Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Amos 6:1-7

"Those at Ease in Zion"

1Woe to those who are at ease in Zion
And to those who feel secure in the mountain of Samaria,
The distinguished men of the foremost of nations,
To whom the house of Israel comes.
2Go over to Calneh and look,
And go from there to Hamath the great,
Then go down to Gath of the Philistines.
Are they better than these kingdoms,
Or is their territory greater than yours?
3Do you put off the day of calamity,
And would you bring near the seat of violence?
4Those who recline on beds of ivory
And sprawl on their couches,
And eat lambs from the flock
And calves from the midst of the stall,
5Who improvise to the sound of the harp,
And like David have composed songs for themselves,
6Who drink wine from sacrificial bowls
While they anoint themselves with the finest of oils,
Yet they have not grieved over the ruin of Joseph.
7Therefore, they will now go into exile at the head of the exiles,
And the sprawlers' banqueting will pass away.

We have many names to contend with in this week's passage, as we begin Chapter 6 of Amos. Zion and Samaria are the capitals of Judah and Israel, respectively. So we know that Amos is addressing both the Northern Kingdom and the Southern Kingdom at the same time.

This is not the first time Amos has brought up the issue of living in material luxury. We read about this Chapter 4 ("you cows of Bashan") amongst other places. God's making the statement that living in ease and security does not grant you special privileges and exemptions. The special relationship that God's chosen people had with the Lord was not considered part of their living. Big problem!

God says, look around at the nations surrounding you and see if they have things better. Calneh was part of the land of Shinar, which we also know as Babylon. It was founded by Nimrod, who you will also remember as the founder of Ninevah, capital of Assyria. The region included Babel, the home of the tower of Babel, the place at which the Lord "confused the language of the whole earth" (Gen. 11: 9). Babylon captured Judah in 605 B.C., forcing them into exile (and launching the work of Daniel, the prophet). A new "Babylon" will also play a role in the end-times. So, there's not much good to say about Calneh. Hamath relates to Syria and Gath is tied to Philistia, home of the Philistines. Again, not the lands of God's favor.

"Do you put off the day of calamity...?" (vs. 3) God's chosen were living as if they had all of salvation locked up just by claiming God's Word. But without works to support their so-called faith [Remember, "faith without works is dead" (James 2:26)], God called their so-called salvation on the carpet. Remember what God said in Amos 5:18: "For what purpose will the day of the LORD be to you?" He repeats here again in 6:3 that the Day will come, but only the truly faithful will be saved. Judah and Israel will not be any better off than the nations surrounding them, unless they change their hearts.

Verses 4 through 6 provide details of the extent of their luxurious lifestyle. The reference to David should have brought a pang of guilt to the ways of these nations. David, who brought music and psalms together to worship His God and to express his deepest thoughts and sins of his heart, would be mocked, really, by Judah and Israel in their creation of music to merely please themselves.

"Their banquets are accompanied by lyre and harp, by tambourine and flute, and by wine; but they do not pay attention to the deeds of the LORD, nor do they consider the work of His hands."
--Isaiah 5:12

"Yet they have not grieved over the ruin of Joseph." God's chosen do not recognize their own waywardness in the midst of that materialism and self-focus, their idol-worship and their blatant disregard and disrespect for the ways of God. Verse 7 contains their punishment: exile. The last line, a stinging barb: "And the sprawlers' banqueting will pass away." God renews discipline upon His people, that His love for them would be recognized once more and that the honor due Him would be demonstrated in their true faith.

Chapter 6 concludes [short one!].... 'Til next Wednesday!


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Next week: Amos 6:8-14

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).