At Ease in Zion
“Woe to those who are at ease in Zion, and to those who feel secure in the mountains of Samaria, the notable men of the first of the nations, to whom the house of Israel comes! … Woe to those who lie on beds of ivory and stretch themselves out on their couches, and eat lambs from the flock and calves from the midst of the stall, … who drink wine in bowls and anoint themselves with the finest oils, but are not grieved over the ruin of Joseph! Therefore they shall now be the first of those who go into exile, and the revelry of those who stretch themselves out shall pass away.” (Amos 6:1, 4, 6-7)
In Amos 6:1-8, God speaks through the prophet Amos. This prophet, a farmer, preaches a word of woe. The Lord declares: “Woe to those who are at ease!” Like the Israelites before us, the North American Church is “at ease.” Many people who profess to be Christians come to church but are indifferent and nominal about their faith. The fact is, an empty profession is just that: empty, worth nothing. Because true conversion is transformation (2 Corinthians 5:16). Faith without works, as James writes, is dead! An amazing thing about conversion is not others seeing change in you, but you seeing changes in yourself. Our culture of affluence leads to apathy, which, if left unchecked, will lead to apostasy. We see in this passage what it is to be at ease and the effects of being at ease. This leads us to answer the question, “How can we get out of ease? How can we stir again a passion for God?”
What It Is to Be at Ease
v. 1: The Hebrew translates literally to careless—The Israelites were fatally complacent. To be at ease is to neglect God, to neglect prayer, to neglect Bible reading, to neglect true worship. Christ not only delivered us from eternal damnation but also from the world and from ourselves! Are you zealous for God, or are you careless, are you at ease?
Effects of Being at Ease
1. Complacency for approaching judgment (v. 3). Those at ease dismiss thoughts of judgment from their minds. Do you think about judgment? Do you think about God’s holy wrath for sin? Or are you at ease, do you act as if you don’t need God?
2. Love for pleasure more than love for God (v. 4). These Israelites spared no expense for temporal comfort, and today we largely spare no expense for comfort, either. If you are at ease, you love the world and its pleasures more than you love God. And if you love the world, you are an enemy of God (James 4:1-10).
3. Growing insensitivity toward those around you (v. 6). Joseph refers to the common people. When you are at ease, you ignore the needs and plights of others, you have no compassion for them. What are you doing with the money God has blessed you with?
How to Stir Yourself out of Being at Ease
1. Remove anything that wanes passion. cf. Acts 24:16
2. Resolve to be a person of eternity. Always keep eternity in view.
3. Don’t count your life dear to yourself. cf. Acts 20:24
4. Never be content with where you are spiritually. John Piper refers to this as a “holy dissatisfaction.” We should always be striving for the goal, we should always be running so that when we reach the end of our lives, we can say that we have run a good race!
“Faith alone saves, but faith is never alone. … Persevere or perish.” –Don Currin
The above notes are largely verbatim from tonight’s sermon preached by Don Currin. I thank him for his faithful exposition of God’s Word in Amos.
What will we do with this, my brothers and sisters in Christ? Will we repent where we need to repent (for all of us have need for improvement—see “holy dissatisfaction”), or will we be at ease in Zion? I urge you, do not be at ease in Zion. Cultivate within your heart always a passion and zeal for the things of God, for “things that are above” (Colossians 3:2). I urge you to pursue God, thereby making your calling and election sure.