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19 June. Amos chapters 6-9
The section headings found in most modern Bible translations are not part of the text, but a useful guide to it. Today’s reading is headed “Complacent self-indulgence will be punished”, and the verses that immediately follows is “Alas for those who are at ease in Zion” – which is then expanded by a picture of rich leaders living a life of luxury while ignoring the suffering of the poor. Indeed such arrogance is always wrong, and the complete opposite of the model of the “servant king” embodied by Jesus.
But God’s condemnation was not only for the leaders. In chapter 8 it is market traders and similar who are singled out – “Hear this, you that trample on the needy, and bring to ruin the poor of the land, … [saying] We will make the ephah small and the shekel great, and practise deceit with false balances, buying the poor for silver and the needy for a pair of sandals, and selling the sweepings of the wheat” (8:4-6). The poorest people suffered not only from a government insensitive to its peoples needs, but from rampant profiteering. The same charges could be laid against many (though not all) of our own politicians and business people and we should not be surprised if God raises up a prophet like Amos to highlight them.