Amos 8

 

 

In this chapter Amos relates the fourth vision, the basket of summer fruit, the

Lord shows that the people is RIPE FOR JUDGMENT.   Explaining this

revelation, Amos denounces the oppression and greed of the chieftains (Vs. 4-10),

and warns them that those who despise the Word of God shall some day

suffer from A FAMINE OF THE WORD (vs. 11-14).

 

1 “Thus hath the Lord GOD shewed unto me: and behold a basket of

summer fruit.”   Septuagint, a]ggov ijxeutou~ - aggos ixeutou -  a

fowler’s vessel;” Vulgate, uncinus pomorum, which Jerome explains,”

Sicut uncino rami arborum detrahuntur ad poma carpenda, ita ego

proximum captivitatis tempus attraxi.” The word chelub is taken to mean

“a basket of wickerwork;” it is used for “a cage” in Jeremiah 5:27, but

is found nowhere else. The gathering of fruit was the last harvest of the

year, and thus fitly typified THE FINAL PUNISHMENT OF ISRAEL.

This is set forth by the play on the word in the next verse.

 

2 “And He said, Amos, what seest thou? And I said, A basket of

summer fruit. Then said the LORD unto me, The end is come upon

my people of Israel; I will not again pass by them any more.”

The end (kets). This is very like the word for “fruit” (kaits).

Pass by (see note on ch.7:8).

 

3 “And the songs of the temple shall be howlings in that day, saith the

Lord GOD: there shall be many dead bodies in every place; they

shall cast them forth with silence.”  The songs of the temple; Septuagint,

ta< fatnw>mata tou~ naou~ - ta phatnomata tou naou -  the pannels of the

temple;” Vulgate, cardines templi. These versions point to a different reading.

It is better rendered, “the songs of the palace,” referring to the songs of the

revelers mentioned already (ch. 6:5). These shall be changed into howlings

of lamentation for the dead which lie around (compare v.10).  The inevitable

tendency of sin is to turn songs of gladness into HOWLINGS OF

DISTRESS.  There shall be many dead bodies. The Hebrew is more forcible:

“Many the corpses: in every place He hath cast them forth. Hush!” The Lord is

represented as casting dead bodies to the ground, so that DEATH IS

EVERYWHERE and the interjection “hush!” (compare ch.6:10) is an

admonition to bend beneath the hand of an avenging God (compare Zephaniah

1:7). Orelli takes it as an expression of the apathy that accompanies severe and

Irremediable suffering suffering too deep for words. The Greek and Latin

versions take this onomatopoetic word has! “hush!” as a substantive. Thus the

Septuagint, ejpirjrJi>yw siwph>n, - epirripso siopaen -  I will cast upon

them silence;” Vulgate, projicietur silentium — an expressive rendering,

 but one not supported by grammatical considerations.

 

 

A Nation Ripe for Ruin (vs. 1-3)

 

While immunity lasts iniquity will go on.  “Because sentence against an evil

work is executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set

in them to do evil.”  (Ecclesiastes 8:11).   Men only love it less than they

fear suffering. In the actual presence of the penalty the hand of the

transgressor is stayed. The murderer will not strike the death blow under a

policeman’s eye. The blasphemer will not move a lip when the thunderbolt

is crashing through his roof. But by so little does the one feeling master the

other that if punishment be not both certain and at hand, the fear of it will

fail to deter from sin. “My lord delayeth his coming (Matthew 24:48).

Let escape be out of the question, yet even the chance of respite will turn the

scale in favor of doing the forbidden thing. Israel, sentenced and to be destroyed

some time, sinned with a high hand. Israel, sentenced to be destroyed soon,

yet sinned still. Perhaps Israel, sentenced to be destroyed at once, may be

brought to bay. Here God tries the experiment.

 

  • THERE IS A TIME WHEN THE VINE OF SODOM RIPENS ITS

FRUIT. Sin has its day. It disturbs the harmony of things, and when

derangement reaches a climax a catastrophe comes, and arrests the process

with a “thus far and no further.” (Job 38:11)  Israel’s wicked course had

reached this critical point.

 

Ø      Idolatry, the archetypal sin against the first table, had practically

superseded the worship of God. It was the religion of the king,

and court and people. IT WAS ESTABLISHED AND ENDOWED

BY THE STATE  (the United States had better consider, and

reconsider her actions of the last half century – by being

HELL BENT on separation of church and state – she had better

watch it that she makes not the same mistake by THE

INSTITUTION OF IDOLATRY THAT IS ESTABLISHED

AND ENDOWED BY THE UNITED STATES – it would be

profitable for her if she, of all things, would take a page out of

the book of one of the most wicked kings of Israel to ever live,

Ahab, who, when he heard of his doom, the sentence of the

Lord, through Elijah, “WALKED SOFLY” - I Kings 21:21-24 –

CY – 2013)  Its rites were observed at Bethel and elsewhere, in

profane mimicry of the Levitical worship at Jerusalem. The

substitution of it for the worship of Jehovah was part of the

royal policy. Short of this the national apostasy could go no

further. Interference, if it would be in time to save anything,

must take place at once.

 

Ø      Oppression, the archetypal sin against the second table, had

reduced society to dissolution. The safeguards of property, liberty,

and life were alike removed (ch.3:9-10; 5:7,12; 6:3). The order of

society had been converted into chaos. Incapable of using liberty

without perverting it into license, it was high time to deprive Israel

of the grossly abused trust. As slaves they would be under a regime

of the strong arm, which was the only one that suited them in present

circumstances. There are chains forging somewhere for the man

who can neither consider others NOR RULE HIMSELF!

 

  • SUCH RIPENING FOREBODES AN EARLY GATHERING (v.2 -

“The end is come upon my people of Israel.” )  The sickle is put in as

soon as the harvest is ripe. No practical husbandry could delay the

operation longer.

 

Ø      The crop has then reached the limits of its growth. Like the corn

ripe unto harvest, or the grape purple and mellow, the natural life of

Israel had fully developed itself. Tastes were matured, habits acquired,

and characters settled into crystalline form. Things generally had put

on AN ASPECT OF FINALITY and the sickle of judgment that

follows the ripening of character need no longer wait. Let the ripe

sinner BEWARE THE SCYTHE  (Revelation 14:14-20).   The

fruits of unrighteousness full grown are suggestive of the harvesters

on their way.

 

Ø      It is then ready to serve its natural purpose. Green grapes are

useless in the vat, and green faggots would only put out the fire. It is

in the harvest, when both are mature, that the wheat and the tares

alike are sent to their ultimate destination (Matthew 13:24-30).

One purpose, a high and noble one, Israel had at last proved their

unfitness to serve; their exclusive fitness for another purpose

had only now by the same events become apparent. Reward and

punishment alike take typical form only when they have reference to

lives and characters which have assumed an aspect of finality.

The hard grain and the dry faggot are waiting respectively for the

mill and for the fire.

