Amos 4



In this second address the prophet:


·         reproves the voluptuous women of Samaria, and foretells their captivity

(vs. 1-3);


·         with bitter irony he describes the peoples devotion to idolatry (vs. 4-5):


·         he shows how incorrigible they have proved themselves under Gods

chastisements (vs. 6-11);


  • therefore they must expect further punishment, if so be that they

will learn to fear the Lord (vs. 12-13).


1 “Hear this word, ye kine of Bashan, that are in the mountain of Samaria,

which oppress the poor, which crush the needy, which say to their masters,

Bring, and let us drink.” The very women are leaders in dissoluteness and

oppression. Ye kine of Bashan. Fat and well liking, such as the rich pastures of

Bashan produce. Some have supposed that by this term are meant the luxurious

nobles of Samaria, who are called “cows” as being effeminate and

licentious. This is possible; but such grandees would be called rather “bulls

of Bashan,” and the “masters” mentioned just below signify more naturally

these women’s husbands than the kings.  The genders in the sentence are

interchanged. “Hear ye,” “your Lord,” “upon you,” “they shall

take you, being masculine; that oppress,” “that crush,” “that say,” “your

posterity,” “ye shall go out,” “each before her,” “ye shall cast,” feminine.

Evidently the prophet addresses his reproaches to the luxurious of both

sexes, though he begins with the women. The land of Bashan extended

from Hermon to the Jabbok, including Gaulonitis, Auronitis, Batauea, and

Trachonitis. It was always famous for its pasturage, cattle, and oaks. 

Mountain of Samaria. The hill of Shomer, on which Samaria was built (see

note on ch. 3:9). Oppress the poor. This they did in ministering, or getting their

husbands to minister, to their luxury and debauchery. Apparently they

urged their husbands to violence and fraud in order to obtain means to

satisfy their extravagance. A bad woman is thoroughly unscrupulous (see

the case of Ahab and Naboth, (I Kings 21:7-16). Their masters; their

lords; i.e. husbands (compare Genesis 18:12; I Peter 3:6). Bring, and

let us drink. They invite their husbands to supply the means of debauchery

and to join in their revels.


2 “The Lord GOD hath sworn by His holiness, that, lo, the days shall

come upon you, that He will take you away with hooks, and your

posterity with fishhooks.”  By His holiness. God swears by His holiness,

which cannot tolerate iniquity, and which they had profaned (ch.2:7; compare

ch. 6:8). That he will take you away. “That one, or they, shall take

you away;” the enemy, the instrument of God’s vengeance, is meant. With

hooks; tsinnoth; Septuagint, ἐν ὅπλοις - en hoploisimplement; untensil;

tool; weapon; armor; instrument - Vulgate, in contis. The translation,

“with hooks,” is correct, the idea being that the people shall be utterly helpless

and taken for destruction, like fish caught with hooks (Jeremiah 16:16;

Habakkuk 1:15). Your posterity; acharith (ch. 9:1); better, your residue, those

who have not been destroyed previously. The Septuagint and the Vulgate give

quite a different notion to the passage. The former (according to the Vatican

manuscript) has, Καὶ τοὺς μεθ ὑμῶν εἰς λέβητας ὑποκαιομένους ἐμβαλοῦσιν ἔμπυροι 

λοιμοί - Kai tous meth humon eis lebaetas hupokaiomenous embalousin empuroi

loimoi - “And fiery destroyers shall cast those with you into boiling caldrons;”

the latter, Et levabunt vos in contis, et reliquias vestras in ollis ferventibus.

(For the explanation of these versions, which arise from mistakes in the meanings

of ambiguous words, see Schegg and Kuabenbauer.)


3 “And ye shall go out at the breaches, every cow at that which is

before her; and ye shall cast them into the palace, saith the LORD.”

At the breaches made in the city walls, as cattle hurry through

gaps in a fence. Thus they should go forth when Samaria was taken. Every

cow at that which is before her; better, each straight before her, just

where the opening offered itself (compare Joshua 6:5,20). The Septuagint

inserts γυμναί - gumnai - “naked.” And ye shall cast them into the palace;

Septuagint, Καὶ ἀποῥῤιφήσεσθε εἰς τὸ ὄρος τὸ Ῥομμάν -  Kai aporriphaesesthe

eis to oros to Romman, “And ye shall be cast forth into

the mountain Romman; Vulgate, et projiciemini in Armon. The Syriac and

Arabic Versions, and Aquila, render, “unto Mount Armon;” the Chaldee

paraphrast, “far beyond the mountains of Armenia.” The Hebrew expression

haharmonah occurs nowhere else. Our version takes it in the sense of armon,

 “a palace,” intending probably a palace or citadel of the enemy, which certainly

ought to have been expressed. Kimchi renders, “Ye shall cast yourselves into the

palace of the king.” The passage is probably corrupt. If the verb is taken as

passive, the unusual word must be considered to denote the place of

banishment. Thus, “Ye shall be cast forth into Harmon.” Whether Harmon

means Armenia, as many ancient commentators thought, or not, cannot be

determined. Various opinions may be seen in Keil, Schegg, Trochon, and

others; but the simplest explanation is that of Orelli and Ewald, viz. that

each fugitive shall fling away her idol Rimmona (the wife of the god

Rimmon II Kings 5:18), in order to be more free for flight (compare Isaiah





The Woes of the Women at Ease (vs. 1-3)


By a contemptuous and striking figure, the women of Samaria are styled

the kine of Bashan.” They were as cattle, unmindful of the past, unheeding

of the future, their attention limited to the present, and living in it only the

life of sense. They were as Bashan’s kine, wandering in richest pastures,

overfed, indulged, and pampered, and therefore waxed voluptuous and

wanton. In explanation of the special reference to them, observe:



LESS RESPONSIBLE FOR ITS SINS. This appears from the fact that:


Ø      They reflect the national character. Soft, and easily receptive of

influence, whether good or bad, the female character is, to a greater

extent than the male, a compound tincture of the prevailing qualities

of the land and time. It is natural that, as reflecting the national sin,

the women will be obnoxious to national punishment.


Ø      They form the national character. They have earliest, most

constant, and most affectionate access to the young. They influence

character at its softest and most pliant stage, and they approach it,

moreover, on its softest side. Reflecting national character so truly,

and impressing this so inevitably on the rising generation, it is through

them chiefly that good or evil becomes hereditary in society.


“O woman, nature made thee

  To temper man.”

                        (Thomas Otway)


The “tempering” is oftener for good than ill, converting into porcelain the

common clay, purifying and ennobling all she comes near.


“Woman’s empire, holier, more refined,

Molds, moves, and sways the fallen yet God-breathed mind.”


But if she reigns as the devil’s vicegerent, if the influences that go

 Forth from her tend to the enthronement of corruption and wrong,

 she must be deposed as a matter of policy, and punished as a matter

of justice (Isaiah 3:16-24; 32:9-13).



GOD AS A COURSE THAT INFLICTS IT. The evil a woman does

outside her family circle is largely indirect. Of the women of Israel it

appears that:


Ø      They were self-indulgent at the necessary expense of the poor.

“Which oppress the humble, which crush the needy.” This would

sometimes be done directly, but generally through the agency of the

men. A luxurious mistress often makes a hard and oppressive master.

Her extravagant demands must be met by an increased income, and

that is only too likely to be sought in exactions from the dependent

poor. Let it be in overcharged dues or in underpaid work, in every

case the luxury that forces on the demand is responsible for the evils

of the enforced supply. “Those at ease often know not that their luxuries

are continually watered by the tears of the poor… but God counts willful

ignorance no excuse. Hood’s stanza, addressed to men, is doubly

pertinent to women:


“O men with sisters dear!

      O men with mothers and wives!

It is not linen you’re wearing out,

    But human creatures’ lives.”


The self-indulgence of the women of Israel meant really the grinding of

the poor, out of whose poverty “their lords” were; driven to wring the

means of carrying on their shameful excesses.


Ø      They encouraged their husbands in self-indulgence. “Bring, and

let us drink.” This was a doubling of the evil. They not only did wrong,

but tempted others to do it. They wasted much, and procured the wasting

of more. They were at pains to increase the number of harpies who would

gorge themselves on the hard earnings of the poor.


Ø      This was not an isolated act, but a habit. “Oppress” is equivalent to

“are continually oppressing.” Luxury had settled into a chronic social evil.

The demand for fuel to feed the fire of indulgence was constant. It was A


CONTINUALLY  and devouring, generation after generation, the

inheritance of the poor. The evil of it smelled rank to Heaven, and

the guilt of it clamored for punishment.



THE SINNER’S PUNISHMENT. “The Lord Jehovah hath sworn by His

holiness.” The occasions of God’s action are often supplied by men, but

the grounds of it are in Himself — in the perfections of His character and

the purposes of His will.


Ø      Holiness is Gods characteristic quality. There is a universal

ascription of it to Him in Scripture (Exodus 15:11; Isaiah 6:1-3; 57:15;

Habakkuk 1:13). Absolutely His “name is holy;” relatively He is the

“Holy One of Israel.” This holiness is an infinite contrariety to all that

is morally impure. It characterizes all His other perfections, and is, in this

aspect, not so much a distinct attribute as THE BLENDING



HIS HOLINESS (Psalm 89:35; 47:8); believers are the people of

His holiness, and heaven the habitation of His holiness (Isaiah 63:15,

18); whilst a synonym for the consecrated life is “holiness to the Lord.”


Ø      Gods holiness was the quality specially profaned. (ch.2:7.) It

was to profane His holy Name that they had sinned. The perfection

specially sinned against is naturally the one to be vindicated. “He pledges

His own holiness that He will avenge their unholiness. Jealous of all

His perfections, the one our conduct tends to obscure or hurt is the one

God will most emphatically illustrate and glorify.


Ø      Holiness is the quality that makes punishment of sin inevitable.

It is the recoil of God’s infinitely pure nature from moral evil. It is the

Expression and sum of an essential and external antagonism to it. It is

Incompatible with impurity as light is with darkness, and its necessary

and natural action toward it is destructive. Fundamentally it is because




MATCH AND SQUARE WITH HIS SIN. (vs. 2-3.) Here the

dovetailing of RETRIBUTION with CRIME is very complete.

There would be:


Ø      Deportation from luxurious scenes. “I will take you away.” The

indulgences becoming habitual would be violently interrupted. The

luxurious and vicious tastes, developed into tremendous strength by

long continued sensuality, would be deprived of their gratification.

Instead of the high living, become by long enjoyment a thing of course,

and a necessity of their life, they would have the coarse and scanty fare

of slaves. To visit with want and bondage, when habits of rule and

luxury have become a second nature, is a judgment bitterly felt.

(One that will be felt in America very keenly when the god of

“materialism” comes down – instead of “it’s the economy

Stupid, it will be, it is THE FISCAL CLIFF STUPID

Mankind cannot sin and be economically blessed! - CY – 2013).


Ø      This in a violent and painful manner. “With hooks.” The figure

is drawn from fishing. The drawing out of the fish by means of a hook

is always painful, and is rendered doubly so by its resistance. So

with the soft and delicately nurtured women of Samaria in the hands

of a rough and brutal soldiery. They would suffer as a fish transfixed

by a barbed hook, and their former luxury would be in a sense its

own avenger.


Ø      This to the last one. “And your last one with fish hooks.” Not

one should escape. God’s judgments are particular. He does not

visit people in the mass, but individuals. Not a cow but would feel

the cut of the drover’s whip, and experience the famine pangs of

the scanty pasture.


