Read Amos 6
Focus on verse 4-6
If it is a bad sign when people who have no particular interest in God refuse to accept the truth, it is a doubly bad sign when people who claim to know God reject it as well. It is doubly bad because, of all the people that should know better, it should be those who claim to know and walk with God who should be seeking truth!
In today’s reading Amos addresses exactly this segment of people.
Woe to those who lie on beds of ivory and stretch themselves out on their couches, and eat lambs from the flock and calves from the midst of the stall, who sing idle songs to the song of the harp and like David invent for themselves instruments of music, who drink wine in bowls and anoint themselves with the finest oils, but are not grieved over the ruin of Joseph! (v. 4-6)
As I read this it becomes evident that I have been guilty on all counts! I may not sleep on a bed of ivory, or eat leg of lamb regularly, but I have it extremely good compared to the global average in those departments. I do like to get together with people and sing songs that are of little importance, and though I cannot say I have drunk wine from a bowl, I do like it in a goblet with a nice meal. I shower every day with soap that smells nice, and – here is the clincher – I’m haven’t always been particularly concerned about what goes on in the nation of Israel, or many other parts of the world.
The question then becomes why should we be “grieved over the ruin of Joseph”? Perhaps the first question should be what is meant by the ruin of Joseph? As I consider this I believe current trends in the Middle East may well be quite descriptive of this. “Joseph” would be understood to be the Jewish people – in this case the nation of Israel. There are more than a few Islamic nations surrounding Israel who have openly proclaimed their intent to “wipe Israel off the map”. I’d say that sounds pretty much like plotting the ruin of Joseph if you ask me.
As I attempt to put this together, it becomes evident to me that the travesty is not so much that we in the west have it good. It is not a sin to sleep on a comfortable bed or to eat well, or even to enjoy music and good hygiene. Where we sin is when we don’t care! When we don’t speak out over injustice and hatred and humanitarian atrocities committed against any of God’s people. I think this would include not just the Jewish nation, but also the Christians in the Middle East who are currently being savagely abused and driven out of their homes.
The psalmist writes,
“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem! ‘May they be secure who love you! Peace be within your walls and security within your towers!’” (Psalm 122:6-7)
Perhaps the greatest sin that our apathy gives rise to is that of prayerlessness. When we don’t care – we don’t pray. When we don’t pray, we become self-absorbed and apathetic, so it is a bit of a vicious circle that can only be broken up when we invite God to break our uncaring hearts.