Fool's Gold

Haftarah Portion: Vayeshev (Amos 2:6-3:8)
Gospel Portion: Luke 6:20-26
Commentary by: Kelsey Bryant

It may be a good thing we don’t get everything we want in this life.

The wealthy, complacent Israelites that Amos was sent to thought they had it all—including the right to oppress the poor, worship other gods in addition to Yahweh, and control His prophets. They were privileged, enjoying all this life had to offer. Nothing was there to vex them, until the God they ignored spoke to them through Amos.

His words should have been instantly sobering:

“Behold, I am weighted down beneath youAs a wagon is weighted down when filled with sheaves.Flight will perish from the swift,And the stalwart will not strengthen his power,Nor the mighty man save his life.He who grasps the bow will not stand his ground,The swift of foot will not escape,Nor will he who rides the horse save his life.Even the bravest among the warriors will flee naked in that day,” declares the Lord. (Amos 2:13-16, NASB)

The power and prosperity they thought they possessed was only an illusion when faced with the King of kings. He had blessed them, but they took those blessings and set up their own kingdom. They ignored His call upon their lives.

Yeshua had a similar message for those who lived for themselves in Luke 6:24-26: “But woe to you who are rich, for you are receiving your comfort in full. Woe to you who are well-fed now, for you shall be hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep. Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for their fathers used to treat the false prophets in the same way.” The church of Laodicea had the same problem (Revelation 3:14-22). Especially in privileged nations where everything is going well for them, people think much too highly of themselves. They believe they make the rules and determine their life path, and that their everyday choices should only serve themselves. They pursue whatever makes them happy.

Yet a time is coming, whether in this life or next, when they will see that the natural way of things is beyond their control (Amos 3:3-4). And then they will realize what naturally results from their lifelong self-righteousness.

But there is good news for those who live according to the rules of His Kingdom, who have given up their “right” to live their own lives. Yeshua says:

“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh. Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and insult you, and scorn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man. Be glad in that day and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven. For in the same way their fathers used to treat the prophets.” (Luke 6:20-23)

These are the people whom the others despise. (Like the prophets in Amos 2:12 who are ordered not to prophesy.) Yet they are the ones who inherit the Kingdom, which is not for those who are rich, healthy, and full of themselves, but for those who recognize their need for Yahweh’s help. I know that, for me, it takes a daily practice of humbling myself before Him to ensure I’m living with the right attitude. So, maybe we all need to ask: Do we take our health, prosperity, intelligence, and good morals for granted? Do we attribute it to our own capacity? Or are we poor, meek, humble, broken in spirit before our King and give Him all the glory for His blessings and the privilege of being in His Kingdom?