Wednesday, December 2, 2009

At Ease in Zion

“Woe to them that are at ease in Zion”
Amos 6:1

The Lord cried out through Amos, “Woe to them who are at ease in Zion!” But who are the ones “at ease” among God’s saints? The answer to that question can be deduced from comments made in several Scriptures. One is from Amos himself. Here is how he described those who were “at ease in Zion” (Amos 6:1, 3-6):

"Woe to them that are at ease in Zion. . . . You who put far away the evil day, and cause the seat of violence to come near; who 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; who chant to the sound of the viol, and invent to themselves instruments of music, like David; who drink wine in bowls and anoint themselves with the chief ointments; but they are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph."

“Joseph” was a name used in the Old Testament for the children of Israel who had forsaken God’s law. They were the northern tribes of Israel who followed a man-made religion instead of the law of Moses, a religion that a king named Jeroboam invented for them, long before Amos was sent to call them back to their God. “Zion” referred to God’s chosen place of worship, Jerusalem. The children of Israel who lived in the southern part of Canaan still worshiped in God’s chosen place and still recognized the authority of the law of Moses. But they were not grieved for their fellow Israelites who had gone astray. They were at ease; they were comfortable and secure in their knowledge that they were doing things the right way and that their northern kinsmen were in the wrong. They were proud of worshiping in Jerusalem and of maintaining the ancient rule that God had once given to all His children at Mt. Sinai.

Notice that Amos’ warning was not to the ones who had rejected God’s law and rejected God’s chosen city, Jerusalem. The warning was to those who still observed the law and revered the holy city and went to Solomon’s temple that was in Jerusalem. They were enjoying the benefits that obedience brings, but were not grieved for the children of God who were being led astray and were headed for certain destruction.

Job warned his “miserable comforters” not to be proud against those who were drifting away from righteousness. He said to them, “He that is ready to slip with his feet is as a despised lamp in the thought of him that is at ease” (Job 12:5).

All of God’s children are lamps; they have the anointing oil of the holy Spirit within them. Some of them are not shining very brightly because their oil has run low. They are no longer lights to the world because love for the world has dimmed their flame. But Jesus can restore to them the brightness of his life. He lifts up, and he casts down. He can make them clean and whole again in his sight, and he will bring low all who despised them when they were fallen. Paul cautioned all of us who are in the family of God not to become proud against those who are struggling spiritually, for God is watching and judging us all (Galatians 6:1-2):

"Brothers, if a man be overtaken in some transgression, restore such a one in a spirit of meekness, you who are spiritual, considering yourself, lest you also be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way fulfill the law of Christ."

The Good Shepherd will leave the “ninety and nine” sheep who are safely in the fold and risk his life to find the one who is lost. That is the heart of God and the heart of His Son. And it is the heart of all God’s children who are like their heavenly Father.

If you have wandered off the right path, you may feel unclean, but you are wanted by your Father. You are missed by all in Zion who are not at ease, but are grieved for your trouble. That is why there is “great joy” among the inhabitants of heaven whenever a wayward soul repents. And there will be great joy among saints on earth who know you when they see you turn again toward Zion, your home.