AMOS CHAPTER 3: GOD’S FULL ATTENTION
What is described?
What literally happened?
What is revealed about God’s character?
Chapters 3-5 of Amos are interrelated. Amos 3:1-5:17 is a section of Amos’ prophecies and words with a chapter that each begins with “Hear this word” (3:1, 4:1, 5:1) and is followed by two “Woe to you” sections (5:18, 6:1). All of these are directed at the Northern Kingdom of Israel which is termed “Samaria,” “fat cows of Bashan on Mount Samaria,” “House of Israel,” and “House of Jacob” among other descriptions.
CHAPTER 3: “Hear this word that the Lord has spoken against you, O people of Israel, against the whole family that I brought up out of the land of Egypt: 2 “You only have I known of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities. 3 “Do two walk together, unless they have agreed to meet? 4 Does a lion roar in the forest, when he has no prey? Does a young lion cry out from his den, if he has taken nothing? 5 Does a bird fall in a snare on the earth, when there is no trap for it? Does a snare spring up from the ground, when it has taken nothing? 6 Is a trumpet blown in a city, and the people are not afraid? Does disaster come to a city, unless the Lord has done it? 7 “For the Lord God does nothing without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets. 8 The lion has roared; who will not fear? The Lord God has spoken; who can but prophesy?” 9 Proclaim to the strongholds in Ashdod and to the strongholds in the land of Egypt, and say, “Assemble yourselves on the mountains of Samaria, and see the great tumults within her, and the oppressed in her midst.” 10 “They do not know how to do right,” declares the Lord, “those who store up violence and robbery in their strongholds.” 11 Therefore thus says the Lord God: “An adversary shall surround the land and bring down your defenses from you, and your strongholds shall be plundered.” 12 Thus says the Lord: “As the shepherd rescues from the mouth of the lion two legs, or a piece of an ear, so shall the people of Israel who dwell in Samaria be rescued, with the corner of a couch and part of a bed. 13 “Hear, and testify against the house of Jacob,” declares the Lord God, the God of hosts, 14 “that on the day I punish Israel for his transgressions, I will punish the altars of Bethel, and the horns of the altar shall be cut off and fall to the ground. 15 I will strike the winter house along with the summer house, and the houses of ivory shall perish, and the great houses shall come to an end,” declares the Lord.”
God directs His full attention on Israel who are His elect people whom He favored for a higher standard (verses 1-2). God (YHWH) lays out in a ‘cause and effect’ manner (verses 3-6) that the People of Israel had turned their collective backs on Him and as a result judgment will come. The sins of Israel are pointed out as #1 unrest within #2 oppression of the people #3 not knowing what is right and #4 hoards and covets material wealth. The “therefore” in verse 11 is because of the conduct of the People of Israel.
A key verse to note in this chapter is verse 7 which states that the People of Israel have been warned and told about sin before. As Amos is doing now, so others have done in the past. God sends prophets to preach and correct and teach before leveling out fire. It is the job of the prophets to go where sent and to say what is directed whether encouraging (not usually) or disciplinary (most of the time). This is a huge character point for God… just as the lion roars so does God telegraph what He is doing. The roar should scare us. The sent prophecies should scare us.
God will allow enemies to overrun Israel. This historically happens under Tiglath-Pileser in 734 BC and again fully in 722 BC as the lion (Assyria) fully destroyed them. The People of God distanced themselves from God and He allowed the fire of judgment to consume them. The summary thought that will happen to Israel is that God will tear down everything they have built because of their unrepented sin.
SUMMARY & APPLICATION: What is revealed about God’s character?
God is not sadistic or overbearing in judgment. Judgment comes with cause. Much cause. In retrospect, they could see that God sent prophets (including Amos) to warn them. We should also note that even though complete destruction is warranted, God promises a remnant in verse 12. He always promises a remnant and to protect those who are actually faithful.
We should always note that judgment does not ‘come out of the blue.’ God’s longsuffering comes first before a fire of judgment comes. God is slow to anger and slow to ‘send lightning bolts’ down on those who sin and choose to reject Him. God does not just ‘take people out’ because they sin, but sends prophets to warn and to offer repentance.
TMB & BMD