 

Ø      After this it will be in the way of the next crop. When the reaper

goes the ploughman comes. If the harvesting were neglected the plowing

must be postponed. Israel had failed utterly to accomplish its Divine

mission, and, left longer alone, would only prevent its accomplishment

by other agency. Take the talent from him, and give it to him that

 hath ten talents.”  (Matthew 25:28).  The unfruitful become in a little

while cumberers of the ground, and a necessary measure of practical

husbandry is then to cut them off.  (Luke 13:7)

 

Ø      At this stage it will begin naturally to decay. Overripe fruit

will “go bad “at once. If not used or preserved when ripe, it will be

lost altogether.  NATIONAL DECLINE WAITS ON NATIONAL

CORRUPTION.  Israel become utterly dissolute would go to pieces

according to a natural law, even if the Assyrian never came. Indeed,

it was in the degeneracy already apparent that the invader saw

his opportunity and found the occasion of his coming. The disease

that stops the career of the sensualist means GOD’S

JUDGMENT ON ONE SIDE and the natural breakdown of

his constitution on the other.  (Proverbs 5:11;  Romans 1:27)

 

  • THE DUNGHILL IS THE DESTINATION OF ALL TAINTED

PRODUCE. (v. 3.) The incorrigible wrong doer is involved at last in

OVERWHELMING CALAMITY.   God’s judgments must fall, His mercy

notwithstanding. Indeed, they are an aspect of it. “A God all mercy is a

God unjust.” He is leaving the lion to prey on the lamb. The most merciful

course is that which offers most effective opposition to the wicked doings

of wicked men. Israel’s manners are past reforming, and past enduring.

By their intolerable ABUSE OF FREEDOM  they showed their fitness

only to be slaves. And according to character and capacity they must be treated.

What is bad for the table may be good for the dunghill. The life of many had

become a curse, and it only remained to stop that, and MAKE THEIR

DEATH A WARNING!  That is one crop which even the sluggard’s garden

cannot refuse to bear (Proverbs 24:30-32).

 

  • THE OCCASION OF SUCH A HARVEST HOME TOO

DEPLORABLE FOR WORDS. (v. 3, “Hush!”).  When judgment is

overwhelming, SILENCE IS FITTING!

 

Ø      As opposed to songs. These had resounded from the palace.

They spoke of mirth and revelry. But they would be turned into yells

ere long. In awestruck anticipation of the utterance of pain and horror,

the prophet bids the revelers be silent.

 

Ø      As opposed to lamentations. You cannot always “give sorrow words.”

There is a grief that “speaks not” — the grief of the overwrought heart. “I

was dumb, opening not the mouth, because this stroke was thine

(Psalm 39:9-10).  Such grief would befit a time like this. Words, however

strong, must be beneath the occasion. Let them then remain unspoken,

and let the eloquence of silence meet the overwhelming severity

of the visitation.

 

Ø      As opposed to reproaches. Israel had outlived the period of probation,

and therefore of expostulation. Its “great transgression” was committed,

its course unchangeably chosen, its doom sealed. The condemned and

sentenced murderer is removed to his cell in silence. In sterner measures

than abuse of words MUST HIS CRIME BE EXPIATED.  (See

Numbers 35:16-34 – this web site – CY – 2013)  His very life is to be

exacted, and windy denunciation may well be spared. “Let him alone”

(Hosea 4:17) is of all measures the most sternly significant. It is the

preternatural hush of the elemental world, presaging the thunder crash

that shall make the very earth to reel.

 

4 “Hear this, O ye that swallow up the needy, even to make the poor

of the land to fail,”  The prophet, by admonishing the grandees of their iniquities,

which they will not cast away, shows HOW RIPE THEY ARE FOR

JUDGMENT! That swallow up; better, that pant after (ch. 2:6-7), like a beast

after its prey, eager to devour. Even to make the poor of the land to fail; and

cause the meek of the land to fail. They grasp at the property of the

unresisting poor, adding field to field, and impoverishing them in various

ways, to root them out of the land.

 

5 “Saying, When will the new moon be gone, that we may sell corn?

and the sabbath, that we may set forth wheat, making the ephah

small, and the shekel great, and falsifying the balances by deceit?”

When? expresses impatience and desire, as in the hymn —

                                                               

“Thy joys when shall I see?”

 

The new moon. The first day of the month was a holiday, on which all

trade was suspended. It is not mentioned in Exodus, Leviticus, or

Deuteronomy; but its observance is enjoined in Numbers 28:11, and

various notices of this occur in later Scriptures; e.g. I Samuel 20:5;

II Kings 4:23; Hosea 2:11; Colossians 2:16. These greedy

sinners kept the festivals, indeed, but they grudged the time given to them,

and considered it as wasted. The sabbath. Compare the difficulties with

which Nehemiah had to contend in upholding the sanctity of the sabbath

(Nehemiah 10:31; 13:15-22). May set forth; literally, open; so Septuagint,

kai< ajnoi>xomen qhsauro>n kai anoixomen thaesauronthat we may

market.  The word expresses the opening of the granaries and storehouses.

The ephah, by which corn was measured (The ephah was about three pecks.

according to Josephus (‘Ant.,’ 15:9. 2), it contained one Attic medimnus,

which would be nearly a bushel and a half.  Fraudulent weights and

measures are often denounced (Leviticus 19:35-37; Deuteronomy 25:14-16;

Proverbs 20:10, 23; and here - from note on Micah 6:10). This

they made small, and so gave less than was paid for. The shekel. The weight

by which money was weighed. This they made great, and thus gained too high

a price for the quantity of corn. Coined money of determined value seems

not to have been used before the return from Captivity, all payments of fixed

amount previous to that period being made by weighing (compare Genesis 23:16;

33:19; 43:21; Exodus 30:13; Isaiah 46:6). Falsifying the balances by deceit;

better, as in the Revised Version, dealing falsely with balances of deceit.

To increase their gains they falsified their scales or used fraudulent weights

(see Leviticus 19:36). Thus they cheated the poor probably in three ways —

by SMALL MEASURE, EXORBITANT PRICE  and LIGHT WEIGHT.

 

6 “That we may buy the poor for silver, and the needy for a pair of

shoes; yea, and sell the refuse of the wheat?” Buy the poor for silver

(compare ch.2:6). The probable meaning is that they so reduced the poor

man by their exactions and injustice, that he was compelled to pay his debt

by selling himself into slavery (Leviticus 25:39; Deuteronomy 15:12).

For a pair of shoes. For the smallest debt they would deal in this harsh

manner. The refuse; literally, that which fell through the sieve; Septuagint,

 jApo< panto<v gennh>matov ejmporeuso>meqa Apo pantos gennaematos

emporeusometha -  We will trade in every kind of produce;” Vulgate,

Quisquilias frumenti vendamus, “Let us sell the refuse of corn.”

 

 

The Covetous Man’s Way (vs. 4-6)

 

Punishment, however stern, is proportioned rigidly to sin. They answer to

each other as face to face. From the contemplation of Israel’s deplorable

fate we turn to the horrors of her crime. And they are dark beyond

exaggerating. To idolatry, DETHRONING HIM AND ROBBING

HIM OF HIS GLORY  is added covetousness DEFRAUDING

AND DESTROYING MEN!   Indeed, the one is but a department of the

other. The worst type of mammon worshipper, the covetous, is an idolater in

a very real sense (Colossians 3:5).  And Israel’s covetousness,

detached as it was from all religious restraints, and operating in a purely

heathen connection, was of the most aggravated and repulsive kind. Acting

in character, observe that:

 

  • IT SELECTS AN EASY PREY. (v.4, “the poor; the meek.”)

