Amos 2

 

Vs. 1-3  Judgment on Moab.

 

1 “Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of Moab, and for four,

I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because he burned the bones

of the king of Edom into lime:”  Moab. The prophet now denounces the other

nation connected by ties of blood with Israel (see on ch. 1:13). Moab’s hostility had

been shown in the hiring of Balaam to curse the Israelites, and in seducing

them to idolatry (Numbers 22-25:3). He was their oppressor in the time of

the Judges (Judges 3:12); and David had to take most stringent measures against

him (II Samuel 8:2). The Moabites joined in a league against Jehoshaphat (II Chronicles

20:22), and later against Jehoiakim (II  Kings 24:2-3), and, as we see by the inscription

on the Moabite Stone, were always ready to profit by the disasters or weakness of the

chosen people. “I erected this stone,” says Mesha, “to Chemosh at Kirkha, a stone

of salvation, for he saved me from all despoilers, and made me see my

desire upon all mine enemies, even upon Omri, King of Israel.” And then

he goes on to recount his victories. He burned the bones of the King of

Edom into lime. This profanation of the corpse of the King of Edom (see

II Kings 23:16; Jeremiah 8:1-2) is not mentioned in the historical

books. Some of the older commentators, as Tirinus and Corn. a Lapide,

think that the prophet wishes to show that the sympathy of God extends

beyond the covenant people, and that he punishes wrongs inflicted even

 on heathen nations. But as in the case of the other nations, Amos reproves

only crimes committed against Israel or Judah, so the present outrage must

have the same connection. The reference to the King of Moab’s sacrifice of

“his eldest son,” even if we suppose (which is improbable) the son of the

King of Edom to be meant, is plainly inapplicable (II Kings 3:27), as the

offence regarded the king himself, and not his son, and the expression,

burned into lime,” can hardly be thought to refer to a human sacrifice. The

act mentioned probably occurred during the time that the Edomites joined

Jehoram and Jehoshaphat in the league against Mesha, the King of Moab

(Ibid. vs.7, 9), the author of the inscription on the celebrated stone

erected by him at Dibon. Unfortunately, the last lines of that inscription,

describing the war against the Edomites, are lost. The paragraph that

remains is this: “And Chemosh said to me, Go down, make war against

Horonaim [i.e. the men of Edom], and take… Chemosh… in my days.

Wherefore I made… year … and I…” The Jewish tradition, quoted by

Jerome, tells that after this war the Moabites, in revenge for the assistance

which the King of Edom had given to the Israelites, dug up and

dishonored his bones. Edom was then in vassalage to Israel, but regained

its independence some ten years later (Ibid.ch. 8:20). The sacrilegious

act was meant to redound to the disgrace of Israel

 

2 “But I will send a fire upon Moab, and it shall devour the palaces of

Kirioth: and Moab shall die with tumult, with shouting, and with

the sound of the trumpet:”  Kirioth; cities, and so taken as an appellative

by the Septuagint translators, tw~n po>lewn aujth~vton poleon autaes

but it is doubtless a proper name of one of the chief Moabite towns

(Jeremiah 48:24, 41). Keil, after Burckhardt, identifies it with the decayed

town of Kereyat, or Korriat; others, with Ar, or Kir, the old capital (Isaiah 15:1).

The plural termination of the word, like Athenae, Thebae, etc., may denote a

Double city — upper and lower, or old and new. Moab shall die. The nation is

personified. With tumult; caused by war (compare Jeremiah 48:45, and

the prophecy of Balaam, Numbers 24:17). Septuagint, ejn ajdunami>a| - en

adunamia - “in weakness.” With shouting. Omitted by the Vulgate (see on

ch.1:14). Trumpet (ch.3:6; Jeremiah 4:19). Trochon cites Virgil,

AEneid,’ 2:313, “Exoritur clamorque virum clangorque tubarum,” “Rises

the shout of men and trumpets’ blare.”

 

3 “And I will cut off the judge from the midst thereof, and will slay all

the princes thereof with him, saith the LORD.”  The judge; shophet, probably

here a synonym for “king” (compare Micah 5:1). it implies the chief magistrate,

like the Carthaginian sufes, which is the same word. There is no ground for deducing,

as Hitzig and Ewald do, from the use of this form that Moab had no king at this

time. The country was conquered by the Chaldeans, and thenceforward

sank into insignificance (Jeremiah 48.; Ezekiel 25:8-11).

 

 

The Woe against Moab (vs. 1-3)

 

Much that has been said of Ammon applies equally to Moab. The two

nations had close relations and affinities, and in Scripture are generally

mentioned together. Both were mildly treated by Israel (Deuteronomy 2:9,19)

as long as such treatment was possible. Yet were they at one in an

implacable hatred of her, and a national policy of outrage towards her. A

spring raid into Hebrew territory seems to have been an established

Moabitish institution (II Kings 13:20, literally, “were wont to come”).

Again, Moab adopted the novel and unlikely expedient of employing a

prophet of God to curse his own people (Numbers 23:7). Of the

comprehensive and thorough character of the national hatred, which these

doings reveal, we have evidence in the passage before us.

 

  • THE NATIONAL HATRED OF MOAB WERE DETERMINED BY

ITS HATRED OF ISRAEL. “It has burned the bones of the King of Edom.”

