Amos 4.1-3 – Do unto others

Today Amos opens with an address to the ladies…although it’s not an honouring, polite, respectful address, the type you would want your son giving, or your daughter receiving;

1 “Hear this word, you cows of Bashan,

who are on the mountain of Samaria,

who oppress the poor, who crush the needy,

who say to your husbands, ‘Bring, that we may drink!’

2 The Lord GOD has sworn by his holiness that,

behold, the days are coming upon you,

when they shall take you away with hooks,

even the last of you with fishhooks.

3 And you shall go out through the breaches,

each one straight ahead;

and you shall be cast out into Harmon,” declares the LORD.

Not a particularly polite way to address the ladies of Israel, is it, you cows of Bashan? Apparently, Bashan was known for its sleek, fat, plump livestock, so calling the ladies cows of Bashan is quite an insult, insinuating that they are, indeed, fat, plump, lazy, self-centred (who say to your husbands, ‘Bring, that we may drink!’), and who with all this self-focus actually oppress others in order to perpetuate it (who oppress the poor, who crush the needy,).

After this damning opening, Amos turns up the prophetic heat, so to speak, and says that, basically, an enemy is coming who will lead you away by a hook through the broken down parts of the walls that they just smashed to get you…and we know for sure it will happen;

2 The Lord GOD has sworn by his holiness that, (so we know for sure it will happen)

behold, the days are coming upon you,

when they shall take you away with hooks, (they = the coming Assyrian army – who did come and take Israel away)

even the last of you with fishhooks. (people were literally led away with fishhooks through their lower lips to signify they were conquered and now slaves)

3 And you shall go out through the breaches, (walked away through the remains of their city walls to show they had been defeated)

each one straight ahead;

and you shall be cast out into Harmon,” declares the LORD.

If only those sleek cows of Bashan had lived the life that their God had intended.

If only they had treated those around them with the compassion, understanding, grace, and mercy that our great God so freely gives.


The obvious question here is, are we like the cows of Bashan?


Are we prospering and pushing people down to ensure it?

Are we lazy, getting spiritually sleek and plump due to our inactivity?

Are we treating those around us as we wish to be treated (Luke 6.31)?

Amos develops a theme through chapter four that God’s people, despite multiple invitations and warning, did not return to Him. I have no doubt that if they, or we for that matter, return to Him and put away all elements of our lives that render us cows of Bashan, that He has a life prepared for us that exceeds our wildest dreams.

If we want it, we must begin by doing unto others as we would have them do unto us, treating people how we want to be treated, dealing with people how we want God to deal with us.

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