One of the great things about the Holy Scriptures is their relevance to all times, despite having been written in a specific time and place. This week I have been impressed with how applicable the prophecy of Amos is for me today.
Amos wrote during a time (around 760 BC to 750 BC) of “extravagant indulgence in luxurious living” on the one hand and “oppression of the poor” on the other. In chapter 6 he says,
“You lie on beds inlaid with ivory and lounge on your couches.
You dine on choice lambs and fattened calves.
You strum away on your harps like David and improvise on musical instruments.
You drink wine by the bowlful and use the finest lotions,
but you do not grieve over the ruin of Joseph.”
Hold on a second, don’t we also have beautiful bedroom suites and can afford to eat the best cuts of meat every day? Are our homes not stocked with cosmetics and amusements to wile away the time? This indictment hits close to home. In North America we are so brainwashed into thinking our lives of luxury are what we deserve or, if anything, that we need even more to be happy and fulfilled. We are told to save up exorbitant amounts of money for retirement dreams so that we can feast and lounge, and we listen.
How does the “oppression of the poor” fit into our current context? Just a few examples to think about:
- Those who make garments for export work long hours in unsafe factories and lose their lives when it collapses
- Slums that are a stone’s throw from tropical resorts that attract rich tourists
- The silent slaughter of the unborn
- The plague of AIDS wiping out a generation in Africa, which no longer attracts the news media
We desperately need God’s perspective on things, even if it is not trendy. Amos was told by the king of Israel, “Get out, you seer” (Amos 7:12). Let us instead respond with, “Open our eyes, Lord.”