Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Amos 4:1-5

"Yet You Have Not Returned to Me"
1Hear this word, you cows of Bashan who are on the mountain of Samaria,
Who oppress the poor, who crush the needy,
Who say to your husbands, "Bring now, that we may drink!"
2The Lord GOD has sworn by His holiness,
"Behold, the days are coming upon you
When they will take you away with meat hooks,
And the last of you with fish hooks.
3"You will go out through breaches in the walls,
Each one straight before her,
And you will be cast to Harmon," declares the LORD.
4"Enter Bethel and transgress;
In Gilgal multiply transgression!
Bring your sacrifices every morning,
Your tithes every three days.
5"Offer a thank offering also from that which is leavened,
And proclaim freewill offerings, make them known
For so you love to do, you sons of Israel,"
Declares the Lord GOD.

It may be a first on this blog that I have posted one of my own pictures. These are two of my cows. A decade or so ago, someone decided to put "Cows on Parade" and had artists create stylized cows for an outdoor display. Then, someone created mini-versions! "Cali-cow" is on the left and "Georgia O'Cowffe" is on the right.

Unfortunately, when Amos references cows in Chapter 4, he is not doing so as a cool tribute. "Cows of Bashan" actually speaks of Israel! The focus on luxurious living, made possible under King Jeroboam's rule, took Israel's focus off their God. "Who say to your husbands, 'Bring now, that we may drink!'" Can you imagine treating God in that way? That's really what the passage is getting at, bottom line. Yet, I know we can all fall in this way--often, at times when our circumstances are strong and our faith is weak. (To borrow the phrase our pastors used in a recent sermon series, we turn our God into a "Genie God." "I need this, God. Yes, master....")

I refused to pull a picture to illustrate God's response in verse 2, as Amos' words are picture-perfect: "When they will take you away with meat hooks." Cows, meat hooks--Wow! And, not just meat hooks but "fish hooks." The King James Version reads as follows: "...He will take you away with hooks, and your posterity with fishhooks." The offense to the Lord is obviously great and with long-term consequences.

The next passage mentions 'Harmon,' as the place where the offenders will be cast, but there are no cross-references for 'Harmon' nor any information from my study Bible. Again, the King James has a different wording: "And ye shall go out at the breaches, every cow at that which is before her; and ye shall cast them into the palace, saith the LORD." Welcome your thoughts on this. Perhaps Amos is being sarcastic, which is what my study Bible says is occurring with the next verses.

"With poignant sarcasm....," says my S.B., Amos then begins an attack of Israel's love for idols and the meaningless ritualistic worship the nation had been practicing. Bethel and Gilgal were both sacred places to the nation of Israel. If you'll remember last week, Bethel, meaning "house of God," was the place in which Jacob's name was changed to Israel. Gilgal is the site at which Joshua circumcised Israel following their God-led entry across the Jordan River and into the Promised Land.

"Then the LORD said to Joshua, "Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you." So the name of that place is called Gilgal to this day."
--Joshua 5:9

But Amos is being sarcastic in describing Israel's sacrifices, tithes and offerings. Follow the laws the Father gave you, but do so unto idols and false gods instead, then return to your luxurious lifestyle and accommodations in which you live for yourself, forsaking your neighbor and your God.

"...then come and stand before Me in this house, which is called by My name, and say, 'We are delivered!'--that you may do all these abominations?"
--Jeremiah 7:10

Definitely explains why God is not happy.

The beginning of God's chorus: "Yet you have not returned to Me".... 'Til next Wednesday!

* * *

Next week: Amos 4:6-10

Note: I read from the New American Standard Bible translation,
specifically, The MacArthur Study Bible (NASB).
I will quote other sources if used in a post.

I also use
Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible
(with notes from the King James Version).

1 comment:

Carmen said...

Harmon: The septuagint renders it as the mountain of Rimmon. Other versions suggest that they will run to a place of expected safety.

One thing is for sure; a luxurious lifestyle can easily take our eyes, our reliance, our love away from God.

PS: Love your cows! =D