The particular occasion referred to here is not known. But the events that led

up to it are briefly recorded. Moab was for some time tributary to Israel,

and rebelled against it in the reign of Jehoram (II Kings 3:1, 4-5). In the

repressive war that followed, Jehoram was joined by the King of Judah and

the King of Edom, then probably a tributary of Judah (Ibid. ch. 8:20).

This war, the only one in which Edom and Moab came into conflict,

exasperated Moab against it even more fiercely than against Israel itself

(Ibid. ch.3:26-27). The horrible sacrifice of the King of Edom’s son by

the King of Moab, and the subsequent burning of the King of Edom’s

bones by the Moabites, were both expressions of this wild and savage

resentment. Moab’s hatred of Edom was hatred of her as Israel’s ally,

and therefore at bottom was hatred of Israel itself. So the ungodly hate

things from the standpoint of their connection with religion. They

hate believers for Christ’s sake (Matthew 10:22), and the friends of

believers for believers’ sakes. The compensation for this is that for Christ’s

sake also Christians love each other and the ungodly as well, and God for

His own sake loves them all.  (Also, not the attitude of Cain – I John 3:12 –

CY – 2013).

 

  • MOAB’S WAS A HATRED THAT EVEN DEATH COULD NOT

APPEASE. This fact illustrates its insatiability. The soul being after death

beyond man’s reach, the hatred vented upon his remains is a sort of

impotent grasping at eternal vengeance. It wreaks on what it knows to be

insensible the hatred with which it would pursue, if it could, the living

being who is beyond it. The employment of the burnt bones as

lime is a circumstance which, like the ripping of pregnant women by

Ammon, reveals the savage debasement of the people, and that

contemptuous disregard of the human body which is generated by a career

of blood and lust. There is a sacredness about death. It introduces an

unseen factor, marks off a territory into which we may not intrude. There is

a sacredness, too, about the human body. It is for a temple of the Holy

Ghost, and to be treated as holy (I Corinthians 6:19-20). Its members

are to be members of Christ, and to be treated as consecrated things

(Ibid. vs.15-18). The best guarantee against intemperance, uncleanness,

violence, and every abuse of the body is respect for it as THE HOME

AND INSTRUMENT OF GOD!

 

  • THE CIRCUMSTANCE THAT MAKES MOAB THE ENEMY OF

EDOM MAKES GOD HER FRIEND. Edom’s alliance with Israel had

results in two directions, it embroiled her with Israel’s enemies, and

commended her to Israel’s friends. And primarily it commended her to

Israel’s God. His favor to His people includes, to certain intents, their

friends. Members of the families of Noah and Lot were spared for their

fathers’ sake. A mixed multitude of foreigners were fed miraculously in the

desert, because they were servants to the Israelites. Even the Egyptians

were favored because they for a time had given Israel a home

(Deuteronomy 23:7). So with Edom. He was a brother by blood

(Ibid.), and had been an ally against Moab, and so his cause is championed

by God in this exactly as the cause of Israel is in the other woes. So with

more spiritual relations. The virgin companions of the bride, the Church, are

brought, as her companions, to the King (Psalm 45:14). The final judgment

apart, service rendered to God’s people will not go unrewarded (Matthew

10:40-42). No investment brings in surer return than help and kindness

shown to the saints of God.

 

  • MOAB’S DOOM WAS ONE THAT MATCHED ITS LIFE. “Shall

die with tumult.” The Moabites were “sons of tumult” (Numbers 24:17;

Jeremiah 48:45), and as in tumult they lived, so in tumult they should

die. This is providential, the punishment being made appropriate to the

crime. It is also natural, violence provoking violence, and so fixing the

character of its own punishment. Moab had probably lost its kings

before the prophecy was fulfilled, but the judges and princes who

had headed the nation in its violence fitly head it in its destruction also.

(Compare Romans 1:27 – CY – 2013)

 

In vs. 4-5, Judah is summoned to judgment, the prophet thus passing from alien

nations, through the most favored people, to Israel, the subject of his prophecy.

 

4“Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of Judah, and for four,

I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they have despised

the law of the LORD, and have not kept His commandments, and their lies

caused them to err, after the which their fathers have walked:”  They have

despised the Law of the Lord. The other nations are denounced for their

offences against God’s people; Judah is sentenced for her offences against

God Himself. The former likewise had offended against the law of conscience,

natural religion; the latter against the written Law, revealed religion. By thus

denouncing Judah, Amos shows his perfect impartiality. The Law, Torah, is the

general name for the whole body of precepts and commandments, chuqqim,

 moral and ceremonial. Their lies; Vulgate, idola sua, which is the sense, though

not the translation, of the word.  Idols are so called as being nonentities in themselves,

and deceiving those who trust in them. “We know,” says Paul (I Corinthians 8:4).

that an idol is nothing in the world.” The Septuagint gives, ta< ma>taia

aujtw~n a} ejpoi>hsanta mataia auton a epoinaesan -  their vain things

which they made.Their fathers have walked. This is the usual expression

for attachment to idolatrous practices. From this error the Israelites were never

weaned till their return from the penal CAPTIVITY!

 

5 “But I will send a fire upon Judah, and it shall devour the palaces of

Jerusalem.”  The destruction of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans is here briefly

foretold (Jeremiah 17:27; Hosea 8:14; II Kings 25:9-10).

 

 

The Woe against Judah (vs. 4-5)

 

In the form of this woe, as compared with those before, is nothing to

indicate the difference of underlying principles which it involves. A woe on

a Hebrew and a heathen have little in common but the inevitable

connection between PUNISHMENT and SIN.

