2061.) Amos 1

Amos accuses Israel of false religion—“having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power” (2 Timothy 3:5). In the midst of the religious rituals, idolatry and social injustice thrived.

Amos 1 (NIV)

Back to the Old Testament narrative!

“Amos was from Tekoa, a small town in Judah about 6 miles south of Bethlehem and 11 miles from Jerusalem. He was not a man of the court like Isaiah, or a member of a priestly family like Jeremiah and Ezekiel. He earned his living from the flock and the sycamore-fig grove. Whether he owned the flocks and groves or only worked as a hired hand is not known. His skill with words and the strikingly broad range of his general knowledge of history and the world preclude his being an ignorant peasant. Though his home was in Judah, he was sent to announce God’s judgment on the northern kingdom (Israel). He probably ministered for the most part at Bethel, Israel’s main religious sanctuary, where the upper echelons of the northern kingdom worshiped.

“The book brings his prophecies together in a carefully organized form intended to be read as a unit. It offers few, if any, clues as to the chronological order of his spoken messages—he may have repeated them on many occasions to reach everyone who came to worship. The book is ultimately addressed to all Israel (hence the references to Judah and Jerusalem).”

–NIV Study Bible notes

 1 The words of Amos, one of the shepherds of Tekoa—the vision he saw concerning Israel two years before the earthquake, when Uzziah was king of Judah and Jeroboam son of Jehoash was king of Israel.

2 He said:

“The LORD roars from Zion
and thunders from Jerusalem;
the pastures of the shepherds dry up,
and the top of Carmel withers.”

Judgment on Israel’s Neighbors

What we see in these verses (Amos 1:3 – 2:16) is a progression. Amos commences with prophetic words against the various enemies of Israel. These nations had afflicted Israel over the years, and done many evil things against Israel. They deserved the wrath of God against them, and this would be a thought very much in the minds of the people of the northern kingdom, called Israel. As Israel heard Amos pronouncing judgement on their enemies they would be full of approval, and so give close attention to what Amos was saying, and Amos would go up in their estimation to a marked degree. They hated their enemies who had afflicted them, and so they would be delighted to hear that God was going to judge them severely, and reduce and even remove their ability to do harm to Israel.

–Word of Life

3This is what the LORD says:   

“For three sins of Damascus,
even for four, I will not relent.

“For three sins . . . even for four” does not mean the total number of the sins. It is the “formula” Amos uses to introduce God’s displeasure and coming judgment. The idea is sin upon sin upon sin. 

Because she threshed Gilead
with sledges having iron teeth,
4 I will send fire on the house of Hazael
that will consume the fortresses of Ben-Hadad.
5 I will break down the gate of Damascus;
I will destroy the king who is in the Valley of Aven
and the one who holds the scepter in Beth Eden.
The people of Aram will go into exile to Kir,”
says the LORD.

Damascus: the Roman Jupiter temple

Damascus, the capitol of Syria, has destroyed the Israelite area of Gilead so completely it is as if the land itself had been threshed.

6 This is what the LORD says:

“For three sins of Gaza,
even for four, I will not relent.
Because she took captive whole communities
and sold them to Edom,
7 I will send fire on the walls of Gaza
that will consume her fortresses.
8 I will destroy the king of Ashdod
and the one who holds the scepter in Ashkelon.
I will turn my hand against Ekron,
till the last of the Philistines are dead,”
says the Sovereign LORD.

pain in Gaza today

“The condemnation here is not against slavery in and of itself, just as the previous oracle was not against war in and of itself. The crime is not that soldiers were enslaved after being taken in battle, which was the standard practice, but that the Philistines used their temporary supremacy to enslave whole populations — soldiers and civilians, men and women, adults and children, young and old — for commercial profit. Gaza did not even need the slaves. She merely sold them to Edom for more money.”

–James Montgomery Boice

9 This is what the LORD says:

“For three sins of Tyre,
even for four, I will not relent.
Because she sold whole communities of captives to Edom,
disregarding a treaty of brotherhood,
10 I will send fire on the walls of Tyre
that will consume her fortresses.”

ruins of ancient Tyre

God promises to burn the walls of Tyre, a city in Lebanon. City walls were defensive; burned walls indicated defeat.

11 This is what the LORD says:

“For three sins of Edom,
even for four, I will not relent.
Because he pursued his brother with a sword
and slaughtered the women of the land,
because his anger raged continually
and his fury flamed unchecked,
12 I will send fire on Teman
that will consume the fortresses of Bozrah.”

The people of Edom were descended from Esau, the brother of Jacob. Jacob was the father of the 12 tribes of Israel. God condemns the Edomites for their anger against their own brother.

13 This is what the LORD says:

“For three sins of Ammon,
even for four, I will not relent.
Because he ripped open the pregnant women of Gilead
in order to extend his borders,
14 I will set fire to the walls of Rabbah
that will consume her fortresses
amid war cries on the day of battle,
amid violent winds on a stormy day.
15 Her king will go into exile,
he and his officials together,”
says the LORD.

Gilead suffered not only at the hands of the Syrians, but also from the Ammonites.

_________________________

Music:

God is a worthy judge.  HERE  is “Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise”  arranged for brass and played by the Foundation Brass of Bob Jones University.

Immortal, invisible, God only wise,
In light inaccessible hid from our eyes,
Most blessed, most glorious, the Ancient of Days,
Almighty, victorious, thy great name we praise.

Unresting, unhasting, and silent as light,
Nor wanting, nor wasting, thou rulest in might;
Thy justice like mountains high soaring above
Thy clouds which are fountains of goodness and love.

To all life thou givest to both great and small;
In all life thou livest, the true life of all;
We blossom and flourish as leaves on the tree,
And wither and perish but nought changeth thee.

Great Father of glory, pure Father of light,
Thine angels adore thee, all veiling their sight;
All laud we would render: O help us to see
‘Tis only the splendour of light hideth thee.

_________________________

New International Version (NIV)    Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
Amos, by Dore.   http://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org/bible-images/hires/Amos-Chapter-1-The-Prophet-Amos.jpg
dice.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2017/03/6f6c7-1960s-lucky-7-green-dice-showing-number-4-four-and-3-three-symbolic-winner.jpg
Damscus:  Roman temple ruins.   https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/47/The_Jupiter_temple_in_Damascus.jpg
Gaza.   http://i3.mirror.co.uk/incoming/article3880905.ece/ALTERNATES/s615/Gaza-Strip.jpg
Tyre.    http://bdeb2a7f1a2924562fd9-1032c9ed9eee47cac88a7222b79896b8.r88.cf2.rackcdn.com/uploaded/r/0e952269_ruins-of-ancient-tyre.jpg
Jacob and Esau.    https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/c2/1f/48/c21f48618a5ed7299bff221ba0dce753.jpg
balm in Gilead.   https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/564x/76/c6/ca/76c6cad8bf21456c2f51ccd4dfd3eda3.jpg
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