Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.
The DEEP

Symbols of Wealth

Symbols of oppression.

Amos 3:13–15

“Hear and testify against the house of Jacob,”
Says the Lord GOD, the God of hosts,
“That in the day I punish Israel for their transgressions,

I will also visit destruction on the altars of Bethel;
And the horns of the altar shall be cut off
And fall to the ground.
I will destroy the winter house along with the summer house;

The houses of ivory shall perish,
And the great houses shall have an end,”
Says the LORD.

Some Hebrew poetry details are important here. First, the Hebrew word translated as “hosts” (tseh-vah-ote, צְּבָאֹֽות) doesn’t mean the male version of hostesses. It means armies. The introduction of that name for God here is intimidating, by design.

The horns on the altar getting cut off is important too. Horns are part of God’s altar design.

“You shall make an altar of acacia wood, five cubits long and five cubits wide—the altar shall be square—and its height shall be three cubits. You shall make its horns on its four corners; its horns shall be of one piece with it. And you shall overlay it with bronze.” — Exodus 27:1–2

So, this isn’t some pagan altar; it’s a true covenant one. The horns being cut off and falling to the ground is symbolic of the LORD rejecting their sacrifices, just like He did with Cain’s sacrifice.

The next two lines describe symbols of wealth. Separate winter and summer houses are a luxury. A house of ivory is incredibly decadent. But all these great houses shall have an end.

These great houses are the problem. They’re symbols of oppression.

Back then, with no machines, no electronics, and no patents, it wasn’t possible for a single individual to do something that had all that much value—that significantly benefitted the whole civilization. Thus, wealth was evidence of having garnered the profits of a lot of manual labor, which had to have been done by other people.

God hates that.


Charity is essential to Christianity partly because selfishness is so much a part of fallen human nature.

Charity is war on selfishness.


These Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. The Weekend DEEPs are written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:

https://www.ailbe.org/resources/community

The weekly study guides, which include the Monday–Friday devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:

https://www.ailbe.org/resources/itemlist/category/91-deep-studies

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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