Ø      This in connections with their own lusts as auxiliaries. The hook

that draws out the fish has been baited for it, and voluntarily swallowed,

though under a wrong impression. In heathen luxury and dissolution the

Hebrew women found a bait which they swallowed greedily. Now they

should find that, with the bait, they had swallowed also a cruel hook,

which would draw them away to suffer evils worse than they had

themselves inflicted. “And be cast away to Harman” (Authorized

Version, “into the palace”), i.e. probably Armenia. Here, being used

to minister to heathenish luxury and lust, they would be victims in the

matter in which they had been so long the victimizers of others. There

is a nameless cruelty in debauchery, WHICH ONLY THE

VICTIMS OF IT KNOW!   This, with the added burden of

heathen horrors, the delicate and pampered Israelitish women

would now suffer. Their punishment would rise upon them in

familiar shape, the resurrection of their own sin.


Ø      The bovine stolidity of their prosperous days would make them

helpless as driven cattle in the day of calamity. “In the wall ye

 shall go out every one before her,” i.e. as a herd of cows go one

after another through a gap in the fence (Having been raised on a

dairy farm, I can vouch for this – CY – 2013). THE LEVEL OF




but I see it! – CY – 2013).   The penalty of living the brutes’ life

of sense is a weakening of THE HEAVENLY GIFT OF

REASON, by which we are distinguished from them.

(“But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and

destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand

not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption;

And shall receive the reward of unrighteousness…” –

II Peter 2:12-13a)


4 “Come to Bethel, and transgress; at Gilgal multiply transgression;

and bring your sacrifices every morning, and your tithes after three

years:”  The prophet now turns to Israel, and ironically bids them exhibit

their zeal for idolatry, and thus increase their guilt. Bethel; as the chief seat

of idol worship (ch. 3:14). At Gilgal; rather, to Gilgal, “come ye”

being repeated in thought. Gilgal was a strong position in the plain of

Jordan, three miles east of Jericho, taking its name probably from the stone

circles erected for purposes of worship in very early times. Joshua

(Joshua 5:9) gave a new meaning to the old name. There is a large pool

of water in this neighborhood called Jil-julieh, about four miles from the

Jordan, which is doubtless a corruption of the ancient name Gilgal. It

seems to have been regarded as a holy place in Samuel’s days or even

before (see Judges 3:19; I Samuel 7:16; 10:8; 11:14; 13:8); and later

was appropriated to false worship, though we have no information as to

the date of this declension. Gilgal and Bethel are associated together in

idolatrous worship (ch. 5:5 and in Hosea 4:15; 9:15; 12:11). Bring your

sacrifices every morning. They were careful to maintain the outward semblance

of the regular Levitical worship, even beyond the letter of the Law in some

respects, though their service was ALL  THE TIME IDOLATRY. As this and

the following clause are still ironical, Amos is speaking, not of the daily-prescribed

sacrifice (olah, Numbers 28:3), but of the offerings (zebach) of individual

Israelites which were not required to be presented every day. Your tithes after

three years; literally, on the three of days; lishlosheth yamim; Vulgate, tribus

diebus; Septuagint, εἰς τριημερίανeis taen triaemerian -  “every third day.”

Revised Version, “every three days.”  The prophet bids them bring their tithes,

not as the Law ordered, every year (Leviticus 27:30), or, as in the case of the

second tithe, every three years (Deuteronomy 14:28; 26:12), but, by an ironical

exaggeration, “every three days.” Dr. Pusey defends the English Version on

the ground of the idiomatic use of “days” for one circle of days, i.e. a year

(Leviticus 25:29; Judges 17:10; I Samuel 27:7). But this loses the irony which

is so marked in the whole passage. Keil, “If ye would offer slain sacrifices

every morning, and tithe every three days, ye would only thereby increase

your apostasy from the living God.”


5 “And offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving with leaven, and proclaim

and publish the free offerings: for this liketh you, O ye children of

Israel, saith the Lord GOD.”  Offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving with leaven;

more definitely, offer by burning a thank offering of that which is leavened.

This is an alteration of the prescribed ritual in two particulars. The Law

forbade leaven in any meat offering consumed by fire (Leviticus 2:11; 7:12);

and if it allowed cakes of leavened bread to be offered on one occasion,

these were not to be placed on the altar and burned, but one was to be

assigned to the officiating priest, and the rest eaten at the sacrificial meal

(Leviticus 7:13-14). The ironical charge to the Israelites is that in their

unlicensed zeal they should not only burn on the altar that which was

leavened, but, with the idea of being more bountiful, they should also offer

.by fire that which was to be set apart for other uses. The Septuagint

Version can only be explained by considering the translators to have had a

different reading, καὶ ἀνέγνωσαν ἔγω νόμον kai anegnosan exo nomon

 and they read the Law without.Proclaim… publish. Make public

proclamation that free will offerings are to be made, or else, like the Pharisees

(Matthew 6:2), announce with ostentation that you are about to offer. The

essence of such offerings was that they should be voluntary, not of command or

compulsion (Leviticus 22:18, etc.; Deuteronomy 12:6). Septuagint,

καὶ ἐπεκαλέσαντο ὁμολογίας - kai epekalesanto homologies  “and called

for public professions” (Ibid. vs.17-18). This liketh you; this ye love;

Septuagint, “Proclaim ye that the children of Israel loved these things.” THEIR






            Corruption and Religiosity in Unholy Alliance (vs. 4-5)


Here the prophet turns from the women of Israel, and addresses the people

at large. His language is that of strong irony. What he bids the people do is

the thing he knows they have been doing and will go on doing,

notwithstanding the imminence of the punishment he predicts. He means,

by a sarcastic coordination of their acts of hollow worship with those of

their sin-stained lives, to bring them to see themselves as God and others

saw them.



MAY EXIST TOGETHER. (v. 4.) Here it would seem as if the

multiplication of transgressions and of observances went pari passu

(side by side) together.


Ø      The observance if religious forms involves nothing in the way of

spirituality. Taste is wanted, and feeling and judgment, but that is all.

Enjoyment in the formal acts of worship may be an aestheticism which is

altogether apart from spirituality. The sensuous delight in music, oratory,

attitudinizing, millinery, upholstery, and other ecclesiastical impedimenta

is just as abundant and as much at home in the theatre as in the church,

and is the same non-spiritual thing wherever found.


Ø      Worship may even be made so sensuous as to become the minister of

luxury. Other things being equal, the largest congregations gather where

the adjuncts of worship are most elaborate and most gorgeous. Many

confessedly attend the house of God exclusively for the music and

singing, never waiting to hear the gospel preached, or consenting to do

so only for appearance’ sake. And the thing is perfectly intelligible. A

musical and ornate service is more decent than a music hall, and more

plesant than their own room, and makes an agreeable break in their idle

Sunday afternoon. So far from such an observance involving or tending

to produce spirituality of feeling, it leaves this out in the cold, and

makes its appeal entirely to sense. It has no more bearing on the

religious life than theatre going, or club going, or race going, or any

other mode of raising the sensational wind.


Ø      External religious observance quiets the conscience, and so smooths

the path of the self-indulgent. Even after the sinful life has far advanced,

his conscience gives the sinner trouble. Failing to prevent the sin, it

suggests the performance of some compensatory work. To sin, and

then do penance, is easier than to crucify the flesh and be separate from

sin. And one of the commonest salves for an accusing conscience is

diligence in the externals of religious observance. It looks and feels

like worship, and it makes no demands on the religious faculty. Rather,

by substituting an emotional exercise for one of the conscience and heart,

it deadens the moral sense, and lulls the transgressor into a dangerous




THEM. This is a logical necessity. If the form be everything, then the more

of it the better. Besides, the sensation produced by observing it gets stale

after a time, and, in order to keep it at its first strength and freshness, there

must be a continual increase of the dose. Israel illustrated this principle in

two degrees.


Ø      They were particular about ceremonial obsevances. They offered the

slain sacrifices, the praise offerings, the free offerings, and the tithes at

their appointed times. In addition to the annual tithe they also gave a

second tithe every three years (Deuteronomy 14:28; 26:12). This was

keeping up to the very letter of the Law. A Pharisee in later times could

not have given more circumstantial obedience to it than they did. When

the opus operatum (the work wroughtg) is made the whole of a religious

ordinance, it is sure to be circumstantially observed; and the rule is that

the more completely the spirit is lost sight of, the more elaborately is

the letter observed. To the exhaustive observance of ordinances by Israel,

according to our text, there was one significant exception. This was the

omission of the sin offering and the trespass offering. They had no

consciousness of sin. They deported themselves as men who had praise

to offer and gifts to bestow, but no sin to be atoned or to confess. To

the formalist an adequate idea of sin is impossible, and in his worship

the question is not raised.


Ø      They went beyond the letter 9f Divine requirement. In addition to the

morning sacrifice required by the Law, they offered slain sacrifices

(so the Hebrew) every day. Then, not content with burning unleavened

cakes on the altar as a praise offering, they burned also the leavened

cakes which were to be eaten at the sacrificial meal. As to the free

offerings, they carried the provision for having them made beyond the

command by having them fried. Thus, so far as forms went, the idol

loving, corrupt, rebellious people were almost exemplary worshippers —

went further, indeed, than true worshippers had always felt called upon

to go. “It is a characteristic of idolatry and schism to profess

extraordinary zeal for God’s worship, and go beyond the letter and spirit

of His Law by arbitrary will worship and self-idolizing fanaticism”

(Lange). To compensate for the utter absence of the spirit, the letter is

made to do double and vicarious duty.




On the one hand, the spirit gets lost sight of through inattention, and on the

other hand, the inventive faculty introduces practices inconsistent with it.


Ø      In their anxiety to offer more than was required Israel offered a thing

that was forbidden. To “kindle praise offerings of that which is

leavened” was contrary to Levitical law. The leavened bread of the

praise offering, which they burned along with the unleavened cakes

and oil, was not to be burned, but eaten (Leviticus 2:11; 7:12-14). The

human mind cannot add to a Divine ordinance anything in character.

The addendum will either obscure or traverse the religious rite to which

it is attached. God’s ordinances, like His oracles, can only be added

to  under a heavy penalty the penalty of mistaken action arising out

of erroneous thought.


Ø      They destroyed the essentially spontaneous character of the free will

offerings by endeavoring to make them practically compulsory. These

offerings must be made of the offerer’s free will (Leviticus 22:19).

Made under compulsion, moral or otherwise, they lost their spontaneous

character, and might as well not have been made at all. And what but

compulsion was it to “proclaim and publish,” or literally to “call out”

for them? God’s ordinance can be safely and rightly observed only

in God’s way. In such a matter human invention, if it interferes, is sure

to err. Hence the so emphatic and frequent warnings in Scripture

against “the commandments and ordinances of men.”


Ø      This amateur tinkering of Divine institutions is very agreeable to

human nature. “For so ye love it.” Unspiritual men love the forms of

religion if they serve as a means of escape from its realities. They

love them more still if, by observing them, they can seem to accomplish

a salvation by works. They love them most of all when they are partially

of their own invention. Almost all human ordinances in religion are

the  expression of man’s love of his own intellectual progeny.



ONLY THE MULTIPLICATION OF SIN. The close association of the

words transgression and “sacrifice” would indicate that the sacrifice

itself was sinful.


Ø      It was not meant to please God, being an act of pure self-will. That

which will please God must be meant to please Him. A formal religious

act, if done for our own pleasure, and not as an act of service to God, is

valueless (Colossians 2:20-23). Will worship is SELF WORSHIP.  It is

only an subtile way of “satisfying the flesh.” It is a thing by which God

is not honored, but dethroned, and by which man is prejudiced with God

and not commended (Isaiah 2:11).