 

Ø      The poor cannot defend themselves. Their poverty makes

them helpless, and the weakness which ought to commend them

to protection commends them to plunder. Covetousness, the

meanest of the vices in any circumstances, goes down to the

nadir of paltriness when it wrings its gold “from the hard hands”

of the poor.

 

Ø      The meek will not resist. Their position and disposition are

both against it. They would “rather suffer wrong.” And they

get enough of it to suffer. Weak on one hand, and unresisting on the

other, they are a doubly tempting prey to the pitiless vulture’s beak.

 

  • IT HAS MURDER IS ITS HEART. “Gape to destroy,” as the beast of

prey its victim at hand. There is a covetousness that puts its own paltriest

gain above another’s life. It will have men’s money ALTHOUGH

THEIR LIFE SHOULD PAY THE FORFEIT.   This is the very spirit

of murder. To make money, at the necessary cost of human life, is to break

the sixth commandment as well as the eighth.

 

  • IT HANKERS AFTER SUNDAY TRADING. (v.5 - “When is the

new moon over,” etc.?) These people retained the form of sabbath

observance, but the reality had been altogether abandoned. They occupied

its sacred hours with wishes that they were over. “Sabbath days and

sabbath work are a burden to carnal hearts” (Matthew Henry). The

hours drag heavily. Time-killing devices are exhausted. “Behold, what

a weariness it is!” (Malachi 1:13) is the verdict on God’s day, given

weekly through all their years.  (The best analogy I know is:  Once

there was a man who had seven dollars in his pocket, who came upon

a man down and out.  He gave the beggar six of his dollars and then

the beggar turned around and robbed him of the seventh.  That is what

men try to do to God.  – CY – 2013)  “When shall I come add appear

before God?” (Psalm 42:2) - a question that the spiritually minded ask,

is one which the carnally minded CANNOT EVEN UNDERSTAND!

They are making markets mentally in the very house of God, and, with the

words of worship on their lips, “their heart goes after covetousness.” From

Sunday devising to Sunday transacting of business the step is but a small

one — too small not to be taken when opportunity and temptation meet.

 

  • IT PRACTICES UNFAIR DEALING. (vs. 5-6.) As they fear not

God, neither do they regard man. When religion is abandoned, MORALITY

IS UNDERMINED.   Given greed present, and religious restraint absent,

and DISHONEST DEALING IS INEVITABLE!

 

Ø      One device is the use of a false balance. “Make the ephah small,

and the shekel great,” i.e. give thirteen pounds to the stone, and

charge twenty-one shillings to the pound. They perpetrate thus

a double swindle, robbing “with both hands earnestly.” Such fraud

is too unscientific and direct for any but the coarser cheats. There

are more delicate ways of fraudulent dealing, which the more refined

rogues affect. Such a method is:

 

Ø      Selling an adulterated or inferior article. “The refuse of the

corn we will sell” (v. 6). This is probably the commonest form

of commercial fraud. There are few who possess the strength of

moral fiber to avoid it entirely. We might arrange it on a graduated

scale. At one end is the man who bluntly sells one thing under the

name of another. At the other end is the man who, in selling,

insinuates the impression that the thing is of better

quality than it really is. Between these two are dishonest artifices

of all varieties and shades. All, however, originate in covetousness,

eventuate in injustice, and deserve the generic name of FRAUD.

 

 

  • IT TRAFFICS IN HUMAN LIFE, AND THAT FOR A

CONTEMPTIBLE PRICE. (v. 6.) The law, compelling the poor to sell

themselves to their creditors to work for what they owed, was enforced in

the case of the paltriest debts, and the needy might be brought into

bondage for want of the price of even a pair of shoes. To work such

hardship on such trifling occasion argues inhumanity too gross to be long

endured. The worker has inverted the natural order, has lost out the sense

of reverence, is blind to the dignity of human nature, and has conclusively

shown that he is an eyesore, and his life a curse, to the society in

which he lives. His selfishness puts the least interest of his own above

the most essential interest of others. His greed of gain has so intensified

that he is blind at last to all other considerations. He has fallen altogether

beneath the human level, and when a man has done this, the chances are

that he has lived his day. Well may we pray, “Incline my heart to thy

testimonies, and not to covetousness.”  (Psalm 119:36)

 

 

The Moral Disease of Covetousness (v. 6)

 

The symptoms of covetousness may differ in different states of society; and there are

details in the text which apply rather to the state of society in Samaria of old than to

the west of today. But the malady is the same, deep-rooted in the moral constitution

of sinful men. This sin is:

 

  • Injurious to the person who commits it. He who sets his affection upon

this world’s good, who carries his selfishness so far as to deprive, or even

to wish to deprive, his neighbor of what is his — far more he who uses

fraud or violence to gratify this desire — is working his own ruin. He is

subverting the standard of value, by SETTING THE MATERIAL

ABOVE THE SPIRITUAL.  He is dragging his aspirations down from

the stars above his head to the dust beneath his feet.

 

  • Mischievous to society. If all men follow the example of the covetous,

and long for the possessions of others, then human society becomes a den

of wild beasts bent upon devouring one another, and earth becomes a very

hell. Instead of being members one of another, in the case supposed, every

man sees an enemy in his neighbor, and seeks his harm. The bonds of

society are strained, are even broken.

 

  • Displeasing to God. In the ten commandments a place was found for the

prohibition of this spiritual offence: “Thou shalt not covet.” This fact is

sufficient to show how hateful is this sin in the eyes of the great Lord and

Ruler of all.

 

 

 

 

The Divine Remedy for Covetousnes:

 

  • The recognition of the benevolence and bounty of God. From Him

cometh down “every good gift and every perfect boon” (James 1:17). 

He is  the Giver of all, who openeth His hands, and supplieth the

 need of every living thing.  (Psalm 104:27-28; 145:15-16).  He who would

share the Divine nature must cherish an ungrudging and liberal spirit.

 

  • The remembrance of the “unspeakable Gift” (II Corinthians 9:15), and

of the incomparable sacrifice of the Redeemer. Our Saviour’s whole aim

was to impart to men the highest blessings, and in the quest of this aim He

gave His life for us. His constraining love alone is able to extirpate that

selfishness which in human nature is the very root of covetousness.

 

  • The adoption of the counsels and the submission to the spirit of Christ.

It was His saying, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

(Acts 20:35)

 

7 “The LORD hath sworn by the excellency of Jacob, Surely I will

never forget any of their works.”  Such crimes as these, WHICH SAP

THE VERY FOUNDATIONS OF SOCIAL LIFE,  SHALL MEET

WITH VENGEANCE!   The Excellency of Jacob. This is a title of

God Himself, as in Hosea 5:5; 7:10, where it is rendered “pride.” Thus

the Lord is said to swear by His holiness (ch.4:2), by His soul (ch.6:8;

compare I Samuel 15:29). So here He swears by Himself, who is

THE GLORY AND PRIDE OF ISRAEL; as truly as He is this, He will

punish.  The Vulgate treats the sentence differently, Juravit in superbium

Jacob, i.e. “The Lord hath sworn against the pride of Jacob,” against the

arrogancy with which they treat the poor, and trust in their riches, and

deem themselves scours. So the Septuagint, jOmnu>ei Ku>riov kata< th~v

uJperhfani>av jIakw>b Omneui Kurios kata taes huperaephanias

Iakob  - the Lord has sworn by the pride of Jacob -  I will never forget, so as

to leave unpunished.  Literally, if I forget,  equivalent to a most decided

denial, as Hebrews 4:3, 5.

