Amos has been bringing his prophesies to the neighboring nations; but now he brings the heat home to Judah and Israel.
Verses 1-3 are for Moab and covered in a previous post.
In verse 4, Amos starts his same framework, "Thus says the Lord," and letting them know they had maxed out their sin account and God wasn't going to revoke their punishment any longer. He goes on to describe their indictment:
- They rejected the law of the Lord.
- They did not keep His statutes.
- Their lies have led them astray.
- Those after which their fathers walked.
For the last bullet, I think that "those" must refer to the lies in the line above; but I'm not sure.
I read the same verse in the NIV translation, and it is more distinct- "...because they have been led astray by false gods, the gods their ancestors followed."
The NKJV uses "lies have led them astray," but skips the pronoun and specifies that it's the lies of their fathers.
And after that, it is short and clear,
So I will send fire upon Judah, and it will consume the citadels of Jerusalem.Amos 2:5
Verses 6-8: The Charges
His message for Israel starts the same way as the others; but is much longer.
- they sell righteousness for money and the needy for a pair of sandals.
- they pant (or trample?) after the dust of the earth on the head of the helpless.
- turn aside the way of the humble
- man and father chase the same woman
- profane God's Holy Name.
- on garments taken as pledges, they stretch out beside every altar (footnote in the NIV states that the outer garments doubled as blankets for the poor, so lenders weren't suppose to keep them overnight)
- in the House of the their God they drink the wine of those who have been fined.
If we were to make a list of what really made a nation bad-bad enough to nuke them back to the stone ages-it would look more like some of the other cities and nations from Amos Chapter 1: genocide, torture, slavery. But Israel's list looks different. It's a list of their failures in how to treat each other (especially those less powerful or wealthy than themselves), and how they treat the Lord. It's worth noting that you may not be a serial killer or a master thief; but what God cares about the most- especially regarding His people- is how we live our lives with Him and others. This is either really encouraging or should be very sobering, depending on how you are doing in those two categories.
Wiersbe suggests that sins are compounded if they are combined. If they take from the poor and use it for idolatry, the sin is further compounded. The MacArthur Commentary seconds this observation.
Verse 9-11 God's Graces
God describes the things He's done for Israel:
- defeating the giant Amorites for you (as well as the root and fruit)
- brought you up from Egypt
- led you in the wilderness do that you would be ready to defeat the Amorites
- raised up your sons as prophets and Nazirites
A couple of things I find really interesting about this list:
- The Lord is saying these things to the northern kingdom of Israel. They betrayed the Lord almost immediately. They weren't the hapless followers of Moses; these were the rebellious and idolatrous leaders, starting with the very first king, Jeroboam. He could have easily "written them off" and kept His covenant with the few tribes in Judah. But He doesn't. That's a depth of grace and faithful we cannot comprehend.
- It is so easy to forget or attribute what God does for us. I strongly suspect that few of those listening ever attributes those accomplishments to God. One of the pastors at our church served in the U.S. military. He told of being in helicopters when they were rescuing men out of battles that would have shortly overwhelmed them if help had not arrived from above. Those men would spend the flight back to safety describing miracles that they had just survived and praising God. Just days later these same men revised their stories to how "lucky" they were. Their foxhole conversions had reversioned to give credit to luck. I suspect that's what is written in the hearts of those in Israel during this prophesy.
The Lord goes on to exemplify Israel's sins by describing how they responded to the blessing of the prophets and Nazirites given to them- they made the Nazirites break their vow by drinking wine and they banned the prophets from speaking God's words through them.
Wiersbe frames it as them rejecting God's Word and God's examples of godly living. Fully rejecting anything that could restore them.
Verses 13-16: The Consequences
The Lord states that all of this has left Him weighted down by them.
So, now they can expect to lose all of the grace and gifts He had given them, since they thought all of that was their doing and not His- they would learn what they are like without Him.
- The swift will lose their flight
- The stalwart will lose his strength
- the mighty man won't be able to save his own life
- archers won't be able to stand their ground
- the quick will not escape
- horses won't save their lives
- even the bravest will flee naked.
Wow. I'm sure that everyone of those traits was previously consider to each man's credit. And each battle won was attributed to these traits- giving men the glory that rightfully belonged to the Lord.
If you are going to boast in anything, Paul tells the infant Christian church, boast in Christ crucified. That's all we can take credit for. Being sinful and self-full and needing a Savior.
Pride is one of my most persistent sins, and these prophesies from thousands of years ago tell me, I'm not alone. What makes me sparkle; what makes me note worthy by any measure comes from the Lord. And until we humble ourselves to see how essential He is to our lives that we submit to Him- we're in danger of following in the footsteps of Israel.
You are my Adonai; I have no good besides You.Psalm 16:2