Amos Chapter Four


Read Amos 4:1-5 – God’s Reproof of Israel


v.1 “Hear this word, ye kine of Bashan, that are in the mountain of Samaria, which oppress the poor, which crush the needy, which say to their masters, Bring, and let us drink


            Amos continues to describe the spiritual failures of Israel and here uses some interesting language to do so.  As we noted at the beginning of this study Amos is a shepherd, a herdsman and the description of Israel reflects that background.  He calls the fat, wealthy rulers of Israel “kine of Bashan”.

            Bashan was the region east of Jordan in the north of Gilead that was allocated to the tribe of Manasseh.  It provided a rich, lush pastureland and was known for its wild cattle.  Due to the grazing available these cattle grew larger than they did in other regions, they were very difficult to control and manage, much like the Texas longhorns of an earlier era in this country.  They would overrun and trample anything that got in their way.  David refers to them in a Psalm of despair and prayer to God:




Amos compares the wealthy and rulers of Israel to these wild cattle, taking, oppressing and abusing the poor and needy around them, pushing them even further in to their poverty and want.


v.2 “The Lord GOD hath sworn by his holiness, that, lo, the days shall come upon you, that he will take you away with hooks, and your posterity with fishhooks


            When God swore an oath, he could swear by no greater than himself just as we are told:


Hebrews 6:13 “For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself


So God swears “BY HIS HOLINESS” that a day of reckoning will come.  They would be led into captivity at the end of a hook.  Did you ever catch a fishhook in a finger or hand?  If you have never had the experience it is pretty painful and with its barbs difficult to remove.  As a form of cruelty, especially if they were trying to be difficult, captors would imbed hooks or fishhooks in the bodies of their captives and lead them away by that means.  Needless to say it discouraged resistance.


v.3 “And ye shall go out at the breaches, every cow at that which is before her; and ye shall cast them into the palace, saith the LORD.


            They shall try to flee through the “BREACHES” or holes in the walls of their cities like stampeding cattle, running through whatever hole may be nearest.  They will throw their most prized possessions into their palaces but it will do them no good.  All they will accomplish is to gather these things, even their children into a place where their enemies can readily find them.


v.4 “Come to Bethel, and transgress; at Gilgal multiply transgression; and bring your sacrifices every morning, and your tithes after three years


            Now the prophet puts into his words some sarcasm and irony.  What was the significance of Bethel and Gilgal?  When Rehoboam divided the kingdom of Israel he set up Bethel as a place of worship for the ten tribes:


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. 30And this thing became a sin: for the people went to worship before the one, even unto Dan


Gilgal was another location in the Northern Kingdom where worship was conducted.  This verse would indicate that they had incorporated some of the Mosaic Law into their idol worship much like denominations do with the law of Christ today.  Under Mosaic Law they were to:


Numbers 28:3-4 “And thou shalt say unto them, This is the offering made by fire which ye shall offer unto the LORD; two lambs of the first year without spot day by day, for a continual burnt offering. 4The one lamb shalt thou offer in the morning, and the other lamb shalt thou offer at even


Deuteronomy 14:28 “At the end of three years thou shalt bring forth all the tithe of thine increase the same year, and shalt lay it up within thy gates


Israel is using the same offerings and sacrifices commanded by God to be offered to him to worship their idols.  So God is saying, bring your sacrifices and offerings to your idol gods; pay your tithes but they will not protect you; they will do you no good.


v.5 “And offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving with leaven, and proclaim and publish the free offerings: for this liketh you, O ye children of Israel, saith the Lord GOD


            This verse is a continuation of the same thought.  Make the sacrifices to your idol gods that were commanded by God to be made to Him.


Leviticus 7:13 “Besides the cakes, he shall offer for his offering leavened bread with the sacrifice of thanksgiving of his peace offerings


Deuteronomy 12:6 “And thither ye shall bring your burnt offerings, and your sacrifices, and your tithes, and heave offerings of your hand, and your vows, and your freewill offerings, and the firstlings of your herds and of your flocks


Plead with and beseech your idols, God has abandoned you just as the Psalmist describes:




Read Amos 4:6-13 – God’s Chastisements for Israel


v.6 “And I also have given you cleanness of teeth in all your cities, and want of bread in all your places: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD


            What is one way to have very clean teeth?  To not have anything to eat.  God has caused the Israelites to suffer from want, to not have enough to eat but that has not turned them back to him.  As Jeremiah described Judah at a later time:


Jeremiah 5:3 “O LORD, are not thine eyes upon the truth? thou hast stricken them, but they have not grieved; thou hast consumed them, but they have refused to receive correction: they have made their faces harder than a rock; they have refused to return.


v.7-8 “And also I have withholden the rain from you, when there were yet three months to the harvest: and I caused it to rain upon one city, and caused it not to rain upon another city: one piece was rained upon, and the piece whereupon it rained not withered. 8So two or three cities wandered unto one city, to drink water; but they were not satisfied: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD


            God has withheld life giving rain from Israel.  We should remember very well from prior studies of the life and times of Elijah at least one example.