Ø      It was not fitted to please Him, being observed in a manner contrary to

His will. God’s ordinances had been altered. The alteration of form in

every case had been a violation of the spirit. The ordinances were no

longer God’s, but something different from and inconsistent with the

thing He had appointed: The observance of them was not service, but

disobedience and rebellion. For the Nadabs and Abihus (Leviticus 10)

who offer strange fire before the Lord there is reserved the fire of His

wrath and not the light of His favor.


Ø      It was reeking with the wickedness with which it was deliberately

mixed up. “Multiply transgression; and bring your sacrifices.”

The “obedience” to Hmself which “is better than sacrifice” was

entirely wanting. The “mercy” to men which He will have “and

not sacrifice” had been in vain. With one hand they piled high the

offering, and with the other piled higher still the trespass. And in

so doing they piled the mountain of a moral impossibility between

them and acceptance. The form of worship, in combination with the

reality of sin, is a spiritual monstrosity which, as an offering to God,

may not be so much as named. God will take no gift from a sin-stained

hand (Isaiah 1:15). “If we regard iniquity in our heart, the

Lord will not hear us” (Psalm 66:18). If we lift up unclean hands in

worship, He will not accept (1 Timothy 2:8). Let us “wash our hands in

innocence” (Psalm 26:6) when we go to the “holy altar.” With clouds

of sin hovering over our sanctuary service no dews of Divine favor

can ever fall.




                                                Hypocrisy (vs. 4-5)


The rhetorical fervor of the prophet leads him in this passage to address

himself to the guilty nobles of Israel in terms of bitter irony. That

descendants of Abraham should have forsaken Jehovah, should have set up

altars to a golden calf, or to deities of their heathen neighbors, — this cuts

the prophet to the heart. But that, even whilst acting thus, they should

retain some of their ancient observances, should profess any reverence for

the precepts of the Law of God, — this is the most cruel wound. Hence

this language of irony, the severity of which is apparent to every reader.




ENEMIES. Sacrifices, tithes, leaven, offerings — all of which are

mentioned in this passage — were prescribed in the Mosaic Law. The sin

of the Israelites lay here. All the time that they were attending to these

observances, they were worshipping idols, and breaking the first and

second commandments of the ten. Virtually, all men who profess

Christianity, and yet love the sinful practices and pleasures of the world,

are guilty of this sin. It is hypocrisy, which is worse than an open defiance

of the Divine authority.



SINFUL NATURES. “This liketh you;” “So ye love to have it;” — such is

the reflection of Amos upon this evil conduct. Men do not “like” to break

off the associations of the past; they do not “like” to turn their back upon

the principles they have formerly professed; they do not “like” to forfeit the

apparent advantages of conformity to the requirements of religion. Yet, at

the same time, they are not willing to forsake the pleasures of sin, to deny

self, to take up the cross.




conscious aim of the hypocritical is often to impress their companions with

the belief of their goodness. But in many cases men actually persuade

themselves of their own piety, whilst their life is in flagrant contradiction to

the assumption. Let it never be forgotten that God searcheth the heart,

and trieth the reins of the children of men;” that His scrutinizing gaze

cannot be averted, nor His righteous judgment avoided. Those who

multiply insincere observances really “multiply transgression. And

multiplied transgressions surely involve multiplied penalties.


·         Bethel and Gilgal are not the only spots on earth where

hypocrisy has been practiced. The question of all importance for every

professed worshipper to put to himself is this — Is there harmony between

the language which I use in devotion and the thoughts and desires of my

heart, the actions and habits of my life?





                        Worship Abounding with Abounding Sin (vs. 4-5)


“Come to Bethel, and transgress; at Gilgal multiply transgression; and

bring your sacrifices every morning,” etc. “ keenest irony. The “The

language of these verses,” says Henderson, “is that of the Israelites were

addicted to the worship of the golden calf, and to that of idols, whereby

they contracted guilt before Jehovah, and exposed themselves to His

judgments; at the same time, they hypocritically professed to keep up the

observance of certain feasts which had been appointed by Moses.” The

subject that the text teaches is — abounding worship with abounding sin.

The sins of Israel, the frauds, violences, and nameless iniquities, are

referred to in the preceding chapters. Crimes ran riot amongst them at this

period; and yet how religious they seemed to be! “Amos has described how

zealously the people of Israel went on pilgrimage to Bethel and Gilgal and

Beersheba, those places of sacred associations; with what superabundant

diligence they offered sacrifice and paid tithes; how they would rather do

too much than too little, so that they even burnt upon the altar a portion of

the leavened loaves of the praise offering, which were only intended for the

sacrificial meals, although none but unleavened bread was allowed to be

offered; and, lastly, how in their pure zeal for multiplying the works of

piety, they so completely mistook their nature as to summon by a public

proclamation to the presentation of free will offerings, the very peculiarity

of which consisted in the fact that they had no other prompting than the

will of the offerer” (Delitzsch). We offer two remarks on this subject.



the case when the worship is:


1. Selfish. More than half the worship of England is purely selfish. Men

crowd churches, attend to religious ceremonies, and contribute to religious

institutions purely with the idea of avoiding hell and getting to a happier

world than this. They do not serve God for naught. Selfishness, which is

bad everywhere, is never worse than when engaged in religion.


2. Formal. When religion is attended to as a matter of form, when

sentiments are expressed without conviction, services rendered without

self-sacrifice, the insincerity is an insult to Omniscience. “God is a Spirit,

and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.”

(John 4:24)  Abounding worship is no proof of abounding virtue and

abounding godliness. Often, alas! the more worship in a community, the more




      It may spring from:


1. A desire to conceal sin. Sin is an ugly thing; it is hideous to the eye of

conscience. Hence efforts on all hands to conceal it.  Nations endeavor to

conceal the terrible abominations of infernal wars by employing the

ministers of religion in connection with their fiendish work. The greatest

villains have often sought to conceal their villanies by worship.


2. A desire to compensate for evils. Great brewers build churches and

endow religious institutions in order to compensate in some measure for

the enormous evil connected with their damning trade.


3. A desire to appear good. The more corrupt a man is, the stronger his

desire to appear otherwise; the more devil in a man, the more anxious he is

to look like an angel.


·         CONCLUSION. Do not judge the character of a nation by the number of

its churches, the multitude of its worshippers, or the amount of its

contributions, or efforts to proselytize men to its faith.


6 “And I also have given you cleanness of teeth in all your cities, and

want of bread in all your places: yet have ye not returned unto me,

saith the LORD.”  In this and the five following verses God sets forth instances

of the judgments which He had sent at various times to correct Israel; viz.

famine, drought, blight, pestilence, earthquake; but all had been in vain.

Five times recurs the sad refrain, “Yet have ye not returned unto me, saith

the Lord.” God’s unwearied love had not conquered their REBELLION!

Cleanness of teeth; Septuagint, γομφιασμὸν ὀδόντων,gomphiasmon

Odonton - dullness of teeth; Vulgate, stuporem dentium. It is not “toothache”

that is meant, but famine, as is seen by the parallel term, want of bread; as

Corn. a Lapide says, “Cum enim in fame et penuria dentes non habent quod

mordeant et mandant, innocentes sunt et mundi.” This is the first chastisement

mentioned. It was threatened in the Law as a consequence of backsliding

(see Leviticus 26.; Deuteronomy 28:48, 57). The famines to which

Amos alludes are not recorded. Plainly they were not fortuitous, but were

providential inflictions, in accordance with previous warnings Yet have ye

not returned unto me. Pusey notes that the words imply, not that they

returned not at all, but that they did after a fashion return, but not so as to

reach God, their repentance being a half-repentance and their worship a

half-worship, and therefore unacceptable.





                                    Stubborness  Reproached (v. 6)


There is a mingling of severity and pathos in this language of Jehovah

addressed to Israel. The repetition of the reproach adds to its effectiveness

and solemnity. As one calamity after another is described, and as all are

represented as chastisements inflicted by Divine righteousness, the

touching words are added, “Yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the



·         THE WANDERINGS IMPLIED. In order that there may be a return to

God, there must first have been a departure from God. Such had certainly

been the case with Israel. The people and their rulers had alike done

wickedly in departing from their covenant God. They had mingled with the

worship of Jehovah practices superstitious and idolatrous. They had broken

the Divine laws of morality, and that in a flagrant and shameful manner.



BEEN ADDRESSED BY GOD TO ISRAEL. Dealing with sinful men, a

benevolent God has not been content simply to reveal truth and to

inculcate holiness. He has ever addressed the children of men as those who

have disregarded the truth and disobeyed the Law. Revelation is full of

declarations of Divine mercy and promises of Divine forgiveness.




insufficient, they were followed by acts. It is dangerous for us confidently

to interpret the plans of Divine providence. Yet God most high is the

supreme Ruler of the nations, and in His own Word His “dealings” with the

nations are interpreted with unerring justice and truth. The several disasters

recounted in this passage as having befallen Israel are declared to have

been of the nature of chastisements designed to awaken refection and to

call to penitence and to newness of life. “The voice of the rod” is a voice

sometimes effectual, and always morally authoritative.



THE CHASTISEMENTS. It is amazing to learn that not only the

messages of prophets and authorized heralds, but even the “judgments” of

the righteous Ruler, failed to produce the intended effect. Yet so it was,

and those who had been often reproved hardened their neck. (Proverb s

29:1)  In this Israel was an example of that obduracy which may be

discovered  in all ages and in all communities. The power of man to

resist the appeals and the entreaties, the commands and the chastisements,

of a righteous God, is one of the most surprising and awful facts of the

moral universe.


·         THE PATHETIC REPROACH. He whose power could smite and

destroy the rebellious speaks as if Himself wounded and distressed by the

perseverance in rebellion of those He governs. It seems as if Omniscience

were astonished and appalled at human obstinacy and obduracy. Hence the

expostulation, the reproach addressed to the impenitent and rebellious,

“Yet have ye not returned unto me.”


7 “And also I have withholden the rain from you, when there were yet

three months to the harvest: and I caused it to rain upon one city,

and caused it not to rain upon another city: one piece was rained upon,

and the piece whereupon it rained not withered.” The second punishment

is drought, as predicted (Leviticus 26:19, etc.; Deuteronomy 28:23-24).

When there were yet three months to the harvest, and when rain was most

necessary to swell the grain. The season meant is in February and March, when

what was called “the latter rain” fell. In the south of Palestine the harvest commenced

at the end of April, but in the northern parts it was some weeks later, so that it might be

said in round numbers that it took place three months after the latter rain. I caused it

to rain upon one city. That they might not attribute this drought to the blind

laws of nature, God caused it to be of a partial character, giving rain to one

city while He withheld it from another. One piece. The portion of ground

belonging to an individual is so called (Deuteronomy 33:21; Ruth 2:3; 4:3).


8 “So two or three cities wandered unto one city, to drink water; but

they were not satisfied: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the

LORD.” This want of rain produced great dearth of water to drink, and

persons had to go long distances to procure supplies. Wandered; literally

trembled, staggered, as spent and exhausted by thirst. The word is used in

Psalm 59:15; 109:10. The supply thus used was soon exhausted, and

brought no permanent relief.  (Two verses of Scripture come to me when

I think along the lines of this verse.