 

  • THE SINS FOR WHICH GOD VISITS RESPECTIVELY THOSE

WHO KNOW HIM AND THOSE WHO KNOW HIM NOT ARE

VERY DIFFERENT. The six woes against the heathen are fathered

 exclusively on their sins against Israel or its friends. This woe against Judah

is denounced with exclusive reference to sins against God himself. This is

exactly what we might expect. Each is judged out of his own law

(Romans 2:12).  The revelation of God and duty to Him was the first

great commandment of the Law given to the Jews (Matthew 22:37-38),

and for this God reckons with them — first, because it was at once the

guiltiest sin, and the sin of which they were oftenest guilty. The law revealed

to the heathen made known the existence and many perfections of God

(Psalm 19:1; Romans 1:20), and threw a side light on the way to worship Him

(Acts 17:29). But this was not their clearest revelation, and so their sin

against it is not the sin that is emphasized. The law written on their heart

(Romans 2:14-15) — i.e. speaking in reason, conscience, and human

feeling — was specially the law of duty to their fellow creatures; and it is

for their sin in this matter specially that God brings them into judgment. It

is its blindness, and not its darkness, that is the condemnation of the world

(John 3:19). Where the white ray of revelation focuses, there the red

ray of judgment shall fall and burn.

 

  • CONTEMPT OF LAW AND THE VIOLATION OF LAW INVOLVE

EACH OTHER. “Despised the Law of Jehovah, and kept not His

commandments.” The Law is the abstract thing — God’s revealed will as a

whole. The commandments are the “particular precepts  into which

it is broken up. The first, Being general, is fitly described as being

despised;” i.e. its drift disliked and its authority spurned. The second,

being precepts enjoining particular duties, is said with propriety to be

disobeyed. The order of enumeration is also the logical and natural order.

Action is ever the outcome of sentiment, and its expression. What a man

outwardly disobeys he has begun by INWARDLY DESPISING.

             And so what he begins by despising he naturally goes on to disobey. It is

in the heart that the eggs are hatched which, in a later stage, are the birds

of evil doing. It is, therefore, at the door of his heart that the wise man will

MOUNT GUARD!  (Proverbs 4:23).

 

  • ALL TRANSGRESSION IS THE OUTCOME OF IDOLATRY.

Their lies led them astray. “By ‘lies’ here we are to understand idols. And

the figure is most appropriate. Amos calls the idols ‘lies,’ not only as res

quoe fallunt, But as fabrications and nonentities” (I Corinthians 8:4). It is

this lying character that makes them inevitably the occasion of sin. The first

sin was brought about by a lie, in which the truth of God’s threat was denied,

and so its practical power destroyed. And every idol is just such a lie in

embodied form. It is an abrogation of God’s authority, a denying of His very

existence; and it is a substitution for these of a god and a code congenial to

our fallen nature. Under such circumstances violation of God’s Law is a

foregone conclusion.

 

  • THE IDOLS OF THE CHILDREN ARE THE IDOLS OF THE

FATHERS. Imitation is easier than invention. Hence Israel, when they first

wanted an idol, adopted the calf of Egypt (Exodus 32:4); and Jeroboam,

also just left Egypt, set up calf worship in Dan and Bethel  (I Kings 12:28).

Then, other things being equal, the persons men are most likely to imitate

are their fathers, who are their teachers and guides and natural examples.

Add to this that national tastes and habits and characters, formed in

connection with a particular idol worship, would be in special

harmony with it, and would be transmitted with it from sire to son.

 

  • SIN INSIDE AND OUTSIDE THE SPIRITUAL CIRCLE IS DEALT

WITH ON THE SAME PRINCIPLES. The manner of the sin was the

same with Judah and the heathen. It was a transgression, or act of

disobedience to a known law, as distinguished from a sinful disposition. It

was a series of these acts, culminating in a final one of special enormity.

For three transgressions, and for four.The manner of treatment was the

same. God threatened to strike. Then He lifted His hand for the stroke.

Then He withheld it for a time. Then He declared the limit of forbearance

was past, and nothing could now prevent the falling of the blow. The mode

of punishment was to be the same. The agent would be devouring fire. This

would fall on the capital. Sin in a visible spiritual relation, and however

mixed up with acts of worship, is no whit less guilty. There is only one hell,

and all sin alike deserves it, and, unrepented of, must bring to it.

 

Vs. 6-16 are a summons and general denunciation of Israel for injustice, cruelty,

incest, luxury, and idolatry.

 

6 “Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of Israel, and for

four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they

sold the righteous for silver, and the poor for a pair of shoes;”

They sold the righteous for silver. The first charge against Israel is

perversion of justice. The judges took bribes and condemned the

righteous, i.e. the man whose cause was good. Pusey thinks that the literal

selling of debtors by creditors, contrary to the Law (Exodus 21:7; Leviticus

25:39; Nehemiah 5:5), is meant (compare ch.8:6 and Matthew 18:25).

The needy for a pair of shoes. For the very smallest bribe they betray the

cause of the poor (compare Ezekiel 13:19); though, as sandals were

sometimes of very costly materials (Song of Solomon 7:1; Ezekiel 16:10),

the expression might mean that they sold justice to obtain an article of luxury.

But the form of expression is opposed to this interpretation.

