Chapters 3-6 relate three addresses
particularizing the sins of
their imminent judgment.
Chapter 3 gives the first
prophet begins by showing
ingratitude for past mercies (vs. 1-2), and his own commission to announce the
coming judgment (vs. 3-8). They have drawn this upon themselves by iniquities
which astonish even heathen nations; and they shall be punished by the overthrow
of the kingdom and the destruction of their city (vs. 9-15).
1 “Hear this word that the LORD hath spoken against you, O children of
Israel, against the whole family which I brought up from the land of Egypt,
saying,” - The peculiar favor which God has shown the Israelites enhances the
guilt of their ingratitude and increases their punishment. Hear this word. Each address
(ch 4:1; 5:1) begins with this
solemn call. O children of
addressed to the twelve tribes, as the following words prove; but the succeeding
denunciation is confined to
expect a similar fate unless
she turns in time. I brought up from
This is mentioned as the crowning act of God’s favor (ch. 2:10).
2 “You only have I known of all the families of the earth: therefore I
will punish you for all your iniquities.” Have I known; i.e. loved, acknowledged,
chosen. So in Hosea 13:5 God says. “I knew thee in the wilderness;” and Paul
(II Timothy 2:19), “The Lord knoweth them that are His” (compare Nahum 1:7).
The peculiar relation in which God allowed
upon (see Deuteronomy 4:8,20; 14:2; II Samuel 7:23; I Chronicles 17:21).
Therefore I will punish you; literally, visit upon you. They must not presume
upon their privileges; the retention of God’s favor depended upon obedience to
His Word (Exodus 19:5): the nearer they were brought to God, the greater their
guilt if they fell from Him. Unlike the nations denounced in the former chapters,
her must be heavier (compare Ezekiel 9:6; Luke 12:47; I Peter 4:17).
The Judgment of Apostates a Foregone Conclusion (vs. 1-2)
This chapter, like chapters 5 and 6, opens with a call to attention. God is going
to speak, and His voice is worth listening to. He is going to speak a word,
moreover, the issues of which are capital offenses. To attend to His communication
is as vitally important as dutiful.
SPEAKS TO ISRAEL. Syria and Edom and Tyre may never have heard
of the doom to which they were going down. Their first intimation of the
tempest of Divine wrath was likely the falling of the first drops. Their
chance of repentance and escape was in this way minimized. Left in
ignorance of the danger of advance, there was little likelihood of their
turning back of their own accord. But Israel hears from inspired lips that
never lied the guilt of her sin, and its inevitable end. This putting of
“prophecy between his secret and its execution” is a special favor on
God’s side (v.7), and a corresponding advantage on her side, whilst, like
all advantage, it involves a proportionate responsibility.
ITSELF IN PECULIAR FAVORS.
Ø He had constituted them a family by themselves. Other nations
in their rise had been left to circumstances and the play of natural
affinities. Israel had been called out of the peoples, constituted a
nation by itself, furnished with a national organization and policy,
and set consciously to work out an exalted destiny. This was fitted
to awake a lofty national aspiration, and give direction and dignity
to the national life. The choosing of God’s people out of the world
is the beginning of His favors.
Ø He had brought them out of Egypt. This was an act of Divine
power, an instance of Divine championship, an expression of Divine
distinguishing favor, and a beginning of Divine help, which
contained in it the promise of more to come. Conversion, following
on election (Acts 13:48), is another privilege of God’s people, and
another spur to grateful service.
Ø He had taken them into intimate personal relations. “Known.”
This is practically equivalent to electing, including both the
motive and result of election. God took special notice of them,
set them in a gracious relation to Himself, acknowledged them
to be His people, and brought to Bear on them the influences that
are ever coming forth on those in covenant with him.
RECEIVED IN VAIN. “Therefore will I visit,” - (v. 2). Mercy
extended is made here the ground of judgment denounced. Each gift
bestowed in the past is a count in the present indictment.
Ø It is inevitable as punishment. Sin by God’s professing people is
specially heinous. It involves ingratitude to a special Benefactor,
insensibility to His love, contempt of His gifts, and disregard of
special claims on their allegiance. The guilt is in every aspect
extreme, and so the punishment is sure.
Ø It is inevitable as testimony. God’s honor is closely identified with
His people’s conduct, which must therefore be closely looked after.
Any sin in it must be rigidly punished if God would vindicate His
purity and impartiality, hating sin as such, and wherever it appears.
“It is necessary that God should vindicate His own honor by making
it appear that He hates sin, and hates it most in those that are nearest
Him” (Matthew Henry).
Ø It is inevitable as discipline. Judgments are corrective as well as
punative, In this aspect they are sure, and will be severe in proportion
to the love and mercy despised. Whom God leaves without correction
He bastardizes (Hebrews 12:8), but He expresses fatherly interest in
the application of the rod. Judgment with Israel was just a change of
corrective treatment. Mercy had failed, and now love would try
another way, that nothing might be left undone to separate Israel
from sin. This is why judgment begins at the house of God.
(I Peter 4:17)
Before announcing more particularly the coming judgment, Amos, by a series
of little parables or comparisons, establishes his right to prophesy, and intimates
the necessity laid upon him to deliver his message. He illustrates the truths that
all effects have causes, and that from the cause you can infer the effect.