  • “If thou has run with the footmen, and they have wearied thee,

then how canst thou contend with horses?  And if in the land

of peace, wherein thou trustedst, they wearied thee, then how

wilt thou do in the swelling of the Jordan?” (Jeremiah 12:5)


  • “And the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun; and

power was given unto him to scorch men with fire.  And men

were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of

God, which hath power over these plagues:  and they

repented not to give Him glory.  And the fifth angel poured

out his vial upon the seat of the beast; and his kingdom was


FOR PAIN.  And blasphemed the God of heaven because of

 their pains and their sores, AND REPENTED NOT OF

THEIR DEEDS!”  Revelation 16:9-11 – CY – 2013)


9 “I have smitten you with blasting and mildew: when your gardens and your

vineyards and your fig trees and your olive trees increased, the  palmerworm

devoured them: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD.”

The third chastisement is occasioned by blight and palmerworm  (Deuteronomy

28:22,39,42).  Blasting; the scorching east wind spoken of by Isaiah (Isaiah 27:8)

and Ezekiel (Ezekiel 17:10). Vulgate, in vento urente; Septuagint, ἐν πυρώσει

en purosei -  with parching.” Mildew; a blight, under the influence of which the

ears of corn turned yellow and became unfruitful. “Blasting and mildew” are

mentioned together in Moses’ curse (Deuteronomy 28:22) and in Solomon’s

dedication prayer (I Kings 8:37; compare Haggai 2:17). The Septuagint

has  ἐν ἰκτέρῳ -  en iktero - with jaundice. When your gardens…

increased. It is better to take this sentence as the English margin, “The

multitude of your gardens… hath the palmerworm devoured.” So the

Vulgate, Multitudinem hortorum tuorumcomedit eruca. Gardens

included orchards, herbaries, and pleasure grounds. The palmerworm;

gazam; Septuagint, κάμπη:kampae - Vulgate, eruca. The word occurs in Joel

1:4; 2:25, and is taken by many commentators to mean some kind of

locust; but it is more probable that the Greek and Latin translators are right

in regarding it as “a caterpillar” . Amos seems to be referring to the visitation in

Joel’s time, if we take gazam (“biter”) to be a kind of locust.


10 “I have sent among you the pestilence after the manner of Egypt:

your young men have I slain with the sword, and have taken away

your horses; and I have made the stink of your camps to come up

unto your nostrils: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the

LORD.”  The fourth visitation is pestilence and the sword (Leviticus 26:25;

Deuteronomy 28:60). After the manner of Egypt. IN THE MANNER

IN WHICH EGYPT WAS STRICKEN  compare Isaiah10:24, 26;

Ezekiel 20:30). There is here no reference to the plague  of Exodus 9:3, etc.,

or 12:29. The allusion is to the plague which was reckoned to be epidemic in

Egypt, and to other loathsome diseases for which that country was

notorious (see Deuteronomy 7:15; 28:27, 60) Sir G. Wilkinson notes

that the plague used to occur about every ten years (‘Handbook,’ p. 7).

Your young men have I slain with the sword. Pestilence and war are

allied scourges in Leviticus 26:25. A reference may here be made to the

wars with the Syrians, wherein the Israelites suffered heavy losses (II Kings

6:25; 8:12; 13:3, 7, 22). And have taken away your horses; rather,

together with your captive horses, still under the regimen of “I have slain.”

The destruction of men and horses is mentioned in II Kings 13:7. The

stink of your camps. These unburied caresses caused pestilence in the

district. Septuagint, Καὶ ἀνήγαγον ἐν πυρὶ τὰς παρεμβολὰς ἐν τῇ ὀργῇ ὑμῶν

Kai anaegagon en puritas parembolas en tae humon - or, according to the

Alexandrian manuscript, παρεμβολὰς ὑμῶν ἐν τῇ ὀργῇ μου parembolas

humon en tae orgae mou -  “In my wrath against you I set fire to your camps.”


11 “I have overthrown some of you, as God overthrew Sodom and

Gomorrah, and ye were as a firebrand plucked out of the burning:

yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD.” The fifth visitation

is the earthquake (Deuteronomy 29:23). I have overthrown. This is the word

used to describe the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19:25;

Jeremiah 20:16), and it seems better to refer the occurrence mentioned to some

such convulsions of nature which caused widespread destruction.  We do not

know anything about the particular earthquake to which the prophet alludes.

As God overthrew. The substitution of the name of God for the personal pronoun,

when the Lord Himself is speaking, is not uncommon in Hebrew. Here it

rather takes the form of a quotation from Genesis. Ye were as a firebrand

plucked out of the burning (Zechariah 3:2, where see note) — a

phrase which implies, not only a NARROW ESCAPE  but an escape

accompanied WITH LOSS!   The “brand” not wholly consumed is yet

blackened and diminished by the burning. 



            National Calamities are Divine Chastisements (vs. 6-11)


Graphic and morally impressive is the catalogue of Divine judgments which

the inspired prophet here draws up and puts upon record for the

admonition of future ages.



enumerated in the several verses.


1. Famine.

2. Drought.

3. Blight.

4. Pestilence.

5. War.

6. Destruction.


Alas! from the beginnings of human history such have been the sad and

weary experiences of the nations. Some of these ills appear to be beyond

human control; others of them are more or less attributable to human

ignorance, to human neglect, to unbridled lust and passion. The peculiarity

of their treatment in the books of Scripture is not in their description, but in

the connection shown to exist between them and the moral life and

probation of man, and the righteous government of God.



They are not here regarded simply as events; even the philosophical

historian does not regard them thus.


1. They convince the observant and pious mind of the concern of God in

human affairs, and of God’s indignation with human sin. Certain

philosophers imagined the great rulers of the universe to be indifferent to

all the affairs of men. The Scriptures teach us that:


a.      nothing escapes Divine observation, and

b.      nothing eludes Divine justice, God’s censure, or approval.


2. They induce, in the case of the right minded, repentance and

reformation. When God’s judgments are abroad, the inhabitants of the

earth will learn righteousness. If events teach men that “the way of

transgressors is hard” (Proverb s 13:15), they may also teach them that

“whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every child

whom He receiveth.” (Hebrews 12:6)  “Before I was afflicted,” said

the psalmist, “I went astray; but now have I kept thy Word.”  (Psalm 119:67)




1. There can be no question that, in many instances, they are the occasion

of hardening of the heart. As in the case of Pharaoh King of Egypt,

afflictions may increase insensibility and rebelliousness.


2. There are cases in which chastisements of the kind here described

produce national humiliation and repentance. Such was the case with

Nineveh, even when Jonah preached and foretold the city’s doom; the

people repented even before the calamity came, and so averted it. And

there were instances in the history of stiff-necked Israel where chastisement

led to general abasement and repentance.


3. There are cases in which calamity fails to produce a general reformation,

but is nevertheless the means of effecting in individuals a genuine

repentance and a sincere conversion unto God.



  God’s Government of the World a Chastising Government (vs. 6-11)


“And I also have given you cleanness of teeth in all your cities, and want of

bread in all your places” etc. In these verses the Almighty describes the

various corrective measures which He had employed for effecting a moral

reformation in the character of the Israelites. At the end of each chastising

measure which He describes, He marks their obstinate impenitence with the

expression, “Yet have ye not returned unto me.” As if He had said, “The

grand end of all my dealings is to bring you in sympathy, heart, and life

back to me.” The subject of the verses is this — God’s government of the

world is a chastening government; and three remarks are here suggested.





1. He sometimes employs blind nature. Here is famine. “I also have given

you cleanness of teeth in all your cities, and want of bread in all your

places.” The transgressors under the Law God had threatened with famine

(Deuteronomy 28:48). The Divine government has often employed

famine as a ruthless and resistless messenger to chasten mankind. In the

days of Elisha the demon wielded his black scepter for seven long years

(II Kings 8:1). The second is drought. “I have withholden the rain from

you, when there were yet three months to the harvest: and I caused it to

rain upon one city, and caused it not to rain upon another city: one piece

was rained upon, and the piece whereupon it rained not withered. So two

or three cities wandered unto one city, to drink water; but they were not

satisfied.” Rain — indispensable to the life of the worldcomes not by

accident or mere necessity, BUT BY THE DIVINE WILL!   He watereth the

hills from His chambers.”  (Psalm 104:13)  To show that the rain is entirely

at the disposal of the Almighty, it came upon one field and one city, and not

upon another. Hence the inhabitants of the places where it rained not had to

go great distances for water, and yet “were not satisfied.” This is a terrible

chastisement. The third is blight. “I have smitten you with blasting and

mildew: when your gardens, and your vineyards, and your fig trees, and

your olive tress increased, the palmerworm devoured them.” A malignant

atmosphere combined with devouring reptiles to destroy the produce of

the land. The fourth is pestilence and the sword. I have sent among you the

pestilence after the manner of Egypt: your young men have I slain with the

sword, and have taken away your horses; and I have made the stink of your

camps to come up unto your nostrils.” The allusion, perhaps, is to the

pestilence with which God visited Egypt (Exodus 9.). The pestilence is

God’s destroying angel. Thus by blind nature God has often chastised

mankind. He makes the stars in their courses fight against Sisera. Nature is

a rod in His chastening hand; and what a rod it is! At His pleasure, by a

touch, He can wake tempests that shall shake the globe, earthquakes that

shall engulf cities, etc. Yes, whatever materialistic scientists may say,

nature is nothing more than a rod in the hand of its Maker.

The fifth is fire. “I have overthrown some of you, as God overthrew Sodom

and Gomorrah, and ye were as a firebrand plucked out of the burning.”


2. He sometimes employs human wickedness. The sword is mentioned

here. “Your young men have I slain with the sword.” War, unlike famine,

drought, pestilence, and fire, is human, devilish. It is the work of free

agents, under the influence of infernal evil. But God employs it;


a.      He does not originate it,

b.      He does not sanction it,

c.       He does not inspire it;

d.      but He permits it and controls it for purposes of chastisement.


Thus all things are at the use of His chastising government — matter and

mind, angels and fiends, heaven and hell.



MORAL RESTORATION. After each judgment described we have the



Ø      “Yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the Lord.”

Ø      “Yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the Lord.”

Ø      “Yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the Lord.”


This is the burden and design of the whole. Note:


1. Men are alienated from the lord. They are estranged in thought,

sympathy, and purpose. Like the prodigal, they are in a far country, away

from their Father.


2. Their alienation is the cause of all their misery. Estrangement from God

means distance, not only from virtue, but from freedom, light, progress,

dignity, blessedness. Hence the benevolence of all these chastisements.

They are to restore souls. “Lo all these things worketh God oftentimes

with man, to bring him back from the pit, that he may be enlightened with

the light of the living” (Job 33:29-30). To every unconverted man God

can say, “I have chastised you in this way and in that way, on this occasion

and on that, but ‘yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the Lord.’”



DESIGN. “Yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the Lord.” This shows


(1) the ce of human depravity, and

(2) the force of human freedom.


Almighty goodness does not force us into goodness. Almighty love does

not coerce us into goodness. He treats us as free agents and responsible





Burning, Yet not Turning (v. 11)


From Moses to Amos was about seven hundred years. It is a long time

with men and the works of men. But it is little in the two eternities through

which the purposes of God extend. There were prophecies which it had

taken all this period to mature; courses of treatment for the cure of sin

pursued through all the interval, and whose last measure had not yet been

taken. One of these finds record here. A new event looks out at us in the

guise of an ancient prophecy (Deuteronomy 29:22-25). What seven

centuries before had been conceived in the womb of time is here “delivered

upon the mellowing of occasion.”


