Year C – Proper 21 – Amos 6:1, 4-7

1 Alas for those who are at ease in Zion,
and for those who feel secure on Mount Samaria,
the notable men of the first of the nations,
to whom the house of Israel comes…

4 Alas for those who lie on beds of ivory,
and lounge on their couches,
and eat lambs from the flock,
and calves from the stall;
5 who sing idle songs to the sound of the harp,
and like David improvise on instruments of music;
6 who drink wine from bowls,
and anoint themselves with the finest oils,
but are not grieved over the ruin of Joseph!
7 Therefore they shall now be the first to go into exile,
and the revelry of the loungers shall pass away.

Summary— Amos, in his extended lawsuit against both the southern kingdom of Judah (“Zion” and “Mount Samaria,” v.1) and the northern kingdom of Israel (“Joseph,” v.6), targets “the notable men” (v.1)—which is to say, the aristocracy to whom others came for guidance and leadership (v.1): these leaders were preoccupying themselves with inordinate luxury (vss. 4-6) in the face of Joseph’s ruin (v.6)!  Specifically, they were sprawled out on ivory beds (v.4), eating the finest delicacies (v.4), bellowing drinking songs (fancying themselves musicians of David’s caliber! v.5), in a drunken stupor (proud that they had the largest stein at Oktoberfest, v.6), and dousing themselves with the priciest cologne they could waste their money on (v.6).  All this while Israel played the anti-type to Joseph (v.6)—wallowing at the bottom of the pit, about to be taken into exile.

Insight— These leaders regarded themselves as the first men of the first nation (v.1).  Well then, says God, they can be the first to go into exile (v.7).  How apropos.

Child Catechism—
  Is it always time to relax and have fun?
A:  No, not when I should be helping others, instead.

Discussion— Should leaders ever relax?  When?  When should they not?  Are most people more tempted not to relax when they should, or to relax when they should not?

Prayer— Great Shepherd, give to us, Your flock, under-shepherds who love You and us more than their bellies, that they might train us for good works, and thereby secure our hope that on the Last Day, You will embrace them and us into Your joy, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  AMEN.

[Contributed by Scott Cline]

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