Affluence and Arrogance
Lord God, as this day unfolds, may it not be focused on my desires, but on my willingness to be Your voice, hands and feet.
Consider: "There is a blind spot in American Christianity. We often fail to realize we are an affluent people living in an impoverished world. We must spend our lives and our money on that which is most important to the heart of God" (David Platt).
Amos targets the leaders of the nation. As in chapter 2, he includes Judah in his condemnation. The NIV changes around the pronouns (yours/theirs) at the end of verse 2. It is better to keep to the Hebrew text and read verses 1 and 2 as Amos ironically quoting the leaders' view of themselves and their boasting that Israel and Judah are bigger and wealthier than these kingdoms. Their material prosperity has made them self-indulgent and indifferent to the injustices that are leading the nation into ruin. Amos warns that disaster--military defeat--awaits them.
Prosperity has also made them arrogant, trusting in the security of their wealth and the strongholds they have built for themselves. The meaning of verses 9 and 10 is unclear. In the light of what follows they probably expand on the warning of military disaster. This will come as judgment because they have "turned justice into poison and the fruit of righteousness into bitterness" (literally "wormwood," the bitterest substance known) (12). There is ironic wordplay in verse 13 as Amos quotes the leaders' pride in recent conquests. They rejoice in conquering a place named "Nothing" and boast of their strength in taking a city called "Two Horns" (the horn being a symbol of strength). In their arrogance there is no thought of need to depend on God. Things will be different when the Almighty God stirs up a nation against them!
Two of Jesus' parables illustrate the relevance of Amos's message for today: the rich fool, and the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 12:13-21; 16:19-31). Both warn that a measure of prosperity can bring a false sense of security based on our achievements and wealth rather than on trust in God. It can also lead to indifference towards the plight of those less well off than ourselves instead of compassionate concern for them.
From where does your deepest sense of security in life come? What changes do you need to make?
Lord, help me not to be arrogant or to trust in material wealth, but to trust you and your provision for me (1 Tim. 6:17).
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