Scripture reading – Amos 3-4

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Amos 3 – A Description of Israel’s Judgment for Its Transgressions

 

The Basis of God’s Judgment Against the “Children of Israel” (Amos 3:1-2) 

Amos 3:1 declared God’s judgment for their transgressions would not only be against Israel (the ten tribes in the north) but “against the whole family” (thus including Judah, the southern kingdom). Amos reminded all descendants of the Hebrews that the LORD brought them out of Egypt for they were a chosen, beloved people (Genesis 12:3; 28:14). Yet, the LORD declared, “I will punish you for all your iniquities (Amos 3:2).

 

A Series of Rhetorical Questions Illustrating “Cause and Effect” (Amos 3:3-6)

In a series of questions, Amos declared a principle I will describe as “cause and effect.” The first question implied that the answer to each would be “No.” 

First, Amos asked, “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” (Amos 3:3). Of course, the answer was, “No.” To walk together, there must be an agreement by both parties on the plan (method) and destination.

Illustrating “Cause and Effect”

Two questions then followed and regarded the lion on a hunt, and asked, “Will a lion roar in the forest, when he hath no prey? Will a young lion cry out of his den, if he have taken nothing?” (Amos 3:4). Again, the implied answer was, “No.” A lion on the hunt prowls in stealth and is cautious, not alerting its prey, and a young lion would not roar its approval if it has nothing to consume.

The capture of a bird in a trap was the subject of two more questions: “Can a bird fall in a snare upon the earth, where no gin [trigger] is for him? Shall one take up a snare from the earth, and have taken nothing at all?” (Amos 3:5) Once again, the presumed answer was, “No.” No bird will be entrapped without a trigger to snap a trap shut upon its prey. Of course, removing a snare with no prey makes no sense either.

Amos continued with two other questions that also demanded “No” for an answer: “Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid?” (Amos 3:6a) In ancient times, the sound of a trumpet warned a city of an approaching enemy (Amos 3:6a), and gave cause for fear and for mounting a defense.

The concluding question illustrated the sovereignty and providence of God. Amos asked, “Shall there be evil in a city, and the Lord hath not done it?” (Amos 3:6b) The troubles that befall a city, state, or a nation are assuredly the doing of the LORD, to the end that His eternal purpose is accomplished (3:7).

Therefore, wrote Amos, “The lion hath roared, who will not fear? The Lord God hath spoken, who can but prophesy?” (Amos 3:8) I believe the lion was a metaphor for the LORD, the Lion of Judah (Hosea 5:14). Thus, Amos reasoned, the LORD has spoken, and the prophet cannot be silent (3:8).

Israel Would Be Devoured by An Enemy

Witnesses to God Punishing His People (Amos 3:9-10) 

Adding to Israel’s humiliation, God commanded Amos to summon two Gentile nations to witness His judgment of Israel: The Philistines (represented by their city Ashdod) and Egypt (Amos 3:9). Those nations were summoned to “the mountains of Samaria” (the capital city of north Israel), where they would observe God’s judgment upon His people for their sins.

For the record, the wealthy and powerful of Israel were guilty of oppressing the weak and the poor (3:9b). They had filled their palaces with the spoils. They rejected God’s Law and Commandments, became spiritually blind, and did “know not to do right” (Amos 3:10).

 

God’s Judgment: Israel Would Be Devoured by An Enemy (Amos 3:11-15)

True to Amos’ prophecy, Assyria devastated the northern kingdom. The Assyrians came through the land and destroyed Israel’s defenses and looted the palaces (Amos 3:11). They ravaged the people like sheep in the mouth of a lion (Amos 3:12). All Israel was judged (Amos 3:13). The altars Jeroboam erected were abolished (Amos 3:14), and the palaces and houses of the wealthy destroyed (Amos 3:15).

 

Closing thoughts to Amos 3 –

When people and nations make light of God’s Truth and reject His Commandments, their hearts become desensitized to evil. They lack moral judgment and “know not to do right” (Amos 3:10).  Sadly, the culture and nations of our day give ample evidence of what becomes of a society that rejects the LORD and His Laws.

 

Amos 4 – The Chastisement of Israel and a Prophecy of That Nation’s Fall

Amos 4-6 recorded a series of forewarnings the prophet Amos delivered to Israel when He called that nation to repent of its wickedness. Amos warned the judgment of the LORD was imminent.

Homosexuality is a rejection of God and His created order

Male or Female: The Kine (Cows) of Bashan (Amos 4:1-3)

The region known as Bashan was located on the east side of the Jordan River and was known for its rich pastures and well-fed cattle. Notice that Amos metaphorically addressed the people of that region as the “kine of Bashan” (4:1-3).

The word “kine” is female in gender (Amos 4:1), but the pronoun “you” is masculine in Hebrew (Amos 4:2). Thus, the warning of God’s judgment for oppressing the poor and crushing the needy was addressed to either strong females or emasculated male leaders. I believe it was both.

History affords ample testimony that sodomy is the zenith of wickedness for a dying nation and decaying culture. Homosexuality is a rejection of God and His created order and evidence that God has abandoned a nation to its wickedness (Romans 1:26-27). The lesson taken from Amos 4:1-3 is a warning to all nations that oppress the poor and weak and entertain sexual depravity. God’s tolerance of gross sexual depravity was ended, and Amos warned the LORD had determined to send the people away (“take you away with hooks, and your posterity with fishhooks”). No place in Samaria would be a refuge (Amos 1:3).

 

A Series of Judgments (Amos 4:4-11)

The LORD scorned the hypocrisy of the people who brought sacrifices to Bethel and Gilgal. Israel maintained an outward form of worship while continuing in wickedness.

The LORD sent a series of judgments upon the nation, but the people refused to repent and turn to the LORD (Amos 4:6-11). They suffered famine (4:6) and drought (Amos 4:7-8) but would not repent. He sent plagues and mildew on the crops, and Israel suffered plagues comparable to those experienced in Egypt (4:9-10). Yet, Israel would not turn to the LORD (Amos 4:10). Cities of Israel were destroyed by fire, reminiscent of Sodom and Gomorrah, but the people would not turn from their sin to the LORD (Amos 4:11).

 

An Ominous Warning (Amos 4:12-13)

Obstinate, rebellious, and hypocritical, Amos warned, “Prepare to meet thy God, O Israel” (Amos 4:12). He urged the people to prepare to face their Creator’s judgment. Amos revealed that the LORD knows every thought of man (Amos 4:13b). He is everywhere and “treadeth upon the high places of the earth” (Amos 4:13c).

Who is the LORD? He is “the God of hosts” (4:13d).

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith 

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