The Prophet Series: Amos, part 2
Amos part 2
After announcing God’s judgment that was to come upon the Northern Kingdom, Amos gave a series of five messages to explain more fully the reason for it. The first three messages begin with the phrase, “Hear this word” (3:1; 4:1; 5:1), while the last two begin with, “Woe to you (5:18; 6:1).
The messages all describe Israel’s rebellion. The cyclical tale throughout the prophets is of a generation born into God’s nation, created by Him and blessed by Him, who determines that rebelling against His will, in the long run, work out just fine. God warned them in the Mosaic Law, revealed to them exactly what the curse of the Law would look like when they rebelled so that they could be sure that calamity A and disaster B were not a fluke or a coincidence. God was warning them that they were on the pathway of death. Is God just a tyrant who doesn’t want us to have any fun? Righteousness has gotten a lot of bad press in this world. Righteousness is true life and prosperity of soul in which man thrives in the strength and grace of his Creator, despite the pressure and evil that may come against him. Unrighteousness or ungodliness has gotten a lot of good press in this world. It is heralded as freedom from an oppressive god and the ultimate in human expression and self-discovery. The only discovery made in the pursuit of ungodliness is just how fallen the flesh truly is.
God blesses man with all the needed aspects of life. Israel was God’s chosen nation. He gave them the way in which the people and the community would prosper in a land flowing with milk and honey. By rebelling against God, they forsook His way in all areas of life: religious, legal, political, and social. This reveals to us that we cannot be selectively good. Goodness must be the core of us if we are to be good as God defines it. I cannot determine to good on some days and evil on others, or good in some areas of life, and evil in others. If we rebel against God in one area of life, we hide away from God a secret room in our souls for some pet pleasure, it is only a matter of time before all areas of our lives are corrupted. We are called to submit to God’s will in everything, and God’s will is the characteristic of that which is life indeed. God bids us to put every aspect of our lives in His hands, and He promises that we will see just how wonderful life is when it abides with Him - “ your hope will not be cut off.”
My son, do not forget my teaching,
But let your heart keep my commandments;
Do not let your heart envy sinners,
But live in the fear of the Lord always.
Surely there is a future,
And your hope will not be cut off.
Listen, my son, and be wise,
And direct your heart in the way.
Do not be with heavy drinkers of wine,
Or with gluttonous eaters of meat;
For the heavy drinker and the glutton will come to poverty,
And drowsiness will clothe a man with rags.
Listen to your father who begot you,
And do not despise your mother when she is old.
Buy truth, and do not sell it,
Get wisdom and instruction and understanding.
The false gods that Israel worships are not moral, just, or righteous, therefore, it would make sense that any man who worships them would himself be immoral, unrighteous, and unjust. These gods have not changed over the centuries, only their images have changed. Today’s idols are graven images as well as images of the mind. An image of a way of happiness and fulfillment that is outside of Jesus Christ is an idol.
1JO 2:15-17 Do not love the world, nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. And the world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God abides forever.
Only Yavah is perfect, righteous, and just, and only He demands the same from His people, and only He gives them the right, power, and grace to be like Him.
These five messages from Amos, likely given at different times and later compiled in the format you now read, are all warnings from God, and in each of these messages is the call to repentance and deliverance. Though the nation is doomed (God says that is irreversible), individuals within her can be saved by the patient grace of God.
God always offers repentance before He gives commands. Before He gave the first commandment from Sinai He said:
EXO 20:1-2 Then God spoke all these words, saying,
"I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.”
“In love I have redeemed you. Now follow Me and live.”
The First Message: Chapter 3
AMO 3:1-2 Hear this word which the Lord has spoken against you, sons of Israel, against the entire family which He brought up from the land of Egypt, "You only have I chosen among all the families of the earth; Therefore, I will punish you for all your iniquities."
Because God called only them out of the families of the earth, He will punish them. This is insightful when attempting to interpret the history of Israel. God blessed Israel far beyond all nations. God loaded them up with promises that other nations could have never dreamed of relying upon. The proper response that God demanded was gratitude and worship. To whom much is given, gratitude is required.
God, just leave us alone
I have recently heard a person claim that since they didn’t choose to be made the way they are (human and born in sin) that they shouldn’t be held accountable to their Creator. People often don’t think things through. And, people want redemption without payment or sacrifice. The running philosophy is - if we ignore God He should ignore us. Would that man who complained of his state of being prefer to be uncreated, in which case he would prefer nothing? Would he rather be born in the Garden of Eden and left on his own to be obedient? Would he prefer the karma of Hinduism or Buddhism, in which he will remain in a continuous cycle of birth and death, living life after life with no recollection, as a man or a bug, in a paradise or in a hell, until he gets his life right? The good news from the beginning is that God would provide the sacrifice - Yavah Yareh.