 

 

Confirming by an Oath (v.7)

 

God’s judgments sometimes take, and will continue to take, the wicked by

surprise (Matthew 24:36-39). But this need not be, and should not be,

and can be only where blindness, or heedlessness, or incredulity make

warning useless. God always warns before He strikes. Sometimes He warns

by divers methods at once. Often He warns again and again. Invariably He

warns with a solemnity that makes disbelief a crime and stupid. Here is a

case in point.

 

  • THE OATH THAT CANNOT BE BROKEN. “God is not a man, that

He should lie” (Numbers 23:19).  To do so would be a natural impossibility,

a contradiction of Himself. For the same reason His truthfulness can have no

degrees; His slightest word is absolutely inviolable. Yet to human apprehension

an oath is peculiarly convincing, and, accommodating Himself to men’s

weakness, God condescends, on peculiarly, solemn occasions, not merely to say,

but swear. Here He swears:

 

Ø      By Himself. “The Pride of Jacob” is JEHOVAH HIMSELF!

Elsewhere explicitly God swears by “Himself” (Jeremiah 51:14),

by His “great Name” (Ibid. 44:26), by His “holiness” (ch.4:2),

by His “life (Ezekiel 33:11). This is of necessity. Men “swear by

 the greater.” God, “because He can swear by no greater,

swears by Himself” (Hebrews 6:17, 13). In this form of oath the

greatest Being is invoked, and so the maximum of solemnity is

 reached, whether it is God who swears or man.

 

Ø      By Himself in His ideal relation to Israel. “By the Pride of Jacob”

Israel, alas! did not “glory in the Lord.” They gloried in their idols.

“These be thy gods, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt

(Exodus 32:4), they had said, in their blind fatuity, of the molten calf.

God had been forgotten and His wonders ignored before they were

many days accomplished, and in this forgetfulness THEY HAD

PERSISTENLY GONE ON!  Yet was He none the less their

Glory still, the Strength of Israel, their Light and Life, the

Founder, Builder, Sustainer, of their kingdom, the ONE

SOURCE and SPRING  of all that made them great!   This

fundamental relation He emphasizes here in vowing vengeance

on their sin.  By this character, as their Life and Strength and

Excellence, He swears He will now degrade and destroy them

utterly. The nearer God’s tie to the rebels, the greaser outrage is

their rebellion, and the more embittered the after relations. It is

on the ruins of violated friendship that the most

irreconcilable enmity arises. Not even the heathen is as hateful, or

doomed to a fate as direful, as THE APOSTATE!

 

  • THE RECORD THAT CANNOT BE ERASED.I will not forget and

forever.” To forget is to forgive, put out of sight, treat as non-existent. “I

will remember their iniquities no more”  (Hebrews 8:13).  Sin unatoned

cannot be forgiven. God must be just in His justifying, and justice demands

satisfaction. From the provided satisfaction the unbelieving sinner has

turned away, and so from the grace of his own salvation. Neither can sin

unforsaken. The sinner is in actual conflict with God, and the rebel may not

be forgiven with arms in his hands. Neither can sin unrepented of. Still

loving sin, the impenitent is not in a moral condition to appreciate pardon,

and the gift of God is not to be thrown away. By such a threefold cord

Israel was bound to INEVITABLE DESTRUCTION!.

 

8 “Shall not the land tremble for this, and every one mourn that

dwelleth therein? and it shall rise up wholly as a flood; and it shall

be cast out and drowned, as by the flood of Egypt.”  Shall not the land

tremble for this? “This” is THE COMING JUDGMENT, or the oath with

which God announced it in the previous verse and the prophet asks,

“Shall not the land tremble as with an earthquake when the Lord comes to

 judgment?” The Septuagint, rendering ejpi< tou>toiv epi toutoisand

for this - takes the reference to be to the “works” or sins of the people (v. 7);

but the thought in these two verses is the punishment of the transgressions, not

the transgressors themselves. And it shall rise up wholly as a flood (ch.

9:5). The Septuagint, pointing differently, renders, Kai< ajnabh>setai wJv

potamo<v sunte>leia, - kai anabaesetai hospotamos sunteleia -And destruction

 shall come up as a river;” the Vulgate, Et ascendet quasi fluvius universus; it is

best, however, to refer both clauses to the Nile: “Yea, it shall rise up wholly

like the river” — the land shall heave and swell like the waters of the Nile at

its annual rising.  And it shall be cast out and drowned, as by the flood of Egypt;

better, it shall be tossed up and sink again, like the river of Egypt — a

picturesque comparison, which would allude to a phenomenon well known

to the Israelites. It is as though the whole earth were turned into a sea,

tossing and laboring under a tempestuous wind (compare Isaiah 24:4).

(for a sense of this, I recommend typing in your browser images of the 2010

Japanese tsunami  - CY  - 2013).

 

9 “And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord GOD, that I

will cause the sun to go down at noon, and I will darken the earth

in the clear day:”  I will cause the sun to go down at noon. This is probably to

be taken metaphorically of a sudden calamity occurring in the very height

of seeming prosperity, such as the fate of Israel in Pekah’s time, and

Pekah’s own murder (II Kings 15:29-30; see also Ibid. ch.17:1-6) - (However,

I would never sell God short, as He is Omnipotent! – Remember, He is

El Shaddai – The One who can go against nature – I highly recommend

Genesis 17 – El Shaddai – Names of God by Nathan Stone – this web

site – about half of the following references seem MUCH MORE THAN

A METAPHOR - CY – 2013).  A like metaphor is common enough; e.g.

Joel 2:2: 3:15; Micah 3:6; Job 5:14; Isaiah 13:10; Jeremiah 15:9. Hind calculates

that there were two solar eclipses visible in Palestine in Amos’s time, viz. June 15,

B.C. 763, and February 9, B.C. 784. Some have suggested that the prophet

here predicts the latter in the year of Jeroboam’s death; but this, it is

discovered, would have been so partial as hardly to be noticeable at

Samaria. And it is improbable that such natural phenomena, unconnected

with God’s moral government, should be the subject of the prophet’s

prediction. Doubtless a sudden reverse is signified (compare Matthew 24:29-31),

expressed in terms rendered particularly appropriate by some late and well

remembered eclipse. The Fathers note here how the earth was darkened at the

Passion of our Lord.

