Many are puffed up and rocked to sleep in carnal security by the position they occupy in the world set upon their own pleasure and careless of the afflictions of others.
Those who thus give themselves to mirth when God calls them to mourning will find it a sin that will be punished with terrible woes.
1 Woe to them that are at ease in Zion, and trust in the mountain of Samaria, which are named chief of the nations, to whom the house of Israel came!
2 Pass ye unto Calneh, and see; and from thence go ye to Hamath the great: then go down to Gath of the Philistines: be they better than these kingdoms? or their border greater than your border?
3 Ye that put far away the evil day, and cause the seat of violence to come near;
4 That lie upon beds of ivory, and stretch themselves upon their couches, and eat the lambs out of the flock, and the calves out of the midst of the stall;
5 That chant to the sound of the viol, and invent to themselves instruments of musick, like David;
6 That drink wine in bowls, and anoint themselves with the chief ointments: but they are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph.
7 ¶ Therefore now shall they go captive with the first that go captive, and the banquet of them that stretched themselves shall be removed.
8 The Lord GOD hath sworn by himself, saith the LORD the God of hosts, I abhor the excellency of Jacob, and hate his palaces: therefore will I deliver up the city with all that is therein.
9 And it shall come to pass, if there remain ten men in one house, that they shall die.
10 And a man’s uncle shall take him up, and he that burneth him, to bring out the bones out of the house, and shall say unto him that is by the sides of the house, Is there yet any with thee? and he shall say, No. Then shall he say, Hold thy tongue: for we may not make mention of the name of the LORD.
11 For, behold, the LORD commandeth, and he will smite the great house with breaches, and the little house with clefts.
12 ¶ Shall horses run upon the rock? will one plow there with oxen? for ye have turned judgment into gall, and the fruit of righteousness into hemlock:
13 Ye which rejoice in a thing of nought, which say, Have we not taken to us horns by our own strength?
14 But, behold, I will raise up against you a nation, O house of Israel, saith the LORD the God of hosts; and they shall afflict you from the entering in of Hemath unto the river of the wilderness.
Amos 1 – J. Vernon McGee
Amos 6 – “Woe to Them That Are at Ease in Zion!”
Zion is included with Samaria in this prophecy and the nobles are especially condemned for their drunkenness, gluttony, and insolence. The prophet quotes the example of great neighboring peoples as a warning that the abuse of God’s good gifts leads to their withdrawal. Calneh on the Tigris, and Hamath, had fallen before Assyria; Gath, also, had been recently overwhelmed—how unlikely, therefore, that Israel, eaten through by extravagance and luxury, could endure. National dissolution is not far away, when palaces are filled with riot while the poor rot in neglect. It was thus that Joseph’s brethren ate their food at the pit’s mouth, while Joseph lay beneath. Many professing Christians are similarly “at ease,” indifferent to their brother’s woe.
The greatness of approaching judgment is illustrated by a simple incident. A household of eleven is smitten by plague; ten die, one only survives. So great has been the mortality that no nearer relative than an uncle is left to carry out the dead for cremation; and when the matter of a funeral service is broached, the suggestion is instantly met by the remark, “Those old customs cannot be observed amid the stress of such a time; we do not now mention God’s name.” Funeral rites would pass out of use. God’s dealings with His people had been as useless as plowing rocks would be. —Through the Bible Day by Day
Amos 6:1—Woe to them that are at ease in Zion!
A picture is given in the following chapters of the luxury and self-indulgence of the people. Stretched on couches inlaid with ivory, choosing the rarest dainties, accompanying their voices on the lute, and drinking wine from flowing bowls, they were indifferent to the wounds from which the national life-blood was pouring. “They are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph” (v. 6).
The same behavior is only too common amongst ourselves. Indeed, this temptation besets us all. If only we are well supplied with the comforts and luxuries of life, we are apt to become thoughtless of the miseries of poverty and misfortune. If our own heaven is secure, we are apt to enwrap ourselves with an atmosphere of satisfaction and composure, without taking sufficiently to heart the needs of the great world of sin and sorrow around.
“The affliction of Joseph” reminds us of the scene at the pit’s mouth: how Joseph’s brethren sat down to eat bread, their brother was in the pit without water, and then sold him to the travelling merchantmen, to rid their sight of him. But human nature is prone to act thus in every age.
Are we at ease in Zion? Are we using for our own luxurious enjoyment gifts which God entrusted to our care for the world? Are we too indifferent to the fate of those who live in our homes, or pour in great streams of activity along our streets? Are we sleeping in the garden, our Master sweats the bloody sweat? We have but one life to spend; let it be a life in earnest. Let us bethink ourselves of any whom we can help—any who are in affliction, the poor widow, the young wife with the sick husband, the student who is so eager to become a minister. —Our Daily Homily