It is easy for the rich and happy to believe that they have divine approval. What better assurance could they have than the pleasure and power in which they stand? In these secure ones the nation felt itself not only prosperous but divinely favored. Since they are conscious of representing the country, interference with them and their pursuits would be interfering with the country’s welfare. To disturb their order is to disturb the social order. To criticize their religion is to prove oneself a heretic and a blasphemer. God is on the side of those in power (they think), and so to the security of financial and political position the leading people of Amos’ day added the comforting conviction that they were Jehovah’s chosen people—chosen to be thus superior and secure.
Amos, Prophet of a New Order, Lindsay B. Longacre, 1921. This sort of “belief” is precisely that held by Mr. By-Ends in Pilgrim’s Progress:
This town of Fair-speech, said Christian, I have heard of; and, as I remember, they say it’s a wealthy place.
By-ends. Yes, I will assure you that it is, and I have very many rich kindred there.
Chr. Pray, who are your kindred there, if a man may be so bold?
By-ends. Almost the whole town; but, in particular, my Lord Turn-about, my Lord Time-server, my Lord Fair-speech (from whose ancestors that town first took its name): also Mr. Smooth-man, Mr. Facing-both-ways, Mr. Any-thing; and the parson of our parish, Mr. Two-tongues, was my mother’s own brother, by father’s side; and to tell you the truth, I am become a gentleman of good quality; yet my great-grandfather was but a waterman, looking one way, and rowing another; and I got most of my estate by the same occupation.
Now such people are plainly not true pilgrims nor true believers. They hold only a pretense as long as it seems to serve their end. They could no not know what to do when Amos appeared:
Amos 6:4–7 (ESV)
4 “Woe to those who lie on beds of ivory
and stretch themselves out on their couches,
and eat lambs from the flock
and calves from the midst of the stall,
5 who sing idle songs to the sound of the harp
and like David invent for themselves instruments of music,
6 who drink wine in bowls
and anoint themselves with the finest oils,
but are not grieved over the ruin of Joseph!
7 Therefore they shall now be the first of those who go into exile,
and the revelry of those who stretch themselves out shall pass away.”