Cows and False Worship
Lord of this and every place, I rejoice in Your presence with me. Speak now, as I wait before You.
Consider: Have you ever thought that there might be a connection between your attitude when going shopping and your attitude when going to church? Think about it now.
We often fail to consider the effects of what we do on those who are distant from us socially or geographically. As a result we may be guilty of indirect injustice. This was the case with the upper-class women of Samaria. Their lifestyle made them sleek and well-fed, like the cows in fertile Bashan. To sustain their lifestyle they demanded luxuries from husbands. The word translated as "husbands" (1) means "lords," suggesting that daughters and concubines are involved, not just wives. Their demands encouraged the men to oppress the poor. Might Christians in wealthy countries share such guilt? Demands for a good standard of living can lead to exploitation of farmers, textile workers and others in the majority world, as well as unsustainable use of resources. Insisting on fairly-traded and sustainably resourced products is one way to tackle indirect injustice. Amos sees these women being driven out into exile like cattle.
In ancient Israel, people were called to worship by priests. Amos parodies such a call, making it a call to sin rather than worship. Israelite worship of his day was enthusiastic and lavish, yet he labels it as sinful because it was self-centered. The worshippers were enjoying themselves and boosting their reputation for piety. Perhaps they also thought that lavish sacrifices would move God to bless them materially, giving them the luxuries they wanted. We can have the same wrong attitude today.
Amos points out that they have already had warnings. The covenant came with promises of blessings and curses. The calamities listed in verses 6-11 echo these curses (Lev. 26:14-35; Deut. 28:15-42). The call to "prepare to meet your God" (12) is therefore a threat. Amos reminds them that this God is not simply their national God but the awesome Creator of the world.
Apply: Is worship for you just a feel-good time or a real God time? What attitudinal changes do you need to make? Are you willing to let God challenge how you live, even how you shop?
What are these changes?
Father God, thank You for reminding me that my actions have a wider influence than I realized.