Amos started the book with prophesies and now has begun longer "sermons" that include messages directly from the Lord. Chapter 4 is the second of three of those messages
Amos introduces the next topic, in verse 1, by calling out the "cows of Bashan".
- So this message is for the ladies
- And the ladies are, apparently, quite robust.
- Ryrie includes a footnote that Bashan was known for its fat cattle. It is in the mountains of Samaria.
The rest of verse 1 shows that this wasn't a cheap insult to their appearance, Their weight was evidence of what Amos held against them.
- They oppress the poor and crush the needy. They are acting like that while shoveling in their own delights...this is not how God has taught them to treat the poor.
- They tell their husband to bring them drink. They aren't serving their husbands and they are over-drinking.
In verse 2, God promises that these woman will be taken away with meat hooks and the last of them with fish hooks. It seems like the message is, if all you care about is your own belly, then you will be treated like cattle who only care about feeding all day- and you will be slaughtered on meat hooks and even scrapped into pieces small enough for fish bait.
Ummm. What's a stronger word than Yikes. Because...Yikes!
As a plus-size girl myself, I have had to come to terms with the underlying sins that leads to obesity. Not for everyone. But for me. I know I eat more than I need and I use food for purposes beyond the fuel I need to survive. It's comfort, recreation, and more. There are several underlying sins for which I have received victory in Christ; but still struggle.
I need to really meditate on this as part of that struggle.
Another part of this struck me, apart form my own issues, and that is that this passage reminds me of the passages in Isaiah 3:16-4:1 and Jeremiah where the focus is on the women and their part in the ultimate demise of their civilization.
Note: The name of God in verse 2 is Lord God, Adonai Jehovah.
In verse 3, Amos specifies that the women will be led straight out of the city through the breaches in the wall. Their days of privacy and caring only for themselves will come to a humiliating and final end. Says Jehovah.
The Wiersbe Commentary, Be Concerned, posits that Amos, a herdsman, uses the fat cow image, not as an insult toward fat people, but as an agricultural image of cattle being fattened before the slaughter and led out of the breached city walls toward that end. Either way, it's a powerful metaphor.
And as it turned out, it was a pretty precise metaphor /prophesy for what actually happened. Assyria was known to string their prisoner together with hooks in their noses and lips so they would be compliant as they were led to their captivity.
These women, who grew fat giving orders and trampling on others "beneath them," would soon experience humiliation and violence themselves.
Verses 4 and 5 seem to catalogue all of the idolatry and false worship as men try to spread around their sacrifices to various gods. (Verse 5: says Adonai; Verse 6: says Jehovah)
Wiersbe interprets it as over-sacrificing to God in a public manner for accolades; which makes it of no value to God.
The MacArthur Bible Commentary points out that Bethel and Gilgal were particular odorous places for this false worship because they were sacred in God's history with His people: Bethel was the place of Jacob's dream and Gilgal was where they stopped and everyone was circumcised after crossing into the Promise Land. Wiersbe adds on that Bethel was also sacred for Abraham and having stored the Ark once.
Verse 6 emphasizes that God was not happy with the false worship as He responded by giving them clean teeth from famine in parts of the land. However, this did not cause them to return to the Lord with true worship.
If the heart isn't right with God, the sacrifice means nothing.Be Concerned, Warren Wiersbe
Any religious "revival" that doesn't alter the priorities of Christians and help solve the problems of society isn't a revival at all.Be Concerned, Warren Wiersbe
Verse 7-8 seem to provide another example of God showing His displeasure with them. Rain would fall on one city and not another, so people would stagger from city to city, chasing the water...but still not return to the Lord. The super natural sovereignty of sending rain to select locations and not others should have caught their attention, as opposed to a general drought. (Verse 8: says Jehovah)
Verses 9-11 list other consequences: (Verses 9-11= says Jehovah)
- Scorching wind
- plagues (that rivaled Egypt!)
- casualties in war (men and horses- so many it made the camp have a stench)
- overthrown like Sodom and Gomorrah (The name of God here is Elohim. He creates and erases)
Oh wow. As if this list of consequences wasn't enough, Amos next tell Israel what will happen because they didn't return to Him:
Therefore, thus I will do to you, O Israel; because I shall do this to you, Prepare to meet your God, O Israel.Amos 4:12
Prepare to meet Elohim, specifically. Prepare to meet him who made you!
MacArthur states that this concept of, "Prepare to meet your God", was first used at Mt. Sinai when they were going to enter into the covenant with them. It seems to me that now they are coming to the end of His tolerance and grace for their willingness to openly defy that covenant and it is time for judgement.
Followed by this:
For behold, He who forms mountains and creates the wind and declares to man what are His thoughts, He who makes dawn into darkness and treads on the high places of the earth, the Lord God of hosts is His name.Amos 4:13
The names of God at the end of that sentence are
- Saba (Sabaoth) (warfare, army, heavenly host)
The combines use of these name, in that order, seems significant. I have seen Jehovah Sabaoth for the Lord of the heavenly army; but adding Elohim in the middle, really seems to indicate that it was an unprecedented time.
To me that translates into: you have been given plenty of time to come back to Me; but if you've forgotten Who I Am, let me introduce Myself. I made you and everything else and I am not happy with you. The time for judgement is at hand.
God loves us and He is faithful. He's a good teacher and parent and works hard to correct us. But there is an end to His patience. And then it is too late. Grim; but good to come to terms with in your lifetime.