3 “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” - or, except
they have agreed? The “two” are God’s judgment and the prophet’s word.
These do, not coincide by mere chance, no more than two persons pursue
in company the same end without previous agreement. The prophet
announces God’s judgment because God has commissioned him; the
prophet is of one mind with God, therefore the Lord is with him, and
confirms his words. The application of the parables is seen in vs. 7-8.
The Septuagint, reading differently, has, “except they know one another.”
Walking with God is THE IDEAL OF HUMAN LIFE! “Enoch walked
with God” (Genesis 5:24). That is a short biography. But there is more in it,
more important in its character and more adequately expressed than in many an
octavo volume. “They shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy”
(Revelation 3:4) is A SUMMARY OF THE JOY AND GLORY OF
REDEEMED SPIRITS ON HIGH! And life below is ideal in proportion as
it approximates the life above. TO WALK WITH GOD implies:
things is GOD’S GLORY FIRST (Romans 11:36; Colossians 1:16), the
good of His people next (II Corinthians 4:15; Romans 8:28), then
the happiness of the race (I Timothy 4:10; Galatians 6:10), and
ULTIMATELY THE WELL BEING OF THE PLANET AS A
WHOLE ( a much superior existence than THE GREEN EARTH
POLICY and GUN CONTROL or A HYPOCRITICAL
EXCITEMENT OVER GLOBAL WARMING of the POLITICALLY
CORRECT TODAY – MAN’S IMMORALITY will bring about the
destruction of the earth far quicker than abuse of its resources!
See what Revelation 11:18 has to say about them which “destroy
the earth” – CY – 2013) (Psalm 36:6; Romans 8:20-21). The attainment
of these objects in this order is God’s purpose as revealed in Scripture. With
this purpose it is the design and nature of religion to make man at one.
God’s ultimate purpose is to bring everything into one, both celestial and
terrestrial - Ephesians 1:10 – CY – 2013) By creating man in God’s image
he is endowed with a spiritual nature which exalts God (I Corinthians
10:31), loves the brethren (I John 3:14), consults the interests of others
(Philippians 2:4), and regards the life even of the beasts (Proverbs
12:10). In proportion as the godly endorse and homologate the Divine
purpose thus are they in the image of Christ (John 12:28; 13:1)
and do they walk with God.
who has changed eyes with God.” Subtle affinities have arisen involving a
marvelous unity of thought and aim. The end of our walking is God’s end,
and naturally HIS WAY becomes our way. “The secret of the Lord is
with them that fear Him” (Psalm 25:14). In Christ, “the Image of
the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15) it became an open secret to all who
believe. He has left “us an example,” and there are no relations in life to
which it does not apply. We “follow His steps” (I Peter 2:21), and by
consequence walk like God, being “imitators of Him as dear children.”
of set purpose keep their distance. But faith brings near and keeps near His
side. The humble, contrite heart, which is the home of faith, is also the
welcome and feast (Revelation 3:20). The believer LIVES IN GOD’S
PRESENCE! He walks by faith, holding on as it were by the Divine hand.
It is the promise and the thought of God’s presence with him that makes the
journey light (Isaiah 43:2), whilst the reality of it is the guarantee of
safety and ease. GOD WITH US, we have:
Ø unfailing provision,
Ø unerring guidance, and
Ø an invincible escort.
No marvel if they who thus travel “go from strength to strength.”
Being in agreement with God is the condition of walking with Him!
Walking with God is not an occasional act, BUT A HABIT OF LIFE
and must arise out of AN ESTABLISHED RELATIONSHIP!
Men are naturally at enmity with God, and so averse to His company. They know
not and desire not to know His ways. THE OPERATION OF GRACE,
however, is one “to will and to do of God’s good pleasure,” (Philippians
2:13) and the result is “a willing people in the day of God’s power.”
Communion with God gives insight into truth ATTAINABLE IN NO OTHER
WAY! It conditions that “unction from the Holy One” by which “we know
all things.” (I John 2:20). The best guarantee is TO BE SPIRITUALLY
MINDED! “The anointing” by Christ in the work of grace, among other
benefits, “teacheth of all things, and is truth” (I John 2:27). Let a man
read the Bible, so to speak, over God’s shoulder, and the thing he will read
out of it will be TRUTH!
A life of rebellion cannot possibly be a walk with God. The prophet
prophecy was along the lines of natural fitness. The parties were already
alienated in heart and sympathy, and in the nature of things formal
separation must follow. To walk with God whilst fighting with Him was an
unworkable arrangement. The men who try it are men whose religious life
is failure. When hearts go apart their owners go after them; and the soul,
loveless today, will be GODLESS TOMORROW! Alienation leads to
apostasy, and the apostate is ipso facto AN OUTLAW! Are our affections
given to Christ in self-surrender and love and happy trust?
4 “Will a lion roar in the forest, when he hath no prey? will a young
lion cry out of his den, if he have taken nothing?” Will a lion roar, etc.?
The lion roars when he has his pray in sight, and is about to spring upon it.
So God makes the prophet utter His voice because He is ready to execute
vengeance. The second clause expresses the same fact in different terms.
The young lion (kephir) is not a whelp, but one able to provide for itself.
He growls over the prey which he has in his lair. So
the words of God’s threatenings strike upon him.
