Amosby J.R. Hudberg
You've probably heard these warnings that what is on the outside may not reflect what is on the inside: ″Don't judge a book by its cover″, or, ″Appearances can be deceiving″. God, too, says that the outside appearance is not what matters, but what is inside that counts. When Samuel was choosing a new king to replace Saul, God said: ″People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart″ (1 Samuel 16:7).
In this next ″woe″ saying, Amos paints a picture of an Israelite society that looks promising on the surface; God appears to be blessing them (Amos 6:1, 3-6). Amos lists some of the luxuries and extravagances that some in Israel–both the northern kingdom (Mount Samaria) and the southern kingdom (Zion)–are enjoying. These people have expensive and ornate furniture (v. 4), eat the choicest foods (v. 4), drink wine by the bowlful (v. 6), enjoy their music (v. 5), and pamper themselves with the finest of lotions (v. 6).
So what? Is it wrong to enjoy a lavish lifestyle? Is it wrong to be rich? The simple answer is no. But we must remember how all of this luxury has been financed. It has been purchased with money taken unjustly from the poor through a corrupt justice system (see 2:6-8). This is highlighted by the final phrase of Amos 6:6: ″You do not grieve over the ruin of Joseph.″ This ″ruin″ refers to the exploitation of the poor and powerless by the rich. The mention of Joseph, a reference to the southern tribes, is another reminder (see 3:1-2) that in God's design, Israel included the whole house of Israel, not just the 10 northern tribes.
These people were doing what Jesus warned people against when He said that men cannot serve both God and money (Luke 16:13). The Israelites were ″worshipping″ their money and not God, as implied by the descriptions of opulence in Amos 6:4-6. They were content to pursue their own comfort and had no thought of their neighbour–and very little for God. Worshipping God means loving Him and loving one's neighbour, but the Israelites–while continuing with their worship practices and offerings–were not doing either. Instead, they were treating their neighbour with abuse, extortion, and injustice.
Once again, Amos announces the judgment: the feasting and lounging will end as the people will be taken into exile (Amos 6:7). When that happens, those who are ill-treating the poor and powerless will themselves become the abused and disenfranchised. The haves will become the have-nots.
Reflect on your lifestyle and the things that you are concerned about. How do they compare to your love for God and your neighbour?
Amos accuses the people of being complacent in their apparent security (Amos 6:1). What does complacency look like, and why is it dangerous?