[Man’s view is different to God’s]
These are the words of Jesus to the church at Laodoceia "you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked," The church had one view of itself but God's view was entirely different. This verse aptly describes the situation of Israel in Amos' day – and Western civilisation. READ Amos 6.
|MAN'S VIEW||GOD'S VIEW|
|secure (v.1)at ease (v.1,4)wealthy (v.4)respected (v.1)cultured (v.5)strong (v.13)enjoy good life (v.4,5,6)||vulnerable (v.2)ripe for judgement (v.3,7,14)unrepentant (v.1)detestable (v.8)proud (v.8)unjust and unrighteous (v.13)ripe for slaughter (v.9-11)|
Is it appropriate: self-confidence? v.1– Another message from יהוה - it is a message of WOE! If there were one word to describe Israel it is the word COMPLACENT = quiet tranquil, peaceful, cosy, secure, prosperous, proud. It was a warning against complacency.- "In Zion" – who was Amos prophesying to? - to Israel but the problem not confined to them. - false sense of security, confident that they were safe but what was the true situation? God sees things differently to man! - considered notable, foremost .... in man's eyes! Woe to those at ease - who live for pleasure, for recreation, for the good life, who’ve made their lives secure and comfortable and now are enjoying what they have established for themselves. Amos’ messages had been directed to Israel, delivered in Samaria - but as well as addressing them, he also refers to the southern kingdom - they were pursuing the same course of taking life easy: "those who are at ease in Zion". They were prosperous and indulged themselves in what that wealth could provide. They were guilty of tremendous arrogance and pride - they were utterly convinced of their security - that nothing could touch them. They had it made - completely self-assured. They were men of importance and international influence, respected, sought out for advice, loans, permission, assistance. If you wanted to get on, you had to get on side with these "leading men" - the wealthy, the idle rich. How יהוה hates such assumed pride, arrogance and self importance! They were so sure of themselves and their secure position - but if they considered a little wider than their own selves they would have reason for less confidence and more humility.
v.2 – thought they were invincible but the truth was otherwise – they only had to open their eyes to see. Others had fallen under judgment – why should we be immune? God did it before – He will do it again (2 Peter 3:4-7 and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.) - If they only looked and learnt from what was going on around them, they would see that cities greater than they had fallen to the Assyrians. But this seems only to have increased their pride, they considered themselves superior - it hadn’t befallen them whilst those to the north and south had fallen. Yet the lesson they should have drawn is that, if these greater cities could fall, perhaps they weren’t as secure as they imagined - it could happen to them. They should have been humble and sought יהוה to be their Protector, instead of relying on their own resources. All the places listed were conquered by Assyria so the allusion to being conquered by Assyrian forces is strong. But Israel didn’t consider the possibility or let it disturb their life of ease - they, like us today, were too busy enjoying themselves, taking it easy, or making a buck at others’ expense.
v.3 – Rather than facing judgment they put it off, thus it gets worse. If we deal with sin now we won't have to face its consequences later (1 Corinthians 11:31,32 But if we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord so that we will not be condemned along with the world.) - "seat of violence" - a reign of terror – they would be subjugated under the cruel heel of the Assyrians. But Israel takes not caution, nor makes any preparation to try and defend themselves. They make no effort to put off the day of disaster - they are too taken up with their own selfish lives - just like us today (cf. Matt 24:37-51). They were so sure of themselves and their affluence that they actually hastened the day of violence - not only by their evil but also by their lack of preparation, lack of efforts to defend themselves. "Why spend money on defense when it takes it away from me obtaining what I want?" We are seeing a similar running down of defense forces today. We are so sure invasion will never come - the record of history points to a different conclusion. Was their self-confidence justified? They thought they were secure but God saw the situation differently
Is it appropriate: self-indulgence? v.4 – But the rigours of defense were the furthest things from their minds - they were too preoccupied enjoying the luxury that the wealth they had accumulated provided. They were lying back on their ivory couches, being waited upon. Enjoying a life of idleness. Sprawled out on their four-poster - doing nothing but gratifying their desires. Feasting and sleeping. Self-indulgence with concern for nothing else but their own pleasure and well being. Luxury – self indulgence, nothing but the finest and the best. It is a sin to indulge ourselves when around us there are people with nothing! Paul, in Timothy says, in the last days men will be lovers of self, lovers of money and lovers of pleasure.