5 “Can a bird fall in a snare upon the earth, where no gin is for him?
shall one take up a snare from the earth, and have taken nothing at
all?” The thought here is that the punishment is deserved as well as
certain. A bird is not caught unless a trap is set for it. The trap which the
sinner sets for himself is sin. Can a bird fall in a snare (pach) upon the
earth, where no gin (moqesh) is for him? i.e. is set for him? The “gin” is
a net with a stick for a spring, which flew up when touched, carrying part
of the net with it, and thus the bird was enclosed and caught. The
Septuagint probably read yoqesh, as they translate, a]neu ejxeutou~ -
Aneu exeutou - - “without a fowler.” So the Vulgate, absque
aucupe. The second clause should be, Shall a snare (pach) spring up from
the ground without taking anything? The snare, or trap stick, would not
rise if it had not caught something. The sin is there, and the sinners shall
surely not escape. When God appoints retributive punishments for the
guilty, and announces the same by His prophets, THEY MAY BE
EXPECTED WITH ABSOLUTE CERTAINTY!
6 “Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid?
shall there be evil in a city, and the LORD hath not done it?”
The prophet must needs speak: shall not his denunciation arouse
alarm among the people, as the trumpet suddenly heard in a city excites the
terror of the inhabitants (compare Ezekiel 33:2-5)? Shall there be evil in a
city, and the Lord hath not done it? The “evil” is affliction, calamity,
malum poenae. As states have no future, all temporal calamities in their
case may rightly be regarded as the punishment of sin. Thus the ruin
now approaching. All phenomena are ascribed in the Bible to Divine
operation, no second causes being allowed to interfere with this
appropriation (see Job 1.; I Samuel 18:10; I Kings 22:19-23; Isaiah 45:7).
The verb “do” is often used absolutely, the context defining the result.
Calamity One of the Works of God (v. 6)
It is not sin, but suffering, that is here meant. We are to regard temporal
calamities as the warning voice of God, a manifestation of His character,
and a corrective expression of His displeasure. God maintains His
unimpeachable equity, ill-requited kindness, and injured honor. On every
ground the threatened punishment was merited, and only in mercy had it
been suspended so long. There is a natural atheism in the human heart, a
constantly prevailing tendency to forgot God. This tendency is most
powerful in prosperity, and must often be counterworked by a
dispensation of adversity. Not that Divine judgments, acting on human
corruption, necessarily lead to repentance. But in God’s hand they have often
been overruled to this effect, and it is in this reclaiming and reforming capacity
that they are alluded to in this text.
“Chance” is a word much used, and little understood. When we say that an
event has happened by chance, we mean either that it had no cause, which
is atheism, or that we do not know the cause, which is an abuse of
language. CHANCE in fact, is nothing but a term of human ignorance. Yet
the use of the word implies either atheism, denying the Divine existence, or
naturalism, denying His superintending agency; the two coming to the same
thing, for we might as well have no God as no providence. The sentiment
of our text is the refutation of both, and as such is but the echo of all
Scripture. “ALL THINGS ARE OF GOD” (II Corinthians 5:18).
Not creation only, but
continuous creation. Not great events only, but the very least, without
any one of which the whole machinery would be incapable of A
SINGLE REVOLUTION. How beautifully yet powerfully is this
brought out by Christ in his illustration from the sparrows (Matthew
10:29-31)! If a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without our Father, much
less can a whole city. When evil is in a city, it is not a visitation of chance,
but of the hand of God, under which it has come.
OF IDOLS. Something to worship is a necessity of human nature. Hence
men, when they forsake the true God, SET UP A FALSE ONE IN
HIS PLACE! (For the
MATERIALISM – CY – 2013) The existence and power of this idol
they believe without proof, and even against presumption. Unconquerable
incredulity in reference to the true God becomes irrational credulity in
reference to the false once. Thus ATHEISM IS A QUESTION MORE
OF THE HEART THAN THE HEAD! Men do not like to
retain God in their knowledge (Romans 1:23, 28), and so discard Him
for gods of their own devising. This fact shows polytheism a term of
atheism. And it was demonstrably so with the Jews. The obverse of
apostasy with them was always idolatry; and this text affirms that Jehovah,
whom they had forsaken, not any senseless idol which they had chosen,
dominated history and sent good and evil to men (see Isaiah 41:21-24;
Jeremiah 10:3-16, especially God, …..hath stretched out the heavens
by His discretion……and bringeth for the wind out of His treasures.
vs. 12-13 – think of the implication with Hurricanes Katrina and
Luke 21:25 - just don’t take them out of the context of this homily – CY –
2013). We think we are in no danger of making their mistake. But the world,
in its ambition, avarice, or pleasure, may take away our hearts from God,
and become their idol, climbing to his throne. And we give it credit often for
what God does and alone can do (for instance, referring to Mother Nature –
CY – 2013), and to that extent misread the providential events in which
God is dealing with us.
