Tuesday of Pentecost 16 – Amos 6:1-7

“Woe to those who are at ease in Zion,
    and to those who feel secure on the mountain of Samaria,
the notable men of the first of the nations,
    to whom the house of Israel comes!
Pass over to Calneh, and see,
    and from there go to Hamath the great;
    then go down to Gath of the Philistines.
Are you better than these kingdoms?
    Or is their territory greater than your territory,
O you who put far away the day of disaster
    and bring near the seat of violence?

“Woe to those who lie on beds of ivory
    and stretch themselves out on their couches,
and eat lambs from the flock
    and calves from the midst of the stall,
who sing idle songs to the sound of the harp
    and like David invent for themselves instruments of music,
who drink wine in bowls
    and anoint themselves with the finest oils,
    but are not grieved over the ruin of Joseph!
Therefore they shall now be the first of those who go into exile,
    and the revelry of those who stretch themselves out shall pass away.”

I was reading a depressing article the other day about the latest climate disaster happening somewhere. On the edges of my screen were advertisements screaming at me to buy this or that “absolutely essential” kitchen gadget. I had ordered something online to replace an item in my kitchen and the algorithms had apparently pegged me as a gourmand who would be stocking my kitchen with dedicated potato peelers and coffee machines which run in the $1000’s of dollars. The irony of this, for me, is that the people who study such things suggest that the climate extremes we are witnessing are being driving by pollution and carbon emissions created by the very excesses which the advertisements were pushing on me. Do I need a gadget which was likely made in China, shipped halfway around the world, and finally chauffeured to my door by an overworked and harried Amazon, UPS, or Fed Ex driver?

That irony is the sense I get from this passage in Amos. The people are eating fine meals, listening to great music, and lying on beautiful pieces of furniture, but they do not grieve for the ruin of Jacob. Amos might have said the same thing to us if he looked at the plight of the poor in our cities and the luxury of the wealthy whose gated communities keep them isolated from one another. It would be the Assyrians and Babylonians who brought the judgment of God upon them. The wealthy were the first to go into exile when the city fell, and their expensive homes were ransacked. If they survived that is. When one reads the whole of Amos’ book of prophecy, and I recommend it to you, you realize that the prophet is trying to get people to wake up to the situation which has lulled them into thinking things will go on the same way forever. They did not then, they will not now. Know that God does rule this world, its climate, and the nations; He has his eye upon the humble and needy. Heed Amos’ words. Live accordingly.

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