  • GOD’S JUDGMENTS A FIRE. “Plucked out of the burning.” A

commentary on this figure is the association by Isaiah of “the spirit of

judgment” and “the spirit of burning” (Isaiah 4:4). Like a fire:


Ø      Judgments are painful. The sensation of burning is about the

most painful we know. Too severe for capital punishment, too

cruel even for prisoners of war, death by burning has been generally

reserved for the martyred saints. This intensest form of physical pain is

a fitting symbol of the effects of God’s inflictions. What He sends is the

greatest of its kind. If it be pleasure it is ideal — a pleasure at His right

hand forevermore (Psalm 16:11). If it be pain it is phenomenal — a

torment whose smoke ascendeth up forever and ever.

(Revelation 14:11)


Ø      They are consuming. What fire feeds on it destroys. Where the flames

have passed no organic matter remains. So with God’s judgments. They

are the mills of God which “grind exceeding small.” That on which they

must fall “they destroy and consume unto the end.” They are nothing if

not adequate to their purpose.


Ø      They are purifying. By burning out what is inflammable they leave what

is incombustible behind, unmixed and pure. This idea of refining is often

associated with the fires of judgment (Zechariah 13:9; Malachi 3:2-3).

They seize on the dross of evil, and burn it out of the mass. When their

work is done there is only the fine gold of a pure nature in the



Ø      They are irresistible. Fuel, in contact with fire, can do nothing but burn.

If the flame is to be quenched it must be done by some extra agency. To

be as “tow” or “stubble” in the flames (Isaiah 1:31, Malachi 4:1) is

the strongest possible figure for helplessness under the avenging

stroke of God.  Men cannot prevent it, cannot avoid it, cannot arrest it,

cannot in any degree reduce its force. When He works “who shall let it”?

When His day burns as an oven, who shall withstand the fire

(Isaiah 43:13; Malachi 4:1)?



a firebrand.” There are certain steps which lead up to burning, whether

literal or figurative. The brand was:


Ø      Withered. It is not on the sappy growing branch that the fire seizes.

Before, in the natural course, it reaches the flames, a preliminary

process has been finished. Its leaf yellows and falls, its bark shrivels,

its sap dries up. Then it is mere tinder, and fit for nothing but the fire.

So SIN WITHERS AND KILLS the branches of the tree of

human character. It dries up the sap of spiritual life, and so

turns sere the leaf of profession, and destroys the fruit of well doing.

In a little no function of life is possible, and all its uses are lost. To

cut it down is all the husbandman can do, and to burn it follows in

the natural course.


Ø      Brought to the flames. There are no prairie fires in God’s domain. What

is burned is first prepared, and then bound in bundles (Matthew 13:30)

and then set fire to. There is no accident anywhere. The man by his ill

doing makes himself tinder, and God in His providence uses him for the

only purpose he suits.


Ø      Combustible. Fire seeks out and feeds on what is most inflammable.

There is an affinity between the two things that does not fail to bring

them together. So with God’s avenging fires and the fuel they consume.

The vultures of His judgments spy out, and alight upon the carrion of

the sinner’s lusts. Every transgression of the written Law is a

transgression also of the unwritten law of the nature of things, and brings

punishment on and through the instrument of the sin.



“Plucked out of the burning.” This language implies:


Ø      A narrow escape. The brand had been in the fire, and actually alight.

A little while and it would have been inextinguishable. The fires of

judgment had been around Israel, and around her close and long.

If she had been in them but a little longer she could not have

 come out alive. The narrowness of her escape was a fact charged

with the double influence of fear as to what might have been, and

gratitude for what actually was.  This is directly opposite of the



“Of all the words of tongue or pen,

 the saddest are these, What might have been.”

                                    {John Greenleaf Whittier}


Ø      An escape with a certain amount of injury. The brand that has

been alight has suffered. Its fair surface has been scathed and charred.

It can never be its original self again. Such a thing was Israel.

“Once it had been green, fresh, fragrant, with leaf or flower; now

scorched, charred, blackened, all but consumed. In itself it was fit

for nothing but to be cast back into the fire whence it had been

rescued. Man would so deal with it, a recreation alone could restore it.



HALF CONSUMED,  in itself meet only for the everlasting fire,



Ø      An escape managed for an important purpose. God tries all means

before going to extremities. He threatens, menaces, sets fire to, and

scorches, yet after all delays to consume.


o       This gives the sinner A FINAL OPPORTUNITY of

reconsidering his relation to sin. It is possible that A


embraced for the very reason that it is the last one. THE


problem of a man’s relation to the Prince of life, and is likely

to modify the solution.


o       It gives him a chance of viewing sin in the light of its effects.

The charred brand knows the taste of the fire. The ultimate like

the immediate punishment of sin is burning (Mark 9:43-44). The

plagued sinner has tasted THE FIRST-FRUITS OF HIS

TERRIBLE RETRIBUTION!   He can argue from it what

the harvest will be. THIS IS ALL IN FAVOR  of his profiting

 under the dispensation.



Israel had not repented, and WAS NOT GOING TO REPENT.

 Rescued from the flame in UNSPEAKABLE MERCY  for a season,


BURNED!   This unconquerable hardness was that:


Ø      Of a nature that had strayed. The hardest sinner is the apostate.

He sins against light, against blessings received, against experience

enjoyed, against gracious influences felt. To have beaten down, and

sinned in spite of all these deterrents, argues a hardness and

determination that the stranger to gracious influences has not had an

opportunity of acquiring. Paul tells us that those who have so sinned

cannot be “renewed to repentance”  (Hebrews 6:4-6).


Ø      Of a nature that had been hardened by punishment. There is a

degree of induration in the back that has experienced the lash. The

brand put into the fire and taken out again is hardened by the process.

The criminal often leaves the prison more callous than he entered it.

So with the subjects of Divine judgment. If they are not melted by it

they are indurated. Hatred to God and love to the sin are intensified,

rebelliousness is stirred up, self-will is put on its mettle, and so

MORAL INSENSIBILITY is increased by the process of resistance.


Ø      Of a nature in which sin is supreme. In most natures there is a

struggle between good and evil. It is largely a question of circumstances,

which will preponderate at any given time. Temptation is resisted

sometimes, and sometimes yielded to, according to our mood and the

manner in which it is brought to bear, This indicates a STATE OF

WAR  between the law in the members and the law in the mind,

 victory inclining to Israel or to Amalek as the hands of conscience are

upheld. But when a man sins invariably, under whatever pressure of

temptation, and when there is no temptation at all — sins in spite of all

conceivable deterrent circumstances — the case is different.


He says to evil:

“Be thou my good.”

            (MiltonParadise Lost)


His moral nature is inverted. He will not mold into a vessel of mercy

now.   He is “a vessel of wrath and fitted for destruction.”

                        (Romans 9:22)



                        The Brand Snatched from the Burning (v. 11)


Amongst the methods employed by the Divine Ruler to bring Israel to

repentance was some calamity, some “judgment,” which overtook certain

of the cities of the land. It may be doubtful whether we are to understand

that those cities were, like Sodom, struck by lightning and partially

consumed by fire from heaven; or were attacked and given to the flames by

an invading, hostile force; or were overtaken by some disaster figuratively

described in this pictorial language. In any case, the circumstances are

naturally suggestive of reflections upon the methods and purposes of




given to the flames, like a brand flung upon the blazing fire, is the man, the

community, that, on account of disobedience and rebelliousness, is

abandoned for a time and for a purpose to the ravages of affliction and

calamity. How often has a sinful, proud, luxurious, oppressive nation been

consigned to this baptism of fire! How often has the willful and obdurate

nature been made to endure the keen and purifying flames! The connection

between sin and suffering does indeed abound in mysteries; yet it is a

reality not to be denied.




may purify the gold from dross, but it may consume and utterly destroy the

chaff. Some nations exposed to the flames of war and calamity have

perished and disappeared. Some individual lives seem, at all events, to

have vanished in the flames of Divine judgment. The peril is imminent and




brand is plucked, snatched from the burning, so that, although bearing the

traces of fire upon it, it is not consumed, even so did it happen to Israel

that Divine mercy saved, if not the community, yet many individuals, from

destruction. Where, indeed, is the soul, saved from spiritual death, of

which it may not be said, “Here is a brand plucked from the burning”? And

there are instances of salvation in which the similitude is peculiarly

appropriate. There are those whose sins have, by reason of enormity and

repetition, deserved and received no ordinary punishment in this life. And

amongst such there are not a few whom the pity, the wisdom, and the

power of our Saviour-God have preserved from destruction, and who

abide living witnesses to his delivering might and grace.


APPLICATION. Here is encouragement for those who labor for the

conversion and salvation of the degraded and debased. Even such, though

nigh unto burning, may be plucked by Divine mercy from the flames of

judgment. —


12 “Therefore thus will I do unto thee, O Israel: and because I will do

this unto thee, prepare to meet thy God, O Israel.”  Therefore. Because all

previous judgments have been in vain, therefore will I send upon them

 SOMETHING MORE TERRIBLE STILL!   Thus. God says not how;

He leaves the nature of the coming chastisement in mysterious uncertainty, that

the very suspense may work fear and repentance. Because I will do this

(pointing back to the mysterious “thus” above) unto thee; because I AM


PUNISHMENT!   Prepare to meet thy God; Septuagint, Ἐτοιμάζου τοῦ

ἐπικαλεῖσθαι τὸν Θεόν σου etoimazou tou epikaleisthai ton Theon sou

Prepare to call upon thy God.” Make ready to meet thy God in judgment,

turning to Him with changed heart, if perchance He may forgive thee and withdraw

His heavy hand.




                                    Prepare to Meet thy God  (v. 12)


Forbearance has its limits, and probation is not forever. Discipline itself is

temporary, and, when the purposes of God concerning men are fulfilled,

will come to an end. There is a time for preparation, and then after that

comes the time for reckoning and for recompense.




1. Especially the disobedient, the threatened, the chastened. The previous

verses make it evident that it was to these that the admonition was

particularly addressed. The people of Israel, as a whole, had departed from

God, and had been censured and chastened by God. It seems to have been

in consequence of their impenitence and obduracy that they were addressed

in the solemn language of the text.


2. Yet the appeal has surely reference to such as were learning the lessons

so powerfully though so painfully inculcated by Divine providence. There

were individuals disposed to profit by the awful dispensations that were

befalling the nation, and by the faithful admonitions addressed by inspired





1. It is not to be supposed that there is ever a time when God is not in

immediate contact with His creatures. We meet Him at every turn, we meet

Him at every moment. His eye is ever upon us, His hand is ever over us.

“Whither shall we flee from His presence?” To the pious soul this thought is

grateful, congenial, welcome. To the irreligious soul this thought should be

productive of sincere humiliation and penitence.


2. There are, however, occasions appointed by the providence of God

upon which the sons of men are constrained, manifestly and unmistakably,

to meet their God. Nations meet God in national crises, in solemn

conjunctures of incident, of probation, of destiny. Individuals meet God in

critical events in human life, in remarkable experiences of the inevitable

incidence of the moral law of God.


3. All Scripture declares that there is a future judgment, when all the

intelligent and accountable shall be summoned into the Divine presence and

before the Divine tribunal. “After death the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27);

“Then shall every man give account of himself to God.” (Romans 14:12)

We are directed to keep this day of account before our view, and to live in

prospect of it.




1. In character it must be thorough and sincere. Nothing hypocritical or

superficial can suffice. For the meeting anticipated is with Him who is the

Searcher of all hearts.


2. In nature it must consist of true repentance and true faith. A turning of

the heart from evil, and a turning unto God, — these are essential.

Unfeigned repentance and cordial faith are indispensable.