v.5 – too much leisure, too much time on their hands – never has society been so much into recreation as we are today. Only the idle and rich have the time to devote to gaining musical skill and afford to patronize it - for it is a luxury, a non-essential. The poor are fully occupied gaining food to survive to spend time on musical improvisation. "Improvise" - "sing foolishly" – foolish music, "folly" from one was addicted: drew wisdom and philosophy from decadent, immature, self-indulgent rebels whose lives were a patent and self-confessed mess – totally oblivious to the impending doom. "sing foolishly" is reminiscent of the "singing in the Spirit" which has taken over as the most vital part of church life - it is worshipped itself, rather than being a means of expressing worship. It is popular because it is a means of soulish self-expression demanding no discipline, practice or skill, but just an outpouring of human soul - sometimes to God but more often than not, for self-gratification. - Full of sarcasm, יהוה rebukes those living in luxury, feasting and sleeping, delighting in the high life and all the joys of culture - the arts and religion. Like David they devise musical instruments. Music plays a great part in their life. Very much like today. Music is an essential and pervasive part of life. It is worshipped. The band plays on while the Titanic goes down.
v.6 – They indulge in the fine luxuries and pleasures of life. Using religious items for their own pleasure - "sacrificial bowls" for drinking, "anointing" with fine oils for themselves. Selfishness, self-indulgence, self-gratification characterizes all they do. The drinking of wine from fancy vessels is reminiscent of the trendy pubs and cafe culture that has taken off. People spending their time drinking and idling it away in empty chat. Fine oil, perfume - they don’t spare themselves the finest luxury. Anointing was meant to be of another to appoint him to office - this was just for the pleasure of it – a false anointing. Just as today "anointing" is much bandied about as a phrase - but only for the thrill to enliven things, not to consecrate someone to a life time of service to יהוה , as it was intended. All the time their people were on the brink of calamity. But no one took heed. No one mourned the sorry, godless, corrupt, evil state to which the nation had fallen. Just like New Zealand today. Luxury, leisure, music, gluttony (as we call it "fine food"), drinking, indulgence – a perfect portrayal of 20th and 21st Century Western society. No grieving over our ruin, our sin, the ruin of our society. Think we are so sophisticated but our society is a mess, a ruin! - hopelessness, injustice, crime, immorality, greed, each for himself, suicide, drunkenness, drugs – who grieves over it? I'm afraid I don't as I should (cf. Lot 2 Peter 2:7-8 and if He rescued righteous Lot, oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men (for by what he saw and heard that righteous man, while living among them, felt his righteous soul tormented day after day by their lawless deeds).)
Consequence of living for self: v.7 – "Therefore" – consequence of self-indulgence and ignoring sin: judgment, exile. Self-indulgence and life of ease and luxury will come to and abrupt end. - Because they did not heed their own desperate state, ignored יהוה’s warnings but continued in their self-indulgent lifestyle "THEREFORE" judgement would come. Israel would go into exile at the head of the exiles. Their indulgent lazy feasting would come to a sudden end because יהוה Himself would intervene in judgement. Like today, Israel carried on its hedonistic living for pleasure, oblivious to their true condition, turning a deaf ear to all warnings and so they met their doom that their actions merited, because they did so with no shame or regret. Obstinately pursuing their high style of life. The same tragic thing is happening today!
