Reading through the Bible together
God through the prophet Amos, warns Moab, as well as other nations (vv. 1-3); He exposes Judah’s sins (vv. 4-5); and at length begins His charge against Israel. Observe the following: (1) They were involved in injustice, oppression, whoredom (vv. 6-8); (2) they were ungrateful to God despite His temporal and spiritual mercies (vv. 9-12); (3) God protests against their sins (v. 13), and warns them of their ruin and utter inability to prevent it (vv. 14-16).
For three or four transgressions, that is, the multiplicity of their sins, particularly for burning the bones of Edom’s king (a descendant of Esau), God decides to send fire on Moab to devour the palaces of Kerioth. Moab will perish together with her king and princes (vv. 1-3). Judah despised the law of the Lord, all her palaces would be destroyed by fire (vv. 4-5). This prophecy was fulfilled in the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians under Nebuchadnezzar in 586 B.C. (2 Kgs 25:8,9; Jer 17:27; Hosea 8:14). Having the knowledge of God’s law, Judah’s responsibility before God was incomparably greater than that of the other nations. The life of lie and idolatry lived by one generation became the standard of the next generation. Judgment on Judah reveals God’s impartiality. God is no respecter of persons; he who sins shall die.
Now, as a climax to this series of messages, Amos denounces Israel for injustice, cruelty, incest, luxury, and idolatry. The divine pronouncement—the longest oracle reserved for wicked Israel (vv. 6-16)—comes with full force upon her. Israel did not learn from Judah’s condemnation for committing social injustices—selling the righteous for silver and the poor for a pair of sandals. The covetous leaders oppressed the poor. The expression “pant” (v.7) represents the desire of the oppressors to see the poor crushed to the earth, to cause them such misery that they cover their heads with dust.
The way of the righteous was perverted. The lowly, peaceable, unassuming, and generally pious ones became proud, self-confident, and felt no need of God in their lives. The Lord’s holy name was profaned with the awful crimes they did among the heathen. The Lord rebuked Israel for the lack of gratitude for the favor and goodness He had shown them by delivering them from Egyptian slavery, giving them the land of Canaan, and raising their children to be prophets and Nazirites. Therefore, when the punishment shall come, no one, either the strongest or the most courageous can stand his ground or save himself.
We need to remember that by being disobedient to God’s Word one is closing the avenue by which Holy Spirit has access to the soul.
Deepati Vara Prasad, Ph.D.
Watchman Publishing House, India