Scripture reading – Amos 1; Amos 2

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Our chronological study of the Scriptures continues with the second devotional for today, which is taken from the Book of Amos. The prophet Amos was a contemporary of the prophet Isaiah.

 

Who was Amos? (Amos 1:1)

 Little is known about Amos, apart from the general agreement among scholars that he was the first of four prophets of the LORD in the 8th century B.C. (the others being Hosea, Isaiah, and Micah). His name means “bearer” or “burden,” and his occupation was that of a “herdsman” or shepherd. Though he was identified “among the herdmen of Tekoa” (a region six or seven miles south of Bethlehem in Judah), the majority of his ministry was focused on the ten tribes of northern Israel (Amos 1:1).

Who was Amos? (Amos 1:1)

When did Amos serve as God’s prophet? (Amos 1:1)

Amos served during the reigns of “Uzziah king of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash king of Israel [otherwise known as Jeroboam II], two years before the earthquake” (Amos 1:1). Regarding the earthquake, Zechariah described the devastation of an earthquake in Zechariah 14:5, and historians and archeologists agree with the Scriptures on such an event.

 

Borrowing the modern vocabulary of politics, the prophet Amos was an outsider, a layperson “among the herdmen of Tekoa,” when God called him to deliver a word of prophecy against Judah and Israel (Amos 1:1).  He had no political ties or priestly lineage. He lived and worked in obscurity as an ordinary shepherd. When God called Amos to prophesy, Israel and Judah were amid a season of peace and prosperity. Indeed, the thought of God’s displeasure and judgment was far from them.

 

A Prophecy Against Six Gentile Nations (Amos 1:2-2:3) 

Before he addressed the sins of Judah and Israel, Amos’s first prophetic message was a warning to six Gentile nations that their wickedness demanded God’s judgment.

With the word of the LORD upon his lips, Amos courageously delivered a series of prophecies against six Gentile nations: Syria, identified as Damascus (Amos 1:3-5), Philistia, identified by its principal cities, Gaza, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Gath, and Ekron (Amos 1:6-8), Tyre (who were the people of Phoenicia, Amos 1:9-10), Edom (Amos 1:11-12), Ammon (Amos 1:13-15), and Moab (Amos 2:1-3).

Each of the Gentile nations was charged with four transgressions, and the summary of God’s judgment to come was given. The Syrians were accused of cruelty toward Gilead (the territory east of the Jordan River that was occupied by the half-tribe of Manasseh, Gad, and Reuben). Syria was warned that the LORD would send a fire destroying “the house of Hazael” and its palaces, cities, and people (Amos 1:3-5).

The Philistines were guilty of invading Judah (2 Chronicles 21:16) and selling the Hebrew captives to the Edomites. Their palaces and citizens would be destroyed by fire (Amos 1:6-8).

 

The Phoenicians, identified as Tyrus (Amos 1:9-10), were friends of Israel from the time of David (2 Samuel 5:11; 1 Kings 5:15). Yet, they were guilty of violating their longstanding “brotherly covenant” between the nations, for they had purchased Israelites, and sold them to Edom. They would also be judged by fire, which would “devour the palaces” (Amos 1:10).

The Edomites were descendants of Esau, Jacob’s brother. They were guilty of hating their kinsman (for they were sons of Isaac) and persecuting the Israelites (Amos 1:11). As with the other nations, God would send fire to devour Edom’s palaces (Amos 1:12).

“The children of Ammon” (Genesis 19:38) were also guilty of transgressions against the LORD, for they committed a heinous crime. They mutilated the women of Gilead who were with child so that they might “enlarge the border” and possess the land (Amos 1:13). Amos prophesied the Ammonites would fall victim not only to fire, but their leaders would be taken captive (Amos 1:14-15).

Their palaces and citizens would be destroyed by fire (Amos 1:6-8).

Amos 2

 

Amos’ prophesy of God’s judgment against six Gentile nations for their transgressions continued in chapter 2, where the Moabites were to be punished for their sin (Amos 2:1). They were condemned for desecrating the bones of the king of Edom (an offense to God, for the Ammonites and Moabites were descendants of Lot, and were, therefore, kin, Genesis 19:37). Moab would also suffer judgment by fire. Their leaders would perish (Amos 2:2-3).

The Case Against Judah and Israel (Amos 2:4-11)

Beginning with Amos 2:4, the focus of God’s judgment pivoted from the Gentile nations to declaring the sins and transgressions of Judah (Amos 2:4-5) and Israel (Amos 2:6-16). Like the Gentile nations, the sins of Judah called for God’s judgment, and He promised to “send a fire upon Judah, and it [would] devour the palaces of Jerusalem” (2:5).

The sins of Israel were exposed as Amos declared the low value the nation placed on the righteous and how the rich abused the poor and weak (2:6-7). The shameful depravity of the nation was such that fathers and sons abused their female servants (2:7b).

Lest any doubt the grace and longsuffering of the LORD, Amos reminded the people how God brought Israel out of Egypt (Amos 2:9), led them through the wilderness for forty years, and gave them the land of the Amorites for their possession (Amos 2:9-10). The LORD sent prophets to preach His Word and teach His Law and Commandments (Amos 2:11). He sent Nazarites to model abstinence and sanctity (Amos 2:11).

Destruction of Jerusalem

Israel’s Response and Rebellion (Amos 2:12-16)

How did the people respond?

They tempted the Nazarites (models of dedication and service to the LORD) to violate their vows (Numbers 6:1-20). When the prophets preached the Word of the LORD, they “commanded the prophets, saying, Prophesy not” (Amos 2:12).

God Declared His Judgment of the People (Amos 2:13-16)

The Lord warned that He would crush Israel with the weight of a cart “full of sheaves” (of wheat, Amos 2:13). Israel’s military would be soundly defeated (Amos 2:14-16). The soldiers would take flight from the battle, but neither be swift, strong, or able to retreat (Amos 2:14). Archers would fail to stand in their places, horsemen could not flee, and the nation’s mightiest warriors would drop their weapons and flee with nothing (“flee away naked in that day,” Amos 2:16). 

Closing thoughts –

The judgments pronounced against the six Gentile nations were to notify Israel and Judah that the judgment of God was not to be trifled with, for He is just. As He promised to punish the sins of those nations, He would also judge His people. Of course, the same is true for nations of our day.

Galatians 6:7–87Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. 8For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith 

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