Monday, September 19, 2016

Living alert

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Amos 6:1-14

TO CHEW ON: "Woe to you who are at ease in Zion,
And trust in Mount Samaria….
Woe to you who put far off the day of doom…" Amos 6:1a, 3a

When things are going well, it's easy to think life will go on this way indefinitely. Good times tend to lull us into complacency.

"Complacent" could be a word we'd use to describe the subjects of Amos's prophecy in Amos 6, and "self-indulgent" and "pleasure seekers," considering some of the things with which they were occupied. Around 760 BC Israel and Judah were:

- In denial: "At ease in Zion...Put far off the day of doom" (vs. 1, 3).

- Devising laws that actually promoted evil: "Who cause the seat of violence to come near" (vs. 3). Compare with Psalm 94:20 - "Shall the throne of iniquity have fellowship with You--they who frame and hide their unrighteous doings under [the sacred name of] law?" (Amplified)

- Absorbed with:
  • leisure and opulence: "Who lie on beds of ivory, stretch out on your couches" (vs. 4).
  • food: "Who…eat lambs from the flock and calves…" (vs. 4).
  • entertainment: "Who sing idly to the sound of stringed instruments and invent for yourselves musical instruments…" (vs.5).
  • alcohol: "Who drink wine from bowls…" (vs. 6).
  • cosmetics: "…and anoint yourselves with the best ointments" (vs 6).

- Refusing to face reality: "But are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph" (vs. 6). This verse is cross-referenced in my Bible with Genesis 37:25 which describes the sight of the Ishmaelite trader caravan approaching Joseph's brothers. The brothers then sell Joseph to the Ishmaelites and he is carted off to Egypt as a slave. In its Amos context, it seems to imply a refusal on the part of Amos's hearers to acknowledge their own enslavement (to the life described) and the danger of enslavement in exile.

When I look at Amos's condemning list, I can't help but think of another culture it describes -- one with which I am very familiar. I see likenesses at every point.

- Modern denial: But what is the attitude of the times even when we're in the middle of financial and global uncertainty? Pretend like things are just like they always were. For example, if you can't afford something you want, increase your line of credit to get it.

- Modern laws that promote evil: Our culture's socially liberal climate along with laws that allow for the killing of pre-born babies and the legitimizing of sexual unions and practices that are forbidden by the Bible are two examples. (In fact, the church and Christians are increasingly being drawn into and forced to take a stand on these matters, as this recent event illustrates:"Alberta Education Minister demands Baptist school board comply with LGBTQ Legislation"

- The "good life": A few hours' worth of TV commercials will show any watcher that our society is consumed with the pursuit of leisure, opulence, good food and drink, cosmetics, entertainment.

Amos warned his unaware listeners of coming doom: "Behold I will raise up a nation against you O house of Israel" (vs 14). We have Jesus' warning of His coming when we least expect it.
"As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man" (NIV) Matthew 24:37-39.

Let's pay attention to Jesus' words. Let's be alert watchers for His coming, not lulled into distraction by good times.

PRAYER: Dear God, please sharpen my awareness of how You are at work in my time and culture. Help me to stay watchful and alert. Amen.

MORE: End time signs

"What signs indicate that the end times are approaching" is one of many articles that come up when one does an internet search on words like "signs of end times." It offers food for thought. Below the article there are also links to other articles about Bible prophecy which may be helpful.

(Of course, as with all such internet articles, read realizing this is a person's opinion. Also, when looking at such writings, it's helpful to read the website's 'about' and 'statement of faith' sections to understand the worldview and theological stance of the writer/organization.) 

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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