Corruption: dishonest or illegal behavior especially by powerful people (such as government officials or police officers): a departure from the original or from what is pure or correct (Meriam Webster Dictionary)
You do not have to watch the news very long to find out that someone is either being accused of being corrupt or has been found out to be corrupt. Although we can criticize such people the reality is that corruption is a departure from the original and something we all can easily do if we are not careful. When God created the world it was originally created with no sin and death but death entered the world because of sin. We are all now living in a world that is corrupted and we are called to follow Jesus in helping people return (as much as possible) to the original design God created. This does not mean that the world will become a Utopia because that will not take place till the end of time when God makes everything right again.
Amos 2:6-7 Thus says the Lord, “For three transgressions of Israel, and for four, I will not revoke the punishment, because they sell the righteous for silver, and the needy for a pair of sandals—7 those who trample the head of the poor into the dust of the earth and turn aside the way of the afflicted; a man and his father go in to the same girl, so that my holy name is profaned;
Corrupt business practices
The phrase, “For three transgressions and for four”, just meant that they had filled up the glass of God’s patience and it is now overflowing. Being children of God and His chosen people did not mean that judgment would not be given to them as they had thought. Many times people do not see God as running out of patience but as you study God’s word you will see that He is patient but a time will come when His patience will end. We pick and choose the attributes of God we like and we disregard the ones that make us uncomfortable. Some will even say that because this is in the Old Testament that we do not need to worry about it because we are in the New Testament now. What people have to remember is God has not changed and there is as much grace and judgement in the New Testament as there is in the Old Testament. Both Testaments are given to us to understand who God is, His relationship with the world and how He saved us from His wrath by coming to the earth in the form of a human.
“They sell the righteous for silver” This is not slavery but was about judges and jurors being paid in order to convict the innocent of a crime. These were righteous people meaning that they were innocent of what they were being accused of but with bribery innocent people were being ruined for the sake of financial gain.
“The needy for a pair of sandals” The owners would give loans to people but instead of having them pay those off they paid the judges to help them tack on extra fees in order to get the people to the point where they could not pay back the loan. The amount of money that was being paid to the judges and jurors was not worth a pair of sandals which means that it was not worth what they were doing to people. These people could have paid back the loan if just given a little more time and if they did not have tacked on the extra fees and so they were sold into slavery to pay off their debt. This was in direct violation of the word of God and the reason that God sent Amos to rebuke the Israelites.
Exodus 22:25 “If you lend money to any of my people with you who is poor, you shall not be like a moneylender to him, and you shall not exact interest from him.
Your Business practices and your Christian life are not two individual things that are to be separated but your love of God should affect how you run your business and how you treat people. “Trample the Head of the poor into the dust “was because the rich were using their influence for the poor to be treated like dirt. How we treat people that work for us is important to God and when you mistreat them God pays attention to them and will judge you.
“So that my Holy Name is profaned” When followers of Christ sin in our business practices and in our treatment of people we do not just ruin our name but the name of God. Any sin is a sin against God and when God’s children sin it not only destroys our own reputation but Gods reputation as well.
Leviticus 19:2 Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them, You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.
Corruption in our business and personal lives always will reflect on the nature and character of God and people will always point out Christians who have made a mistake to make themselves feel better about the life they are living. As business owners we must realize that how we do business and how we treat people is more important to God then the amount of money we make.
“God is absolutely concerned with the business choices you make. He expects his people to be a beacon of hope in a decaying, darkened world. (Matthew 5:13-16) Those who conduct business are in a unique position to honor God. Don’t call your work secular. It is (or can be) a vibrant, integral component of your Christian walk. Welcome God into your office. Seek His wisdom and trust His leading.( God in the Market Place, Henry and Richard Blackaby, Pg. 57 )
Amos 2:8 they lay themselves down beside every altar on garments taken in pledge and in the house of their God they drink the wine of those who have been fined.
Corrupt Worship Practices
When someone could not pay back their loan they would take their cloaks which were the only way they could stay warm in the night. (Sometimes the cloaks would be given during the day at collateral)
God has established laws saying that they were not to take someone’s cloak and if they did they were to return it at nightfall. (Exodus 22:26-27; Deuteronomy 24:12-13) They were taking the other persons cloak and using them to sleep on or with so they were more comfortable. They were also taking them with them to worship and using them to sit on. So while they were comfortable the other person would freeze all night and the many cloaks made them somehow feel good about themselves.
“They drink the wine of those who have been fined” One of the forms of payment was wine and so with all the corrupt business practices they were literally getting so much wine and they were going into worship and becoming drunk. Some believe the wine was for the government to resell but the corrupt judges were using it for their own gain instead of for the benefit of the people.
