AMOS CHAPTER 2: GOD CARES HOW WE RESPOND TO HIM
What is described?
What literally happened?
What is revealed about God’s character?
Amos 2 first continues the prophecies against the nations around God’s People, but God quickly turns His attention towards His own people who will not escape His wrath for their sins. Notice that the language from Amos 1 continues… the metaphor about “three transgressions… for four” and the use of “fire” when speaking about God’s judgement. That language is applied to nations not aligned with God and with those who should have known better.
VERSES 1-3: Thus says the Lord: “For three transgressions of Moab, and for four, I will not revoke the punishment,
because he burned to lime the bones of the king of Edom. 2 So I will send a fire upon Moab, and it shall devour the strongholds of Kerioth, and Moab shall die amid uproar, amid shouting and the sound of the trumpet; 3 I will cut off the ruler from its midst, and will kill all its princes with him,” says the Lord.
The prophet Amos speaks to the other nation connected to Israel through Lot (Ammon being the other). Moab was not a friend to Israel even though Ruth was a woman of character from among their ranks. Moab hired Balaam to curse the Israelites (Numbers 22), oppressed in the time of the judges, fought against King David (2 Samuel 8) and fought against King Jehoshaphat (2 Chronicles 20) and King Jehoiakim (2 Kings 24).
In context, apparently, the Moabites did not mind desecrating the dead which is a ‘no-no’ in most cultures, even today. Whatever their motivation (revenge, war, etc), God would not overlook this combined with all their other sin.
What happened to Moab? Simply, as with the others, the Moabites will die. Their cities will be leveled, and their people brought low because of sin. It was the Babylonians that finally swept over the land and did what Jeremiah 48 and Ezekiel 25 agreed would happen.
NOTE: The Word of the Lord shifts to those who have the Law written in their hearts. God’s People have consciences, but their hearts are augmented by the gift of the Law written on their hearts. For the People of God (Israel and Judah), they have been called to a different way of living and so their sin is more significant in some ways. Morality and right and wrong have a standard in their hearts given by God (YHWH).
VERSES 4-5: Thus says the Lord: “For three transgressions of Judah, and for four, I will not revoke the punishment, because they have rejected the law of the Lord, and have not kept His statutes, but their lies have led them astray, those after which their fathers walked. 5 So I will send a fire upon Judah, and it shall devour the strongholds of Jerusalem.
Judah rejected the Truth of God and went away (astray) from God. Idols are also at play in verse 4. The verses are short as with some of the other nations. We see, based on the following verses, that Amos was sent more to Israel in the north than to Judah in the south. Not because the south was better, but that was simply his prophetic assignment.
We should notice that God will “send fire” against their defenses because they were not loyal to Him and did not trust Him. For many generations… He was their defense! He was their Shield and Strong Tower! “Consume” / “Devour” (Hebrew: ‘akal) is a word that means “to totally burn up” and “complete destruction.“ Now, they rely on walls and armies and treaties and God will remove those things in which they trust. Then what would they do?
What happened to Judah? The words and judgment of God would literally and figuratively be fulfilled in 586 BC when King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon laid siege to Jerusalem and utterly destroyed it.
VERSES 6-16: Thus says the Lord: “For three transgressions of Israel, and for four, I will not revoke the punishment, because they sell the righteous for silver, and the needy for a pair of sandals— 7 those who trample the head of the poor into the dust of the earth and turn aside the way of the afflicted; a man and his father go in to the same girl, so that My Holy Name is profaned; 8 they lay themselves down beside every altar on garments taken in pledge, and in the house of their God they drink the wine of those who have been fined. 9“Yet it was I who destroyed the Amorite before them, whose height was like the height of the cedars and who was as strong as the oaks; I destroyed his fruit above and his roots beneath. 10 Also it was I who brought you up out of the land of Egypt and led you forty years in the wilderness, to possess the land of the Amorite. 11 And I raised up some of your sons for prophets, and some of your young men for Nazirites. Is it not indeed so, O people of Israel?” declares the Lord. 12“But you made the Nazirites drink wine, and commanded the prophets, saying, ‘You shall not prophesy.’ 13“Behold, I will press you down in your place, as a cart full of sheaves presses down. 14 Flight shall perish from the swift, and the strong shall not retain his strength, nor shall the mighty save his life; 15 he who handles the bow shall not stand, and he who is swift of foot shall not save himself, nor shall he who rides the horse save his life; 16 and he who is stout of heart among the mighty shall flee away naked in that day,” declares the Lord.
Amos points out #1 covetousness and greed (verses 6-7), #2 sexual immorality (verse 7), and #3 hypocrisy (verse 8) happening in Israel. Not only were the Israelites doing these things, but they were ignoring all that God had done for them in the past. There was much God did for them (verses 9-11) that they willfully ignored. They even mistreated those who tried to be faithful to YHWH (verses 12-13).
What happened to Israel? 722 BC (approximately 40 years after this was proclaimed) would see the destruction of Samaria and the enslavement of Israel and the northern kingdom destroyed. No one escaped this judgement, and no one could defend against it.
SUMMARY & APPLICATION: What is revealed about God’s character?
We should take note of the character of God we discovered in the last chapter. He is the God of all the nations and gives chance and grace and mercy and yet the people do not always respond. God is grace. He offers chances for repentance for nations of the world and even to His own people (who should know better). God does not strike sinners down at the moment of sin, but gives many chances to turn away from sin and come to Him.
God cares how we respond to Him.
God focuses on our deeds, especially as a community, not just as individuals.
God will judge all.
TMB & BMD