v.8 – Because Israel continued on in gratifying her desire, living for pleasure and comfort and refused to pay attention to her moral and spiritual state, disregarded all יהוה’s warnings, therefore punishment was inevitable (v.8-14). The solemn certainty was emphasised by יהוה’s oath sworn by Himself. Full force of God's name – on oath. Sworn by Himself – the most powerful oath possible, and declares judgment – the end of the city – the death of its inhabitants. Pride and injustice could not go unpunished. God has sworn by His own self (soul)! - judgement is assured! He detests and loathes what is going on in Israel. It’s pride - the absolute self-confidence and assurance that doesn’t even consider that disaster can come, that God will judge, that they are doing anything wrong. God hates pride and arrogance ("opposed to the proud but gives grace to the humble") – we need to be relying on grace in that day, and not on our own security. The judgment is for a reason – because of Jacob's arrogance and self-sufficiency. This arrogance and self-assuredness is greatly encouraged and highly regarded today - "believing in oneself"; "assertiveness training"; "self confidence"; "self-esteem". It is self-reliance - the arrogance that assumes that what you have and where you’ve got has been by your own doing (cf. Deut 8:11-14,17,19 Beware that you do not forget the Lord your God by not keeping His commandments and His ordinances and His statutes which I am commanding you today; otherwise, when you have eaten and are satisfied, and have built good houses and lived in them, and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and gold multiply, and all that you have multiplies, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God who brought you out from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.17 Otherwise, you may say in your heart, ‘My power and the strength of my hand made me this wealth.’19 It shall come about if you ever forget the Lord your God and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I testify against you today that you will surely perish.) - it is trusting in man, in yourself for security. The citadels, fortresses of man’s making, they considered made them invincible - instead of relying on יהוה to defend them. This יהוה hates! The man who trusts in himself! Who robs glory from God by attributing what יהוה has given him to be due to himself. So יהוה Himself would deliver them up, just as He promised in Deuteronomy. We applaud self made men, the self-sufficient, who y their own determination have made it (Hilary) - but God hates "self": self-pride, self-sufficiency, self-security, self-effort, self-esteem. Self is the essence of pride (Jeremiah 17:5Thus says the Lord, "Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind and makes flesh his strength, and whose heart turns away from the Lord.) God does not see as man sees.
v.9,10 – Israel saw itself as secure but God saw otherwise: the decimation of the population -death, even survivors hiding in a house -none spared. Fear that the death would strike them also. Terror of the Lord, of His judgment. - יהוה had decreed death! Utter destruction - the city and all it contains. If ten men remain in a house, they too will die. Terrible calamity! A tragedy like they have no known. The nation of Israel will be utterly decimated because they forsook יהוה and exalted themselves instead of Him. Indeed pride goes before a downfall (Prov 16:18). Let us take heed! Humble ourselves and give glory to God - יהוה would punish Israel for her pride. The nation would be decimated and death would pervade. The picture is of death everywhere. They come to a house to take away the corpse. They inquire if there is another but the one inside the house denies it - perhaps there is one near to death and he wants to keep them away. He doesn’t want them around or speaking, bringing attention to him being there for otherwise he may be found too. Those taking the body would ordinarily say a blessing, kiddush, or prayer in which יהוה’s Name is mentioned. But this one forbids such a mention - such has been the horror and devastating judgement from His hand that he doesn’t want it mentioned - further mention may bring more judgement, he wants the Name of יהוה to be forgotten. To mention the Name of the LORD would be to only invite further disaster. Still, despite this judgement, they do not cry out to יהוה - they are determined not to mention His name or remember Him. Though the exact meaning of this verse is obscure - nonetheless the impression of death, fear, dread and terrible calamity comes through.
v.11 – This judgment is at the Lords command. יהוה Himself has commanded this judgement. All their grand houses that they had built for themselves would be smashed. But the small houses would not be spared either - utter and complete destruction as the results of יהוה’s judgement. None spared – small and great – it makes no difference. All who rely on themselves. Much religion is based on self-effort – religion but pride and self-reliance is the root of it. That is the genius of the Gospel – there is no room for self, no place for pride (Romans 3:27Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith.; 4:2,3For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”). Because it is all what Jesus has done for us and none of our own effort. All will be shaken so that only that which cannot be shaken will remain.
