This oracle was addressed to the leading and influential citizens of Jerusalem as well as Samaria. These folks were very religious and felt proud of it. They thought their religion brought them closer to God as evidenced. Their wealth and fine houses testified to their elite status. They had such a high opinion of themselves that they felt entitled to look down on their fellow countrymen as well as exploit and abuse them. These leaders lived sumptuously and lavishly while others had to struggle just to survive one day to the next. The Lord knew of their selfishness and pronounced them to be no better than the pagans. Amos warned them that if those pagan nations were to suffer at the hands of the Assyrians, so would they despite their belief that they were protected by God.
We Christians should take note. The leaders of Israel and Judah claimed to know the Lord and serve Him. Because of them, the entire society had adopted values, habits and policies that were self-centered, unjust, cruel and, therefore, sinful. We who claim to know and serve God often get caught up in the values of our society many of which are rooted in self-centered hedonism. We ignore the need to show compassion and seek justice for the poor and oppressed because we are too concerned with the antics of celebrities and politicians. We neglect the needs of the impoverished but spend lavish amounts of money on the latest fashions or the hottest electronic gadgets as well as lavish vacations, all things our culture tells us we need to have. Meanwhile, thousands die every day of starvation and illnesses brought on by malnutrition or contaminated food and water. The Lord will surely hold us accountable for worshipping the idol of materialism at the altar of the American dream while neglecting to show compassion to those on their way to destruction unless we repent.