Who is a cow?


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 now, that we may drink!”
(Amos 4:1 NASB)
The Lord GOD has sworn by His holiness, “Behold, the days are coming upon you When they will take you away with meat hooks, And the last of you with fish hooks.
(Amos 4:2 NASB)



The Israelites continued in their destructive behavior and now a prophet compares them to cows on the mountain. These cows were of a special breed and were especially fat. They did little but lounge around on the hillside and eat. The imagery here is fascinating, that the people, who were to be the people of God had become fat and lazy cows, lounging on the side of a hill. Not only did they eat what was around them, but they were enjoying gains received by corruption. By accepting bribes they were able to enjoy an even more luxurious lifestyle. "Bring now, that we may drink!" They sent out members to bribe surrounding communities simply so that they could fulfill the desires of their sinful flesh, for bribery is not used for useful gain, but only for selfish!

In contrast God's nature continues to be revealed. The people will be judged by the holiness of God because their nature will not be able to exist within the holy presence of God. God is not wrathful, but instead the people are being warned that this type of behavior cannot exist within the presence of God and the cows among them will be taken away with meat hooks. Of course, there may be those who have not been quite so bad and they will only be removed with fish hooks. All the same, they will be removed.



This story of the cows on the mountain appears to be quite extreme. The "cows" -- both men and women, had become so accustomed to a corrupt lifestyle that they did not even realize the extreme nature of their "fattened" lifestyle. Nothing was ever enough to satisfy their wants and this led to incredible levels of corruption. These people even raided the local hospital for their own personal gain.

This all seems so over the top for us, doesn't it? And yet we must ask ourselves whether we live or act in this way -- and whether our mountain is simply far removed from the "little people" from whom we are taking our goods? It doesn't take traveling very far in the world to discover that much of the rest of the world is not as "fat" as we are. Literally we are a "fat" people, both physically and materially. In most places of the world people have to eat to live, whereas we tend to live to eat. Eating is not a necessity of sustenance for many of us, it becomes more of entertainment for us as we decide what we will eat today! I'm certainly speaking to myself here.

Next, I am using my mac products this morning. Luxury items for much of the world! And where do these products come from? From the "little people" who live half-way around the world and who struggle to eek out a living. They are working for a small wage so that I can be a cow with all of my fun items and live up on the luxurious hill?

I didn't start this out this morning thinking of myself as the cow on the hill -- but come to think of it, maybe I am! There are such advantages in life which I enjoy because of the lovely hill on which I live. Along with the hill comes great responsibility. Will I act responsibly on the hill, or will I become a fattened cow? I think that's really the question. I must recognize that I have been blessed with resources beyond what most of the world experiences, and sometimes at the expense of the rest of the world. If I don't allow God to help direct me and my life and the use of those resources for his good -- then I simply become a cow enjoying the lush hill on which I live. My desire is not to be a cow, but instead to use the resources of the hill and to share them. Only when those on the hillside could step into a relationship with the God of holiness could they survive. This is the only way that we too can survive. We have much, but it must be placed under the authority of a holy God who will lead and direct in all things. Only in this way can I avoid becoming a cow!



Lord, please keep us from becoming cows. Amen.


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