Amos Chapter Six


Read Amos 6:1-6 – The Wantoness of Israel


v.1Woe to them that are at ease in Zion, and trust in the mountain of Samaria, which are named chief of the nations, to whom the house of Israel came!


            Woe to them that are living in ease; having no regard for their well-being because they already have too much.  Woe to those who trust in their mountain, their city walls or fortifications to protect them from their enemies.  Woe to them who rest on their laurels because they are the chosen people of God and think they have no duty, no responsibility to work to maintain that honored status.  They were indeed promised a special status in the eyes of the Almighty:


Exodus 19:5-6Now 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.”


But God’s special blessings were conditional.  They were “OBEY MY VOICE INDEED” they were to “KEEP MY COVENANT” and Israel had not done that.

That makes their situation even worse.


Amos 3:2You only have I known of all the families of the earth: therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.”


“THEREFORE I WILL PUNISH YOU FOR ALL YOUR INIQUITIES.”  Because they were a special people, because they were chosen above all others by God, because of the lavish care He had given them their punishment for their rebellion would be worse.  They would be like those described by the Hebrew writer:


Hebrews 10:26-29For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, 27But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. 28He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: 29Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?”


v.22Pass ye unto Calneh, and see; and from thence go ye to Hamath the great: then go down to Gath of the Philistines: be they better than these kingdoms? or their border greater than your border?”


            Amos gives them three examples of what was going to happen to their city of Samaria and their country.  He says go look at Calneh.  Calneh was a city that was supposedly built by Nimrod and grandson of Ham, son of Noah.  But that city no longer existed.  He says go look at Hamath, it had been destroyed as well.  When Shalmaneser came up to Jerusalem against Hezekiah his message to the king of Judah was yield or face the same punishment.


II Kings 18:34Where are the gods of Hamath, and of Arpad? where are the gods of Sepharvaim, Hena, and Ivah? have they delivered Samaria out of mine hand?”


More recently in the passage of time Gath of the Philistines had been destroyed:


II Kings 12:17Then Hazael king of Syria went up, and fought against Gath, and took it: and Hazael set his face to go up to Jerusalem.”


Israel was to suffer the same end.


v.3-4Ye that put far away the evil day, and cause the seat of violence to come near; 4That lie upon beds of ivory, and stretch themselves upon their couches, and eat the lambs out of the flock, and the calves out of the midst of the stall;”


            The children of Israel were living a life of presumption.  Their mindset was: let the prophets of God rant and rave these days of punishment are never going to come.  Even if they do come that event is so far away that we don’t need to worry about it in our lifetime.  Amos tells them that their very insolence in the face of God is causing his longsuffering to become shorter, his patience to wear thin and that they are bringing that day of violence even closer.

            Woe unto you that lie on beds of ease, beds of ivory and stretch yourselves on your couches.  Woe to you who do nothing in the kingdom of God, do not serve God, who do not honor God’s commandments.  Woe to those who indulge yourselves in all manner of sensual pleasures and delights with no thought about the results of your rebellion against the Almighty.  Woe to those who delight in the pleasures of the flesh with not thought of the consequences.  Is the epidemic of AIDS in this world today an accident of nature or God’s judgment of a grievous sin?  You are like the shepherd or herdsman who devour the lambs and calves of their flocks and herds that would provide the means of sustaining them for tomorrow.  Who give no thought about tomorrow or the consequences of not preparing for the future.


v.5That chant to the sound of the viol, and invent to themselves instruments of music, like David; 6That drink wine in bowls, and anoint themselves with the chief ointments: but they are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph.”


            These people, in their quest to satisfy their carnal desires were like those who want to live only to “let the good times roll.”  Where have we heard that before?  They chanted meaningless words and songs to the sound of an instrument.  They worked at inventing themselves new ways to indulge these wants.  The condemnation by God through the words of Amos are not directed at the use of instrumental music in worship to God as some teach but rather is being used as a metaphor for wantonness, fulfilling their desires of the flesh above all else.

            They drank their wine from bowls.  It brings to mind the huge beer steins of the German taverns.  A glass isn’t enough; a little wouldn’t do any more they needed great quantities to satisfy their thirst like an alcoholic who can never satisfy their craving.  They anointed themselves with fancy ointments working only to bring pleasure to their bodies.  They could not grieve for the affliction that was being visited upon the poor and downtrodden of Joseph.  Their kingdom was in distress, being invaded and insulted and they cared nothing for it.


Read Amos 6:7-11 – The Consequences


v.7Therefore now shall they go captive with the first that go captive, and the banquet of them that stretched themselves shall be removed.


            They were like the Babylonian king Belshazzar, son of Nebuchadnezzar:


Daniel 5:4-64They drank wine, and praised the gods of gold, and of silver, of brass, of iron, of wood, and of stone. 5In the same hour came forth fingers of a man’s hand, and wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaster of the wall of the king’s palace: and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote. 6Then the king’s countenance was changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees smote one against another.”


