Lord, help me to be thankful for my blessings and not covetous of others.
Read AMOS 6:1–14
Woe to the Complacent
6 Woe to you who are complacent in Zion,
and to you who feel secure on Mount Samaria,
you notable men of the foremost nation,
to whom the people of Israel come!
2 Go to Kalneh and look at it;
go from there to great Hamath,
and then go down to Gath in Philistia.
Are they better off than your two kingdoms?
Is their land larger than yours?
3 You put off the day of disaster
and bring near a reign of terror.
4 You lie on beds adorned with ivory
and lounge on your couches.
You dine on choice lambs
and fattened calves.
5 You strum away on your harps like David
and improvise on musical instruments.
6 You drink wine by the bowlful
and use the finest lotions,
but you do not grieve over the ruin of Joseph.
7 Therefore you will be among the first to go into exile;
your feasting and lounging will end.
The Lord Abhors the Pride of Israel
8 The Sovereign Lord has sworn by himself—the Lord God Almighty declares:
“I abhor the pride of Jacob
and detest his fortresses;
I will deliver up the city
and everything in it.”
9 If ten people are left in one house, they too will die. 10 And if the relative who comes to carry the bodies out of the house to burn them asks anyone who might be hiding there, “Is anyone else with you?” and he says, “No,” then he will go on to say, “Hush! We must not mention the name of the Lord.”
11 For the Lord has given the command,
and he will smash the great house into pieces
and the small house into bits.
12 Do horses run on the rocky crags?
Does one plow the sea with oxen?
But you have turned justice into poison
and the fruit of righteousness into bitterness—
13 you who rejoice in the conquest of Lo Debar
and say, “Did we not take Karnaim by our own strength?”
14 For the Lord God Almighty declares,
“I will stir up a nation against you, Israel,
that will oppress you all the way
from Lebo Hamath to the valley of the Arabah.”
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Lord, may we never forget that all things come from You and anything we give to You is Yours.
Whom do the people in your country idolize and imitate? The celebrities of ancient Israel would have had a lot in common with those idolized people of today. Amos’s words are addressed to such people in Israel. They were the super rich. They sprawl on the very best furniture; the word “lie” in verse 4 is reminiscent of the spreading tendrils of a wild vine or loose hanging of fabric. While they lounge around, they eat meat (only the rich could afford meat), sing and make music. Amos accuses them of drinking by the bowlful and anointing their bodies with special oils. Their revelry could be linked to a social/religious celebration involving inordinate drinking and sacred sexual orgies.
There is nothing necessarily wrong with leisure time, good food, enjoyment of music, or the use of moisturizers! Their reprehensibility here lies in an attitude of idle self-indulgence, subsidized by the exacting of bribes and levying of undue taxes on ordinary people. Amos demonstrates the absurdity of deliberate corruption and perversion of justice by likening it to horses running over rocks and oxen plowing in the sea (12). The Israelites are dissolute, taking no thought for the fact that their society is rotten to the core from its commerce to its courts and worship, giving no heed to the covenant demands of a God who is Lord over all. So the “foremost nation” (1) will be “among the first to go into exile” (7).
We may find it easy to condemn Israel, but how often have we been tempted to excesses ourselves? How much do we spend on new clothes compared with how much we give to charities working among the world’s poor? How often do we eat far more than we need—and ignore the world’s starving children? Out of sight, out of mind? But God knows.
Imagine yourself embedded in that corrupt society. How would you react?
Lord, show us the similarities between eighth-century Israel and our country today and how to resist the corruption around us.