 

7 “That pant after the dust of the earth on the head of the poor, and

turn aside the way of the meek: and a man and his father will go in

unto the same maid, to profane my holy name:” That pant after the

 dust of the earth on the head of the poor. This is the second charge —

oppression of the poor. The obscure expression in the text is capable of two

explanations. Hitzig, Pusey, Trochon, assume that its meaning is that in their

avarice and cupidity the usurers or tyrannous rich men grudge even the dust

which the poor man strews upon his head in token of his sorrow at being

brought to so low a state. But this seems unnatural and farfetched, and

scarcely in harmony with the simple style of Amos. The other explanation,

supported by Kimchi, Sehegg, Keil, and Knabenbauer, is preferable. These

oppressors desire eagerly to see the poor crushed to the earth, or so miserable

as to scatter dust on their heads (compare I Samuel 4:12; II Samuel 1:2;

Job 2:12). The poor (dal, not the same word as in v. 6); depressed, as

brought low in condition. The Septuagint joins this with the previous

clause, “And the poor for sandals, the things that tread on the dust of the

earth, and smote on the heads of the needy.” The Vulgate gives, Qui

conterunt super pulverem terrae capita pauperum, “Who bruise the heads

of the poor on the dust of the earth.” Turn aside the way of the meek.

They thwart and hinder their path of life, and force them into crooked and

evil ways. Or way, according to Kimchi, may mean “judicial process,” as

Proverbs 17:23. This gives, to the clause much the same meaning as

v. 6. The meek are those who are lowly and unassuming. And a man and his

 father will go in unto the same maid; This sin, which was tantamount to

incest, was virtually forbidden (Leviticus 18:8,15; 20:11). Some (as Ewald, Maurer,

Gandell) see here an allusion to the organized prostitution in idol temples

(Hosea 4:14), but this seems unnecessary. To profane my holy Name

(Leviticus 22:32). Such crimes dishonored the God who called them

His people, so that to them could be applied what Paul says

(Romans 2:24),The Name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles

through you” (compare Leviticus 20:3; Ezekiel 36:20, 23). The word

lemaan, “in order that,” implies that they committed these sins, not through

ignorance, but intentionally, to bring discredit upon the true faith and worship.

 

8 “And they lay themselves down upon clothes laid to pledge by every

altar, and they drink the wine of the condemned in the house of their God.”

The prophet condemns the cruel luxury which, contrary to the Law, made the

poor debtor’s necessities minister to the rich man’s pleasures. They lay

 themselves  down upon; Vulgate, accubuerunt. Ewald translates, “they cast

lots upon;” but the Authorized Version is supported by the highest authorities,

and gives the most appropriate meaning. The Septuagint, with which the Syriac

partly agrees, refers the clause to the immoralities practiced in heathen worship,

which the perpetrators desired to screen from observation, Ta< iJma>tia aujtw~n

desmeu>ontev scoini>oiv parapeta>smata ejpoi>oun ejco>mena tou~

qusiasthri>outa himatia auton desmeuontes schoiniois parapetasmata

epoinoun echomena tou thusiastaeriou -  “Binding their clothes with cords,

they made them curtains near the altar.” This is far from the intention of the

prophet’s words. Upon clothes laid to pledge; or, taken in pledge. The “clothes”

(begadim) are the large outer garments which formed poor men’s dress by

day and cover by night, and which, if pledged, were ordered to be returned

by nightfall (Exodus 22:26; Deuteronomy 24:12). These the hardhearted usurers

kept as their own, and reclined luxuriously upon them at their feasts and carousals

in their temples. By every altar. At the sacrificial feasts in the temples at Dan and

Bethel. They drink the wine of the condemned. Wine obtained by

fines extorted from the oppressed. So it is better to translate, “of such as

have been fined.” In the house of their god. The true God, whom they

worshipped there under the symbol of the calf.

 

 

The Woe against Israel (vs. 6-8)

 

This is the last woe and the greatest. “The thunder cloud of God’s

judgments having passed over all the nations round about, and even

discharged the fire from heaven on Judah and Jerusalem, settles at last on

Israel”. Just as God’s honor suffered specially by their sin, so

does His heart suffer specially in their punishment. And so, whilst

compendious justice may be meted out to heathen nations, the destruction

of the chosen people cannot be denounced without regretful enlargement

on the circumstances of the case.

 

  • COVETOUSNESS PUTS A CONTEMPTUOUS ESTIMATE ON

HUMAN LIFE. “They sell the righteous for money, and the poor for a

 pair of shoes.” This may be either a commercial or a judicial transaction,

but in either case the principle involved is the same. An undue estimate of

wrong involves an inadequate estimate of all else. Wealth becomes the one

good, and gain the one pursuit. Human life is as nothing in comparison with

personal aggrandizement to the extent of even a paltry sum. Officialism, to

which the death of a human being is mainly a question of a burial or

registration fee, is not an altogether unheard of thing. This principle has a

bearing, not only on murder and the perversion of justice, but on slavery,

oppression, the opium and liquor traffics (in this day cocaine, meth, heroin,

and many other mind and life altering drugs – CY – 2013), and every method

of making money at the expense of human life or health or well being. The

extent to which such things prevail, and the tens of thousands of human lives

annually sacrificed for gain, is a startling commentary on the maxim that

the love of money is a root of all evil.”

 

  • THE DOMINATING VICE OF A COMMUNITY MAKES ALL THE

OTHER VICES ITS TRIBUTARIES. Israel’s besetting sin as against their

fellow men was covetousness.