God’s grace demands an effect
God’s electing grace is to always have a positive effect on one’s character and conduct. The moment Moses walked into Egypt as God’s messenger, Israel was blessed with the knowledge of the one true God, His love, and His saving grace. The plagues brought upon the enemy combatant of God crippled mighty Egypt. The deliverance of Israel, so unlikely in any geopolitical scenario, by blood on doorposts, demands allegiance to Him and worship of Him. Israel was chosen, freed from bondage, led, and blessed beyond her wildest dreams. God said through Moses that He chose Israel out of love.
DEU 7:6-8 "For you are a holy people to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. The Lord did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any of the peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but because the Lord loved you and kept the oath which He swore to your forefathers, the Lord brought you out by a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.”
God’s love demands holiness. The love relationship followed by marriage demands that the bride separate herself from all other lovers unto her one husband. When that husband is the God of all love, righteousness, and justice, His bride must set herself apart unto Him. Yet, as was so clearly shown in the prophet Hosea’s life as he was called to marry a harlot and to redeem an adultress, Israel openly loved her many sordid lovers directly in the sight of the Lord, her only Husband.
The judgments in the first message are given in a crescendo type style. They begin somewhat harmless - an appointment is made.:AMO 3:3 Do two men walk together unless they have made an appointment?
They culminate in ominous calamity:AMO 3:8 A lion has roared! Who will not fear? The Lord God has spoken! Who can but prophesy?
The appointment has been made and the lion has begun his charge. No one and nothing can stop him.
The Lord always reveals His major plans
The Lord indicates that something terrible is going to happen to them, for prophets are not sent with a message such as this for any other reason. People believe things are just going to go on the way they always have. Warning signs, birth pangs, signs of the times warn men who are blind, and beg them to open their eyes.
AMO 3:12 "Just as the shepherd snatches from the lion's mouth a couple of legs or a piece of an ear, So will the sons of Israel dwelling in Samaria be snatched away —
With the corner of a bed and the cover of a couch!”
Though the nation is doomed, the individuals within the nation can heed the words of the prophet and be delivered.
God asks the unjust and unrighteous to come and look at Israel
One wonders how anyone in Israel could hear these words and not have a great change of heart. God invites emissaries from nations where injustice had been the rule for generations, to come and look at Israel and be astonished.
AMO 3:9-10 Proclaim on the citadels in Ashdod [Philistines] and on the citadels in the land of Egypt and say, "Assemble yourselves on the mountains of Samaria [Israel’s capital] and see the great tumults within her and the oppressions in her midst. “But they do not know how to do what is right," declares the Lord, "these who hoard up violence and devastation in their citadels."
Even Philistines and Egyptians would be appalled if they saw the state of injustice and unrighteousness in Israel. Because of this, great destruction was coming.
But wait, we’re children of Abraham!
“Surely God cannot do such a thing to His own people.” This same thread of thinking persisted in our Lord’s day. This looks to be the rebuttal against Amos’ messages. They laughed him off, claiming that the chosen people could never encounter such wrath from God. They imagined that the chosen can do whatever they please, up to and including the worship of false gods, but that is not why they were chosen. If an enemy approached them then God would deliver them from the enemy. Amos responds by admitting that if any part of them would be snatched from the lion’s mouth, it would only be a leg and a piece of an ear, 3:12.
House of Jacob
The Lord’s appeal to them in this first message hopes to open their eyes. It is like a marriage that began wonderfully, but somehow, through selfishness and misplaced desire, it had gone very wrong. Yavah addresses them as the house of Jacob. This title, using the patriarch’s name, should stir in them a desire for the early years. Jacob was a liar and a scoundrel, but the Lord never gave up on him, and Jacob eventually found that if he contended or wrestled with the Lord, he would lose but never die. He could walk with a limp, but the Lord would continue to bear him up. Though an old man, Jacob finally came around to humility and obedience.
Amos 3:13 "Hear and testify against the house of Jacob,"
Declares the Lord God, the God of hosts.
Jacob’s name was changed to Israel. Anyone in Israel hearing these words can say to themselves, “You know what. I am a son of Jacob, chosen and blessed from before his birth, and I will not go the way of the nation’s judgment for its iniquity. I will be Israel.”
“I, the Lord, am your Savior,
And your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob." (ISA 49:26)
Pastor Joe Sugrue
Grace and Truth Ministries