The Book of Amos
James J. Barker
WHY DID GOD JUDGE ISRAEL?
- Amos 1 &
2 deal with God’s judgment upon the nations, including Israel and Judah. From
2:6 till the end of the book of Amos, the focus is on Israel.
- We noted
last week that Israel sinned against great light and privilege. Therefore her punishment would be
certain because God’s special favor aggravated rather than exempted her from
impending judgment (3:1, 2).
- The Bible
teaches that greater light brings greater responsibility.
- “And thou, Capernaum, which art
exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works,
which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained
until this day” (Matt. 11:23).
- “And that
servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did
according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit
things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever
much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed
much, of him they will ask the more” (Luke 12:47, 48).
- God judged
Israel more severely than the other nations because of her privileged position –
- In Amos
3:1-8, the LORD asks Israel several questions, meant to awaken conviction. Now beginning at verse 9, the Lord
continues to warn Israel of impending judgment, specifically the invasion from
the north by the Assyrians (cf. 3:11).
ISRAEL’S SIN WAS SO BLATANT THAT EVEN THE HEATHEN WERE INVITED TO WATCH HER
- God wanted Israel’s neighbors, Philistia and
Egypt, to watch His wrath come down upon Israel (3:9).
- Ashdod (3:9) is representative of all of
Philistia. (Just as “Washington”
represents the USA.)
- Ashdod was
the most important (cf. 1:8) of the five cities of the Philistines (the others
were Ekron, Gaza, Ashkelon, and Gath). Ashdod housed the Temple of the Philistines dedicated to the idol
idolatry was so bad (3:14) that even the idolatrous Philistines and Egyptians
were notified that her time of judgment would soon arrive.
nations were instructed to assemble themselves “upon the mountains of Samaria,”
and to “behold the great tumults in the midst thereof, and the oppressed in the
midst thereof” (3:9).
- “The great
tumults” were occasioned by Israel’s oppression of the poor (cf.
- Samaria, the
capital city of the northern kingdom of Israel, was built on a mountain. In I Kings 16:24, we are told that
wicked King Omri bought the hill Samaria of Shemer for two talents of silver,
and built on the hill, and called the name of the city which he built, after the
name of Shemer, owner of the hill, Samaria.
- Omri’s son, King Ahab, was even more wicked than his father. First Kings 16:32 says, “And he reared
up an altar for Baal in the house of Baal, which he had built in Samaria.”
- Samaria was
built on a mountain, and there were other mountains surrounding the city as
well. From these mountains, people
could watch and see how wicked the people of Israel had become and why God had
to judge them.
- One preacher said God “intended to
turn the whole area into an amphitheater,” and He “invited the pagan nations to
behold the spectacle of Israel’s punishment” (John Phillips, Exploring the
SIN BLINDED THEIR ABILITY TO DISCERN
RIGHT FROM WRONG (3:10).
- “Do right”
(3:10) means to walk straight, not crooked (cf. 2:11, 12). Israel had been doing wrong for so long
they could no longer tell right from wrong.
- Isaiah 5:20,
21 says, “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness
for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for
bitter! Woe unto them that are wise
in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!”
describes the situation here in America today. Homosexuality is called good, but
opposition to homosexuality is called evil. Abortion is called good, but opposition
to abortion is called evil.
Obama recently signed an executive order lifting the ban on federal funding for
embryonic stem-cell research. The news media and worldly scientists and doctors
and politicians say this is great news. Now our tax money will be used for this research.
- However, the
problem is not necessarily with the research, but with the method
by which the researchers obtain the stem cells from embryos. The only way
to harvest these cells is by killing the embryo.
- An embryo is
simply a baby in its early stages of development. Pro-abortion people (most liberals) have
no problem with killing babies before they are born. But those of us who
consider abortion murder do have a problem with it. It is wicked.
- But most
news reports overlook these moral and ethical problems, and focus on the alleged
benefits of the research (3:10). They will invariably quote some ungodly movie star or Nancy Reagan, or
some other celebrity who supports embryonic stem-cell research, as if that is all that matters.
- Jeremiah 4:22 says,
“For my people is foolish, they have not known me; they are sottish (silly)
children, and they have none understanding: they are wise to do
evil, but to do good they have no knowledge.”
THE PEOPLE WERE SELF-INDULGENT
- All they
cared about were their own appetites and selfish desires (cf. 6:1). Amos was a herdman (cf. 7:14), and he
was appalled at their self-indulgence.
- The palaces
of Samaria were full of things gained by violence and robbery (3:10b). But God is not mocked.
The Bible says, “Be not deceived; God is
not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Gal. 6:7).
- The very
palaces which stored up plunder would in turn be plundered (3:11). “An adversary” (3:11), i.e., Assyria
would come and plunder Samaria, and take the ten northern tribes into captivity
(cf. II Kings 17). Soon it would be all over for Israel.
reference to “the corner of a bed” and “a couch” (3:12) indicates their careless
ease and luxury. They were living
selfishly in extravagance and self-indulgence.
reference to Damascus (3:12) might mean that at the time of the Assyrian
invasion, Damascus was under the control of Israel. Second Kings 14:28 says, “Now the rest
of the acts of Jeroboam, and all that he did, and his might, how he warred,
and how he recovered Damascus, and Hamath, which belonged to
Judah, for Israel, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the
kings of Israel?”
judgment was directed at Israel’s self-indulgence, materialism, and
idolatry (3:13, 14). In
Bethel, backslidden Israelites were worshipping golden calves (cf. I Kings
- “The horns
of the altar” (3:14) symbolized power, and were sacred to the Israelites.
Leviticus 4:30 says, “And the priest
shall take of the blood thereof with his finger, and put it upon the horns of
the altar of burnt offering” (cf. I Kings 1:50, 51; 2:28).
chapter 3 concludes with God promising to “smite the winter house with the
summer house.” Wealthy, pampered
Israelites owned both winter houses and summer houses. They were very materialistic and had no
time for God.
- Doesn’t this
sound like many Americans today? During the presidential race last fall, a reporter asked Senator McCain
how many houses he owned and he said he owned so many he didn’t even know.
- That is true of many politicians and professional athletes and movie
stars and business tycoons, etc.
- People acquire many homes and great wealth, but they do not support the
work of God (cf. Haggai 1:2-5).
- “And the houses of ivory shall
perish, and the great houses shall have an end, saith the LORD” (3:15b).
- First Kings 22:39 says wicked King Ahab built himself an ivory
- Amos’ strong
preaching was not popular. Israel was prosperous. They seemed to
being very well and they resented his message of repentance.
- Israel had a
big army. Their walls were
fortified and had big iron gates. The people thought their country was
invincible but within 40 years (40 represents judgment) Israel was invaded by
the Assyrians. Then it was all over for Israel.
- The area was
populated by foreigners from far-off captive regions. This intermarriage policy
produced the Samaritan people, who were a mixture of both Jewish and heathen.
- Today proud
Samaria is desolate and in ruins.
- Amos said,
“The lion hath roared, who will not fear? the Lord GOD hath spoken, who can but