Read Amos 3
Witnesses Summoned Against Israel
3 Hear this word, people of Israel, the word the Lord has spoken against you—against the whole family I brought up out of Egypt:
2 “You only have I chosen
of all the families of the earth;
therefore I will punish you
for all your sins.”
3 Do two walk together
unless they have agreed to do so?
4 Does a lion roar in the thicket
when it has no prey?
Does it growl in its den
when it has caught nothing?
5 Does a bird swoop down to a trap on the ground
when no bait is there?
Does a trap spring up from the ground
if it has not caught anything?
6 When a trumpet sounds in a city,
do not the people tremble?
When disaster comes to a city,
has not the Lord caused it?
7 Surely the Sovereign Lord does nothing
without revealing his plan
to his servants the prophets.
8 The lion has roared—
who will not fear?
The Sovereign Lord has spoken—
who can but prophesy?
9 Proclaim to the fortresses of Ashdod
and to the fortresses of Egypt:
“Assemble yourselves on the mountains of Samaria;
see the great unrest within her
and the oppression among her people.”
10 “They do not know how to do right,” declares the Lord,
“who store up in their fortresses
what they have plundered and looted.”
11 Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says:
“An enemy will overrun your land,
pull down your strongholds
and plunder your fortresses.”
12 This is what the Lord says:
“As a shepherd rescues from the lion’s mouth
only two leg bones or a piece of an ear,
so will the Israelites living in Samaria be rescued,
with only the head of a bed
and a piece of fabric from a couch.”
13 “Hear this and testify against the descendants of Jacob,” declares the Lord, the Lord God Almighty.
14 “On the day I punish Israel for her sins,
I will destroy the altars of Bethel;
the horns of the altar will be cut off
and fall to the ground.
15 I will tear down the winter house
along with the summer house;
the houses adorned with ivory will be destroyed
and the mansions will be demolished,”
declares the Lord.
Amos reminds the people of Israel that they are the chosen ones of God. He reminds them of their standing before God because this impacts the punishment of their sins against God. There’s an old adage, made popular by Marvel’s Spiderman, that “with great power comes great responsibility.” Israel enjoyed God’s unique blessing and covenantal relationship, so the punishment for their wrongdoing would be in accordance with that relationship. Greater responsibility results in greater accountability.
Amos has foretold that God will judge Israel, and this chapter is the first of five messages of Amos explaining why God will judge the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Namely, for their sins against God and man. Amos uses a series of rhetorical questions to make the inevitably of Israel’s coming judgment clear. Each indicates a cause and effect relationship and points to his conclusion in verses 7-8 that God would do nothing to His people without first telling them by way of the prophets.
The prophecies of Amos and Hosea happen around the same time period (eighth century BC) and share some similarities, but a few differences are notable. While the prophecies of Hosea reflected his personal life, the prophecies of Amos reflected his professional life. Where Hosea emphasizes God’s love, Amos emphasizes God’s righteousness. And where the prophecies of Hosea are more tender, the prophecies of Amos are more threatening. But Amos’ prophetic teaching was not without hope. While he announced destruction of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, he also predicted that the Lord would preserve a remnant and restore Israel and through them bring all nations to Himself.
Did You Know
The word used for “hear” in verse 1 is the Hebrew word shema, meaning “to hear, listen to, or obey” (Blue Letter Bible). Shema is meant to be a hearing that leads to obedience. There is a prayer in Deuteronomy 6:4-5 that is commonly referred to as the Shema and became a daily repeated prayer in Israelite tradition:
“4 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”
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