Hear this word, you cows of Bashan on Mount Samaria,Two things hit me about this. First, the language (especially the “cows” part) is unusual. Well, it seems that way to me, anyway. Second, who is this he’s addressing? They sound like music or movie stars — not all celebrities are like that I know, but that’s the stereotype. (And I wonder why he’s addressing women in particular?)
you women who oppress the poor and crush the needy
and say to your husbands, “Bring us some drinks!”Amos 4.1
And I’ll bet you’re dying to know what the word is that’s being spoken to them. Here it is: they’re in big trouble; they’ll be taken away with hooks (as in fishhooks). Ouch!
Then the unusual diction continues:
“Go to Bethel and sin;The irony is astonishing — I think Amos has to be the champ of irony among the prophets. (By the way, leavened bread is a no-no for thank offerings, which would remove all doubt about the irony to any contemporary reader of this passage.) What I love about this passage is that it shows you don’t have to be politically correct (or even polite) to be used by God!
go to Gilgal and sin yet more.
Bring your sacrifices every morning,
your tithes every three years.
Burn leavened bread as a thank offering
and brag about your freewill offerings —
boast about them, you Israelites,
for this is what you love to do,”
declares the Sovereign Lord.Amos 4.4-5
“I gave you empty stomachs in every cityNow what’s that about? Well, at the beginning of today’s reading, we had some stuff about rich people — celebrities. And we saw in chapter 13 of Hosea, being rich and satisfied seemed to lead people away from God.
and lack of bread in every town,
yet you have not returned to me,”
declares the Lord.Amos 4.6
So now he’s bringing them poverty. Because it’s better to suffer on earth and return to God, than to have plenty on earth and die without him.
An astonishing thought.