Today’s devotion from Amos 3-4. As chapter 4 opens, the prophet refers to the women of Israel as “cows of Bashan.” He says these women oppress the poor and crush the needy. What does Amos mean? Why is he referring to these women as cows? How can these married women be guilty of oppression in such a male dominated culture?
The reference to the cows of Bashan is a reference to prized livestock. These cattle were the cream of the crop, highly sought, and well cared for. During this time, Israel was experiencing a reprieve from those neighboring nations that often caused their suffering. While enjoying this time of peace, they also saw a rise in their economy. Yet, this financial boon didn’t filter through all the classes. The upper crust lived opulent lives while the poor suffered.
The reason for their suffering was the very opulence enjoyed by these women, but how were these women personally responsible? They oppressed and crushed others through their consumerism. They sat in their luxurious homes, looked around, and demanded more. There was little if any concern for how their husbands fulfilled their wish. The result was people hurt and cast aside in the name of greed.
God chided the people, “Come to Bethel and rebel; rebel even more at Gilgal! Bring your sacrifices every morning, your tenths every three days. 5 Offer leavened bread as a thank offering, and loudly proclaim your freewill offerings, for that is what you Israelites love to do! This is the Lord’s declaration.” (Amos 4:4-5, CSB)
Bethel and Gilgal were special places for God’s people. By challenging them in this way, God is essentially saying that they can come and worship in their sacred places as much as they want, but He is not the God they truly serve. Their god is their greed.
We may play at pretense, but God knows the heart, and how our secret sins actually harm others. So, maybe today would be a good day to search ourselves, and prepare to meet our real God.