Amos Chapter Three

 

Read Amos 3:1-8 – God’s Chosen People

 

v.1 “Hear this word that the LORD hath spoken against you, O children of Israel, against the whole family which I brought up from the land of Egypt, saying

 

            The nation of Israel had enjoyed a very special relationship with God.  He had brought their father, Abraham, out of the land of the Chaldeans and nurtured and kept him, Isaac and Jacob through several hundred years.  He had promised them that their seed would be specially blessed.  They would not only be given this land but would be the people through whom he would fulfill the seed promise made to Eve in the garden (Genesis 3:15).  He had arranged for their sanctuary in Egypt during a seven year famine that devastated the earth.  He had then brought them out of Egyptian slavery when they were helpless to remove themselves from this scourge, brought them to a new land and provided them with every blessing that they could possibly want or need.  His relationship with them was as close as mankind can get to God.  The prophet Jeremiah describes it this way:

 

“For as the girdle cleaveth to the loins of a man, so have I caused to cleave unto me the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah, saith the LORD; that they might be unto me for a people, and for a name, and for a praise, and for a glory: but they would not hear Jeremiah 13:11

 

v.2 “You only have I known of all the families of the earth: therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities

 

            God’s special relationship with Israel was sealed at Mount Sinai shortly after He led them out of Egypt:

 

Exodus 19:5 -6 “Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: 6And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel

 

God had made this covenant with Israel and Israel only, no other nation or people.  Because a covenant always has more than one party with responsibilities to the others Israel also had made a solemn promise to God.

 

Exodus 19:8 “And all the people answered together, and said, All that the LORD hath spoken we will do. And Moses returned the words of the people unto the LORD

 

But Israel did not keep their covenant with God.  They were a disobedient, spiteful, and obstinate people who turned from God repeatedly, turning back only temporarily when He punished them.  He tells them here through the prophet Amos that it is His right, His responsibility, His duty to punish them for their iniquities, their sin against him.  And punish them, he did:

 

Daniel 9:12 “And he hath confirmed his words, which he spake against us, and against our judges that judged us, by bringing upon us a great evil: for under the whole heaven hath not been done as hath been done upon Jerusalem

 

v.3 “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?”

 

            Now Amos presents his credentials, the proof that his words are indeed the words of God.  He brings assurance that he does indeed walk with the God that has made Israel a special people, a nation of God’s own choosing.  We see the same application to us today in the words of the Holy Spirit penned by the Apostle John:

 

I John 1:5-7 “This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: 7But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin

 

v.4-5 “Will a lion roar in the forest, when he hath no prey? will a young lion cry out of his den, if he have taken nothing? 5Can a bird fall in a snare upon the earth, where no gin is for him? shall one take up a snare from the earth, and have taken nothing at all

 

            God’s word is coming to them for a purpose.  The lion does not roar when he has no prey.  The lion roars to frighten his prey and make them freeze or do something foolish so that he can be more easily caught.  The young lion roars to let the world know his power and his might, and that he has overcome his prey.  A bird cannot be snared when there is no “GIN” or trap set for him.  Amos is telling Israel to take his words seriously, to listen, to heed as God is not going to spare them if they do not.  Hosea provided a similar warning:

 

Hosea 5:14 “For I will be unto Ephraim as a lion, and as a young lion to the house of Judah: I, even I, will tear and go away; I will take away, and none shall rescue him

 

v.6 “6Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid? shall there be evil in a city, and the LORD hath not done it

 

            Just as we studied previously the trumpet was used to sound the alarm when an enemy army approached their city or camp.  The prophets of God had been given the responsibility by God of sounding the trumpet warning of danger to His people because of their sin just as we studied in the book of Joel:

 

Joel 2:1 “Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the LORD cometh, for it is nigh at hand

 

The people of the cities would tremble when the trumpet was blown because they knew what was coming and Israel should now tremble before God as well.

 

v.7 “Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets

 

            God did nothing to punish his people for their sins without first warning them to repent.  He had established this open relationship first with the patriarch Abraham:

 

Genesis 18:17 “And the LORD said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do

 

God is doing that very same thing with Israel through the words of Amos.  He is revealing what would otherwise be a secret from a rebellious and unknowing people.  God has continued to do so, down through the prophet Daniel (Daniel 9:22) and even to us today through His revelation of the Gospel.  The gospel which brings us both warning and salvation as Paul tells us in Romans 1:16.

 

v.8 “8The lion hath roared, who will not fear? the Lord GOD hath spoken, who can but prophesy?

