Friday, September 09, 2011

110909 - Amos 01-04 - Cows of Bashan

S: "Hear this word, you cows of Bashan, who are on the mountain of Samaria, who oppress the poor, who crush the needy, who say to your husbands, 'Bring, that we may drink!' (Amos 4:1)

O: Through Amos, thought to be the first writing prophet to Israel, God pronounces woe on Syria, Philistia, Tyre, Edom, Ammon Moab... then, Judah and Israel. It must have been shocking to hear. God says they were selling the righteous for silver (which makes me think of Christ), being careless of the poor and afflicted, engaging in sexual perversion and ritual prostitution, extorting the poor and carousing with their ill-gotten gain (2:6-8).

A: What struck me here was the derisive way God calls the women of Israel "cows of Bashan" who oppress the poor, crush the needy and make demands of their husbands that require the same things. I usually think of the men as the oppressors, but the godlessness has permeated this society to such extent that God calls out the women as offenders as well, naming them in a manner reminding the reader of Christ's view from the Cross (Ps. 22:12), symbolically of brutes living on the border of the world and the promised land, perhaps the unregenerate who enjoy the fruits of the covenant but never submit to it.

This reminds me of Ezekiel 16, which paints a vivid picture of "Jerusalem" (standing, undoubtedly, for the whole nation) as "sister" to Samaria and Sodom, a foundling raised and lovingly clothed, washed, nourished and ornamented by God, who then proved scandalously unfaithful to Him. God has this to say about her:

"Look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: She and her daughter had pride, fullness of food, and abundance of idleness; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. "And they were haughty and committed abomination before Me; therefore I took them away as I saw fit. (Eze 16:49-50).

Pride, abundance and idleness - this sounds true not only of Judah and Israel, but of the United States. We're only two days away from the 10th anniversary of September 11th, and none of the apparent repentance following that attack seems to have lasted. We may be weaker as an economic force in the world and many have lost jobs, but for the most part, we remain haughty and self-centered. Isn't the nominal Christian culture to blame for this? God holds the priests and prophets primarily responsible for Israel's problems; will He not hold the preachers and evangelists responsible for America's? Have we not been far too influenced by the brutes hanging out at the fringes of Christianity, adjusting ourselves in hopes we can persuade them to join us if we compromise enough?

P: Lord, bring revival to your people in this nation - give us first a zeal for You, a fear of displeasing you, and then a broken heart for the lost and the hooks to which they are falling prey.

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