FILTER BY:

Deceitful Days

“WOE to them that are at ease in Zion, and trust in the mountain of Samaria, which are named chief of the nations, to whom the house of Israel came! Pass ye unto Calneh, and see; and from thence go ye to Hamath the great: then go down to Gath of the Philistines: be they better than these kingdoms? or their border greater than your border? Ye that put far away the evil day, and cause the seat of violence to come near; that lie upon beds of ivory, and stretch themselves upon their couches, and eat the lambs out of the flock, and the calves out of the midst of the stall; that chant to the sound of the viol, and invent to themselves instruments of music, like David; that drink wine in bowls, and anoint themselves with the chief ointments: but they are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph.” Amos 6:1-6.

 

This was uttered by the prophet in days much like our own when compared to our day of wealth and prosperity. These words were uttered in the days of Uzziah and Jeroboam II. The latter king of Israel and the former king of Judah.

Jeroboam II was raised by the Lord for an express purpose of which we read in II Kings 14:26, 27, “For the LORD saw the affliction of Israel, that it was very bitter: for there was not any shut up, not any left, nor any helper for Israel. And the LORD said not that he would blot out the name of Israel from under heaven; but he saved them by the hand of Jeroboam the son of Joash.” Yet we have the witness of Scripture that this man was not a good king but one who did evil in the sight of the Lord (II Kings 14:24). On the other hand, King Uzziah from Judah did no better for he became so bold that he tried to offer incense for the Levites, yet the Lord struck him with leprosy and the Levites took him out of the temple (II Chron. 26:16-21). Such were these kings spiritually.

In contrast to their spiritual condition Jeroboam II reigned when Israel had great strength and wealth, Samaria being the center of their power. Meanwhile, Uzziah and Judah were no worse off, the account given in II Chron. 26 indicates that there was not only great wealth, but also they had an army which took care that that state of affairs would not cease.

It was in such a situation that Amos comes in the above cited text, WOE to those that are at ease in Zion and trust in the mountain of Samaria. The picture is plain, Israel and Judah were as great in that day as the greatest cities of the wicked world, i.e. Hamath, Calneh, Gath. In contradiction to the great material wealth, however, they were poverty stricken spiritually, yes, more than that, they were so apostate that the Lord pronounces WOE to those that are so carnally secure.

And a picture is given of those carnally secure sons of Jacob and Abraham according to the flesh. They eat only the best meat, they drink wane out of sacrificial bowls in honor of their god — the belly. While they eat they lie on fine beds and couches, just see them draped all over their instruments for inclination, will you! Fat men, men who feel they can say and do say, “My power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth” (Dent. 8:17). Men who do not hesitate to take a ‘fast buck’. Men who like to chant to the sound of the viol and invent to themselves instruments of music, like David, only David made them to honor his God. These men use them to prattle with to their god – their belly. Yes, and while they are feasting and being surfeited with the wine and being rubbed in with the ointments of fine quality — THEY FORGOT GOD, THE LORD. And they proved it for the Lord says, “But ye gave the Nazarites wine to drink; and commanded the prophets, saying, Prophesy not. Behold, 1 am pressed under you, as a cart is pressed that is full of sheaves.” (2:12,13) And again, “Hear this word, ye kine of Bashan, that are in the mountain of Samaria, which oppress the poor, which crush, the needy, which say to their masters, Bring, and let us drink” (4:1). It is a day such as the prophet Micah speaks to with these words, “And I said, Hear, I pray you, 0 heads of Jacob, and ye princes of the house of Israel: Is it not for you to know judgement? Who hate the good, and love the evil, who pluck off their skin from off them, and their flesh from off their bones; Who also eat the flesh of my people, and flay their skin from off them; and they break their bones, and chop them in pieces, as for the pot, and as flesh within the caldron.” (3; 1-3)

BUT, they are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph. That is the trouble with these workers of iniquity. The real people of God are oppressed and despised and God chastens them from morning to evening but their oppressors take no note of the Lord Jehovah who vindicates the apple of His eye. They blithely walk as if there is no end to their power and so they fill the cup of iniquity. AND it is being filled with certainty.

For we live in a day that is just like the above cited except that even the poor seem to be rich in our day. It is in this day that people cannot walk in faith anymore with any real spiritual strength for after all they say (Yes, the people of God say this) “The Lord wants us to have Christian schools and to have them we must have the money.” And more, “Come on, you know that a man with only average income cannot send his children to our schools and pay the tuition!” Yet there are those who point out with a good deal of truth that we as an organization would have money left over if people gave what they should. Yet imagine my amazement when a fellow churchgoer says when you speak of these things, “Man there ain’t any honor in being poor.” Further banquets for 4 to 6 dollars are considered not only to be nice but almost a necessity for relaxation.

And the people become fat and look for more ways to make money at the same time becoming ignorant of doctrine and the proper walk of life. Yes, this is indeed happening in our Protestant Reformed churches, we do not have to worry about the denomination next door, not even the Christian Reformed ‘Church.’ They after all have been apostate for over 40 years, and we know that “by their fruits shall we know them.” But what about our churches? Is that power of the Spirit within us working so that we bear proper witness before all men? Or is the salt losing its savor so that antithesis is scarcely noticeable anymore? These are questions which we do well not only to ask but also to give occasion to examine ourselves to the Scriptures and Confession to see what we really are going to manifest as churches for the coming years.

We live through history whether we like it or not and each generation MUST GIVE AN ANSWER OF THE HOPE THAT IS WITHIN US. Yet never scarcely do we find in history that two generations in succession give the powerful answer of a living faith. And we do not like to see and hear always what we come into contact with today. Even though we know that this is the Providence of God.

In a recent article we read this, “When God removes the preaching of his Word from his church, it is a tragic day indeed. We may well ask whether in our day there is any great preaching, or whether we have relegated preaching to a subordinate position, and allowed the trivialities of life to usurp its place. Has God given to us today a famine of hearing the Word of God?’ 1 Along with such things we hear the children of the Protestant Reformed fathers of 1924 uttering these astounding statements, “You must always be very careful with what you say,” this in response to the observation that a man walks in a very wicked way. Or, “we must be very careful of how we speak the truth.” The trouble with all this is of course that underlying this speech is a very carnal minded idea of the church. The idea that the church of God is built well when men become very nice and well-mannered. Men who avoid speaking the truth in the name of Jesus Christ. Men who to get ahead in the business world cannot step on toes without a loss of money and prestige. Men who when they sit in the church councils want to apply the principles of Dale Carnegie to the Church of Jesus Christ. Yet we realize that when faith becomes weak it is hard to speak the things that must be spoken, yet that should not drive us to despair but conversely it should drive us to the Lord so that strength, the strength that is necessary is obtained in the way of prayer. For Reformations do not come without that strength.

From the prophets above cited it is plain also that when men become carnal they make the mistake of avoiding the Lord and substituting man that is, they go to Assyria, Egypt, and Syria for help, that is, they go to obtain the help of the wicked. And these men cannot stand the sight of the true prophet, they cannot bear the Word of the Lord. Cf. Amos 7:10-15, I Kings 22:26, 27.

Yet there is more hope given by the word of God also and that is this, “In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and 1 will build it: as in the days of old: that they may possess the remnant of Edom, and of all the heathen, which are called by my name, saith the LORD that doeth this.” (Amos 9:11,12) This is fulfilled in principle by Christ, yet not fully until the last day. That is the day we look to, BY FAITH.

 

  1. Torch and Trumpet, March. 1968, p. 25. NOTE: This article was written by Edward J. Young. Both it and the book he is reviewing there are worth reading.