Amos 6:1-5 At Ease in Zion

Woe to you who are at ease in Zion,
And trust in Mount Samaria,
Notable persons in the chief nation,
To whom the house of Israel comes!
Go 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?
Woe to you who put far off the day of doom,
Who cause the seat of violence to come near;
Who lie on beds of ivory,
Stretch out on your couches,
Eat lambs from the flock
And calves from the midst of the stall;
Who sing idly to the sound of stringed instruments, and invent for yourselves musical instruments like David; who drink wine from bowls, and anoint yourselves with the best ointments, but are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph. Therefore they shall now go captive as the first of the captives,
And those who recline at banquets shall be removed.
The Israelites had adopted an easy religion that had provided them with just enough, in their eyes, to insure themselves of an eternal future in heaven. They practiced this easy religion without it much affecting what they wanted to do with their lives in the world. At the slight cost of a little outward expression, their religion, which never challenged their hearts and minds, only served to encourage their motivation for self-satisfaction. In the midst of this complacent environment comes Amos, with the second ‘oracle of woe,’ “Woe to those who are at ease in Zion.”
Complacency and laziness are a deadly combination for both individuals as well as communities. We’ve already seen in chapter 5 how Amos exposed the false security in Israel resulting from her religious practices. In chapter 6 we again see Israel as a community with a false sense of security based upon her military success (vs. 1-2) and material prosperity (vs. 4-7). Their religion did not arise from ‘who God is,’ nor did it take into account ‘who man is,’ but they lived solely by the principle of self-satisfaction, self-fulfillment and success. Their walk was one of self-indulgence, laziness, frivolity, and excessive personal vanity. They sought to escape reality by way of an unreasonable admiration for entertainment. In their pursuit of gratification, they are not grieved, nor is there any concern for the desperate spiritual condition of their brothers. Like Joseph’s brothers, they ‘eat their bread,’ while their brother languishes in prison. Just like the people in the Titanic, they were having a great time … until their ship hit the iceberg.
Optimism and positivism is a good thing, but too much of it creates a living illusion. Many people are content to live a life outside of reality, and they like their preachers to be ‘encouragers’ of their self-love. The last thing that a complacent community wants is a preacher like Amos to wake them from their dream. In 1861, Charles Spurgeon preached from this text in a sermon entitled, “Scourge for Slumbering Souls.” In this sermon Spurgeon sought to awaken the complacent people of the church by calling out six types of Christians – which he named Presumptuous, Procrastinator, Sin-lover, Love-self, Careless, and Crossless. Presumptuous lives at ease in his own self-righteousness. Procrastinator puts important matters of his own spirituality on the back-burner in order to taste worldly pleasures today. Sin-lover is the one who loves his sin too much to repent in this life. Love-self cares not for Christ or His church, but only for his personal success. Careless is a giddy, light-hearted, frothy soul with superficial convictions. And lastly Crossless is one who believes he can be a disciple without bearing a cross. Look at these five categories of people; can you identify any of these attitudes in your life?
A Christian man is seldom long at ease
When one trouble’s gone another doth him seize
John Bunyon
Read the story of the rich fool in Luke 12:13-21. What was the basis of this man’s security? How does this relate to Israel’s complacency? Read Revelation 3:14-22, how do the sins of the church at Laodicea compare to the sins of Israel 28 centuries ago? Can you identify the same sins in today’s church?
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