 

Ø      This was inhuman. It bore hardest on the poor. These, being helpless,

were its easiest victims. Humanity was put out of the question, and the

unspeakably greater suffering involved in making the same gain off the

poor, as compared with the rich, was no deterrent whatever. Gain,

though it be the very heart’s blood of miserable fellow creatures, was

all they had an eye for or a heart to consider.

 

Ø      It was ungodly. It made special victims of the righteous. This course

was partly utilitarian, no doubt. The righteous might be expected to

submit to the maximum of wrong with the minimum of retaliation. But it

was profane as well. The wicked hate good, and all in whom it is found.

“If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him”

(I John 2:15).  It was natural, therefore, that a worldly act should assume

an ungodly character where opportunity arose.

 

Ø      It was devilish. “Who pant after the dust of the earth on the head

of the poor.” It rejoiced in all the incidental evils which oppression of the

poor involved. When those it impoverished were leveled in the dust of

misery and degradation, this was the sort of thing it panted after. One side

of a man’s moral nature cannot become vitiated without affecting the other

sides. The vices have an affinity for one another, and tend to come

together in groups. If evil gets in the little finger of one vice, the intrusion

of the whole body is only a question of time.

 

  • WHEN MEN GET SATED WITH SIMPLE SINS, THEY RESORT

TO COMPOUND SINS FOR A NEW SENSATION. Sin does not

satisfy any time, and the longer it is followed up it satisfies the less. In the

commission of it appetite increases, and relish diminishes pari passu, and

so the candle of actual enjoyment is being shortened at both ends. One

device in mitigation of this is to increase the dose, and another to multiply

the ingredients. (Does not America’s demand for drugs validate this? – CY –

2013).  Reduced to the latter expedient, Israel mixed:

 

Ø      Carousal with uncleanness. The two things often go together. They

are the two chief indulgences craved for by carnal appetite. The one,

moreover, helps to produce the other. A Falstaff who combines the

drunkard with the libertine is the typical debauchee.  (I once had

a girl in health class, who in her oral report made this statement:

alcohol increases the desire but hinders the performance.”  - CY –

2013)

 

Ø      Uncleanness with incest. “A man and his father go to the same girl.”

This act was equivalent to incest, which was a capital crime according to

the Mosaic code (Leviticus 18:7,15; 20:11). It outdid the heathen

themselves, among whom this crime was not so much as named

(I Corinthians 5:1). An apostate is always the vilest sinner (II Peter

2:21-22).

 

Ø      Robbery with all three. Stretch themselves upon pawned clothes.

This was robbery in two forms. They retained pawned clothes overnight,

contrary to the Law of Moses (Exodus 22:26-27), and in further

violation of it used them to sleep on (Deuteronomy 24:12-13). “And

drink the wine of the amerced.” Again a double injustice. The fine

was unjustly inflicted, and then dishonestly appropriated.

 

Ø      Profanity with the entire troupe. “In order to profane my holy

 Name.”  Incest was the guiltiest, but as a carnal indulgence it had no

advantage over any other form of uncleanness, It must, therefore, have

been sought out because of its very horrors, and with a view to the

profanation of God’s holy name, making the “members the members

of an harlot” (I Corinthians 6:16).  “Before every altar,” i.e. at

Beersheba and Dan, where Jehovah was worshipped after a

fashion, and therefore in determinate contempt of God. “In the

house of their God,” not the idol god probably, but the God of Israel.

In the time of Jeroboam II there was no heathenish idolatry in the

kingdom of the ten tribes, or at any rate it was not publicly maintained.

But the sin, though less complicated, was scarcely less heinous than if

idolatry had been a part of it. It was done of set purpose to dishonor

Him, and in order to this the place selected for the commission of it was

His house, and the occasion the celebration of His worship. What a

horrible exhibition of extreme and multiplex depravity! “They condensed

sin. By a sort of economy in the toil of sinning they blended many

sins in one… and in all the express breach of God’s commandments!

 

9 “Yet destroyed I the Amorite before them, whose height was like

the height of the cedars, and he was strong as the oaks; yet I

destroyed his fruit from above, and his roots from beneath.”

God complains of Israel’s ingratitude for the favor which He

had shown them. And yet I. The personal pronoun has a prominent

position, and is continually repeated, to contrast God’s faithfulness and the

people’s unthankfulness. The Amorite (Joshua 24:8, 18). The

representative of the seven nations of Canaan who were dispossessed by

the Israelites (Genesis 15:16; Exodus 23:27; 34:11). The hyperbolical description

of this people is taken from Numbers 13:32; Deuteronomy 1:28. Thus is shown

Israel’s inability to cope with such an enemy, and their entire dependence on

the help of the Lord. Fruit… roots. Keil explains that the posterity of a nation

is regarded as its fruit, and the kernel of the nation out of which it springs as the

root, comparing Job 18:16; Ezekiel 17:9; Hosea 9:16. The expression

is equivalent to our “root and branch” (Malachi 4:1).

 

10 “Also I brought you up from the land of Egypt, and led you forty

years through the wilderness, to possess the land of the Amorite.”

The deliverance from Egypt and the guidance through the desert, though

chronologically first, are mentioned last, as the great and culminating example

of THE FAVOR AND PROTECTION OF GOD!   First God

prepared the land for Israel, and then trained them for possessing it. From

the many allusions in this section, we see how familiar Amos and his

hearers were with the history and law of the Pentateuch. Led you forty

years (Deuteronomy 2:7; 8:2-4).