            They would be the first to be taken captive.  The plenty that they had enjoyed would be taken from them.  Even their liberty would be taken from them, they would be brought into servitude.  Those who trusted in the delights and pleasures of their land would be carried into a strange and distant land.  Their banquets, their couches, their beds of ease and their desire to “let the good times roll” would be taken away.


v.8The Lord GOD hath sworn by himself, saith the LORD the God of hosts, I abhor the excellency of Jacob, and hate his palaces: therefore will I deliver up the city with all that is therein.”


            In the book of Hebrews we’re told that:


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


So here God has sworn by or upon himself and confirmed it by an oath just as in:


Hebrews 6:17-18Wherein God, willing more abundantly to show unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath: 18That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us:”


            God abhors that which Jacob has become.  He hates the sight of their decadence, their rich palaces, their great cities that they have built with his blessings and wasted upon themselves. 


Proverbs 3:33The curse of the LORD is in the house of the wicked: but he blesseth the habitation of the just.”


He will deliver them up as Ezekiel describes:


Ezekiel 24:21Speak unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will profane my sanctuary, the excellency of your strength, the desire of your eyes, and that which your soul pitieth; and your sons and your daughters whom ye have left shall fall by the sword.”


v.9And it shall come to pass, if there remain ten men in one house, that they shall die.”


            The devastation of the land will be so great that if there remains only ten men in a single house or family that they will die.


v.10And a man’s uncle shall take him up, and he that burneth him, to bring out the bones out of the house, and shall say unto him that is by the sides of the house, Is there yet any with thee? and he shall say, No. Then shall he say, Hold thy tongue: for we may not make mention of the name of the LORD.”


            Here God is giving Israel another measure of the enormity of the destruction of life that will occur.  The next of kin won’t be available to “TAKE UP”; their bones and bury them, it will be an uncle, an older member of the family that has been spared.  He will be asked if there are any that have survived and he will say “NO”.  Then he will tell them to “HOLD THY TONGUE” because the Lord is so angry that no one wants to even speak his name to even draw attention to themselves.  We’re reminded that God’s wrath is just as great as his love and his punishment of the wicked will be just as sure as the blessings of the faithful.


v.11For, behold, the LORD commandeth, and he will smite the great house with breaches, and the little house with clefts


            “THE LORD COMMANDETH”, in the prophecy of Isaiah we find:


So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” Isaiah 55:11


            God’s word is sure; God’s commandments in these situations will be carried out.  When He determines to bless a people they will be blessed.  When he determines to punish or destroy a people they will be punished or destroyed.  It matters not how great or how small the house might be.  It matters not how rich or how poor its inhabitants might be.  All will be destroyed.  The great houses will have breaches or holes torn in their walls, the small houses will be weakened to the point of collapsing.  As Amos has already told them:


Amos 3:15 And 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.”


Read Amos 6:12-14Israel Still Will Not Yield to God


v.12Shall horses run upon the rock? will one plow there with oxen? for ye have turned judgment into gall, and the fruit of righteousness into hemlock:”


            In spite of everything that God has done, Israel has remained an obstinate and hard headed people.  Amos uses several metaphors to describe the futility of trying to turn these people.  Whether the horses running upon rock refers to trying to race on rock or boulder strewn land or whether it refers to hills and mountain we do not know but neither is usable for that purpose.  Neither can rock be plowed with oxen or by any other means.  They have turned the judgment of God from one of benevolence and blessing into the one of the bitterest substances known to man.  They have turned their righteousness into hemlock, a poison, in this case a poison for the soul.  In the hands of Almighty God we are like the earth that we cultivate:


Hebrews 6:7-87For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God: 8But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned.”


That which brings forth good fruit is nurtured and blessed.  That which is hard and poor brings forth only that which is hated and destined to be burned.


v.13Ye which rejoice in a thing of nought, which say, Have we not taken to us horns by our own strength?”


            They rejoiced in their heritage as the children of God but defied Him and made that relationship a curse rather than a blessing.  The fact that they were part of the chosen people of God would no longer save them.  They turned from God and relied upon their own strength to sustain them.


v.14But, behold, I will raise up against you a nation, O house of Israel, saith the LORD the God of hosts; and they shall afflict you from the entering in of Hemath unto the river of the wilderness.”


            God will raise up and bring a nation against the house of Israel.  As they have already been warned, they will carried away as captives, disbursed, scattered never to exist as a people again.  The extent of the land to be devastated and conquered is described here as well.

            Hamath is today Hama, once an ancient city of the Hittites; located on the Orontes River in the central part of Syria and one of the northern markers of the land given to Israel (Numbers 34:8).  When Solomon dedicated the temple in Jerusalem the extent of the land of Israel is described thus:


I Kings 8:65And at that time Solomon held a feast, and all Israel with him, a great congregation, from the entering in of Hamath unto the river of Egypt, before the LORD our God, seven days and seven days, even fourteen days.”


            The “RIVER OF THE WILDERNESS” is translated “BROOK OF THE ARABAH” in the American Standard.  Arabah is the region between the Dead Sea and the Gulf of Aqaba.  The land of the ten tribes of Israel did indeed extend that far south, completely surrounding that of Judah and Benjamin who made up the southern kingdom.  The land of the tribe of Reuben was on the east side of the Dead Sea and the land of the tribe of Simeon was south of Judah on the west side bordering the land of the Philistines.