 

God’s judgments, long threatened, will take the incredulous and unbelieving

by surprise at last.  The antediluvians were no better prepared for the Flood by

their hundred and twenty years’ warning. They absorbed themselves in their work

and pleasure, and knew not till the Flood came (Matthew 24:38-39). So with the

Sodomites, warned by Lot (Genesis 19:14); and the inhabitants of Jerusalem at its

capture, warned by Christ (Matthew 24:33). Warning is thrown away

on unbelief, and its end is always a surprise. In this case the sun would set

at noon. The end would come untimely. In the midst of days and prosperity

Israel would be cut off. There would be no anticipation, no fear, no

suspicion even, of such an event. So with the ungodly at last, the judgment

will surprise them and look untimely, but only because their incredulity will

be unconquerable.

 

 

A Sunset at Noon (v. 9)

 

This language is at once prophetic and figurative. It predicts an event in the

moral world under the figure of an analogous event in the physical world.

The symbolical event is not an eclipse of the sun, which the language does

not suit, but his going down at midday; and the event symbolized is clearly

death in the midst of young life. Israel was rich and prosperous and young.

To all outward seeming she was just in the meridian of her life. But her sun

would never reach the west. Her end would be premature, sudden, and

tragic. As if the sun dropped in an instant beneath the horizon from mid-sky,

and the radiancy of noon gave place in that instant to the darkness of

night; so Israel’s day would darken suddenly, and the night of death fall in

a sky all lit with the golden glow of noon.

 

  • THERE IS TO MEN A NATURAL TERM OF EXISTENCE, WHICH

IS THEIR DAY. There is a natural life term to all earthly creatures. This

varies endlessly for each, between limits so far apart as a millennium and a

day. There are cheloniae that lengthen out their slow existence to centuries,

and there are insects that sport out their little life in an afternoon.

Intermediate between these widely distant limits is man with his three score

years and ten (Psalm 90:10). This period is his day. Beyond it few may

hope, and none expect, to live. To reach it even there must be normal

conditions of life within and around. This is not a long time at best, Let the

utmost diligence be used, and the work that can be done in it is not much.

Take from it the two childhoods, infancy and infirm age, and it becomes

greatly shorter still. Not more than fifty active years enter into the longest

life. On the most sanguine assumption these are the working hours of our

day of life. What we do for God and men is done while they pass. They

may not be so many, but they can scarcely be more, and if they are all given

us we may thankfully reckon that we have lived our time.

 

  • THERE ARE EXCEPTIONAL CASES IN WHICH THIS PERIOD

IS CUT SHORT. The normal life term is not the actual one. The

overwhelming majority never see it. When the septuagenarian has his

birthday feast, the friends of his youth are not one in ten among the guests.

From childhood till that hour they have been dropping off, and now nine-tenths

and more are gone.

 

Ø      Many of the race  die in childhood. Infant mortality is an obscure

subject. Whether from the standpoint of equity or economy, there is

much in it we cannot explain. Their death before they have transgressed

brings up the solemn mystery of original sin, and the suffering of

one for the sin of another (Romans 5:14). Then their death before

activity begins or consciousness dawns, and so apparently before they

have been used, raises the almost equally perplexing question —Is

there, so far as this life goes, a single human being made in vain?

(And to think we have 55,000,000 of them since 1973 – WHAT

A MOUNTAIN OF SIN! - CY – 2013)

 

Ø      Many more die before or at maturity. They are healthy till growth is

almost complete. The body has acquired the strength and hardness

needed for the burden of life’s work. The mind has received the

training which fits it to solve the problems of existence, and govern

and use the body in accomplishing the highest purposes of both.

Yet just now, when the tool has been formed and tempered and

finished, it is broken before it has once been used at its best in the

more serious work of life. Here we are face to face not only with

an apparently purposeless creation, but also with what

seems an unproductive training.

 

Ø      Many also die with their work to all appearance unfinished,

or only well begun. Their capacity is growing; their field is widening;

their influence is increasing. They are in the full swing of activity and

usefulness. Yet at the very moment when the richest fruit of their life

work is beginning to form, they are cut down — cut down, too,

where their death leaves a permanent blank, and no one is available

to take up their work. Their mysterious character and solemn interest

prepare a field for faith in the fact that:

 

  • THESE SUNSETS AT NOON ARE DIVINELY ORDERED. I will

cause,” - To kill and to make alive are Divine prerogatives. Let the sun

set where he will, the event is God’s doing.

 

Ø      Take noon sunsets in sin. These are often untimely and far from

unaccountable.

 

o       Sin is war against God.. The wickedness of men is a

continual provocation of His just judgment, and therefore

an inevitable shortener of life.

 

o       Sin is also war against the species. The wicked are hateful

and hating one another. The essential selfishness of the

corrupt heart is misanthropy in another aspect. Misanthropy,

again, is murder in its earlier stage (I John 3:15), leading on

to the other stages of it (James 4:1-2); and a dispensation of

universal murder must mean many a life cut short and many

a sun untimely set.

 

o       Sin does violence to our cure nature The normal life of the

body is a pure one; the direction of appetites only to their

legitimate objects, and to these in the strictest moderation.

This is obviously the royal road to health and length of days.

Perversion of appetite on the one hand, and excessive

indulgence of it on the other, do violence to the natural order.

If the life is impure, in fact, and as it is impure, it is unnatural,

and therefore likely to be short. There is no “fleshly lust” which

does not “war against the life” (I Peter 2:11) of soul and body

both. Of course, the operation of second causes, such as the

laws of reciprocity and health, is not something distinct

from the Divine agency, but the instrumentality it employs.

The laws of nature are simply God’s executive, the hands

and fingers which weave the threads of His purpose into

the web of His work.

 

Ø      Take noon sunsets in grace. These also are not unknown. The good

die young. Sometimes they die through the sin of others, sometimes in

consequence of sin of their own. These, however, are the occasions

only of their removal. The reason of it lies deep in the purposes of God.

 

o       Some are taken away from the evil to come. (Isaiah 57:1.) The

young Ahijah, “because in him was found some good thing

toward the Lord God of Israel in the house of Jeroboam”

was carried peacefully to his rest before the falling of the

provoked disaster (I Kings 14:10-14). The good King Josiah

also, because he repudiated and mourned the sin of Judah,

“was gathered to his grave in peace, that his eyes did not

see all the evil which God brought upon Jerusalem

(II Kings 22:19-20).  In many a family, on whose

survivors the shock of a great calamity falls, the previous

removal of some gentle spirit from their circle becomes

intelligible as a merciful folding of the tender lamb before

the crash of the nearing storm.

 

o       Some are taken away because their work, although

apparently only beginning, is really done. Not every man’s

life work can be identified, during its progress, by either

his cotemporaries or himself. Sometimes it is incidental,

aside from his line of effort, and altogether unconscious.

A child lives to awake by its endearing ways a parent’s

sleeping heart. A youth lives by the tokens of early grace

to bring brothers and sisters to look at the unseen, and

the life for God. A man lives to carry some movement

over its crisis, which, in its after stages, will require a

different hand. If we only knew “the end of the Lord,

that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.”

(James 5:11), we should see that it is always attained

before the means are discontinued; that he never breaks a

tool till its work is done.