 

11 “And I raised up of your sons for prophets, and of your young men

for Nazarites. Is it not even thus, O ye children of Israel? saith the

LORD.”  Having mentioned two temporal benefits conferred on Israel,

the prophet now names two spiritual favors the presence of holy

speakers and holy doers. I raised up. The prophet and the Nazarite were

alike miracles of grace. The former gave heavenly teaching, the latter

exhibited holiness of life. It was THE LORD who gave the prophet power

 and authority to proclaim His will; it was THE LORD  who inspired the

 vow of the Nazarite and enabled him to carry it out in practice. Prophets.

To Israel belonged Samuel (I Samuel 1:1), Ahijah of Shiloh (I Kings 14:2, 4),

Jehu, son of Hanani (Ibid. ch.16:7), Elijah and Elisha, Hosea and Jonah.

Young men. In the height of their passions, lusty and strong. Nazarites. The law

concerning the Nazarites is given in Numbers 6. The special restrictions by which

they bound themselves (viz. abstention from strong drink, from the use of the razor,

and from all ritual defilement) were the outward signs of inward purity and

 devotion to God. Their very name implied separation from the world and

devotion to God. They were, in fact, the religious of the old Law, analogous

to the monks of Christian times.  The vow was either temporary or lifelong.

Of perpetual Nazarites we have as instances Samson, Samuel, and John the

Baptist. Is it not even thus? Is not the existence of prophets and Nazarites

among you a proof that you are signally favored by God, separate from other

nations, and bound to be a holy people? Taking the general import of the

passage and the signification of the word “Nazarite,” the Septuagint renders,

eijv ajgiasmo>n eis agiasmon - “I took… and of your young men for

consecration.”

 

12 “But ye gave the Nazarites wine to drink; and commanded the

prophets, saying, Prophesy not.”  Ye gave the Nazarites wine to drink.

Far from profiting by their example, or acknowledging the grace of God

displayed in their holy lives, ye tried to get rid of their testimony by

seducing or forcing them to break their vow. Prophesy not. Israel was

impatient of the continued efforts of the prophets to warn and to win; and,

unmindful of the fact that the man of God had a message which he was bound to

deliver (compare Jeremiah 20:9; I Corinthians 9:16), this ungrateful nation

systematically tried to silence the voices which were a standing rebuke to

them. (Thus, falling into this category is the American Civil Liberties Union,

not in theory, since the ACLU pledges to protect the rights of Americans,

and should  recognize the First Amendment, that Congress shall make no law

forbidding the exercise of religion” but in reality, a very vicious “anti-religious”

organization.  While working on my master’s degree in the early 1970’s at

Murray State University, I ran across the fact that the United States Congress

in the 1930’s investigated the ACLU as a communist organization – CY –

2013).  Thus Amos himself was treated (ch.7:10). (For proof of

this opposition, see I Kings 13:4; 18:10; 19:2; 22:26-28; II  Kings 6:31;

Ø      II Chronicles 25:15-16; and compare Isaiah 30:10; Micah 2:6; Matthew 23:37.

 

  • ULTIMATELY IT WAS A SIN AGAINST THE SINNER’S OWN

INTERESTS. All sin is unprofitable, but this was doubly so. The prophet

brought God’s message, not for their destruction, but for their salvation.

When they shut his month they cut themselves off from their only chance

of being saved. “Where no vision is the people perish” (Proverbs

29:18) and in deliberately cutting it off, Israel sealed its own

DESTRUCTION!  Then the Nazarite was an embodied revelation,

a typical representation of a consecrated life. A heedful eye might have

read a spiritual lesson out of his separation. “The life of the Nazarites

was a continual protest against the self-indulgence and worldliness of the

people.... It was a life above nature and thought They were an evidence

what all might do and be if they used the grace of God. But, in the

compulsory violation of his vow, the rich page was blotched and its lesson

blotted out. It presents the piteous sight of A PEOPLE STOPPING

THE FOUNT OF LIFE IN ORDER THAT THEY MIGHT DIE

OF THIRST!  Israel would neither:

 

Ø      listen to the Divine voice nor

Ø      look at the Divine life.

 

And the sight is not confined to Israel (II Timothy 4:3). There are Churches

that will not tolerate faithful preaching. There is a preaching that minces the

gospel testimony against sin. It is the case of Israel over again. The people

sinfully silence the preacher, and the preacher sinfully submits to be

 silenced.  A Church asleep, and the minister rocking the cradle, is a poor

interpretation of the pastoral relation.

 

Vs. 13-16 threaten severe punishment for the sins mentioned above.

 

13 “Behold, I am pressed under you, as a cart is pressed that is full of

sheaves.” Behold, I am pressed under you; Septuagint, kuli>w

uJpoka>tw uJmw~n kulio hupokato humon -  I roll under you;” Vulgate,

stridebo subter vos; Syriac, as Anglican; Hitzig, “I make it totter beneath you,

as a cart tottereth;” Ewald, Keil,” I will press you down, as the cart presseth;”

Baur, Pusey, “I straiten myself under you, as a cart is straitened;” Revised Version,

“I will press you in your place, as a cart presseth.” The translation of Keil, which

is that of Gesenius, is most suitable, meaning, “I will press you with the full

force of war, as a loaded wain presses the earth over which it passes.” The

sense of the English Version is that God is burdened and wearied with their

sins, as Isaiah 43:24; Malachi 2:17. The verb, being hiphil, is an

objection to this explanation. The comparison of the wain is very natural in

the mouth of the shepherd Amos.