I Kings 17:1 “And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the LORD God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word


And it did not rain on Israel for the space of three years as we see in I Kings 18.  At other times God says he caused it to rain on one city but not on others but instead of turning to him in repentance Israel did whatever they thought they had to do to cope with their disaster.  There wasn’t enough water to support them all but still they did not turn to God.


v.9 “I have smitten you with blasting and mildew: when your gardens and your vineyards and your fig trees and your olive trees increased, the palmerworm devoured them: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD


            Israel had been warned.


Deuteronomy 28:15 “But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee


Blasting and mildew were two of those curses.  What is blasting?  Sometimes we had that problem in our gardens.  One of the definitions you will find in a current dictionary is “any pernicious or destructive influence, esp. on animals or plants; a blight;” “the sudden death of buds, flowers, or young fruit.”  Of course anyone who lives in the humidity of Louisiana knows what mildew is; but mildew caused by a fungus can also attack the young leaves, flowers or fruit of a plant as well.  I fight a mildew fungus on my crape myrtles every spring until they bloom and then they’re fine.

            What the blasting and mildew doesn’t destroy will be destroyed by the palmerworm.  We studied this creature in our study of Joel, who remembers what it is?  The definition that we studied is that “A palmerworm is a defined as a hairy caterpillar that sometimes arises in great numbers and devours the foliage of trees and orchards.”


v.10 “I have sent among you the pestilence after the manner of Egypt: your young men have I slain with the sword, and have taken away your horses; and I have made the stink of your camps to come up unto your nostrils: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD


            During the time of the ten plagues against Egypt God had warned Pharaoh that if he did not let Israel go:


“For now I will stretch out my hand, that I may smite thee and thy people with pestilence; and thou shalt be cut off from the earth Exodus 9:15


            We are not told what pestilence that God brought upon Israel but in Egypt it took the form of hail coupled with fire that ran along the ground that destroyed their fields and animals.

            God had caused Israel’s young men to be destroyed by war:


II Kings 13:3 “And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he delivered them into the hand of Hazael king of Syria, and into the hand of Benhadad the son of Hazael, all their daysv.7 “7Neither did he leave of the people to Jehoahaz but fifty horsemen, and ten chariots, and ten thousand footmen; for the king of Syria had destroyed them, and had made them like the dust by threshing


v.11 “I have overthrown some of you, as God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, and ye were as a firebrand plucked out of the burning: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD


            Again Israel had been warned that the wrath of God that destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah would be visited upon Israel if they broke their covenant:


Deuteronomy 29:23-25 “And that the whole land thereof is brimstone, and salt, and burning, that it is not sown, nor beareth, nor any grass groweth therein, like the overthrow of Sodom, and Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboim, which the LORD overthrew in his anger, and in his wrath: 24Even all nations shall say, Wherefore hath the LORD done thus unto this land? what meaneth the heat of this great anger? 25Then men shall say, Because they have forsaken the covenant of the LORD God of their fathers, which he made with them when he brought them forth out of the land of Egypt


God had caused their cities to be burned just has he had burned Sodom and Gomorrah but still they had not turned to them.  We have no record of him raining fire and brimstone on them from heaven as he did those two wicked cities and the cities of the plain but many were torched by their conquerors that were mentioned in verse 10.


v.12 “Therefore thus will I do unto thee, O Israel: and because I will do this unto thee, prepare to meet thy God, O Israel


            Judgment is coming.  Israel, prepare to meet thy God.  Just as Jeremiah warned Judah:


Jeremiah 5:22-24 “Fear ye not me? saith the LORD: will ye not tremble at my presence, which have placed the sand for the bound of the sea by a perpetual decree, that it cannot pass it: and though the waves thereof toss themselves, yet can they not prevail; though they roar, yet can they not pass over it? 23But this people hath a revolting and a rebellious heart; they are revolted and gone. 24Neither say they in their heart, Let us now fear the LORD our God, that giveth rain, both the former and the latter, in his season: he reserveth unto us the appointed weeks of the harvest


They will not fear the God that has set the bounds of the sea, the God that gives or withholds the rain from heaven, the God that has appointed the times and seasons, provided the harvest for the benefit of mankind.  But he will judge them.


v.13 “For, lo, he that formeth the mountains, and createth the wind, and declareth unto man what is his thought, that maketh the morning darkness, and treadeth upon the high places of the earth, The LORD, The God of hosts, is his name


            Israel is defying the God that formed the mountains, created the wind, has declared his thoughts unto man either through his direct revelation or through his patriarchs and prophets, made the morning darkness and treads upon the high places of the earth.  The God whose power and presence is shown in His words to the patriarch Job:


Job 38:4-7 “Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding. 5Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it? 6Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof; 7When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy


This is the same God that will rain judgment and destruction, not only upon Israel, but the entire earth.  When we look at the world around us we wonder.  How much longer can God’s patience and longsuffering endure the sin of mankind?