 

o       Some can only do their work by dying. The errand of

Bathsheba’s first child into the world was by its death

to bring David to his knees and a right mind (II Samuel

12:18-23). And how many an early death in a careless

family has been that family’s salvation! Even the minister

cut down in his early prime, with a life of usefulness

opening out, as it seems, before him, may preach a sermon

by his death more potent for good than all he could

have said alive. Untimely death may even in certain cases

anticipate the loss of influence for good. We know men

of influence in the Church who in their erratic age are

undoing the good they were honored to do in their

earlier years. Such men have only lived too long. If their

sun had set at noon their life work would have been far

greater, humanly speaking, than it will now be. Looking

as we do at the surface of things, and blind to their

deeper relations and far-reaching issues, we are not in a

position (and never are – CY – 2013) to criticize the

providential arrangements of God.  To believe that there

is order in the seeming tangle, and ultimate and wider

good behind the present partial evil, is the attitude of

that enlightened faith which argues that Infinite Wisdom,

omnipotent on the one hand and benevolent on the other,

being at the helm of things, will steer in character.

 

10 “And I will turn your feasts into mourning, and all your songs into

lamentation; and I will bring up sackcloth upon all loins, and

baldness upon every head; and I will make it as the mourning of an

only son, and the end thereof as a bitter day.” I will turn your feasts into

mourning, etc. (compare v. 3; ch.5:16-17; Lamentations 5:15; Hosea 2:11).

Sackcloth. A token of mourning (I Kings 20:31; Isaiah 15:3; Joel 1:8, 13).

Baldness. On shaving the head as a sign of mourning, note Make thee bald –

of Micah 1:16 -  The Hebrew word implies “to make the back of the head

bald.” Micah addressee Zion as the mother of the children who are to be

led into captivity. Shaving the head in sign of mourning seems to have been

retained as a traditional custom in spite of the prohibition of the Law

against certain forms which the practice assumed (see Leviticus 19:27;

Deuteronomy 14:1; and for the actual custom, compare Isaiah 3:24;

Jeremiah 7:29; and the note here, on  v.10).  Compare Job 1:20;

Jeremiah 16:6; 47:5; Ezekiel 7:18). I will make it; Ponam eam

(Vulgate); sc. terram. But it is better to take it to refer to the whole state

of things mentioned before. The mourning for an only son was proverbially

severe, like that of the widow of Nain (Luke 7:12-16; compare Jeremiah 6:26;

Zechariah 12:10).   That is bitter mourning indeed. The loss of an

only one is total loss, including our all. It is irreparable loss, for the dead

cannot come back. It is loss not physical merely, nor sentimental merely,

but loss wringing the heart strings, and leaving us with the very jewel of

life torn from its setting. Such is the mourning in which UNFORGIVEN

SIN is expiated at last. It is heart agony, unrelieved, unmitigated, and never to

end. “Son, remember” (Luke 16;25); “There shall be wailing and

 gnashing of teeth”(Matthew 13:42,50); “Their worm dieth not, and

their fire is not quenched.” (Mark 9:46).  And the end thereof as a bitter

 day. The calamity should not wear itself out; IT SHOULD BE BITTER

UNTO THE END.  Septuagint, Qh>somaitou<v me>t aujtou~ wJv hJme>ran

ojdu>nhvthaesomai…..tous met Autou hos haemeran odunaes -  “I will

make… those with him as a day of anguish.”

 

11 “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a

famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but

of hearing the words of the LORD:”  This shall be the bitterness at the end;

they had rejected the warnings of the prophets (ch.7:12-13); now the Word of

God and the light of His teaching should fail them. Famine. When the light of God’s

revelation is withdrawn, their longing for the Word, however sore and

great, shall remain unsatisfied, like that of Saul (I Samuel 28:6). They

may grieve like the psalmist, We see not our signs; there is no more any

prophet; neither is there among us any that knoweth how long” (Psalm

74:9); but it will be in vain (see a similar punishment threatened, Lamentations 2:9;

Ezekiel 7:26; Micah 3:7).

 

 

A Famine of the Word of God (v. 11)

 

There are many blessings which are not suitably valued until they are

withdrawn and missed. It is so with bodily health, with political liberty,

with domestic happiness. And the prophet assumes that it will be found the

same with the Word of God. When it is possessed — when the Scriptures

are read and the Gospel is heard — it is too often the case that the privilege is

unappreciated. But what must it be TO BE SHUT OFF FROM ALL

COMMUNICATION WITH HEAVEN!  And such, it was foretold, was to

be the lot of Israel in the days of retribution and calamity which were about to

overtake Israel

 

  • THE WORDS OF GOD ARE TO THE SOUL AS BREAD AND

WATER TO THE BODY.   Man’s bodily constitution is such that food and

drink are a necessity to health and even to life; to be even partially starved

is to be disabled and to be rendered wretched. Even so, the truth, the

righteousness, the love of God, are the necessary aliment of THE

SPIRITUAL NATURE.   “Man shall not live by bread alone,

but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.”

(Matthew 4:4).  Fellowship with God by His Word is

INDISPENSABLY NECESSARY in order that a high, holy, and

acceptable service may be rendered.

 

  • A FAMINE OF THE WORD OF GOD IS TO BE DREADED AS

DETRIMENTAL TO SPIRITUAL LIFE AND WELL BEING.

 

Ø      If the knowledge of God Himself be withheld, there is for man NO

SOLUTION of all the mysteries of the universe, the mysteries of his

being.

 

Ø      If the Law of God be concealed, there is NO SUFFICIENT

GUIDE THROUGH HUMAN LIFE.

 

Ø      If the gospel of Christ be withheld, there is NO PEACE FOR

THE CONSCIENCE, NO SUFFICIENT INSPIRATION

FOR DUTY, NO ASSURANCE OF IMMORTALITY.

 

Ø      If revelation be denied, there is NO POWER, NO

PRINCIPLE SUFFICIENT TO GUIDE AND TO

GOVERN HUMAN SOCIETY. (Vide ‘The Eclipse of Faith,’

by the late Henry Rogers, where a chapter “The Blank Bible,”

sets forth the consequences which may be supposed to follow

upon the disappearance of the Holy Scriptures.)  (For an

account of this see Amos 8 – The Blank Bible by Henry

Rogers – this web site –  Very Good - CY – 2013)

 

  • THOSE WHO POSSES THE WORD OF GOD SHOULD BY

THESE CONSIDERATIONS BE INDUCED TO STUDY IT AND TO

USE IT ARIGHT. Neglect of the Divine Word may not in our case entail

the actual deprivation foretold in the text. But it certainly will entail an

indifference and insensibility to the truth, which will be equally injurious

and disastrous. Now the Word is ours; let us listen to it with reverence and

faith; let us obey it with alacrity and diligence. “Walk in the light while ye

have the light, lest darkness come upon you.”  (John 12:35)

 

12 “And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to

the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the LORD,

and shall not find it.”  They shall wander; literally, they shall reel. The

verse implies THE EAGERNESS OF THEIR UNSATISFIED DESIRE

 which seeks everywhere for the revelation WHICH FOR THEIR SIN

IS DENIED THEM.   From sea to sea. This expression is taken, by Keil and

others, to mean here “all the world over,” as Psalm 72:8; Micah 7:12;

Zechariah 9:10; but it is probably used by the prophet in a more restricted sense,

as it would not be natural for him to refer in the first place to the seeking of the

words of God beyond the limits of the Holy Land. Therefore “from sea to sea”

means from the Sea of Galilee or the Dead Sea to the Mediterranean; and from

the north even to the east — from the north round again to the east, the

south not being mentioned, because there alone was the true worship of

God to be found, and they refused to seek it there. Of course,

according to the wide scope taken by prophecy, which is not exhausted by

one fulfillment, we may see here the fate of the Jews to the present time

hopelessly seeking Messiah and the Word of God, never finding that

which they once recklessly rejected. (They are too busy running organizations

like THE AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION lest the Christianity

make a head road in the land –  CY – 2013) 

 

13  “In that day shall the fair virgins and young men faint for thirst.”