3. In manifestation it must be in conformity with Divine requirements. If

thou wouldst meet God with holy confidence, then must thou “do justly,

            love mercy, and walk humbly with thy God.” (Micah 6:8)


13 “For, lo, He that formeth the mountains, and createth the wind, and

declareth unto man what is his thought, that maketh the morning

darkness, and treadeth upon the high places of the earth, The LORD,

The God of hosts, is His name.”  The prophet enforces his threats  by declaring

GOD’S POWER  and OMNISCIENCE!   He that formeth the mountain;

The mountains are mentioned as the most solid and everlasting of God’s works;

the wind, as the subtlest and most immaterial of created things. Declareth

unto man what is his thought; i.e. man’s thought; reveals man to himself shows

that God knows man’s thought BEFORE HE PUTS IT INTO WORDS!

(“thou understandest my thought afar off”  - Psalm 139:2).   This He does

sometimes by the stings of conscience, sometimes by inspiring His prophets to

declare men’s secret motives and the real state of their heart (see Jeremiah 17:9-l0;

and compare I John 3:20). Many of the Fathers have seen here a prophesy of the

Messiah. That maketh the morning darkness. Keil, after Calvin, takes these

words as asyndeton for “the morning dawn and darkness.” So the Septuagint,

ποιῶν ὅρθρον καὶ ὁμίχλην poion hopthron kai homichlaen -  making

morning and gloom” - a further instance of GOD’S CREATIVE POWER!

 The Vulgate gives, faciens matutinam nebulam; and it seems probable

(compare 5:8; 8:9) that the clause means that the Lord turns the dawn into darkness.

This may refer to the action of clouds or an eclipse; or it may be said metaphorically

of prosperity and adversity. Treadeth upon the high places of the earth. An

anthropomorphic representation of THE MIGHT AND MAJESTY OF GOD

 who governs all things, and has the loftiest in perfect subjection (compare

Deuteronomy 32:13; 33:29; Job 9:8; Micah 1:3). The Lord, JEHOVAH,


in these things manifests Himself, and therefore His threats are not to be despised

(ch.5:8).   The laws and powers of nature have their scope  in




                        Prepare to Meet Thy God (v. 12)


The threats which precede this summons are very indefinite. Designedly so;

for the prophet wished to arouse a general foreboding of retribution

amongst the careless people, which would have its fulfillment in national

disasters, but its final consummation in another world. Such indefiniteness

also makes it possible to apply his words to men of every age and country.

All responsible beings must at last meet their God, and may wisely be

urged to “prepare.” From the time of man’s fall the all-merciful Father has

been calling men to return from their evil ways.


* Adam was encouraged to hope in His mercy.

* The antediluvians were faithfully warned through Noah, the preacher of


* Israel was constantly being exhorted by the inspired prophets.

* John the Baptist had as the burden of his preaching this same word “prepare;” and

* It has come ringing down the centuries to make itself heard among us also.


·         THE JUDGMENT FORETOLD. It is clear that the reference is to a

summons to the tribunal of God, the Judge of quick and dead. There is a

sense in which we may meet God in the study of His wonderful works in

nature; in the strange and sometimes startling events of His providence; in

the pages of His Word; in earnest supplication at His footstool. But another

special and more solemn occasion is alluded to in our text — even that day

when the great white throne will be set, and every man will have to give

an account of all the deeds done in the body, whether good or bad.


1. That judgment is certain to come. Even nature seems to point onward to

some crisis in the future of our race. Conscience warns us that sin cannot

always go unpunished, for the world is governed by a God of

righteousness. Scripture constantly affirms that He has appointed a day in

the which He will judge the world by that Man whom He has ordained.

(Acts 17:31)


2. It is quite uncertain when it will, come. “Of that day and of that hour

knoweth no man.” (Matthew 24:36)  It will come suddenly and unexpectedly,

as a thief in the night. Death will end our time of probation, and no one

knows  where and when it may meet him. Therefore “prepare to meet thy



3. When it comes the trial will be thorough and final. All actions, together

with their motives, are under the Divine cognizance. None will escape His

notice. No false excuses will avail; and, on the other hand, no mere errors

will be condemned as if they were willful sins. The good will be severed

from the evil, as our Lord teaches us in the parables of the dragnet and the

tares of the field. (Matthew ch. 13)


·         THE PREPARATION NEEDED. We should not be urged to

“prepare” unless by nature we were unprepared. It is merciful of our Judge

to give us warning, counsel, and opportunity. He willeth not the death of a

sinner, but would rather that he should repent end live. Had it not been

possible for us to make ready, had He wished us only to hurry onward to a

certain doom, we should not have heard this exhortation. But He gives us

forewarning in many ways, and at certain seasons with peculiar force; e.g.

when death enters our family, or some accident befalls ourselves.


1. We need self-examination. “Know thyself” was the advice of a heathen

philosopher; but it is worth heeding by us all. We want the illumination of

God’s Spirit and the instruction of God’s Word to aid us. “The candle of

the Lord” must throw its rays into the recesses of our hearts.


2. We need confession and repentance. “If we confess our sins, he is

faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all

unrighteousness.”  (I John 1:9)


3. We need faith in the atonement of Jesus. It is said of all sinners who

safely pass the great tribunal and enter into the heavenly world, “They have

washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”

(Revelation 7:14)


·         THE REASONS URGED. These appear in the next verse.


1. God is omnipotent. “He formeth the mountains.” The mightiest cannot

resist Him; the most subtle will not escape Him.


2. God is omniscient. “He declareth unto man what is his thought.” He is

the Searcher of hearts (Psalm 139:2; Jeremiah 17:10). Nothing

eludes His notice. There is warning in this thought for the wicked; and there

is comfort for the righteous, because these may reflect that their unspoken

prayers, and their secret self-denials, and their unfulfilled purposes, are all

recognized by Him. They are represented by our Lord (Matthew 25:37-40)

as being surprised at reward coming for acts which they thought little

of or had quite forgotten. “God is not unfaithful to forget your work of

faith and labour of love.”  (Hebrews 6:10)   Apply the words of the

exhortation to the careless.




Preparation for Meeting God (vs. 12-13)


“Therefore thus will I do unto thee, O Israel: and because I will do this

unto thee, prepare to meet thy God, O Israel.” All the means that had

been employed to reform the Israelites having proved ineffectual, they are



 To this judgment reference is emphatically made in the terms jk, ‘thus;’

and jaz, ‘this.’ There is a brief resumption of the sentence delivered in vs. 2-3.

We raise three observations from these words.



“Prepare to meet thy God.” “I shall see God,” says Job: “whom I shall

 see for myself, ……and not another.” (Job 19:26-27) Yes, we shall all

see God. All men ought ever and everywhere to see Him, for He is the great

Object in the horizon, nearer to them infinitely than aught besides. But they

do not. Their spiritual eye is so closed that they see him not

(I Corinthians 2:14); they are utterly unconscious of His presence.

But see Him they must one day. All must be brought into conscious contact

with Him, and in His presence they will feel the greatest things in the universe

melt into nothing.  The atheist who denies His existence shall see God; the

worldling who ignores His existence shall see God; the theologian who

misrepresents His existence shall see God. WE MUST ALL SEE






Ø      To meet Him; reconciliation is needed. Practically we are at enmity

with Him. How shall an enemy stand in his presence? Who does not

feel uneasy and even distressed when he confronts a man he hates,

although the man may have no disposition and no power whatever to

injure him? How will the soul with enmity in its heart then

confront GOD?  “I beseech you then in Christ’s stead, BE

YE RECONCILED TO GOD.”  (II Corinthians 5:20)


Ø      To meet Him, moral purity is necessary. How will a consciously

corrupt soul feel in the presence of ABSOLUTE HOLINESS?

How are the flames of hell kindled? By the rays of Divine holiness

falling on corrupt spirits.


“Eternal Light, eternal Light,

     How pure the soul must be,

When, placed within thy searching sight,

It shrinks not, but with calm delight

   Can live and look on thee!”





Ø      His procedure is terribly judicial “Therefore thus will I do unto

thee, O Israel: and because I will do this unto thee, prepare

 to meet thy God, O Israel.” He was approaching the sinner in

judgment, moving towards him judicially. He was coming towards

the Israelites as AN AVENGER.   And so He is ever coming

towards wicked men. PREPARE, THEREFORE, TO MEET

HIM!  He is coming as A JUDGE — slowly it may be, but surely

and terribly.


Ø      His procedure is overwhelming grand. “Lo, he that formeth the

mountains, and createth the wind, and declareth unto man what is

his thought, that maketh the morning darkness, and treadeth upon

the high places of the earth, THE LORD, THE GOD OF

HOSTS, IS HIS NAME.”  This magnificent description of

Jehovah is given in order to URGE THE CALL TO

 PREPARATION!  The one mighty, loud, unceasing voice of

God to man through all nature, history, and special revelation is,




Judgment the Divine Retort to Human Sin (vs. 6-13)


This is the sad history of God’s vain contending with AN INCORRIGIBLE

NATION!  In ch. 3  is an account of the mercies by which He at first had tried

to draw them. All that had failed utterly. They met privilege with unappreciation,

friendship with rebuff, and favor with INCREDIBLE DISREGARD!

Then He had changed His tactics. They would not be drawn, perhaps they

might be driven. The experiment was worth the making, and the record of

it is in these verses.



one gift which he could bestow, one only out of the rich storehouse of his

mercies, since all besides were abused — chastisement. This He



Ø      In diverse forms. He reduced them by famine, which often acts as a

moral depletive, by cutting off its supply from, lust. He plagued them with

pestilence — a visitation that strikes terror into the boldest hearts. He

slew them with the sword of their enemies — a fate which has terrors

peculiarly its own. He swallowed them up in earthquakes — the most

portentous and awful of earthly phenomena.  (In our day He is using

tsunamis for whatever good it is doing; hurricanes in the form of

Katrina and Sandy, and if these don’t work, read the book of

Ezekiel where it will tell you sixty-two [62] times that “and they

shall know that I am the Lord.” – See Ezekiel – The Study

of God’s Use of the Word Know – this web site – CY – 2013)


Ø      In increasing severity. Famine is direful, but it is directed primarily

against the means of life. Pestilence is ghastlier, for it is directed against

the life itself. The sword is more terrible than either, for it takes the life

with circumstances of cruelty, which are an added horror. The

earthquake is the most terror-moving of all, for it summons the

overwhelming forces of nature to our destruction.  (The TV

show “Cops” has a catchy tune it plays throughout – the words

repeated are “Bad Boys, Bad Boys, whatcha goin do, whatcha

goin do, when they come for you” – I ask the same question –

California is not the only place in this country sitting on a fault line –

[San Andreas] – where I am sitting typing this, is another –

[New Madrid] – in 1812 and 1813 – two hundred years ago – there

was this gigantic earthquake, which fortunately, was in an area

 thinly populated – not so now – time is ticking – America is sinning

profusely – our leaders have no clue, or if they do, they have a satanic

agenda to lead us down the wrong path – overspending; gun control

based on lying propaganda; abortion, a sacred cow;  Al Jeezera

getting a foothold in the American television market; Second Baptist

Church being taken off the air by Time-Warner; a deceptive

national media sold out to purposes directly opposite of a

Judeao-Christian culture; etc. ad nauseumback to the

 task at hand – American citizen, saint or sinner, ARE YOU READY



GET YOUR ATTENTION?  Worse still, as v.12 says, ARE YOU


HE COMES AGAIN?  If you don’t know now, when it happens, you

will know then, Perhaps too late.  TO DAY IS THE DAY OF

SALVATION!    I highly recommend How to Be Saved – #5 – this

web site – CY – 2013)


Ø      With differentiating circumstances in different cases. There was

nothing humdrum in the visitations, no pitching them on the dead level of

hackneyism or prescription.


o       The DROUGHT came three months before harvest. This

was a most unseasonable and fatal time. It was in February, just

when the latter rain was due. (Christian County is a great

agricultural county in Kentucky – it is not unusual, during both

seedtime and harvest, for there to be farmers working on the

Lord’s day, as if they cannot have a crop based on the promises

of God and must needs take the situation into their own hands –

2012 was not a good crop year in Kentucky – remember

II Chronicles 7:14 - CY – 2013)  The seed would be braided,

or just in the stage in which rain was the one thing absolutely

essential to life and growth. Drought at this season “is utterly

ruinous to the hopes of the farmer. A little earlier or a little later

would not be so fatal, but drought three months before harvest

is entirely destructive.


o       It came on one place and not on another. Ordinarily the

showers fall impartially on everyone. They water the fields of the

just and the unjust alike (Matthew 5:45). They refresh the

wilderness where no man is, as abundantly as the cultivated land,

with its teeming population (Job 38:26). When they become

eclectic, falling on one city or field and not on another, this


When, as probably in this case (see Proverbs 3:33), the

watered fields or cities are those of the righteous, the

adjustment is eloquent of the moral government of a God

who hates sin (Isaiah 65:13). On the artificially irrigated

gardens, where drought would not readily tell, He sent

blasting, mildew, and worms (v. 9).  In the repertory

of nature He found an instrument of destruction suited

to every possible case, and in the allocation of these was

revealed His omnipotent and resourceful hand.