AGENCY OF SECOND CAUSES. The deification of nature is a common
practice. Conventionally, nature is a kind of mystical personification of
some unknown existence, and to which the omnipotence denied to God
is freely attributed. If “nature” does a thing, it is assumed that God has no
hand in it, and that it wants no explanation further. “Nature is that created
realm of being or substance which has an acting, a going on or process
from within itself, under and by its own laws” (Bushnell). But these laws
are just “the actuating power of God.” They are not powers in
themselves, but only THE RULES BY WHICH HIS POWER
OPERATES! We have various kinds of seasons which we trace to
various causes in nature. But these are second causes, and under the
sovereign control of the First Cause. “Can the heavens give showers?
art not thou he, O Lord our God?... for thou hast made all these
things” (Jeremiah 14:22). Air, earth, and sea, and all that they contain,
are subject to Him (Psalm 104:14; 148:8). From the natural cause of this
or that we must rise to Him who makes it what and puts it where it is,
and gives it a commission to work. “All things are of God.”
“This truth philosophy, though eagle-eyed
In nature’s tendencies, oft o’erlooks;
And having found His instrument, forgets
Or disregards, or, more presumptuous still,
Denies the Power that wields it.”
The same principle rules events in which men are agents. “Men are in
God’s hand” as well as matter. The King of Assyria was simply the rod
with which God struck
evils to God’s sovereign control of things, distinguish between sovereignty
and caprice. For what God does He could assign the best of reasons. He
exercises His sovereignty in declining to do so. But He tells us that the great
general cause of suffering is sin. Evil does not come on us as creatures, but
as sinners. The infliction of it has not to do with SOVEREIGNTY
but with EQUITY. All good is from God, all evil from the sinner. All good is
gratuitous, all evil is deserved. All evil is righteous retribution, all good is
free and sovereign love. Nor is suffering destitute of a large benevolent
element. On the contrary, it often serves a merciful purpose, and would
always do so WERE IT PROPERLY RECEIVED! When the sun of
prosperity fails to soften, God casts men into the furnace of trial, if perchance
the stronger method may prevail. If there be evil in your city, then consider who
sends it, on what account, and for what purpose; so, it may be, you will “turn to
him that smiteth you,” as he means you should. (From a sermon by Ralph
Wardlaw, D.D., supplemented and condensed.)
7 “Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but He revealeth His secret
unto His servants the prophets.” This and the following verse apply the
foregoing, parables All the evils announced come from the Lord; but He brings
none of them on the people without first warning by his prophets (compare
John 13:19; 14:29). His secret (sod); unrevealed till then. Septuagint,
paidei>an – paideian - instruction.
the destruction of
are cases in point. Sometimes judgment has taken people unawares
(Matthew 24:39), but this is because the warning has been disregarded
(Genesis 19:14; 6:3). When there has been no warning the judgment
has been provoked, not by a course of wickedness, but by A SINGLE
FLAGRANT TRANSGRESSION in connection with which warning was
out of the question (Exodus 32:27-28; Numbers 26:10; Acts 12:23).
The warning of coming judgment is:
Ø A disclosure of sin. To allow men to sin unheeded, and to find it
satisfactory, would be to give amnesty to evil doing and practically
to encourage it. To erect the gallows of impending judgment, on the
other hand, brings into sight the fact of sin, and emphasizes its demerit.
Next to execution, the sentence of death is A REVELATION TO
THE CRIMINAL OF THE ENORMITY OF HIS CRIME!
It is a mental association of guilt with penalty, and so measuring of
its moral proportions. It is also:
Ø A deterrent from sin. Judgment executed without warning loses half
its value. The fear of the rod is a wholesome restraint on the folly of
the child (Modern secularism and progressivism has made a great
error and miscalculation in removing fear as a deterrent – i.e. –
removing the paddle from schools, their opposition to the death
penalty; legalizing marijuana and drugs; removing taboos from sex;
facilitating abortions for convenience, ad nauseum – CY – 2013);
greater often than the actual blow, because it operates through a longer
period. God’s moral government in its relation to sin aims at
CURE RATHER THAN PUNISHMENT, at PREVENTION
RATHER THAN EITHER! His blows fall only after His threats
have failed to move (Proverbs 1:24; Jeremiah 6:10-11). Accordingly:
Ø To denounce judgment sometimes makes it unnecessary to inflict it.
A notable instance was that
were more common, her escape would be more common also (Matthew
12:41). God frights with the thunder of his threats, that he may not be
compelled to smite with the lightning of His judgments. He makes
a display of His resistless forces that the rebels may yield without going
into action. “Turn ye, turn ye: why will ye die?” (Ezekiel 33:11)
That is the message of His open preparations to destroy.
On His way to the establishment of personal relations (It is wonderful that
God is a ONE-ON-ONE GOD! – CY -2013), God always treats
with men through mediators. Covenants are made with representatives,
such as Adam, Noah, Abraham, and Christ. Justifying righteousness is
negotiated typically through a priesthood, and anti-typically THROUGH
JESUS CHRIST! So saving knowledge is negotiated THROUGH
THE HOLY GHOST and by the instrumentality of inspired men.
GOD WANTS HIS WORD BELIEVED! And He wants it believed
in a certain way and on certain grounds. To believe what we see is not the
faith He wants (John 20:29), nor properly faith at all. “Blessed are they
who have not seen, and yet have believed.” Only such believing is
intelligent or voluntary, and therefore possessed of moral qualities.
