6.17 Amos -- Judgment on the Nations

Amos starts off with a blistering sermon (Amos 1:3-15Amos 2:1-8) announcing God’s judgment on various nations.  Each pronouncement follows the same formula:

         "For three sins of [nation], even for four, I will not turn back My wrath." 

Is it possible that modern man can even listen to these words, surrounded as he is by a cocoon of spiritual complacency?: "God is peace, God is love, the Holy Spirit is a gentleman..."  This is not Amos'  experience.  The God who inspired Amos storms onto the scene "sending fire" on the nations for their sins!  

        

He makes the rounds of Israel's enemies:  Aram (Damascus), Philistia, Tyre, Edom, Ammon, and Moab.  These prophecies were popular with his listeners -- "yes, may God send judgment on our enemies!"   Then Amos turned on Judah, the hated rival to the south:

        "I will send fire upon Judah that will consume the fortresses of Jerusalem" (Amos 2:5).

 

         The crowd grew even more excited --  "about time Judah got what they deserve!"  But Amos kept prophesying:
    
        This is what the Lord says:
              "For three sins of Israel,
              even for four, I will not turn back {my wrath}.
              They sell the righteous for silver,
              and the needy for a pair of sandals....(Amos 2:6)

              "Now then, I will crush you
              as a cart crushes when loaded with grain.
              The swift will not escape,
              the strong will not muster their strength,
              and the warrior will not save his life" (Amos 2:13-14).

        

And now, among his hearers, there was a stunned silence. And then disbelief, and protest: "What? God includes us in His impending punishment?  How can He, we are the righteous!" 

        

This word from Amos was a powerful declaration.  The Lord is Judge over all nations, and He measures them by the same standard.  This is extremely important -- Judah and Israel were not excused on the basis of their heritage or their genealogy.  How humiliating that they were lumped in with all the rest of the "lesser" nations that they despised.  This theme occurs again in chapter 9:

        "Are not you Israelites the same to me as the Cushites?" declares the Lord .
         "Did I not bring Israel up from Egypt, the Philistines from Caphtor and the Arameans from Kir?" (Amos 9:7)

          This is another striking passage -- God stepped out of His role as the Covenant founder and partner with Israel, and reminded Israel that He is the Ruler of all nations.  And further -- the Israelites could not presume on their special history.

       

The consequence of their sins was that Israel, like the surrounding nations, fell under the judgment of God. This judgment was that an invader was coming (Amos 3:11Amos 6:14).  Another nation (Amos did not identify this as Assyria or Babylon) will be used as the Lord’s instrument of judgment.  Israel will go into exile (Amos 5:5Amos 5:27Amos 6:7Amos 7:11Amos 7:17Amos 9:4).  Amos 6:1-7 suggests both kingdoms were included in God's wrath.   Moreover, there will be a famine of God’s word: He will no longer speak to them (Amos 8:11-12):

          "Fallen is Virgin Israel, never to rise again,
          deserted in her own land, with no one to lift her up"(Amos 5:2). 

 

           See also Amos 8:14.