My current Bible reading has landed me in the book of Amos. I can’t say exactly how I ended up here, but here I am. I also can’t say I’ve ever heard a sermon preached from the book of Amos, but it’s surprising to me just how much of it I’ve heard before.
Reading through the first four chapters it’s clear that God is announcing a coming judgement to Israel for several things. The main thing I am struck with, though, is how much it compares to how we worship God and live before Him today.
It appears that the people of Israel during Amos’ time were worshipping Him in grand appearance. They were wealthy and they were bringing grand appearing offerings to the temple. The people loved fellow-shipping, sacrificing and feasting. But there hearts were not hungering and thirsting for righteousness and justice.
In other words, they obeyed him in churchy rituals. They went to all the church services, chili cook-offs, candlelight communions, men’s group activities, etc. Amos says they were even tithing perfectly, in fact they were tithing every three days. Wow, they must be very righteous.
But they were cheating their employees, they were living in grand palaces while their employees lived in shacks and went without food. In fact, In Amos’ time, there was a huge separation between the classes. There were the very rich and the very poor.
Now we get to the good part. Maybe.
Beginning in chapter 4, Amos turns to speaking to the women of Israel. He gets onto them for living lives of luxury while the people of Israel are hungry. He gets on to the women for demanding more from their husbands while the poor are being kept poor, thereby sharing in the guilt of their husband’s business dealings.
So, what does this mean to us today?
What about the women who sit among us in church with a $400 dollar purse, $200 dollar shoes, $400 dollar outfit, $100 dollar hairdo, and $50 dollar nail job, wearing around $300 dollars in jewelry? All the while justifying it as a “need”.
Far too many times in church I see men working 60 hour weeks and women dropping off their kids at daycares for 10-12 hours per day, barely spending time with their families. And the reason? To pay for all the “needs”.
The latest SUV in the driveway, the nails, the hair, the purses, the jewelry, the makeup, the designer clothes for the kids, and on and on. All for something, quite frankly, that will rot in the ground someday.
But we bought two $20 gifts for the Angel Tree at church….Isn’t that enough?
We’re living lives of luxury while there are those around us needing the basics. The problem is, for me anyway, I don’t know exactly how to break the cycle. I try, and I certainly have become more and more generous, but I know, percentage wise, what I give is a paltry sum compared to what I consume on my “needs”.
God, please forgive me and open my eyes.
By the way, you have to read Amos 4:1 to see why the title of this post is what it is.