We have repeatedly noted in our study in Amos that, during the time that Amos ministered, Israel had never been more secure. King Jeroboam II had brought unprecedented peace for the nation. But Israel’s security became its curse. Chapter 6 brings the problem of security into sharp relief: “Woe to those who are at ease in Zion, and to those who feel secure on the mountain of Samaria” (v. 1).
Security is a desire common to all people. We long for financial and medical security. We secure our homes to the teeth and regularly beef up our insurance policies to ensure security in extreme circumstances. This security suppresses our anxiety, doubt, and fear. It gives a degree of certainty about the future. But security, or lack thereof—or, more specifically, trust in security or lack thereof—can lead to grave circumstances.
The church at Laodicea (Revelation 3:14–22) received a stern warning from Jesus because of its trust in its own security. The members of that church boasted, “I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing.” They trusted so deeply in their security that they didn’t even hear Jesus knocking at the door of the church. They were so reliant on the gifts he had given that they didn’t realise that they had locked him outside while embracing what he graciously gave to them.
When we idolise security we quickly fall prey to self-sufficiency, which robs us of the blessings God otherwise has for us. We quickly forget how to trust God and therefore how to please him. Consider three ways in which Israel fell prey to this idolatry, and recognise your own tendency to do so.
First, they felt secure in their morality. They thought themselves better than the pagans around them (vv. 2–3). Though God had warned of judgement, they felt no need to pay attention because surely God would see their comparative goodness and pass over them when he judged. This is one manifestation of the idol of security. We feel no need to give attention to our own devotion and obedience because, after all, there are far worse people than us. We’re not perfect—nobody is!—but, in the big scheme of things, we’re better than our neighbour, or at least better than some of the really big sinners we can think of, which gives us a sense of ease.
Second, they felt secure in their time. The day of disaster, if it came at all, was far away (v. 3). They didn’t really need to think about God’s judgement because that was a long way off. Yes, they understood that they would ultimately stand before him as their final judge (Ecclesiastes 11:9; 12:13–14), but they had time. How often we fall into the same trap. We know that divine judgement is a real thing, but we have time. We are young and healthy. We have all the time in the world to make right with God. We will first enjoy life and will deal with God at a later time. We forget that we have no promise of tomorrow. We might be called to meet our Maker at any moment.
Third, they felt secure in their possessions (vv. 4–6). They considered their great prosperity to be a sign of God’s blessing. They heard Amos’s warnings of judgement, but surely it did not apply to them. After all, if God was really angry at them, would he have lavished such gracious gifts on them? How could Amos talk of God’s anger when everything around them told of his blessings? Material prosperity has a way of distracting us from ultimate things. We too easily consider the things we have to be sure signs of God’s blessing in our lives. Rather than giving ourselves in wholehearted devotion to him, we fool ourselves into believing that the gifts he has given—good health, good education, material abundance—are sure signs of his pleasure with us.
When we fall prey to the thinking of the Israelites in Amos’s day, we soon find ourselves at ease when we should be on guard. Rather than pursuing God with our whole heart, we find ourselves resting in our idolatry.
As you meditate on Amos 6 this morning, ask God to reveal to you the idolatries that cause you to trust in your security rather than trusting in him. Place your trust fully in him, through Christ, and pray for grace to be on guard against the problem of security.