8 “The lion hath roared, who will not fear? the Lord GOD hath
spoken, who can but prophesy?” As the lion’s roar forces every one to
fear, so the Divine call of the prophet forces him to speak (Jeremiah 20:9;
Ezekiel 2:8; I Corinthians 9:16). St. Gregory, moralizing, takes the lion
in a spiritual sense: “After the power of his Creator has been made known to
him, the strength of his adversary ought not to be concealed from him, in order
that he might submit himself the more humbly to his defender, the more
accurately he had learned the wickedness of his enemy, and might more
ardently seek his Creator, the more terrible he found the enemy to be
whom he had to avoid. For it is certain that he who less understands the
danger he has escaped, loves his deliverer less; and that he who considers
the strength of his adversary to be feeble, regards the solace of his defender
as worthless” (‘Moral.,’ 32:14). Of course, this exposition does not regard
No Smoke Without Fire (vs. 3-8)
God cannot utter empty threats. His every declaration is bona fide. When
He roars HE IS ABOUT TO REND.. Let, then, THE DOOMED SINNER
TREMBLE! For all his insensibility he is no better than a dead man.
two walk together,” etc.? This deep principle involves that:
Ø Israel, quarrelling with God, cannot reckon on His company.
For so far God had
associated with them. In
rebellious attitude against Him, approaching as it was a climax of
irreconcilableness, must make a continuance of intimate relations
Ø The prophet, walking as he did with God, must be regarded as in
agreement with Him, and so expressing His will. Amos spoke as
servant and mouthpiece. He looked at
standpoint. In reference to it he was as emphatically associated with
God as he was dissociated from them. Underlying this formal association
it must be believed there was real agreement. “He whom God hath
sent speaketh the words of God.” (John 3:34)
THE LIGHTNING OF HIS JUDGMENTS IS IMMINENT. That peril
is sure and near is taught in a series of similes of a graphic kind.
Ø When God utters His war cry it is evident that He is just about
to strike His enemy. (v. 4.) The lion roars when he has marked his
prey, and is about to spring. God sees the sinful nation ripe for judgment.
He sees that the
time for sending it has come. His roar out of
(ch.1:2) is, therefore, the prelude to striking His prey forthwith. “The
threatenings of the Word and providence of God are not bugbears to
frighten children and fools, but are certain inferences from the sin of
man and certain presages of the judgments of God” (Matthew Henry).
Ø When God reaches forth His hand there is something to take, and
within His reach (v. 5.). It is the lighting of the bird on the trap that
snaps it. If there were no trap laid no bird would be caught. If there
were no bird in the trap it would not rise from the
bird, and God is the Fowler, and His judgment is the snare, and the
lesson of all is that she is already in God’s destroying grasp.
When some are already alarmed it shows that DANGER TO
ALL IS REAL AND CLOSE (v. 6, “Is a trumpet blown …
and the people not be afraid?”) The prophet, who knew what
was coming, was alarmed, and those like minded with him. The note
of alarm was already ringing over the land. Signs of evil will not show
themselves until the evil is comparatively at hand. So surely as the
smoke rises the fire is kindling.
Ø When misfortune falls it is a proof that God has been at work.
“Does misfortune happen in the city,” etc.? (v. 6). “All things are
of God” (I Corinthians 5:18), is an axiom that in one sense or other
covers all events, whether good or bad. The qualification of it is that
the sin of any of them is exclusively of man. God “creates evil”
(Isaiah 45:7) — the evil of suffering — whilst the evil of sin He allows
us to create, that He may bring out of it GREATER GOOD!
(v. 7.) The prophet is a negotiator, hearing the truth from God, and
handing it on to men. God does not destroy men unwarned, nor warn them
but through His accredited messengers. The history of His judgments
illustrates this. Through Noah He revealed the coming deluge, through
the destruction of
Moses the Egyptian plagues,
through Jonah the sentence on
through Christ and His apostles the destruction of
has ever warned the world of coming judgments in order that it may
not involve THEM/YOU/ME! “He foretelleth the evil to come that He may
not be compelled to inflict it.
MESSAGE. (v. 8.) (“For we cannot but speak the things which we
have seen and heard” Acts 4:20). It is His will that they should prophesy.
He tells them His purposes mainly with a view to this. To prophesy is their
function and duty, and is made their business. They are moved at the sight
of coming evil. They are in sympathy with the Divine compassion,
GIVING A LAST CHANCE TO THE DOOMED and so, like the
apostles, they “cannot but speak the things they have seen and heard”
(I Corinthians 9:16-17; Acts 4:19-20). Moses was not excused though
slow of speech (Exodus 4:10), nor Isaiah though of polluted lips (Isaiah
6:5), nor Jeremiah because he was a child (Jeremiah 1:6-9). Ezekiel was
bidden ‘be not rebellious like that rebellious house’ (Ezekiel 2:8);
and when Jeremiah would keep silence he saith, ‘His Word was in mine
heart as a burning fire, shut up in my bones, and I was weary with
forbearing, and I could not stay’” (Jeremiah 20:9). Taken in connection,
vs. 7-8 reveal a perfect arrangement for making known God’s purpose in
reference to sin. God anticipates action by a communication to His prophets,
and the prophets execute orders, and hand the communication on.
Having vindicated his own commission, Amos proclaims in vs. 9-15,
what God purposes to do unto
should bring about the overthrow of the kingdom, the destruction of the
city with its altars and palaces, and the exile of the people.