This verse is parallel to the preceding. The thirst, spiritual and physical, shall affect

the fair virgins and young men — those in all the freshness, beauty, and vigor

of youth. Shall faint; literally, shall be veiled, covered, expressive of the feeling

of faintness, when the sight grows dim and a mantle of darkness drops over one

(Jonah 4:8). If the strongest thus fail, much more will the rest succumb to the

threatened calamity.

 

14 “They that swear by the sin of Samaria, and say, Thy God, O Dan,

liveth; and, The manner of Beersheba liveth; even they shall fall,

and never rise up again.”  They who trusted in idols shall find no help in them.

They who swear by. Those who reverence and worship, as Deuteronomy 6:13;

10:20. The sin of Samaria. The golden calf at Bethel (compare Deuteronomy

9:21; Hosea 8:5-6). Septuagint, kata< tou~ iJlasmou~ Samarei>av kata

Tou ilasmou Samareias -  by the propitiation of Samaria.” Thy god,

O Dan, liveth; - i.e. as thy god liveth, by the life of thy god. This was the other

calf erected at Dan, near the source of the Jordan, in the extreme north (I Kings

12:29). The manner of Beersheba liveth; Septuagint, Zh~ oJ qeo>v sou

bhrsabee> - Zae ho Theos sou baersabee -  “Thy god, O Beersheba, lives.”

Some commentators, ancient and modem, think that the actual road which led to

Beersheba is here meant, and would translate, “As the way to Beersheba liveth,”

“By the life of the way to Beersheba,” as Mohammedans swear by the pilgrimage

to Mecca. But it is best to take the word rendered “manner” in the sense of

“way,” as oJdo<v hodosway - is used in Acts (Acts 9:2; 19:9, 23) for mode of

worship, or form of religion, the ritual, or use of the service there. (For

Beersheba, see note on ch. 5:5.) From Dan to Beersheba is just a

hundred and forty-four miles. They shall fall - . This was partially

fulfilled by the destruction of the kingdom of Israel and the deportation of

its inhabitants; and its truth to this day is demonstrated by the fate of the Jews

WHO WILL NOT RECEIVE JESUS AS THE PROMISED MESSIAH!

 

 

The Scarcity that Swallows the Residue of Good (vs. 11-14)

 

To waste is to want, in things temporal and spiritual alike. Abuse is

inevitably followed by deprivation, and the prodigal is one who is

purveying for himself a SUIT OF RAGS.   God caps our “will not” with

His “SHALL NOT” and the rude hand of change soon spills the cup of good

we have refused to taste. Under the operation of this law the nation of Israel

would now come. They had wasted the Word of God, neglecting it, despising it,

and at last forbidding it to be spoken.  (Dear Reader, can you not see this

happening in the USA today? – 2013)  Now they should “want” it as a penal

result. It would, be taken from them in anger, and that at a time when even

their inappreciation would long for it as for life itself. Observe here:

 

  • THE WORST OF ALL FAMINES. “Not a hungering for bread, nor a

thirst for water, BUT TO HEAR THE WORDS OF JEHOVAH.   This is

A NEW FORM OF DISASTER  and one that is specially severe. This

follows from the fact that:

 

Ø      It is in the spiritual sphere. “Fear not them which kill the body.”

(Luke 12:4). IT IS THE LEAST PART OF US.   Whether it

live or die, enjoy life or suffer, is a question involving trivial interests,

and these during a limited period. THE SOUL IS THE MAN AND

HIS WELL BEING;  next to God’s glory, the great interest.  FOR

ITS INJURY THERE IS NO COMPENSATION, FOR ITS

LOSS, NO PARALLEL!   When it suffers, the worst has happened.

 

Ø      It is due to the loss of a necessary of spiritual life. The deepest need

of humanity is a communication from God. “This is life eternal, to

know thee the only true God”  (John 17:3).  Hence the Word

which God speaks is the Word of life. Apart from it SPIRITUAL

LIFE IS IMPOSSIBLE.

 

o       It is the revelation of spiritual things. God and His will and

way; the soul, its duty and destiny, — are subjects on which it

alone throws adequate light. The light of nature makes known

the existence of God, and some features of His character. But

its twilight, whilst touching here and there a mountain top,

leaves all the valleys in darkness. After trying four

thousand years, “the world by wisdom knew not God,”

(I Corinthians 1:21) and did not because it COULD NOT!

In all saving relations Christ is the Revelation of the

Father (Hebrews 1:1; John 1:18), and SCRIPTURE

ALONE REVEALS CHRIST (John 5:39), and the way

of life THROUGH HIM.

 

o       It is the vehicle of spiritual power. “The power of God unto

 salvation”  (Romans 1:16) is Paul’s synonym for the gospel.

Spiritual energy, no doubt, inheres in the Holy Spirit, but He

operates only through or with the truth It carries:

 

§         the power by which life is given (I Peter 1:23),

§         by which life functions are discharged (Romans 10:17),

§         by which the life principle is sustained (Jeremiah 15:16),

§         by which growth is promoted (I Peter 2:2).

 

       In fine, the “engrafted Word,” received with meekness,

       “is able to save our souls”  (James 1:21).  The power that begins,

       that sustains, that develops, that matures religious life is a power

       linked inseparably to the Word. That any saving grace is attainable

       in the absence of it is a thing impossible of proof, and

       which all Scripture testimony bears against.

 

o       It is the assurance of spiritual good. We are saved by hope,

 and it is through patience and comfort of the Scriptures that

this heavenly candle is lighted in the soul (Romans 8:24; 15:4).

The Scriptures reveal the heavenly blessings in store, and thus

supply the warp and woof out of which the WEB OF

COMFORT IS WOVEN.   What we shall have, and that we

shall have it, is the burden of the Word of promise, which,

making the rich FUTURE SURE makes thus THE

PRESENT GLAD AND STRONG.   Poor indeed would

man be if there were no such word to twine the heart’s-ease

when his brow is wrung in anguish and distress. To Israel,

sinful but penitent, God elsewhere, allotting the bread of

adversity, promises, Thine eyes shall see thy teachers,” etc.

(Isaiah 30:20-21). This is calamity, but with compensation.

“Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that

cometh out of the mouth of God”  (Matthew 4:4); and with

God, their Guide and Counselor, no scarcity of bread could

make them altogether wretched.  But, vice versa, the

proposition will not hold.  (Without God, man is designed

that no amount of bread could keep him from being

wretched – CY – 2013).   For the loss of the Word

THERE IS NO OFFSET POSSIBLE!   The impoverishment

is central and radical, and all hedging is out of the question.