The issue is righteousness and justice: v.12 – This judgement was not without cause - it was due to Israel’s senseless behaviour. They had done what is ridiculous, what no one in their right mind would do: the unthinkable, the inconceivable, the impossible – justice, that which is good and right turned into poison – that is the perverseness of sin – it twists that which is perfect and good into something dirty and perverted (Romans 7:12,13So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good. Therefore did that which is good become a cause of death for me? May it never be! Rather it was sin, in order that it might be shown to be sin by effecting my death through that which is good, so that through the commandment sin would become utterly sinful.). Justice brings health and healing to society – but values so twisted that it was a disadvantage to be just (5:13). Righteousness is sweet, to be savoured, but they'd made it bitter, something to be hated. God's view: Justice and righteousness are the issue (cf. 5:24). The world tramples justice underfoot (Matthew 12:18-21 “Behold, My Servant whom I have chose; My Beloved in whom My soul is well-pleased; I will put My Spirit upon Him, And He shall proclaim justice to the Gentile. “He will not quarrel, nor cry out Nor will anyone hear His voice in the streets. “A battered reed He will not break off, And a smoldering wick He will not put out, Until He leads justice to victor. “And in His name the Gentiles will hope.” ) - cynic at a young age "It's not fair" – "Don't look for justice, you won't find any in this world." Look at this world, justice doesn't prosper but the greedy, the assertive, the underhanded and exploiters. Jesus is coming – He will establish justice. Righteousness and justice are the two great foundational virtues of יהוה’s rule, yet it is these they have utterly distorted and rejected. Righteousness no longer benefits but the consequence of righteousness actually causes distress and anguish - so far had they turned values up side down. Righteousness and justice are what יהוה continually draws their attention to (cf. 2:6-8; 3:10; 5:7-15, 24) - this was Israel’s downfall, this is what goes out the window when יהוה is rejected - as we see in our own day.
v.13 – Their pride was utterly unfounded. Based on nothing. Pride themselves in their own strength. Look what we've accomplished: nuclear weapons, bio-technology, genetic engineering, super computers, man on the moon. Stop! Consider the power of the Almighty! Wrong view point. Man does not see as God does. Our perspective is all wrong. Seems great by our standards – but we are puny, our accomplishments are nothing. יהוה condemns Israel for her pride (cf. v.8). Their boast was futile, they attributed them to their own strength not to יהוה who gives strength to all. "Lodebar" was where Mephibosheth lived before David recalled him - it was east of the Jordan, so represented an expansion of Israelite territory - but "Lodebar" means "nothing" - the great exploits and gains in which they boasted were utterly futile, a big nothing, for all would be taken from them. "Karnaim" means "horns" - a symbol of strength. Israel exulted in her own strength that was able to take a town of double strength. But no matter how they boasted and relied on their own strength and security, יהוה would bring them down. He would raise up a nation against them that would invade and afflict the whole land . Their boasting was empty and futile. Their strength was useless.
v.14 – God declares, yet again, judgement: war and exile from the very north to the extreme south. What good is our strength if יהוה is against us?! יהוה the God of armies has declared by His awesome and mighty Name! A nation would be raised against them who would crush them, afflict Israel. They had refused to pay any attention to יהוה’s word against their evil. They did not repent, they continued on as always. יהוה’s word did not affect their lifestyle. Unrighteousness, pride, injustice and self-sufficiency continued - therefore יהוה’s promised judgement would come. It was assured - He had declared by His Name! They made their boast but God had declared. Man's view is different to God's – which is true? "you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked," Man has his scenario of how things will be and God declares how they will be – which will come to pass?Our thoughts are different to God's (Isaiah 55:8-11“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts. “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there without watering the earth and making it bear and sprout, and furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; so will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; it will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.) We need to change our thinking to line up with the will that will prevail.