Sandals and Silver
Amos 2:6 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—
Amos had already listed the abominable activities of Israel’s neighbors but now he was pronouncing judgment on Israel. The people of God had become just as vile as the people of the world.
In this verse two activities are listed for which Israel must be punished. The righteous are sold for silver, a foreshadowing of Judas’ plot when he sells the Messiah for thirty pieces of silver. The poor and needy are sold off as cheap bribes — as cheap as a simple pair of sandals.
These are the transgressions of God’s people, willing to lose all that God had promised for silver and sandals.
Jesus told us that the law boiled down to loving God and loving neighbor. This is what the Israelites had violated. Selling the righteous for silver, the implication of the selling of Christ reveals a complete disrespect for God. No one who loved Christ would sell him for a few pieces of silver — would they? Or who would be willing to sell the needy for just a pair of sandals, shoes made up of a flat piece of leather with a few straps. Yet the Israelites were guilty of trading and using the poor and needy for the benefit of something relatively cheap.
What would selling the Messiah for a few pieces of silver look like in our context? Maybe it’s more about what we put in the place of the Lord. Maybe our silver is that sporting event that will take much more time and effort than the priority of worshipping God. Maybe our silver is our latest hobby. Maybe our silver is our children or our grandchildren. Our silver is whatever we would be willing to trade for the Messiah. We are quick to condemn Judas and yet, has the trade-off crept into our own lives?
But it’s more than just our love for God which is put to the test, but our love of neighbor. Reading today’s scripture I was drawn to the idea of the sandals and the needy — and the “things” which we purchase at such a reduced cost on the backs of the global poor. I feel convicted to think that my “cheap” sandals may have been made by taking advantage of others. If you begin to explore where our “stuff” comes from you will be troubled in your heart. We are selling the needy for a pair of sandals.
It’s easy to jump on the bandwagon of finger-pointing toward the Israelites. They had certainly not worshipped nor served God in the ways in which he commanded. May this be a challenge to you and to me to keep our eyes on Jesus. To love him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and our neighbor as ourselves. And if we are troubled by what we learn — convicted, then may God help us to change our behaviors and reveal our love for him and neighbor in our actions. The silver and the sandals — they’re not worth our souls.
Lord, lead me to your love and to your action. Amen.