When we were newly married, Robyn and I lived in Germany, in a small flat in Essen. The flat was very German, right down to the kitchen, well, that there was no discernible kitchen at all really, more of a room with a fridge and sink in – apparently the done thing is that when you leave, you take your kitchen with you…anyway, this meant we cooked on a plug-in electric stove top for our time there. It was small, it wasn’t ours really as it was rented by the company we worked for, and consequently other than living there temporarily we attached little deep and meaningful value to the place. As nice as it was, we never felt really at home there. But, this was a very normal one-bedroom German flat, pretty much the same as everything else on our road. Everyone else around us lived in pretty much identical flats, and that was fine for us.
Today in Amos we see a little sarcasm,
12 Thus says the LORD: “As the shepherd rescues from the mouth of the lion two legs, or a piece of an ear, so shall the people of Israel who dwell in Samaria be rescued, with the corner of a couch and part of a bed.
As shepherds and animal-caring-for neighbors would seek to save a leg or an ear from a predator to prove they have not totally lost what was entrusted to them, we read that the people of Israel [will be] rescued, with the corner of a couch and part of a bed.
Already, then, we are seeing what is valuable to the people; their possessions, their stuff.
God continues to speak in vv.13-14, saying that the perceived strength of the idol gods will be destroyed and judged along with the sins of His people, then, in v.15 we read,
15 I will strike the winter house along with the summer house, and the houses of ivory shall perish, and the great houses shall come to an end,” declares the LORD.
Before Jeroboam II, houses in Israel were, apparently, much the same size, a lot like my German experience. Then, around the eighth century B.C., things started to change and there was a big neighborhood, and a small neighborhood, a place with large houses full of fancy stuff, and a place with small, crowded, cheap houses with cheap stuff.
The Lord says through Amos that the winter houses and the summer houses will perish alike, houses of ivory and the great houses shall be judged just like the small, crowded houses.
For us, God has blessed us with health, a home, employment, a wonderful church family, and so so much more. There are, however, people who we interact with every day who have far less than us, and we must never judge a book by its cover, so to speak, because outward appearances can be deceiving.
The point is this; no matter where we live, no matter how much we earn, no matter the size of the house we live in, God will judge us all to the same righteous standard.
There is no distinction in His eyes, we are all made in His image and we are all held to the same high, high standard. The only hope we have of reaching that is through faith in the name of Jesus, not the home we live in, not the job we have, not the bank balance we have, but faith in the name of Jesus.