God never intended:

Shall horses run upon the rock? will [one] plow [there] with oxen? for ye have turned judgment into gall, and the fruit of righteousness into hemlock:

In other words, they have treated morality as a something they can construct to serve their own hearts, based on their own power and wisdom:

Ye which rejoice in a thing of nought, which say, Have we not taken to us horns by our own strength?

To such people, God will painfully demonstrate the limits of such an approach:

But, behold, I will raise up against you a nation, O house of Israel, saith the LORD the God of hosts; and they shall afflict you from the entering in of Hemath unto the river of the wilderness.

Again, I don’t really like this judgmental aspect of God. But both reason and revelation argue that God is like this, and must be like this, in order to be truly good. And if I don’t like it, perhaps it is I who fail to understand the reality of the situation…

Prayer
God, I cry out to you for mercy. I confess that I have too often lived for myself and my petty pleasures, and closed my eyes to the injustice around me. Father, make me the change I wish to see in the world. Open my heart to the poor and the suffering, and teach me to pray for the righteousness of my city. Have mercy on me; not for my sake, but for the sake of your Son, in whom I pray. Amen.

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