Summary: The leaders of Israel were enjoying their prosperity. What does God have to say to them?
BLINDING: Money is not evil, but it is dangerous.
- The dangers of money are not a new problem. Here we are way back in the Old Testament and we see the same thing (although back then it was probably a lot smaller percentage of the population).
- It’s a telling passage and it helps us answer an important question: what does God have to say about prosperity – or, more specifically, the dangers of prosperity?
- There are many who presume that money is intrinsically evil. That’s not true. Money is morally neutral. It can be used for good or bad.
- The correct translation is not that money is the root of all evil but that the love of money is the root of all evil (1 Timothy 6:10).
- This passage, though, is a reminder to us that money is dangerous. In this passage, we are specifically going to be talking about the fact that prosperity is dangerous.
- Israel here is in a time that has some prosperity. We should not presume from this passage that the prosperity had reached everyone in that society. It is likely that the prosperity was among the ruling elites (Amos 6:1). The prosperity was having significant negative effects on those enjoying it.
- Let’s look at what specific accusations that Amos makes as the Lord’s prophet here.
WHERE PROSPERITY CAN LEAD:
1. Prosperity can lead you to trust in your own strength.
- Amos 6:1.
- Verse 1 tells us that they were trusting in their own strength – they felt secure on Mt. Samaria. It’s a picture of trusting in your own strength.
- Prosperity has that effect on people. You start to believe in how much power you wield. You start to believe in the influence you have.
- It’s been interesting and tragic to me to watch the economic devastation that the Coronavirus has caused. It’s brought our economy to its knees. A virus revealed how easily our thriving economy can stumble.
2. Prosperity can lead you to believe bad times will never come.
- Amos 6:3a.
- Verse 3 speaks of putting off the evil day. The wording is challenging, but it points us toward their thought that the day of judgment was off in the future. They were untouchable for the moment.
- They were confident that the good times would keep right on rolling.
- Not only that, but I expect that they also presumed God’s pleasure with them and so they perhaps dismissed the thought that there could be a chance that judgment was coming for them. Surely not – they were the blessed leaders of God’s chosen people.
3. Prosperity can lead you to care only for your own pleasure.
- Amos 6:3b.
- The second half of verse 3 tells us that they brought near “a reign of terror.” What does that mean? You might be inclined by that phrase to think of hoodlums running wild causing destruction. Here, though, I think the problem is the way they have society organized in their favor. Regular people are struggling and they are only concerned about themselves and their pleasure.
- We think of evil in terms of banditry, but we need to recognize how respectable it can look. C.S. Lewis once wrote, “The greatest evil is not done now in sordid dens of crime. It is not even done in concentration camps and labor camps. In those we see its final result. But it is conceived and ordered (moved, seconded, carried and minuted) in clear, carpeted, warmed, and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voice.”
4. Prosperity can lead you to justify your exorbitant lifestyle.
- Amos 6:4-6a.
- Verses 4-6a share the sumptuous details of this prosperous lifestyle they were enjoying. It sounds pretty nice.
- As we enjoy nicer and nicer lifestyles, it’s easy to justify each step along the path. We compare ourselves to other people like us and think that we’re not really that far out there in how we’re living. In so doing, we don’t think about the many who are living far below where we are.
- We just enjoy the good things of life and presume that we deserve them.
WHAT GOD WANTS FROM PROSPEROUS ISRAEL: He wants them to grieve over Israel’s reprobate condition.
- Amos 6:6b.
- What does the “ruin of Joseph” mean?
- First of all, Joseph here is a reference to Israel. Joseph, of course, is one of the patriarchs of the nation.
a. It could refer to upcoming judgment as a consequence of the disobedience caused by the prosperity. That would point toward something that hadn’t happened yet but was on its way.