 

Ø      This loss at a time when it would be most keenly felt. The Word

of the Lord was precious in those days; there was no open vision.”

(I Samuel 3:1).  The mere fact of the sudden withdrawal of the

Word would create an immediate demand for it. In this case the

demand would rest on a practical necessity. Crushed

by oppressors, hearing only of gods more cruel than those who

make them, how will they hunger and thirst for any tidings of One

who cares for the weary and heavy laden?

 

  • THE CIRCUMSTANCES THAT PROVOKE IT. The unique rigor of

the penalty suggests some special circumstances in the provoking crime.

One of these would be:

 

Ø      Extreme heinousness. “There is a sin unto death” (I John 5:16).

It will never be forsaken. It precludes the idea of penitence. It

involves the perversion, or rather inversion, of character, which

“calls evil good, and good evil”  (And there are woes attached

(Isaiah 5:20 – CY - 2013).  There is nothing for it but the

extreme penalty of being LET ALONE (Hosea 4:17).  And even

that will be inflicted. Saul had provoked it when “God answered

him not, neither by dreams, nor by Urim, nor by prophets”

(I Samuel 28:6).  Israel had provoked it when God said to His servant,

“Thou shalt be dumb, and shalt not be to them a reprover (Ezekiel

3:26; 7:26). When a man sins on principle, he is not far off “a famine

of hearing the words of the Lord.”

 

Ø      Failure of other judgments to turn. “Why should ye be stricken

any more? ye will revolt more and more” (Isaiah 1:5).  Other

judgments had been for reformation and had failed; this would be

FOR DESTRUCTION – THE ONLY ALTERNATIVE LEFT.

When “cure” is out of the question, what else is to be done

but “kill”?

 

Ø      Chafing under and rejecting the Word itself. Israel had heard

more of the words of the Lord than they wished. They had made

an effort to get rid of them, or some of them, by forbidding His

prophets to speak His message.  More of the Word to men in that

mind would have been thrown away (When I first became aware

of the account of the she bears and kids/teenagers of II Kings

2:23-25,  I felt sorry for them until I realized that if they had

grown up, the would have been just like their fathers – CY –

2013) and God never wastes his gifts. If we shut our eyes, He

will take away the light. If we close our ears, “the voice of the

charmer” (Psalm 58:5) will soon be silent. The men who will not

have the words of the Lord shall be treated to A DISPENSATION

OF SILENCE!

 

  • THE PERSONS IT ASSAILS. When judgment falls upon a nation,

the righteous often suffer with the wicked. Yet here there are persons

against whom the shock is  especially directed. They are:

 

Ø      Those who put their trust in idols. The idolater would

naturally feel the extreme of dislike to the Word of God,

and adopt the strongest measures against His prophets. He

was therefore in that moral condition which needed, and that

opposing attitude which provoked, the heaviest stroke.

God will not give His “praise to graven images” (Isaiah 42:8),

and He will give the man who trusts in them an early opportunity

of discovering whether they will suffice for his needs. The more

unreservedly he has chosen them, the more entirely will he be

left to them.

 

Ø      The young and buoyant among these. (v. 13.) Youth and hope are

hardest to overcome. There is a buoyancy in them, and a recuperative

energy, that rises above calamity to which the old and broken would

succumb. Yet even these would not avail. Physical suffering, breaking

down even youth and vigor, mental suffering, overwhelming the most

buoyant hopefulness, were among the enginery of the wrath of God.

 

  • THE EFFECTS IT PRODUCES. These are distressing as the calamity

producing them is stern (v. 12).

 

Ø      They seek the Word in vain. It is sought as a last resource. (when

in reality, it is to be sought first – Matthew 6:33 – CY – 2013).  In the

extremity of trouble, and the failure of other help, men turn perforce to

God. And then the quest is vain. It is made too late, and from a

motive to which there is no promise given (Proverbs 1:24-28).

It is sought in an extremity, as the lesser evil of two; and in abject fear,

in which there is no element of loyalty or love; and, thus sought,

cannot in the nature of things be found. The time for God to give it

has passed, because the time has passed in which men might have

received it to any effect of spiritual good.  (Today is the only

day acceptable to God – Tomorrows never come – See How

to be Saved - # 5 – This web site – CY – 2013).

 

Ø      They faint in the search. “They shall reel from sea to sea”

(v.12).  The word [reel] is used of the reeling of drunkards, of the

swaying to and fro of trees in the wind, of the quivering of the lips

of one agitated, and then of the unsteady seeking of persons

bewildered, LOOKING FOR WHAT THEY KNOW NOT

TO FIND!  It is characteristic that search is made everywhere

but in the South, where alone the true worship of God was, and

where, if anywhere, His Word might have been found. Wrong

seeking is wrong all round, and so is of necessity in vain. It wearies

itself out in aimless blind exertion, made out of season, and vitiated

by the very ills that drive men to make it.

 

Ø      They fall and never rise. God will “make an end.” The time for

it had come. (And the angel which I saw stand upon the sea

and upon the earth lifted up his hand to heaven,  And swear

by Him that liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven, and

the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things

that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein,

THAT THERE SHOULD BE TIME NO LONGER.”   Revelation

10:5-6).  Sin had reached a climax. Evil character had reached a final

fixity. Calamity had ceased to improve them.  The tardy anxiety for a

Divine communication meant simply that every other resource was

exhausted. “Cut it down” is the one process of husbandry for which

the tree is fitted.  (Luke 13:7)

 

o       There is a famine of the Word on Israel still. “Blindness

in part has happened” to them, in that, “when Moses is read,

the veil is on their heart.”  (II Corinthians 3:14-16)

This practically amounts to the removal of the Word. It is a

sealed book to them — sealed by their blindness to its

spiritual sense. Not heathen ignorance is more effectually cut

off from the knowledge of the truth than Jewish prejudice and

hate.  (Many Jews are a part of the American Civil Liberties

Union – CY – 2013)

 

o       It rests on them for the same reason for which it came.

Persistently, blindly, bitterly, they rejected the truth of the

gospel.  They made it evident that they would not have it

(Acts 13:46). And so sadly, reluctantly, but sternly, it was

taken from them. “Lo, we turn to the Gentiles.” (The

wonderful result, of which we are blessed to be a part is:

“Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation

Of God is sent unto the Gentiles, AND THAT THEY

WILL HEAR IT”  (Ibid. ch. 28:28).  When that

Word was spoken, ISRAEL WAS LEFT TO THE

DARKNESS IT LOVED.  In that chosen darkness

THEY STILL GROPE, AND WIL  till the latter-day

 glory dawns.

 

o       It will give place one day to a period of plenty.  “God

hath not cast off His people which He foreknew”

(Romans 11:2).  There is a remnant to which the promise

belongs, and with which it will be kept (Ibid. ch.9:27; 11:5).

When it shall turn to the Lord, the veil shall be taken

 away” (II Corinthians 3:16).  The period, extent, and

occasion of this turning are not revealed, but it will be the

crowning triumph of the “GLORIOUS GRACE” of God.

 

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