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Amos 1:12; 2:68; 3:68, 1315comment (0)

January 10, 2013

By Robert Olsen

Related Scripture: Amos 1:12; 2:68; 3:68, 1315

Explore the Bible 
Assistant Professor of Christian Ministries, University of Mobile

Unseal the Indictment!

Amos 1:1–2; 2:6–8; 3:6–8, 13–15

Hear Ye! Hear Ye! (1:1–2)
Amos was a shepherd from Tekoa, which was in Judah. However, Amos was sent by God to prophesy in the Northern Kingdom (commonly referred to as Israel) sometime between 793 BC and 739 BC.

There are several notable features; first of all, God has chosen a shepherd to preach His message, not some priest or king. This reinforces the notion that God can use anybody to convey His truth. One of the marvelous aspects of Christianity is that God often uses the lowly people in the world to bring about His glory. Second of all, God is sending a prophet from the Southern Kingdom of Judah to give a message to the Northern Kingdom. Not only was this an affront, but Amos affirmed that his message came from Jerusalem. The idea that God would speak through Jerusalem and not through the cities of Dan or Bethel, the two main worship centers of the Northern Kingdom, was offensive. Part of the problem with the Northern Kingdom was that at its inception, it broke away from the one true God and set up idols at Dan and Bethel to keep the Israelites from going down to Judah to worship in Jerusalem. 

Sinful Actions Are Evident (2:6–8)
In the rest of chapter 1, Amos brings God’s message of judgment upon Israel’s neighbors. Surely this was met with approval from the Israelites. In chapter 2 Amos continues with a message of judgment upon Judah, another persistent nemesis of Israel. So far, Amos’ message was one that every Israelite would want to hear. But then in verse 6, the message of judgment turned against Israel herself. Judgment was coming on Israel because of her wicked actions. Israel was called to be a holy nation and they were to obey the laws God had given them. Instead, they were guilty of social injustice. They refused to show mercy and took advantage of the needy. For this reason they were going to face judgment. 

It is easy for us today to fall into the same trap. We can look at our good fortune which is a blessing from God and believe that we deserve it somehow and that others deserve their station in life. However, God looks at our hearts and knows our thoughts. We are to care for our neighbor no matter who it is and seek justice for the poor and downcast. This is a lesson that the Israelites missed and one that many times the Church has missed as well. 

You’ve Been Warned (3:6–8)
Amos affirms in this section that when disaster comes upon the Israelites, it is the Lord who is bringing it as punishment for their sins. God always sends the prophet beforehand as a warning; if the people do not heed the warning, God is going to bring punishment. Today we receive God’s warnings to us in His Word. We are warned about what happens to us should we disobey. But we also see the forgiveness that comes to us when we repent. The Bible is not just a book of warnings; it is a book of life. Heed its teachings and have abundant life. 

Accountability Comes Knocking (3:13–15)
These verses show how God is going to exact His punishment. The items and places of idolatry will be destroyed and the opulent structures and furnishings that were bought at the expense of the poor and underprivileged will be ruined. As strange as it sounds, this is really an act of love on God’s behalf. Baal and expensive items cannot bring about salvation and lead people away from God. God destroys the things that are keeping their hearts from Him. Once God does this, the Israelites only need to repent and turn from their sinful ways and God will forgive them. 

This of course is the same for us today. When we turn from God toward other things to fill our lives — money, power, time, leisure, comfort — God may remove them to bring us back to Him. When we are faced with chastisement, the proper behavior on our part is to turn from sin and turn back to God.

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