As Old as the Hills

Amos 5:6-7,10-15

6 Seek the LORD and live,
or he will break out against the house of Joseph like fire,
and it will devour Bethel, with no one to quench it.
7 Ah, you that turn justice to wormwood,
and bring righteousness to the ground!
10 They hate the one who reproves in the gate,
and they abhor the one who speaks the truth.
11 Therefore because you trample on the poor
and take from them levies of grain,
you have built houses of hewn stone,
but you shall not live in them;
you have planted pleasant vineyards,
but you shall not drink their wine.
12 For I know how many are your transgressions,
and how great are your sins—
you who afflict the righteous, who take a bribe,
and push aside the needy in the gate.
13 Therefore the prudent will keep silent in such a time;
for it is an evil time.
14 Seek good and not evil,
that you may live;
and so the LORD, the God of hosts, will be with you,
just as you have said.
15 Hate evil and love good,
and establish justice in the gate;
it may be that the LORD, the God of hosts,
will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.”

Amos was a simple sheep herder in the town of Tekoa in the the Southern Kingdom (Judah).  He was sent by God to speak on God’s behalf to the people in the Northern Kingdom. The “house or remnant of Joseph” is the prophet’s description of the people in the Northern Kingdom (Israel).

From the moment the monarchy of Saul, David, and Solomon was divided into these two kingdoms, the kings in the Northern Kingdom replaced the worship of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob with the forced worship of other gods. Bethel, originally a place where the early Israelites encountered God, was a city in the Northern Kingdom. It had now become one of two centers for the worship of golden calves.

Amos is calling out the sinfulness of the kings and the people in the Northern Kingdom for abandoning God and worshipping gods of gold. The worship of golden idols has been with us, at least, since the days of Moses….so, too, has God’s judgment upon such sinful behavior.

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