Thus says the Lord: “For three transgressions of Israel, and for four, I will not turn away its punishment, because they sell the righteous for silver, and the poor for a pair of sandals. They pant after the dust of the earth which is on the head of the poor and pervert the way of the humble. A man and his father go in to the same girl, to defile My holy name. They lie down by every altar on clothes taken in pledge and drink the wine of the condemned in the house of their god. (Amos 2:6-8)
The Garden of Eden was a paradise where everyone on earth lived together in perfect harmony, love, and devotion to God. There was no crime, no social injustices committed, and the family was united in love. It was a perfect world – literally. The population of the world was two. God walked among the trees of the garden in fellowship with His creation. Everything was as God designed. And then the serpent whispered in the ear of the woman who took of the forbidden fruit and paradise was lost. Sin became the problem of humanity and crested in the days of Noah with the total annihilation of all life except for Noah and his family. God restored the world but the flood did not take away sin. Soon after, humanity returned to its course of carnal pleasures, hatred, prejudice, and injustice to the downtrodden. God would raise up a special nation to be His holy people but sin began to eat away at the heart of their love for Him as the sought after the gods of the world. The united kingdom of Israel would only last 120 years before the civil war divided the country north and south. God sent His prophets among His people to decry the sin that so fully invaded their lives.
Amos was a prophet with little patience for the flagrant lifestyle of the rich and famous. The obscurity of a shepherd to one of the fiery messengers of the Lord shows the dire condition of Israel as they had plunged deep into social chaos and spiritual ruin. The threat of Assyrian domination filled the minds of the world. Yet in the face of such tragedy Israel had filled its coffers with those who lived in the luxury of summer-houses, homes of ivory and hewn-stone, silken cushions, and voluptuous women to whom Amos called the “fat cows of Bashan.” The political world of Israel was corrupted by oppression violence and robbery. In the religious circles, the emphasis of calf worship and Baal worship lead the people deeper into disparity.
As a result of the political, religious, and carnal depravity of the Jewish leaders in Israel, the moral degradation of social injustice was heaped upon the poor and disenfranchised of the land. The innocent were being sold under the heavy burden of corrupt leaders who abused the poor which were protected under the Law of Moses. If a Hebrew came to a state of poverty, he was allowed under the Law could sell himself to a fellow Israelite but would not be considered a slave. The Law clearly stated he would be treated as a hired servant. Judges were being bribed and officials corrupted to oppress the poor. It was so bad that Amos suggests sarcastically the greed of the rich was to take even the dust from the heads of the poor. Another part of the law that was being abused concerned garments taken in pledge. According to the Law of Moses, these were to be returned before night so the poor man could use them for a blanket. Instead, the poor were beset with the greed and immorality of the rich. Social injustice was reigning in the kingdom of God. The message of Amos was to bring the wrath of God upon a wicked nation. Social injustice in Israel was clearly defined and known by the Lord as His prophets warned the people against such things.
Amos reminded the people their actions would not go unpunished. The message of the prophet was not only to condemn but to show how to resolve the problem. Like in the Garden of Eden, when men walk away from God, there is injustice. Humanity cannot and will not be able to answer how to deal with their fellow man until they come to terms with the word of God. Jesus came to seek and to save the lost. He did not come to take away sin but to give man an answer for their relationship with God and with one another. In the parabolic picture of the vertical relationship of man-to-God with the horizontal relationship of man-to-man, humanity cannot serve the needs of one another until they first resolve their relationship with God. The answer to social injustice (and every other part of sin) is Jesus Christ. Every generation that takes God out of the picture will find the darkness of injustice enclosing them. When men try to find answers to the problems of the world apart from God, they seek for something they will never find. God created man for His glory. Man must glorify God by obeying His word. These two ideals are necessary for harmony, peace, and love. Adam and Eve had a perfect relationship and they threw it all away. The only answer now is Jesus Christ.