Reading through the Bible together
In this chapter, Amos is calling on the senseless, heedless people to take notice of God’s judgments (v. 1-8), and of God’s righteousness as He chastises those who continue to sin and do not repent. God is revealed as just and holy (vv. 9-15).
A distinct message is given to Israel and Judah—to “the whole family which I brought up from the land of slavery” (v. 1). God had chosen them as a nation and entered into a special relationship with them. Despite high privileges and abundant light that shone on their pathway, the chosen transgressed against the Lord, the chief sin being apostasy (v. 14; 4:4, 5).
The divine punishment was pronounced for extreme corruption, covetousness, and luxury which led them to disregard simple duties for neighbors, and a violent oppression of the poor. The great and the rich misused their wealth and influence which would have provided a remedy for the existing corruption and poverty. God declares that His special relationship with Israel cannot continue so long as they cling to their iniquities, similar to, two people cannot walk together (v.3) unless they walk in the same direction, that is, have a common purpose in view.
As a lion roars when he is about to spring on his prey (v.4), through His prophet God warns before punishing the evildoers. As a bird is trapped in a net (v.5), the sinner is trapped in his own iniquity and cannot escape its punitive results. As the sudden blow of trumpet (v.6) causes fear in the city, God desires that the prophet’s message alarms the law breakers. One needs to remember that God’s punishment follows the warnings of the prophets, which are His servants (v.7). As the roar of a lion produces effect of fear upon man and beast, the divine word produces its effect also upon the prophet and he cannot restrain himself from prophesying and giving God’s message (v. 8).
Amos summons the heathen, Philistia and Egypt, to observe Israel’s iniquities by which they would be surprised of the wicked life of the so-called God’s people. Israel has forsaken justice, the very basis of society; they have become morally and spiritually blind, so they neither do good nor perceive it. Therefore, the divine punishment will be thorough, except for a small remnant (v.12).
When Israel, the family of God, refused to live up to her high privileges and accept her responsibilities, the favored position was taken from her and given to the church, the spiritual family of God. Greater the knowledge of God’s will, greater the responsibility, and greater the reward. May we learn from the experience of Israel and may it continue to draw us closer to God and to one another!
Deepati Vara Prasad, Ph.D.
Watchman Publishing House, India