The passage is a summons to the nations to appear as
and her dreadful punishment. There are many articles in her predicted woe. Not
least of these is condemnation by the heathen, who for less heinous sins
were to be themselves destroyed. When a professed follower of God
apostatizes in such a fashion that even God’s enemies cry shame, and
endures a corresponding punishment in their sight, THE CUP OF HIS
INIQUITY AND OF HIS RETRIBUTION ARE BOTH FULL!
in the palaces at
Egypt, and say, Assemble yourselves upon the mountains of
Samaria, and behold the great tumults in the midst thereof, and the
oppressed in the midst thereof.”
(publish ye) summon the
inhabitants of the palaces of Philistia (of which
is the representative) and
people, and in their sight had mighty works been wrought
they could appreciate her iniquity and ingratitude. Some, translating al
“upon,” say that the prophets are bidden publish their message upon the
flat roofs of the palaces, that it may be heard far and near (compare II Samuel
16:22; Matthew 10:27). Keil thinks that not all the inhabitants of the town are
summoned, but only those who live in the palaces, who alone “could pronounce
a correct sentence as to the mode of life commonly adopted in the palaces of
upon the mountains of
which stands alone in the valley or basin, but it is surrounded by higher mountains,
from whence, though at some distance, spectators could look down into its streets,
and, as from the seats in an amphitheater, behold the iniquities transacted there.
Their implacable enemies, the Philistines, and those they were then courting,
the Egyptians (Hosea 7:11; 12:1), are alike called to witness this spectacle.
Tumult; the disorder, where might makes right.- Septuagint, qaumasta<
polla< - thaumasta polla - many marvels - as if the sight were a surprise
even to the heathen. The oppressed (ashuqim); better, the oppressions,
i.e. of the weak at the hands of the powerful (compare 2:6; 4:1). It was
to the eternal
which the very heathen would condemn.
“Assemble upon the mountains,” - A reference to the topography of
brings out the graphic fitness of the language here. The city was built on a hill, surrounded and overlooked by mountains higher than itself, and from the tops
of which the nations could look down into the very streets, and observe the
daily doings of the inhabitants. (What is your concept of God? Certainly,
if man has the ability, today, to cover as news anything in the world and it
be shared simultaneously, then you and I should be able to conceive of
God judging and explaining the lives and actions of every person and
every generation, AT ONCE, to where every eye and every heart could
see and understand HIS JUDGMENT! – Perhaps we can understand
in the backdrop of a scene like the Super Bowl, magnified a million
times - CY – 2013) Notice:
certainty, severity, and nearness of avenging judgment makes sin, from
even the low utilitarian standpoint, the greatest possible evil. The enemy,
who rejoices in our ill, can find no such occasion of malignant joy as our
giving ourselves up to sin. After the fact that it offends God, the strongest
argument against sin is the fact, the obverse of the other, that it pleases the
devil and wicked men.
SHAME. It is strange that the sense of shame should survive the sense
of sin, but so it is. We fear men more than God. We are not ashamed to
do what we would be very much ashamed to acknowledge. The poet’s
sarcasm is just, that in the matter of sin our care is “not to leave undone,
but keep unknown.” THE BITTERNESS OF PUNISHMENT IS
GREATLY AGGRAVATED BY ITS BEING INFLICTED IN THE PRESENCE OF AN EXULTING ENEMY. (The modern example is the media’s reaction to the fall of the likes of Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart –
but in that day there will be no glossing over of the shortcomings
of the Ted Kennedy’s, Hugh Hefner’s, Larry Flint’s and the million
wannabes of the world – IT WILL BE ON AN OPEN STAGE,
A GIGANTIC OPEN
CONCERT, ETC! – CY – 2013)
of feeling on which a motive could lay hold Jehovah here appeals. They
would be a gazing stock (Like Israel of old, the
an interesting but tragic CASE STUDY to not only their bitterest enemies
BUT TO ALL WHO HAVE EVER LIVED AND BREATHED THE
BREATH OF LIFE! This will be along the lines of Jesus’ statement
in Matthew 12:41-42 – “The
with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented
at the preaching of Jonah…… The queen of the south shall rise
up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: etc –
CY – 2013) Like the woman set in the midst amid one encircling sea
of accusing, insulting faces, with none to pity, none to intercede, none to
show mercy to them who had showed no mercy. Faint image of the shame
of that day when not men’s deeds only, but the secrets of all hearts, shall be
revealed, (Luke 12:2-5) and they shall begin ‘to say to the mountains,
Fall on us, and to the hills, Cover us – HIDE US FROM THE FACE
OF HIM THAT SITTETH ON THE THRONE, AND FROM THE
WRATH OF THE LAMB! FOR THE GREAT DAY OF HIS WRATH
IS COME; AND WHO SHALL BE ABLE TO STAND! (Revelation 6:16-17)
The legacy of the effects of Liberalism, Progressivism and the tenets of the ACLU
in practice is becoming ingrained in American culture until,
be NO REMEDY! (See II Chronicles 36:16) The art of wrong doing advances
with rapid pace as it is handed on. The son of the “smart” trader is a swindler, the
son of the swindler is the burglar, the son of the burglar is the robber
assassin. The pupil of the religious liberal is the rationalist, and the pupil of
the rationalist is the atheist. Begin by imitating wicked men, and you will
end by OUTSTRIPPING THEM IN SIN! Give the devil a ride and he
will end up wanting to drive!
