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The third group he addresses now in verses 10-11 are the merchants and the business customs and traditions of the day. “10 “And there shall be on that day,” says the Lord, “The sound of a mournful cry from the Fish Gate (the gate that opened up to the market place), a wailing from the Second Quarter, and a loud crashing from the hills (the trade routes were going to be destroyed).”
We forget at times that we are to honor God in our business, don’t we? We tend to segment our lives to church, to work, to family, to neighbors. And what gets lost is that whatever we do, we do to the glory of God. We work as unto the Lord.
Because of the corruption in the business practices there was going to be an economic collapse. A literal crash! And he goes on in verse 11, “Wail, you inhabitants of Maktesh! For all the merchant people are cut down; all those who handle money are cut off.”
Maktesh was the location of the market. There is going to be sorrow, and weeping, and wailing. There is going to be loss of business, revenue, money, and loss of life! The other minor prophets often address social and economic injustice and the result of these sins was going to be social and economic upheaval in the nation. God was going to judge this segment of the people this way for three reasons.
Amos 5:11 tell us, “Therefore, because you tread down the poor and take grain taxes from him, though you have built houses of hewn stone, yet you shall not dwell in them; you have planted pleasant vineyards, but you shall not drink wine from them.” The fruit of their labor so to speak was corrupted and therefore they were not going to be able to enjoy the results of their work. They were going to be judged for treading on the poor and needy.
In Amos 8:3-6 we see next that God says, “And the songs of the temple shall be wailing in that day,” Says the Lord God—“Many dead bodies everywhere, they shall be thrown out in silence.” 4 Hear this, you who swallow up the needy, and make the poor of the land fail, 5 Saying: “When will the New Moon be past, that we may sell grain? And the Sabbath, that we may trade wheat? Making the ephah small and the shekel large, falsifying the scales by deceit, 6 That we may buy the poor for silver, and the needy for a pair of sandals—Even sell the bad wheat?” They were cheating people, and abusing people, and devaluing people. Charging too high and giving too little. As an illustration, here is how this happens today: watch the sizes and prices of the things you buy at the grocery store. For example, today an 11 ounce bag of chips may cost $2.99. But watch. In a few months that bag of chips, still selling for $2.99, will be 9.5 ounces. It is a known marketing strategy to bolster profits – don’t raise the price on the item, just charge the same amount for less!
In Amos we are hearing about those businessmen with scales to weigh out products being bought, they rigged the scales for a wrong measurement. This was the whole attitude of business in Zephaniah and Amos’ day.
Micah also addresses this, in Micah 2:1-2, “Woe to those who devise iniquity, and work out evil on their beds! At morning light they practice it, because it is in the power of their hand. 2 They covet fields and take them by violence, also houses, and seize them. So they oppress a man and his house, a man and his inheritance.”
They lie awake at night to think about ways to cheat people! This injustice and abuse and deception is going to result in God brining economic destruction to Judah.
So because of your religious leaders and their worship practices, your governmental leaders and their social and civil practices, and your merchants and their marketing practices, judgment is coming – the table is set and the invitations have been mailed!