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Shall we turn in our Bibles to Amos chapter 6.
The Northern Kingdom of Israel has become apostate. They are living in luxury, carelessness, indifference towards God, when suddenly their peace is disturbed because of an unknown person to them who suddenly arises in Bethel, one of their cities of worship, and begins to denounce their worship. Begins to denounce the Northern Kingdom, and begins to prophecy the judgment of God. Amos suddenly appeared on the scene, telling of the judgment of God that is soon to come upon this apostate kingdom. In chapter 6, continuing his denunciations he declares,
Woe unto them that are at ease in Zion, that are trusting in the mountain of Samaria, which are named for the chief of the nations, to whom the house of Israel came! Pass unto Calneh, and see; go from there to Hamath the great: then go down to Gath of the Philistines: be they better than these kingdoms? or their borders greater than your borders? Ye that put far away the evil day, and caused the seat of violence to come near; That lie upon the beds of ivory, and stretch yourselves out on your 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 instruments of music, like David; That drink your wine out of bowls, and anoint yourselves with the oils: but you are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph ( Amos 6:1-6 ).
So he describes now the conditions that existed in the Northern Kingdom that were actually perpetuating its destruction. At ease in Zion, they were trusting in the mountains of Samaria. They felt that their cities were well defensed. That the city of Samaria, a very great stronghold. Actually, Samaria sits on the top of a mountain. They had ingeniously brought water into the city by a spring that was several miles away on another hill, and had brought a tunnel all the way along and up into Samaria. And by the process of water seeking its own level, as the pool on the other hill would fill, of course it would bring the water to the level there within Samaria. So they had a good source of fresh water within the city. The city had the strong walls, the great towers, and built on the hill they felt that they were impregnable as far as their enemies were concerned. So they were trusting in their military strength, in their strategic location, rather than really trusting in the Lord. So the prophet said, "Now go to some of these other cities that have fallen. You think that you're any stronger or greater than they were? And yet they've been taken. You say that the evil day is far off, but in reality you are hastening your own destruction."
There are always those who will mock the prophet of God by saying, "Oh, you know, that's not going to come for years. All the things that you're talking about, they're way down the road. We're gonna go on; we've got enough oil for the next hundred years. Let's use up the supply, don't have to worry about it." In that attitude, actually, you're only hastening the evil day of judgment.
Now the kingdom of Samaria had become very prosperous under Jeroboam. In the excavations of that city of Samaria, in excavating the ruins they found furniture made out of ivory. So this is not a figure of speech. But he's talking about literal things that were happening. They were stretching themselves out on their beds of ivory, and upon their ivory couches. It was quite a vogue thing to have ivory furniture. As they feasted on their lambs and upon their pen-fed calves, as they were just indulging themselves in wine, in music, in luxurious living, living in the lap of luxury, and yet judgment is waiting right around the corner. They weren't really grieved over the afflictions of Joseph. Therefore, these who are living in the lap of luxury are gonna be the first to go into captivity.
The Lord GOD hath sworn by himself, saith the LORD the God of hosts, I abhor the excellency of Jacob, I hate his palaces: therefore I will deliver the city up to the enemies and all that is in it ( Amos 6:8 ).
This is again one of those places where it declares that God swore by Himself.
Now we do not really practice the taking of oaths much anymore. It used to be a very common practice where a person would seek to affirm that what he is saying is really true. He would swear to the truth of his statement, and he would always swear by something greater than himself. You couldn't say, "Well, I swear by my name that I'll do it." Your name might not be any good. So you'd swear by my mother's honor, or you'd swear by heaven, or, "I swear by God that I will do it." That was to confirm what a person was saying.
Now Jesus said, "You really shouldn't be doing that. You shouldn't have to be doing that. If you say yes, you should mean yes. If you say no, you should mean no." Therefore, to take an oath or to take a vow is really superfluous. Be a man of your word, let your yes be a yes, let your no be a no, so that you don't have to swear to declare that you're gonna do it, or you're not gonna do it. If I just, if I say I'm gonna do it, let my word be as my bond.
But God on occasions wanted to impress how definite was His decision in a certain matter. To establish the covenant so that they would know that this indeed is what God will do, God would swear. But who is He gonna swear by? There's nothing greater in all the universe to swear by; He's the greatest. So He would always have to swear by Himself. So God to confirm the covenant with... and the oath to Abraham swore by Himself saying, "And in blessing surely I will bless thee." Confirming that covenant. Now God is... Amos is saying that God is swearing to the fact that He abhors the excellency of Jacob, and the palaces, and He promises to deliver the city up to the enemies, and God did do just that.
It shall come to pass, if there remain ten men in one house, they'll all die. And a man's uncle shall take him up, and he that burns him, shall bring out the bones out of the house, and shall say to him that is by the sides of the house, Is there yet any with thee? and he shall say, No. Then shall he say, Hold thy tongue: for we may not make mention of the name of Jehovah ( Amos 6:9-10 ).
Now he's talking about the destruction that's gonna come. The people are gonna be slaughtered, they'll come to the houses and to take the bodies of those that had been slaughtered to burn them. It was a very common practice to cremate the bodies.
There are some people today who wonder about the practice of cremation. Is it scriptural, or is it biblically right or wrong to be cremated? It was a practice in the Old Testament to cremate bodies. Saul's body was cremated. I do not know of a single scripture that condemns cremation. I personally have no problems with cremation. They can do with my body whatever they please. I'll care less. Once my spirit has moved out of this old house, I don't care how they dispose of the house. To me cremation only speeds up the natural processes, and will do in thirty-seven minutes what nature will do in thirty-seven years or so. So I have absolutely no problem with cremation. There are some people that have problems, and if you have a problem, then let the worms eat it. But once I move out of this house, this old tent, I then have a building of God not made with hands, eternal in the heavens, and so what they do with the tent could concern me less. You know, just, I don't care.
I do care on another sense. I don't want people going into hock to buy some fancy coffin for this old carcass. I think that's ridiculous. I could care less if I'm buried in a pine box, or whatever. I means, this... the body isn't me. The body is only a tent that I'm living in for a while. The real me is spirit; I'll be gone. Do with the body whatever you want, but dispose of it as reasonably as possible. People make such a big to-do over the carcass. We ought to make a greater to-do over the person.
Behold, the LORD commands, and he will smite the great house with breaches, and the little house with clefts. Shall horses run on the rocks? will one plow there on the rocks with oxen? ( Amos 6:11-12 )
Now, of course, you really need to go over to the land of Israel to appreciate those scriptures, because there are just hillsides that are just barren rock. Horses just don't run on the rocks, nor is there any value in trying to plow them.
ye have turned judgment into gall, the fruit of righteousness into hemlock: Ye which rejoice in a thing of nothing, which say, Have we not taken to us horns by our own strength? But, behold, I will raise up against you a nation, O house of Israel, saith the LORD the God of hosts; and they shall afflict you from the entering in of Hemath unto the river of the wilderness ( Amos 6:12-14 ).
So God's rebuke against them.
Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Amos 6". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 9 / Ordinary 14