10 “For they know not to do right, saith the LORD, who store up
violence and robbery in their palaces.” They know not how to do right.
The Samaritans have lost all sense of justice, the foundation of social life
(Jeremiah 4:22). The Septuagint - Oujk e]gniv a} e]stai ejnanti>on aujth~v
- Ouk egnis a estai enantion autaes - She knew not what things shall be
before her. Store up violence; i.e. the fruits of violence and robbery
(talaipwri>an – talaiporian – misery - Septuagint), what they had wrung
from the poor by oppression and rapine.
not to do right.” Every sin against light draws blood on the spiritual retina.
Men are both HARDENED and BLINDED by a course of sin. Evil actions
repeated become habits, and evil habits indulged in work themselves into THE
VERY TEXTURE OF THE SOUL! The wrong of ill-doing soon ceases to be felt
(the chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too strong to be broken),
which naturally leads to its ceasing to be seen (Jeremiah 4:22; compare Romans 16:19).
When we can sin without conscience, we are very near to SINNING WITHOUT
CONSCIOUSNESS! The way to preserve a good conscience, a conscience that
knows evil and condemns it, is to respect its least dictate.
“Sow an act, and you reap a habit;
sow a habit, and you reap a character;
sow a character, and you reap a destiny.”
(Ralph Waldo Emerson)
Nations which, like
pillage their neighbors’ goods, and wage unlawful war, involving
widespread calamity, thereby blunt their sensibilities to right and wrong.
They habituate themselves to regard all questions in the light of their own
ambition, or their own aggrandizement and enrichment. As a consequence
they are tempted to call evil good, and good evil. Especially are they liable
to term a false judgment upon their own conduct (Isaiah 5:20-21). Paul
speaks of a condition where the conscience is “seared with a hot iron” –
(I Timothy 4:2)
abandoning themselves to evil courses have silenced the voice of
conscience and in the process, lose the moral power to do better.
Because they “know not to do right,” THEY CONTINUE TO
DO WRONG! They reap as they have sown. They advance upon
the road of sin by the MOMENTUM DERIVED FROM PAST
11 “Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; An adversary there shall be
even round about the land; and he shall bring down thy strength
from thee, and thy palaces shall be spoiled.” An adversary. The Hebrew
is forcible, the Lord speaking as though He saw the foe present: “an enemy
and around the land.” The adversary meant is Shalmaneser, who attacked
claims to have reduced the city and removed the inhabitants (II Kings 17 and
18:9-12. Thy strength. All wherein thou trusted shall be brought down to the ground
(Obadiah 1:3). Palaces, in which were stored the fruits of injustice and
rapine (v. 10).
12 “Thus saith the LORD; As the shepherd taketh out of the mouth of
the lion two legs, or a piece of an ear; so
shall the children of
taken out that dwell in
in a couch.” The prophet shows that the chastisement is inevitable, and that
only the smallest remnant, the most worthless among the inhabitants, and
they with much difficulty, can escape. The illustration from a common
incident in a shepherd’s life is very natural in Amos. Taketh; better,
rescueth. So below, shall be taken out; shall be rescued. The usual
explanation is that a shepherd attacks the lion which has seized one of his
sheep (compare I Samuel 17:34-37), and rescues from it the most
worthless parts — “a couple of shank bones or a bit, or tip, of an ear.” But
as an attack on a lion would be an abnormal act of courage on the part of a
shepherd, and the comparison is with things likely and usual, it is probable
that the meaning is that the shepherd finds only these poor remnants after
the lion has left his prey. So such a poor remnant shall be rescued from the
ten tribes of
at ease, lounging in the coziest corner of the divan, an image of indolent
ease and careless security IN THE FACE OF JUDGMENT. And in
agree in considering the word “
modern rendering takes it to mean the material which we call “damask,” or
something similar. Hence our Revised Version gives, “on the silken cushions
of a bed;” and others, “on the damask of a couch.” Dr. Pusey retains the old
rendering, on the grounds that there is no evidence to prove that the manufactures
being then wine and white wool (Ezekiel 27:18), and that the Arabic
word dimakso (which critics have cited as connected with the term
“damask”) has nothing to do with
manufactured, “silk.” He translates, “in
this to mean that
14:28), “was a canopied couch to them, in which they stayed themselves.”
This agrees with the ancient Jewish interpretation, which explains the clause
to mean that the Israelites would some day depend for help on the Syrians
makes the words to mean, “on a couch of
of a costly and luxurious nature. This comes to the same as the modern rendering
given, above and seems to be the easiest explanation of the expression. The
difficulty depends chiefly on the punctuation of the word Ëçmd; or there may
be some corruption in the text. What the Septuagint meant by their rendering is
problematical, Kate>nanti th~v fulh~v kai< ejn Damaskw~| - Katenanti
tae phulaes kai
en Damasko - The children of
When sin is adequately punished the sinner’s well being is practically
destroyed. “Delivers out of the mouth of the lion two shin bones and an ear
lappet,” etc. (ver. 12). These are paltry leavings, not worth the rescue. And
such, and so insignificant, would be the surviving good of
God’s controversy was settled. Where the scythe of God’s judgment has
passed there is little left for the gleaner. The detected thief, the broken
down sensualist through the effects of AIDS (Proverbs 5:11-13; Romans 1:27),
the besotted drunkard, the drug addict, what is each but A HUMAN
WRECK! The kernel of life is wasted, and only a husk remains. No wallflower
of good can ever grow to cover these wrecks of time.
