posted on Nov, 27 2015 @ 05:06 PM
“You alone have I known of all the families of the earth;
Therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities” (Amos ch3 v1).
The one who speaks, Amos will have us know, is the Lord of all the earth and beyond;
“He who made the Pleiades and Orion
And turns deep darkness into the morning, and darkens the day into night” (ch5 v8).
So he is not just a local god. He is not known as the God of Israel because his power is limited to Israel;
“Did I not bring up Israel from the land of Egypt, and the Philistines from Caphtor, and the Syrians from Kir?” (ch9 v7)
Yet he has “known” the family of Israel in a more special sense.
They are the people he has chosen to train up in the understanding of his ways (with the intention of letting them loose later to train the rest of
But this privilege comes at a price.
It would be like going to school as the Headmaster’s child. The beady eyes would be upon you, along with the jealous eyes of the rest of the class,
and there would be little chance that your misdemeanours would go unnoticed.
(I’ve been there, I know what I’m talking about.)
That’s why the Lord says ”therefore” he will punish them for all their iniquities.
These warnings are given on the authority of a prophet, so Amos must first vindicate the authority of prophets.
He explains it this way; there are things which go together so closely that the presence of one implies the other.
If two people walk together, that shows them to be friends.
If a lion roars in the forest, that shows he has found a victim.
If a snare has been tripped, that shows that something has walked into it.
And if misfortune happens to a city, that shows the Lord is at work.
As does the announcement of a prophecy, because “the Lord God does nothing without revealing it to his servants the prophets” (ch3 vv2-8).
Amos himself attests that he had been an ordinary herdsman until the Lord took him from his flock and said “Go, prophesy to my people Israel” (ch7
He reminds them first of the minor chastisements they’ve already received.
There was famine;
“I gave you cleanness of teeth in all your cities, and lack of bread in all your places” (ch4 v6).
There was drought, with a very erratic supply of rain.
There was mildew.
There was pestilence.
There was defeat in battle.
Yet none of these events had induced them to return to the Lord (vv7-11).
This being the case, stronger measures will be taken.
The Lord will summon the might of Egypt and Assyria to come to Samaria and see for themselves the tumults and the oppression which are taking place
“An adversary shall surround the land and bring down your defences from you” (ch3 v11).
The usual effects of invasion will follow.
“The city that went forth a thousand shall have a hundred left” (ch5 v3).
The wealthy will lose their pleasant homes, and they will be the first to go into exile (ch6 v7).
There will be mourning in all the squares and the streets, and in the farms and the vineyards.
“They shall call to wailing those who are skilled in lamentations” (ch5 vv16-17).
A nation will oppress them “from the entrance of Hamath to the Brook of the Arabah” (ch6 v14).
These limits stretch from the north to the deep south, including the kingdom of Judah, so this warning is not just about the northern
The warning is enhanced by a series of dramatic images.
Amos sees a picture of locusts eating up the whole of the land. He protests;
“How can Jacob stand? He is so small”.
At this appeal, the Lord relents; “It shall not be” (ch7 vv1-3).
He sees another picture of “a judgement by fire”, eating up the whole of the land.
Again the appeal, “How can Jacob stand?”, and again the Lord relents.
The message seems to be that the chastisement of Israel will not bring their total destruction, though that would have been possible.
As usual in the Old Testament, the Lord contemplates the most extreme solution and then draws back.
Then the prophet sees a picture of a wall and a plumb-line.
The metaphorical plumb-line is for testing the righteousness of the building work of Israel.
Its altars and sanctuaries will fail to pass the test, and so they will be destroyed (ch7 vv7-9).
He also sees a picture of a basket of summer fruit- that is, fruit which comes at the very end of the growing season.
The message is that the kingdom of Israel, too, is about to come to an end (ch8 vvv1-3).
At the same time, there will be an end of their previous contact with the Lord.
The Lord spoke to them, and they did not listen.
So thereafter there would be “a famine of hearing the words of the Lord.
They shall wander from sea to sea, and from north to east;
They shall run to and fro, to seek the word of the Lord, but they shall not find it” (ch8 vv11-12).
The final image is based on the great earthquake which has already shaken the nation.
The prophet sees the Lord standing beside the altar, and the Lord proclaims the earthquake as a metaphor.
It means that he will shake the kingdom to its complete destruction.
“I will set my eyes on them for evil and not for good” (ch9 vv1-4)
There is also a message here for all those in later times who understand themselves to be part of God’s people.
It serves as a warning that that their confidence in their status should not cause them to relax into complacency.