 The overthrow of “some” when others escaped (v. 11)

was a providence burdened with the same lesson.


o       The cause and its effect are set close together for

 identification. “The piece whereupon it rained not

withered,” etc. The nearer results are to their

causes the easier it is to see the connection between them.

God, both in the visitation and the record of it, pointedly


and the withering with the drought, and thus puts His




o       In minute correspondence to prophetic warnings. They

were plagued with pestilence “after the manner of Egypt

(v. 10). This Moses had circumstantially announced would

be the result of disobeying the Law revealed on Sinai

(Deuteronomy 28:27, 60), whilst IMMUNITY FROM IT

was promised in connection with FEALTY and

OBEDIENCE (Ibid. 7:15). Then, with blood curdling

explicitness (vs. 6-7, 10), famine, pestilence, the sword,

 and desolation (Leviticus 26:23-33), blasting,

mildew, drought, and locusts (v. 9; Deuteronomy 28:21-26,

38, 42), and, to crown all, destruction and ruin, as of Sodom

and Gomorrah (Ibid. ch.29:22-28), are piled (v. 11), Ossa on

Pelion, in prophetic intimation to Israel to be “upon thee for

 a sign and for a wonder, and upon thy seed forever”

(Deuteronomy 28:46). In all this the work of identifying

national judgments, as from a pledge keeping and sin-avenging

Jehovah, is made easy to all BUT THE WILFULLY



  • THEIR MEAGRE RESULTS. Judgments fell thick and wide in five

varieties of terror moving severity and appositeness, and five times the

prophet, gleaning vainly after the scythes of God for a grain of good result,

can but repeat the sadly reproachful refrain, “Yet ye have not returned

unto me, saith the Lord.”


Ø      The sinner refuses to believe that his affliction is punishment.

He attributes it to accident, or bad management, or natural causes, or

the malice of others, as the case may be. While unconscious of his sin,

he is necessarily blind to the significance of his suffering, and until he

sees this he cannot profit by it. If men would “hear the rod and who

 hath appointed it” (Micah 6:9), they would have realized a primary

condition of improvement under it.


Ø      Suffering is not in itself purifying. A bad man it often makes worse.

He wants to “curse God and die”at Satan’s suggestion through Job’s

wife (Job 2:9; Revelation 16:9).  Even if the hardening stops short of this,

he is frequently soured and embittered. Suffering, to be beneficial, must

not go alone. It prepares for other measures. It makes men more

amenable to moral influence, but if no such influence be brought to bear

in connection with it, it is no more fitted of itself to purify the character

than plowing is to fertilize the desert sand.  “Bray a fool in a mortar,

 yet will not his folly depart from him.” (Proverbs 27:22).


Ø      The love of sin is stronger than the fear of suffering. Courses,

which all observation and experience declare to be ruinous to health

 and happiness, are entered on DELIBERATELY by millions.

Even the physical evil consequences of the early steps in sinful indulgence,

which are soon felt, do not arrest the evil doer in his way. By the

confirmed sinner HELL ITSELF is practically, if not consciously,

 PREFERRED TO REFORMATION.   Only what weakens the

love of sin secures the successful application of suffering for its removal.

The operation of one or other of these principles, or the concurrence

of them all, no doubt accounted for Israel’s persistent sinning even in

the fire.



HIMSELF. “Therefore thus will I do unto thee”. The terror of these

words is in nothing lessened by their vagueness. It is evident rather:


Ø      That the thing menaced would in point of severity be an

advance upon all that had yet been done. Only thus would there

be any use in adopting it. After expostulation the rod, and after the

rod a sword — that is the logical order of corrective measures.

 “Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon thee,” (John 5:14)

was a foreshadowing of GOD’S CONSISTENT POLICY!


Ø      It would involve being brought face to face with God. “Because

I will do this unto thee,  prepare to meet thy God” (v. 12). The

kind or occasion of the meeting with God is not explained. It is,

therefore, to be taken to include all modes and occasions, whether

in life, at death, or AT THE FINAL JUDGMENT. And the

thought of it is one of terror to the ungodly, under whatever

circumstances. They can face His judgments; God is not in them,

unless in figurative sense. They can face his prophets; God is not

in them, unless in a spiritual sense. But TO FACE GOD

LITERALLY  was, even to a pious Jew, like facing death

(Exodus 33:20; Judges 13:22, Hebrews 12:29); whilst to the

impious it must have been the embodiment of all terror. It is from

the “PRESENCE OF THE LORD” that the wicked in the

 judgment call upon the hills to hide them (Revelation 6:16;

Luke 23:30; Hosea 10:8).  That, of all things in the universe, is an

ordeal they cannot face.


Ø      It is left undefined that it may seem the more terrible. We have

here the eloquence of silence. The terror of the threat is enhanced by

its vagueness. Familiarity breeds contempt. If a thing, however bad,

is exactly defined, we can familiarize ourselves with the thought of it in

time, and brace our courage up to meet it. “It doth not yet appear

what we shall be” (I John 3:2), but our idea of it, meantime, has an

element of enlargement in its very indefiniteness. God says vaguely

“Thus,” and stops short, that imagination may fill up the blank. His

silence is charged with deeper meaning than any words could carry.




Ø      Look for a meeting with God. It is INEVITABLE.  It is at hand.

The fact must be faced. No good, but harm, can come out of the attempt

to escape or blink it (II Corinthians 5:10; Psalm 139:7-12).


Ø      Prepare for it. This is A WORD OF HOPE!   Meeting with God is

inevitable; but it need not necessarily be injurious. Preparation for it is

possible, being enjoined, and would avail something if it were made.

God never in this life bids people or individuals prepare to




Ø      Do this because of impending judgments. “Because I will do this

unto thee.” We might suppose that if God was going to destroy, the

preparation to meet Him would be too late. But that does not follow.

When Nineveh was wicked God expressed His purpose to destroy it,

but when it became penitent He spared it.  (the book of Jonah)

Hezekiah, prayerless in the particular matter, was bidden prepare to

die; but Hezekiah, praying for more life, was spared fifteen years

(Isaiah 38:1, 5). What God will do to us, so far as it comes

within our cognizance, is conditioned by what we will do to Him.

Until the judgment has actually fallen, the threat of it is A MESSAGE

OF MERCY!   A sentence of destruction itself is a call to repentance,

and so has woven into it a thread of hope. “Because I will do this

 unto thee, PREPARE”.  (v.12)






                                    The Great Preparation (v. 12)


“Therefore thus will I do unto thee, O Israel,” etc. Here an important duty

fathers itself on a stupendous fact. An omnipotent God is in judgment with

sinful Israel. His wrath has expressed itself in bolt after bolt of judgment

already hurled. But these measures are far from embodying all His punitive

resources. In the failure of these to bring repentance there are woes

unnamed, because unutterable, still in store. If Israel, then, would have the

heaviest artillery of retribution kept out of action, they had need bestir

themselves in the matter of a duty the further neglect of which must

precipitate disaster.


·         GOD AND MEN LIVING APART. The enjoyment of God’s presence

was paradise (Genesis 3:8), and will be heaven (1 Thessalonians

4:17); that privilege lost is death (Genesis 3:24), and will be hell

(Luke 16:26).


Ø      The wicked neither have Gods presence nor desire it. “God drove out

the man,” when he became a sinner; and all men, as sinners, are “afar off.”

Purity and impurity are incompatible, and there can be no fellowship

between them. Righteousness and unrighteousness are antagonistic, and

cannot come together without coming into collision. Man’s instinctive

consciousness of this led him to anticipate expulsion from God’s presence

by trying to run away (Genesis 3:8). The separation between God and

the sinner is thus by consent, and in the nature of the case, and so

inevitable during the status quo.


Ø      The righteous enjoy it in the imperfect measure in which they desire it.

The need of Divine fellowship, universal with men, becomes conscious

when they become spiritual (Psalm 42:2). As supply everywhere meets

demand (Philippians 4:19), and measures it, the drawing near of God is

synchronous with the springing of desire for it (Matthew 5:6), as well

as proportioned to its strength (Revelation 21:3). To each of us God

comes when we desire Him, and as we desire Him. If the presence be

intermittent or incognizable, it is because appreciation is inadequate, and

the longing for it irregular or weak (Isaiah 57:15; 43:22).


Ø      To desire it perfectly and possess it fully is heaven. “Heaven is endless

longing accompanied with an endless fruition” (Maclaren). In it there is

perfection of the faculties which commune with God. There is perfection of

opportunity for their exercise. Accordingly, there is perfect attainment of

the normal result. We are “with Christ,” and “know even as also we are




MEET. The wicked fear God (Romans 8:15) and hate Him

(ibid. v. 7), would be miserable in His presence (Revelation 6:16),

and so do all they can to keep away from it (Job 22:17; 21:14).



Ø      They meet Him in the dispensations of providence. He is their King. He

rules their life. All the events in it are of His disposing. He is where He

operates, and so in each operation of which they are the subjects they meet

Him. Especially does He come to them in His judgments, which they are

provoking every day. Misfortune, sickness, death, — these in their order,

for a widening circle, and at ever closer quarters, are occasions of meeting

God which none would choose, yet none can shun.


Ø      They meet Him in the influences of His grace. “No one’s salvation is so

desperate, no one is so stained with every kind of sin, but that God cometh

to him by holy inspirations to bring back the wanderer to himself” (Jerome,

in Pusey). The strivings of the Spirit are unnoticed often, and resisted often

(Luke 19:44; Acts 7:51), and so are in the end withdrawn

(Genesis 6:3); but, so far as we know, they are universal. As truly as He

met the Prophet Balaam in the way does God meet men in the exercise of

constraining or restraining grace.


Ø      They shall meet Him in the judgment day. “Before Him shall be gathered

all nations.” This meeting is sure, and will be unutterably momentous. All

other meetings are preliminary and preparatory to it. It will gather up and

declare and finally administer their cumulative results, The wicked shall be

finally banished from God’s presence, and the righteous be finally admitted

to it; and so for each it shall be the great meeting and the last meeting.