13 “Hear ye, and testify in the house of Jacob, saith the Lord GOD, the
God of hosts,” Hear ye; Septuagint, JIerei~v ajkou>sate - Hereis akousate –
Hear, O ye priests. The address is to the heathen, already summoned (v. 9) to
witness the sins
In the house; better, against
the house of Jacob, the tribes of
God of hosts. God of the powers of heaven and earth, and therefore able to
execute His threats. Septuagint, oJ Pantokra>twr – ho Pantokrator –
14 “That in
the day that I shall visit the transgressions of
him I will also visit the altars of
shall be cut off, and fall to the ground.” That in the day, etc. This verse
is rightly joined to the preceding, as it particularizes the threats which the heathen
are summoned to testify. Visit upon; equivalent to “punish” (Zephaniah 1:8).
Altars of Bethel. We read of one altar being set up by Jeroboam I (I Kings
12:29, 33), but doubtless others had been added in the course of time. The
denunciation of Ibid. ch.13:2-3 is here repeated. The horns of the
altar. These were certain projections at the four angles of the altar,
perhaps in the form of an ox’s horn, on which the blood of the sin offering
was smeared, and which therefore were considered the holiest part of the
altar (see Exodus 27:2; 29:12; Leviticus 16:18). The instruments of
idolatry or impure worship should share the destruction of the idolaters.
Sin is punished by being returned on the sinner’s
head. “When I visit
were re-embodies itself in it.
the dead bird around the Ancient Mariner’s neck, an avenging
ties the memory of it to our soul. Like the crime of Eugene Aram, it
becomes an evil haunting memory, to dog our steps forever.
“And still no peace for the restless clay
Will wave or mould allow;
The horrid thing pursues my soul —
It stands before me now.”
sins of youth are the sowing of which the sufferings of manhood and age
are the harvest — a harvest too constantly and painfully reaped to allow
the harvester to forget. The sins of one man are the fruitful source of the
sins and sorrows of many, and find in each of these a mentor who makes it
impossible to forget. In addition to the sinner and the sinned against,
wrong doing injures those whose well being depends on either. It is thus a
poison tree that forks and branches in the bearing of its deadly fruit. While
the evil consequences of his wrong doing are around him, and propagating
themselves in ever-widening circles, the sinner apart from conscience
cannot get his iniquities out of sight. (i.e. – Darwinism, Freudism,
Marxism, etc. – CY – 2013)
no idea of spiritual things apart from Divine revelation (I Corinthians 2:9).
At the same time, God’s revelation of spiritual things is too pure for his
taste. The result is that he compromises the matter by adopting ready-made
ordinances, and loading them with his own corrupt spirit and meaning.
one sacrificial altar in connection with the worship of Jehovah, but when
many gods were invented, many altars were provided to correspond to
them. This multiplication of idols is accounted for by the fact that
evil naturally spreads. One sin leads to more. Covetousness leads to
theft, drunkenness to uncleanness, all three often to murder, and almost
every sin to DECEIT and LYING. No man can set up one sinful idol
and say he will have no more. It will bring others with it whether he will
or no. It is the first swallow of the summer of evil doing, and heralds a
His gods. “The horns of the altar shall be cut off,” etc. This would put an effectual stop to the idol worship.
Ø Idolatry is at the root of all other sin. It is the complement of
atheism, which is radically the heart departing from God. It is a
sublimated SELF-WORSHIP making an idol of our own mental
creation. A god dethroned, and a self enthroned, is a state of things
which “contains the promise and potency” OF ALL EVIL! To
national evil. The idols abolished, and God restored to the
15 “And I will smite the winter house with the summer house; and the
houses of ivory shall perish, and the great houses shall have an
end, saith the LORD.” The winter house. The luxurious habits of kings and
princes had led them to have different houses for the various seasons of the year,
facing north or south as the case might be (compare Judges 3:20; Jeremiah 36:22).
Septuagint, to<n oi+kon to<n peri>pteron – ton oikon ton peripteron - the
turreted house, which Jerome explains, Domum pinnatam, eo quod
ostiola habeat per fenestras, et quasi pinnas, ad magnitudinem frigoris
depellendam. Houses of ivory; panelled or inlaid with ivory, such as Ahab
had (I Kings 22:39). Solomon’s throne was thus decorated (Ibid. ch.10:18;
compare Psalm 45:8). (For the Assyrian practice of veneering in ivory, see
Rawlinson, ‘Ancient Monarchies,’ 1:463; comp. also Homer, ‘Od.,’ 4:73;
Virgil, ‘AEneid,’ 6:895.) The great houses; better, many houses; Septuagint,
e[teroi oi+koi polloi> - heteroi oikoi polloi - many other houses. Not only
palaces, but many private houses, shall be destroyed (compare Isaiah 5:9,
where the same words are used).
“And I will smite,” etc.) Luxuries long enjoyed become necessities of life,
and no judgment would be thorough that left them untouched. SELF-
INDULGENCE, if it were left, would soon invent a new idolatry for its own
accommodation. It is only by making a clean sweep of the idols already in
possession that God can get His rightful place in the sinner’s heart.
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