 

            When the lion roars, men know to fear.  When God speaks to them the prophet can do nothing but carry forth the Word that he has been given.  We’re very familiar with the examples of the New Testament.  We find Peter and John standing before the Sanhedrin with these words:

 

Acts 4:19-20 “But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. 20For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard

 

Jeremiah said that the Word of God was like a fire in his bones; Jeremiah 20:9.

 

The Apostle Paul:

 

I Corinthians 9:16 “For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel

 

Read Amos 3:9-15 – God’s Promise of Judgment

 

v.9 “9Publish in the palaces at Ashdod, and in the palaces in the land of Egypt, and say, Assemble yourselves upon the mountains of Samaria, and behold the great tumults in the midst thereof, and the oppressed in the midst thereof

 

            Amos is ordered by God to call upon the people of Philistia and Egypt to acts as witnesses to the punishment that he is going to bring upon Israel.  Publish this announcement in the palaces of Ashdod, a major city of the Philistines and the palaces of Egypt that Samaria is going to be punished for her abominations and grievous sins.

 

v.10  “For they know not to do right, saith the LORD, who store up violence and robbery in their palaces

 

            Israel has gone so far into the practice of sin that she no longer knows how to do right.  She stores up violence and robbery in her palaces.  She is like Jeremiah described the Judah:

 

Jeremiah 4:22 “For my people is foolish, they have not known me; they are sottish children, and they have none understanding: they are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge

 

The prophet Jeremiah describes Judah as being foolish, sottish children with no understanding of the realities of life.  They “ARE WISE” to do evil, they know how to do that, but they have no knowledge of how to do good, or even what good is.  Does this sound familiar?  We need but pay attention to the national news today to see the same thing.

 

v.11 “Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; An adversary there shall be even round about the land; and he shall bring down thy strength from thee, and thy palaces shall be spoiled

 

            God will bring an adversary upon Israel.  Their strength will be overcome and their palaces will be spoiled; i.e. ransacked and raided, their nation will be destroyed.  The actual event is recorded in the history of the kings.

 

II Kings 18:9-11 “And it came to pass in the fourth year of king Hezekiah, which was the seventh year of Hoshea son of Elah king of Israel, that Shalmaneser king of Assyria came up against Samaria, and besieged it. 10And at the end of three years they took it: even in the sixth year of Hezekiah, that is the ninth year of Hoshea king of Israel, Samaria was taken. 11And the king of Assyria did carry away Israel unto Assyria, and put them in Halah and in Habor by the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes

 

v.12 “Thus saith the LORD; As the shepherd taketh out of the mouth of the lion two legs, or a piece of an ear; so shall the children of Israel be taken out that dwell in Samaria in the corner of a bed, and in Damascus in a couch

 

            A remnant will be left behind.  Amos uses the analogy of a lamb devoured by a lion.  Scraps are left behind.  The shepherd might find an ear or its legs or some other body part but the life of the animal is gone as is the most desirable parts of its body.  They’ve been devoured.  Assyria would treat Israel the same way.  Assyria would leave behind the poorest of the poor, the undesirable, the dregs of a wicked society, those who would serve no purpose for them, those that they considered of no value, even as slaves.  Those that would be left behind would be part of those who troubled Nehemiah:

 

Nehemiah 4:1-2 “But it came to pass, that when San-bal-lat heard that we builded the wall, he was wroth, and took great indignation, and mocked the Jews. 2And he spake before his brethren and the army of Samaria, and said, What do these feeble Jews? will they fortify themselves? will they sacrifice? will they make an end in a day? will they revive the stones out of the heaps of the rubbish which are burned

 

In the times of the New Testament these same people were the Samaritans that were so hated by the Jews.  When Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman at the well her response to him reflected this ill feeling:

 

John 4:9 “Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans

 

v.13-15 “Hear ye, and testify in the house of Jacob, saith the Lord GOD, the God of hosts, 14That in the day that I shall visit the transgressions of Israel upon him I will also visit the altars of Bethel: and the horns of the altar shall be cut off, and fall to the ground. 15And I will smite the winter house with the summer house; and the houses of ivory shall perish, and the great houses shall have an end, saith the LORD

 

            There are two things that Amos brings to our attention here in the closing verses of this chapter.  First of all the altars that had been built at Bethel to worship false gods would be destroyed.  This practice of worship was started almost immediately after the division of the kingdom:

 

I Kings 12:28-29 “Whereupon the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold, and said unto them, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. 29And he set the one in Bethel, and the other put he in Dan

 

            Secondly the kings and high officials of Israel apparently had summer and winter palaces, or summer and winter houses in which to live.  It reminds me of a number of people that we knew in Michigan who lived in Michigan in the summer and in Florida during the long cold Michigan winters.  These palaces would be destroyed, symbolizing the complete destruction and removal of Israel.