Israel was evidently deficient in this; not expecting the meeting and not

furnished for it. In making it we must:


Ø      Prepare a character. To meet God satisfactorily men must be like Him.

To see Him on the one hand, or relish Him on the other, or be capable in

any sense of holding communion with Him, a man must be pure

Matthew 5:8; II Corinthians 6:14). He must bring to the meeting a

character in sympathy with God’s, if he would bring a blessing away.


Ø      Prepare a case. Man before God is a criminal, guilty, condemned, and

sentenced. He wants all this reversed, and he must be able to show reason

before it can be done. And what are the elements essential to his case?

Clearly the penalty he was under must have been exhaustively endured

(1 Peter 2:24); the Law he is under must have been perfectly obeyed

(Isaiah 42:21); both these things must have been done with the

approval and by the appointment of God (Hebrews 5:4-5); and the man

must be intelligently resting his case on these facts. In other words, there

must be Divine vicarious obedience and death, divinely recognized, and

rested in by faith. Any appearance before God apart from these must end in



Ø      Prepare an advocate. Man cannot plead his own case. lie has no locus

standi (the right to be heard in court).  He can approach God only through

a mediator (1 John 2:1). This mediator, to be admissible, must have Divine

recognition (Isaiah 42:1; Hebrews 5:4-5); to be efficient, must have Divine

power (Psalm 89:19; Matthew 28:18); and to be available, must have

Divine sovereign love for men (Ephesians 5:2). These conditions meet,

and meet only, and ALWAYS MET IN JESUS CHRIST! . He is the one

Advocate of every dispensation. Access into the antitypical holiest of all

has been one thing and by one way always (Hebrews 9:8; 10:19-22). It is

and was and shall be only spiritual and through the Son of God.


Ø      Prepare at once. To Israel a meeting in judgment had been long

foreshadowed, and was now overdue. It might be any time, and must be

soon. A surprise — and in like circumstances it is the same with all —

was probable, and would be disastrous (Revelation 3:3). TO PREPARE

IMMEDIATELY was, therefore, a duty as urgent as it was clear

(Matthew 24:44). It is ill beginning to dig a well when the house of life

is already on fire.



context these are written large. There is:


Ø      An implied promise. “It has hope in it to be bidden to prepare” (Pusey).

The person so enjoined is not yet given up. The menaced doom is not yet

inevitable. The way in which God shall be met, and so the result of the

meeting, is still capable of being modified. Every call to action is an implicit

promise of the result to which it naturally leads. There is also:


Ø      An explicit threat. “Thus will I do unto thee.” There is a vagueness here

that is far more terrible than the most explicit denunciation. A series of

woes already sent has just been named. But there is a woe that is

unutterable in reserve, and already on its way. This, because words are too

weak to express it, is left to the imagination to picture. “Thus will I do

unto thee,” He says, and attempts to particularize no further, where the

sentiment is too terrible for words. And so it is with the woe in store for all

the impenitent wicked. It cannot be literally defined, and so is suggested by

figures such as “the blackness of darkness for ever.” (Jude 1:13), “the

worm that dieth not, and the fire that is not quenched” (Mark 9:48).

But, however figuratively represented, the woe is real, is prepared,

is being kept in store, is incomparably great, AND SHALL FALL



Ø      Whether we are prepared or not, THE MEETING WITH GOD MUST

COME!   “We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ.”

(II Corinthians 5:10)  There is a needs be in the case. The purpose of God

must be fully carded out in issuing all the matters that go down unsettled

to the grave. The righteousness of God must conclusively be vindicated

in meting out to all rewards according to their works. The truth of the

Divine Word, pledged in promise and in threat, MUST BE ESTABLISHED

FOR EVER in the answering of event to explicit prediction. The meeting

may be a joy to us or a shame, as we choose to have it; but it must be a fact.


Ø      A feeling of unreadiness is a necessary step to preparation. The

measure of a sinner’s fancied readiness to face his Maker is the measure of

his ignorance as to what real fitness implies. The man who has been

brought to say, “I dare not face God,” has made one step in advance. He is

disillusionized. His eyes are open and his conscience awake. Self-deception

and false security are at an end (Revelation 3:17-18). The first step

toward grappling with the facts has been taken when once we have fairly

faced them. Realize that you are a sinner, and the grace of God that

bringeth salvation will find appreciation and an open door.





                        The God with Whom We Have to Do (v. 13)


God always acts in character. From the thing He is may be inferred the

quality of the thing He will do. We see Him here:


·         AS REVEALED BY HIS NAMES. Each Divine name and title is a

Divine revelation; sets forth some one of God’s incomparable perfections.

(I recommend the book The Names of God by Nathan Stone - many of

the chapters I have on this website -  #’s 199, 283, 320, 324, 1268,

1269, and 1358 - CY - 2022)


Ø      Jehovah. “The Being;” “the Living One.” In contradistinction to idols,

having real existence. In contradistinction to created things, HAVING

ETERNAL EXISTENCE.  In contradistinction to all outside Himself,

having necessary existence. Jehovah is the true God and alone

claiming  faith, the selfexistent God and alone giving life,



Ø      God. “The Adorable One.” The Sum of all excellence. The Object of all

worship. The Inspirer of all veneration. The Being who at once deserves


Ø      Of hosts. “God of the armies.” The hosts are the heavenly bodies

(Genesis 2:1; Deuteronomy 4:19), the angels (Joshua 5:14-15;

1 Kings 22:19; Psalm 103:21; 148:2), and men (Exodus 12:41).


All these He made, owns, keeps, controls, and uses. He is the universal

Sovereign, and “doeth according to His will” everywhere, always, and

without appeal. Such a Being it is no light thing to meet. Just as it is done

will utter ruin or absolute safety result.


·         AS REVEALED BY HIS WORKS. The worker puts something of

himself into his work — the author into his book, the painter into his

picture, the mechanic into his machine. And so with God (Psalm 19:1).


Ø      He produces physical phenomena. Three kinds are enumerated:


o       solid matter, “the mountains;”

o       gaseous matter, “the wind;”

o       ethereal matter, “dawn, darkness.”


Matter in all forms is the creature of God. Its mutations are the

doing of His power. Its elements are the instruments of His hand.

He does to it and by it what His own moral excellence prompts.

And thus it reveals Him. We


“View great Nature’s open eye,

And see within it trembling lie

The portrait of the Deity.”


Ø      He reveals mental phenomena. Maketh known to man what is his

[man’s] thought.” The power of introspection is peculiar to man of

earthly creatures. He takes cognizance of what passes in his own mind;

reads his thoughts, and analyzes the process of thinking. This is among

the highest exercises of reason. It is a revelation of its marvelous

powers, and so of the wisdom and power of Him by whom the faculty

was bestowed. If a man’s thoughts are open to himself, much more are

they to God. The mind can do all this; WHAT CANNOT THE MAKER

OF IT DO (Jeremiah 17:9-10)?


Ø      He rules moral phenomena. Goeth over the high places of the earth.”

The “high places” are the exalted people. All these He rules. The

highest do His bidding. From prince to peasant ALL ARE BUT CLAY

IN THE POTTER’S HANDS!  Who, then, shall strive with Him?

“Woe to him that striveth with his Maker!  Let the potsherd strive

with the potsherds of the earth.  Shall the clay say to him that

fashioneth it, What makest thou? or thy work, He hath no hands.”

(Isaiah 45:9) What can avail against His transcendent might?

All natural forces, all creaturely existences, are but tools in His

hand, and ministers that do His will. This is the God we must meet,

and to meet whom we may well prepare.



                                    The Majesty of God. (v. 13)


This and several other passages in this book of prophecy prove to us that

Amos was a man who lived much in communion with nature and nature’s

God. A herdsman and a gatherer of figs, he passed his earlier years, not in

towns, in palaces, in libraries, in schools, in the temple, but beneath the

open sky, and in the presence of the solemnity, the grandeur, the sublimity,

of the works of the Eternal. He had climbed the mountains of Judaea, had

gazed upon the rugged ranges that closed in the Dead Sea, had scanned the

desert of the south, and had delighted himself in the blue waters of the

Mediterranean. He had out watched the stars and greeted the glorious

dawn; he had bowed his head before the tempest, and heard the voice of

the Almighty in the thunder’s crash. He had read the scroll which unfolds

itself to every observant eye; he had listened to the language best heard in

solitude and seclusion. His meditations concerning God as known, not by

the book of the law, but by the book of nature, relate to;


·         GOD’S CREATIVE POWER. This            He doubtless recognized wherever

he turned, by day and by night, in the peaceful plain and upon the awful

hills. He here refers to two instances of the Maker’s might, two proofs of

His incomparable majesty. “He formeth the mountains. The stability and

the immensity of the mountains have ever possessed a charm and an

inspiration for the sensitive and thoughtful student of nature. Little as

Amos could have known of those processes by which the enduring hills

have been fashioned, he was capable of appreciating their testimony to the

Creator, and probably of recognizing their symbolism of Divine attributes.

The wind is a phenomenon which has always impressed the observer of

God’s works. Its immense power and its inscrutable mystery, its tenderness

as it breathes through the forests at eventide, its awfulness when it roars

upon the mountains, when it lashes into fury the mighty waves of the sea,

are suggestive of the manifold operations of the all-comprehending Deity.

And our Lord Himself has reminded us of its symbolical significance as

setting forth the wonderful, varied, and inexplicable manifestations of the

presence and the working of the Divine Spirit.


·         GOD’S SPIRITUAL INSIGHT. When the prophet describes God as

“declaring unto man what is his thought,” the language has sometimes been

taken to refer to the Divine thought revealed to man; but it probably is to

be interpreted of that omniscient energy by virtue of which the Eternal

penetrates the spiritual nature of men and reads their thoughts afar off.

That the creating Spirit is thus in perpetual and intimate contact with those

created spirits into which He has breathed the breath of life, and which He

has fashioned in His own likeness: this is reasonable enough. Yet the

enunciation of this unquestionable truth should have two effects upon us. It

should enhance our conception of God’s majesty, and so call forth our

adoration and our praise; and it should make us concerned as to the moral

quality of the thoughts of our minds, which the omniscient and holy God

must surely estimate with justice, and by a standard infinitely lofty and



·         GOD’S PROVIDENTIAL RULE. If we take literally the language,

“That maketh the morning darkness, and treadeth upon the high places of

the earth,” then these clauses are additional acknowledgments of the

Creator’s power and wisdom as displayed in nature. But coming after the

preceding clause, which refers to men’s thoughts, they seem to invite

another interpretation. God’s presence is to be recognized in the order of

the world, in the tokens of moral government, in the workings of

retributive law — in a word, in the facts which are justly deemed



·         GOD’S GLORIOUS NAME. To the Hebrew mind there was a very

close connection between the nature and attributes and the Name of the

Divine Ruler and Lord. He was Jehovah, i.e. the Self-existing and Eternal,

whose Being accounts for all being beside. He was the Lord of hosts, i.e.

supreme over all powers, possessed of all might, ordering all natures and

all processes ACCORDING TO HIS OWN WISDOM!  The angelic hosts of

unseen ministers and warriors, the armies of Israel and of the nations, the

innumerable forces that obey the Divine behests and bring to pass the

Divine purposes, — all these are beneath the cognizance and the sway of

the Eternal, all these are ever executing His authoritative commandments

and establishing His universal and everlasting kingdom. In the presence of a

Being so glorious, so mighty, so holy, what power attaches to the monition

of Scripture, “Stand in awe, and sin not”! (Psalm 4:4)







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