Would you like a catalogue of some of the attitudes and behaviors characteristic of a nation that has turned from God, has rejected His warnings and is on the verge of judgment? God offers us such a list in the sixth chapter of Amos’ prophecy. Though Amos wrote of the condition of Israel before the Assyrian invasion that would decimate them as a nation nearly eight hundred years before Christ’s first advent, the portrait he painted bears a striking resemblance to the United States today. People unwittingly ripe for judgment are:
1. People who are at ease (v. 1). Virtually every nation always has enemies just awaiting the right moment to attack. People who are careless or indifferent to the potential dangers about them openly invite assault from ruthless enemies.
2. People who are ignorantly confident in their natural defenses (v. 1). Samaria trusted in the mountain that had protected them before; they did not count on the three-year siege that Assyria would impose on them and that would ultimately bring them to their knees. They were proud of their ability, having forgotten that their security rested in the Lord.
3. People who have a wealthy class of leaders and a privileged few (v.4). Indolence (“they lie upon beds of ivory, and stretch [“sprawl”] themselves upon their couches”), excess, and self-indulgence (they “eat the lambs out of the flock, and the calves out of the midst of the stall”) supplant a healthy sense of industry and productivity.
4. People who are consumed with unwholesome music (v. 5). They are described by Amos as those who “chant to the sound of the viol, and invent to themselves instruments of musick.” The word chant means “to improvise,” suggesting a casual or careless disregard for rules that govern wholesome music.
5. People who revel in drunkenness (v. 6). They “drink wine in bowls” is the contemptuous description Amos offers.
6. People who insist on even the smallest self-indulgences (v. 6). They “anoint themselves with the chief [“finest”] ointments. No sensual pleasure, however small, is to be denied them.
7. People who are unconcerned about their impending doom (v. 6). They “are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph [the Northern Kingdom].”
8. People who forbid the mention of the name of the Lord (v. 10). Though their only hope is to be found in turning to the Lord, they adamantly reject any genuine expression of repentance or of trusting in the Lord: “Then shall he say, Hold thy tongue, for we may not make mention of the name of the Lord.”
9. People who are confident in their own accomplishments (v. 13). “Have we not taken to us horns by our own strength” is what Amos quotes them as saying. They have come to believe that they are responsible for their former security and success.
Again, it is impossible to avoid drawing a parallel between the condition of Israel in the time of Amos and the present state of our nation. That the message from God, which Amos faithfully declared, was ignored to the ruin of the Northern Kingdom is an historical fact. Furthermore, that our nation is following in those same footsteps is self-evident to all with spiritual eyes. Doubtless, we will have no more success than Amos achieved in turning our nation back to God.
But what of those of us who know the Lord? Are we mirroring the characteristics of the world around us, being complacent, self-indulgent, consumed with the pleasures of life, pursuing success in this world? Are we living as if eternity is a fiction and this present life is all we have? Or are we sober, vigilant, steadfast, faithful, and loving His appearing? Are we earnestly endeavoring to serve the Lord? Do we love Him because He first loved us? Israel laughed at Amos without fully appreciating the fact that they were ignoring their God. Because we have been greatly blessed of God, may we look unto the Rock from whence we are hewn. May we not forget all His benefits. May we give Him the love and devotion that are His rightful due. We have been given fair warning by God.
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