Some of the most famous words of the Hebrew prophets come from the prophet Amos.
Amos lived in the eighth century BC and prophesied against Israel’s Northern Kingdom with its capitol in Samaria. Amos called for justice and righteousness. He cared for the poor and powerless and called on the wealthy to care as well.
He demanded that religious people live out their religion by living humbly and devotedly toward God. He pronounced words of woe and judgment because they were living “at ease in Zion.”
“Woe to those who are at ease in Zion, and to those who feel secure on the mountain of Samaria, the notable men of the first of the nations, to whom the house of Israel come!” (Amos 6:1)
Zion and Samaria both represented places of religious worship, a worship that benefited the people but did not turn the people toward God. Zion represented Jerusalem with its temple while Samaria also had a mountain with a temple. In both nations the people used their religion rather than letting God use them.
These were people who lived nonchalantly in their wealth and power. They saw themselves as secure because they went to the places of worship.
Their living “at ease” meant that they ignored God.
Amos pronounced a second “woe” against those who lived in the lap of luxury without caring about the needs of the poor. They lived lavishly but were “not grieved over the ruin of Joseph” (Amos 6:6). Joseph represented the Northern Kingdom, a kingdom doomed to destruction within about twenty-five years.
These people could live selfishly while the nation hurtled toward its destruction.
Its easy to “live at ease in Zion.” It’s easy to think that God owes us because we attend religious services without yielding ourselves to Him in humility and repentance.
They thought God’s election gave them favored status. They took God for granted. We can do the same. We too live in luxury and assume we will never suffer because of our sins.
It’s time for us to humble ourselves and pray and seek His face that we might receive His blessings and His favor.