Amos 5:21-24 I hate, I despise your feasts, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. 22 Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; and the peace offerings of your fattened animals, I will not look upon them.23 Take away from me the noise of your songs; to the melody of your harps I will not listen.24 But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.
Your life is an act of worship to God. Every time you say no to a sin pattern in your life is like singing a praise song to God. Every time you forgive someone who has hurt you is like praising God in Heaven.
Worship is not one hour (ish) a week but is how we live every minute of every day. Jesus even said that He would rather you not worship Him but rather go and try and make things right with a brother in Christ.
Matthew 5:23-24 So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.
Amos 2:11-12 And I raised up some of your sons for prophets, and some of your young men for Nazirites. Is it not indeed so, O people of Israel? “Declares the Lord. “But you made the Nazirites drink wine, and commanded the prophets, saying, ‘You shall not prophesy.’
“You made the Nazarites drink wine and made the prophets to stop speaking” The Nazarites were to separate themselves from the rest of the world to demonstrate what Holy Living looked like. Nazarites vowed abstinence from alcoholic beverages, from cutting their hair, and contact with corpses. (Numbers 6:1-21) False or at least bad theology is rampant because Pastors are twisting the word of God to fit lifestyles rather than speaking the truth in love. We are all called to live differently but one of the ways they silence the prophets is to get them to live like them therefore delegitimizing their message. People do not like when you do not participate in the same sins that they do because it shows them that the way they are living is wrong. The message was no longer proclaimed because they silenced the prophets and they corrupted the Nazarites. Corruption never wants to hear the truth because corruption by definition is departure from the original. (Did God Really Say? gets people to twist the words of God to fit their lifestyles) Since Adam and Eve in the garden we have been fighting corruption as we go against the flow of how others think we should live. “You will be like God”
Freedom of Speech in America is a big part of what is trying to be silenced with those who do not agree with all that is taking place in our culture that goes against the design of God. People want to be able to live however they want and are trying to silence anyone who does not approve of their lifestyle. This was happening when Amos was called to prophesy and it is happening today in our world.
“Thou shalt not criticize another person’s life choices or behavior. Our public square is rapidly devolving into a place where sharing opinions, especially those that make another person uncomfortable is off limits.” (Good Faith, David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons, Pg. 108)
The people commanded or made the prophets to stop speaking the truth which means it was by force. If you want to get away from feeling convicted then you have to stop the truth (departure from the original) and you have to corrupt those who are living Holy lives. By force we are seeing America change as people are being forced to be a part of lifestyles they say are sins and forcing businesses and churches to participate in ungodly practices. The reason this is happening is because Silencing the prophets voice is really just silencing God’s voice. Just like every sin is a sin against God all truth is really Gods because He is the originator of truth.
“Being faithful often demands that we express ideas that conflict with the majority culture’s claims, concerns, and commitments. What Christians believe about sin, human purpose, identity, and ultimate meaning is at odds with the beliefs of many others. But we can’t stay quiet. (Good Faith, David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons, Pg. 115)
When Jesus said the truth will set you free (John 8:32) He did so because people do not see the lifestyle they are living as leading them into bondage. God gave us rules to follow not to restrict us but to free us. The reason you do not spend as much money as you want and buy things you cannot afford is because when you do then you become a slave to those things. Many alcoholics wish they would have never taken a drink and many drug users wish they would have never taken them. What felt like freedom and a lifestyle choice turned into bondage and a battle to break free from addictions.
You may think that you are not trying to silence the prophets but we do every day when we ignore the truth of God’s Word and live how we want to live. We silence God by not going to Him in prayer and we silence the prophets by not reading Gods Word (the magnifying glass for our souls) We silence the prophets by not attending worship and listening to the word of God.
Hebrews 10:24-25 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
Being around other Christians should encourage, motivate and convict us to live lives that are pleasing to God and many times we move away from the people of God because it shows us that the way we are living is wrong. Our lifestyles will convict and challenge people to see that what they believe and how they are living is really corrupt and away from Gods original design. We must not stop speaking the truth even though we are labeled as intolerant or worse names than that and we must not stop living the truth even when we are tempted to do so.
1 Peter 2:12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.
Is it not indeed so, People of Israel? (V 11)
Amos asked a question for them to reflect or maybe even an opportunity for them to deny the charges that God is holding against them. What about your life? Are your business practices God honoring? How about your treatment of people? IS the life you live outside of attending church considered worship? Have you tried to silence God by neglecting His word and the meeting together with other believers?
We are not to be a part of the corruption that is taking place all around us but we are to live differently so people can see that humanity has strayed from the original design that God intended for us to live.