 

14 “Therefore the flight shall perish from the swift, and the strong shall

not strengthen his force, neither shall the mighty deliver himself:”

In this and the two following verses Amos INDIVIDUALIZES THE

“PRESSURE” THAT WAITS THEM when every means of resistance

and escape shall fail. The flight shall perish from the swift. The swift of foot

shall have no time or way to flee (Jeremiah 25:35; 46:6), Ewald, Pusey,

Gandell, for “flight” render “place of flight, refuge,” as Job 11:20 “their hope

shall be as the giving up of the ghost”; Psalm 142:5;  Septuagint, fugh> -

 phugaeflight - Vulgate, fuga. Shall not strengthen his force. The strong

 man shall not be able to collect or put forth his strength to any good purpose

(compare Proverbs 24:5; Nahum 2:1). Neither shall… himself. Some of the

Greek manuscripts omit this clause. Deliver himself occurs three times —

a kind of solemn refrain.

 

15 “Neither shall he stand that handleth the bow; and he that is swift of

foot shall not deliver himself: neither shall he that rideth the horse

deliver himself.” Stand (“they did not stand, because the day of their

calamity was come upon them, and the time of their visitation”

 Jeremiah 46:21; compare Revelation 6:12-17; Nahum 2:8). The skilled

Archer shall not stand firm. That handleth the bow (Jeremiah 46:9).

 

16“And he that is courageous among  the mighty shall flee away naked

in that day, saith the Lord.” He that is courageous among the mighty;

literally, the strong in his heart; i.e. the bravest hero. The Septuagint takes the

words differently, JO krataio<v ouj mh< euJrh>sei th<n kardi>an aujtou~ ejn

dusastei>aiv – Ho krataios ou mae heuraesei taen kardian autou en

dusasteiais  -  The strong shall not find his heart (confidence) in powers.”

Naked. Casting away heavy garments and weapons and whatever might hinder

flight (compare Mark 14:52; John 21:7).

 

 

The following is in reference to the teachings of both chapters 1 and 2.

 

 

Great Sufferings Following Great Sins

     (ch.1:3, 6, 9, 11, 13; ch. 2:1, 4 ,6)

 

“For three transgressions of Damascus, and for four, I will not turn away

the punishment,” etc. Amos, we are informed, was a native of Tekoah, a

small region in the tribe of Judah, about twelve miles southeast of

Jerusalem. Nothing is known of his parents. He evidently belonged to the

humbler class of life, and pursued the occupation of the humble shepherd

and dresser of sycamore trees. From his flock he was divinely called to the

high office of prophet; and though himself of the tribe of Judah, his mission

was to Israel. He was sent to Bethel, into the kingdom of the ten tribes. He

commenced his ministry in the reign of Uzziah, between B.C. 772 and 746,

and therefore labored about the same time as Hosea. In his time idolatry,

with its concomitant evils and immoralities of every description, reigned

with uncontrolled sway amongst the Israelites, and against these evils he

hurls his denunciations. The book has been divided into three or four parts:

First, sentences pronounced against the Syrians, the Philistines, the

Phoenicians, the Edomites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Jews, and

the Israelites (ch. 1 and 2). Second, special discourses delivered against

Israel (ch. 3 to 6). Third, visions, partly of a consolatory and partly of a

comminatory nature, in which reference is had both to the times that were

to pass over the ten tribes previous to the coming of the Messiah, and

finally to what was to take place under his reign (ch. 7 to 9). His style is

marked by perspicuity, elegance, energy, and fulness. His images are

mostly original, and taken from the natural scenery with which he was

familiar. We may say that the whole passage, extending from ch.

1:13 to ch. 2:8, illustrates the three following great truths:

 

  • The sins of all the people on the earth, whatever the peculiarities of their

character or conduct, are under the cognizance of God.

 

  • That of all the sins of the people, that of persecution is peculiarly

abhorrent to the Divine nature.

 

  • That these sins expose to suffering not only the actual offenders, but

others also.

 

The first and second of these truths we will not here notice; but to the third we

must now give a moment’s attention. In all the passages to which we have referred

at the head of this sketch punishment is the, subject. We offer two remarks on this

subject.

 

  • GREAT SINS ENTAIL GREAT SUFFERINGS. The calamities

threatened to these different tribes of different lands are of the most terrible

description. But they are all such as to match their crimes.

 

Ø      The connection between great sins and great sufferings is inevitable. The

moral Governor of the world has so arranged matters that every sin

brings with it its own punishment, and it is only when the sin is

destroyed the suffering ceases. Thank God, this sin can be destroyed

through faith in the mediation of Jesus Christ who came to put away

sin by faith in the sacrifice of Himself.

 

Ø      The connection between great sins and great sufferings is universal. All

these sinful peoples had to realize it from their own bitter experience. It

does not matter where, when, or how a man lives, his sins will find him

out.  (Numbers 32:23).

 

 

  • GREAT SINS OFTEN ENTAIL GREAT SUFFERINGS UPON

PEOPLE WHO ARE NOT THE ACTUAL OFFENDERS. “The fire,”

which is here the instrument of God’s retribution to us sinners, would not

only scathe the persons and consume the property of the actual offenders,

but others. The fact is patent in all history and in all experience, that men

here suffer for the sins of others. We are so rooted together in the great

field of life, that if the tares are pulled up the wheat will be injured if not

destroyed. The cry of men in all ages has been, “Our fathers have sinned

….and we have borne their iniquities.”  (Lamentations 5:7) - “The fathers

 have eaten sour grapes and the children’s teeth are set on edge.”

 (Ezekiel 18:1; Jeremiah  31:29)  (I remember as a child eating grapes too

early before they were ripe and they made the edges of the teeth

extremely sensitive to touch – CY – 2013).  Two facts may reconcile our

consciences to this.

 

Ø      That few, if any, suffer more than their consciences tell them they

deserve.

 

Ø      That there is to come period when the whole will appear to be in

accord with the justice and goodness of God.

 

 

 

The Enormity of the Sin of Persecution

    (ch.1:3, 6, 9, 11, 13; ch. 2:1, 4 ,6)

 

“For three transgressions of Damascus, and for four,” etc. “They are all

charged in general,” says an old expositor, “with three transgressions, yea,

with four; that is, with many transgressions, as by ‘one or two’ we mean

many; as, in Latin, a man that is very happy is said to be terque quaterque

beatus — ‘three and four times happy;’ or, ‘with three and four,’ that is,

with seven transgressions — a number of perfection, intimating that they

have filled up the measure of their iniquities, and are, ripe for ruin; or,

with three’ (that is, a variety of sins), and with a fourth especially, which is

specified concerning each of them, though the other three are not, as

Proverbs 30:15, 18, 21, 29. Where we read of ‘three things, yea, four,’

generally one seems to be more especially intended. Now, the sin

especially referred to here as the “fourth” is taken to be that of

persecution, that is, the sin of inflicting suffering upon others because of

their peculiar religious convictions and doings. Other sins innumerable,

varied and heinous, they had committed, but this fourth seems to be the

crowning of their evil. Persecution has been called the measure filling sin of

any people, the sin that will be taken into account on the last great day. “I

was hungry, and ye gave me no meat,” etc. (Matthew 25:42-43).

 

  • PERSECUTION IS A MOST ARROGANT CRIME. The religious

persecutor acts upon the assumption that his ideas of religion are

absolutely true, that his theological knowledge is the test by which all other

opinions are to be tried. Such a man is represented by the apostle as one

thatsitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God

(II Thessalonians 2:4). Presumptuous mortal! The proud tyrant who has won

his way through seas of blood to the throne, and claims authority over

men’s bodily movements, shows an arrogance before which servile spirits

bow, but from which all thoughtful and noble men recoil with disgust and

indignation. But his arrogance is shadowy and harmless compared with the

arrogance of him who enters the temple of human conscience, and claims

dominion over the moral workings of the soul. Yes, such arrogant men

abound in all ages, and are by no means rare even in this age and land of

what is called civil and religious liberty. The most arrogant title that mortal

man can wear is “Vicar of Christ.”

 

  • PERSECUTION IS A MOST ABSURD CRIME. Far wiser is the fool

who would legislate for the winds or the waves, and, like Canute, give

commands to the billows than he who attempts to legislate for human

thoughts and moral convictions. Still more foolish to attempt to crush

men’s religious beliefs by inflicting civil disabilities or corporeal suffering.

In sooth, the way to give life, power, and influence to religious errors is to

persecute. And truth never seems to rise in greater power and majesty than

under the bloody hand of cruel persecution. It has been well said that “the

blood of the martyrs is THE SEED OF THE CHURCH.”

 

 

“A blameless faith was all the crime the Christian martyr knew;

And where the crimson current flowed upon that barren sand,

Up sprang a tree, whose vigorous boughs soon overspread the land;

O’er distant isles its shadow fell, nor knew its roots decay,

E’en when the Roman Caesar’s throne and empire passed away.”

 

  • PERSECUTION IS A MOST CRUEL CRIME. What ruthless

      inhumanities are in these verses charged against the various peoples

mentioned — those of Damascus, Gaza, Tyrus, etc.! It has often been

observed that no anger is so savage as the auger which springs up between

relations of blood. A brotherly hate is the chief of hates; and it may be truly

said that there is no animosity that burns with a more hellish heat than that

connected with religion. Gibbon, referring to the cruelties inflicted upon

the early Christians, says, “They died in torments, and their torments were

embittered by insult and derision. Some were nailed on crosses, others

sewn up in the skins of wild beasts and exposed to the fury of dogs; others,

again, smeared over with combustible material, were used as torches to

illuminate the darkness of the night. The gardens of Nero were destined for

the melancholy spectacle, which was accompanied by a horse race and

honored with the presence of the emperor, who mingled with the

populace in the dress and attitude of a charioteer.”  (“Who through

faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained

promises, stopped the mouths of lions.  Quenched the violence

of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were

made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies

of the aliens.  Women received their dead raised to life again:

and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they

might obtain a better resurrection:  And others had trial of

cdruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and

imprisonment:  They were stoned, they were sawn asunder,

were tempted, were slain with the sword:  they wandered about

in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented;

(Of whom the world was not worthy:)  they wandered in deserts,

and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.  And

these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received

not the promise:  God having provided some better thing for

us, that they without us should not be made perfect.”  (Hebrews

11:33-40)

 

 

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