Memphis Belle

Untitled Document
Amos 1-4
Amos 5-9
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Amos

 

“Amos’ prophetic ministry took place during the reigns of Jeroboam II, king of Israel, and Uzziah, king of Judah.  He was contemporary with Jonah and Hosea who were prophets in the northern kingdom of Israel with Isaiah and Micah who were prophets in the southern kingdom of Judah…he was born in Judah, the southern kingdom, but he was a prophet to the northern kingdom…Amos had a global view of life and of God’s program for the entire world---not only for the present but also for the future.  All this makes this man a most remarkable prophet…Bethlehem has become famous, but there was another little place that was another six miles southeast of Bethlehem called Tekoa which is not so well known…Tekoa is located on a hilly ridge which overlooks a frightful desert wilderness that continues down to the very edge of the Dead Sea…Tekoa was never more than a wide place in the road.  It was a whistle-stop, a jumping-off place.  The name Tekoa mans “a camping ground.”  It was really only a country crossroads out on the frontier…Turn to chapter 7 to get a little personal insight into this man and his ministry in Samaria, the northern kingdom of Israel.  There we read:  “Then Amaziah the priest of Beth-el sent to Jeroboam king of Israel, saying, Amos hath conspired against thee in the midst of the house of Israel:  the land is not able to  bear all his words.  For thus Amos saith, Jeroboam shall die by the sword, and Israel shall surely be led away captive out of their own land.  Also Amaziah said unto Amos, O thou seer, go, flee thee away into the land of Judah, and there eat bread, and prophesy there:  But prophesy not again any more at Beth-el:  for it is the king’s chapel, and it is the king’s court.  Then answered Amos, and said to Amaziah, I was no prophet, neither was I a prophet’s son; but I was an herdman, and a gatherer of sycomore fruit:  And the LORD took me as I followed the flock, and the LORD said unto me, Go, prophesy unto my people Israel” (Amos 7:10-15)…Beth-el was, at first, the capital of the northern kingdom, and it was the place where Jeroboam I had erected one of his golden calves.  It was the center of culture and also of cults.  The people worshipped that golden calf and had turned their backs upon the Almighty God.  Beth-el was where the sophisticated and the suave folk moved [sort of like Boston and New York City, in the United States]; the jet set lived there.  It was a place that was blasé’ and brazen.  It was also the intellectual center.  They had a School of Prophets there.  The seminaries taught liberalism [Harvard Theological College anyone?].  They would have taught the Graf-Wellhausen hypothesis which denies the inspiration of the Pentateuch and gone in for all the latest theories of a theologian like Rudolf Bultmann [a place like Boston, Mass and Harvard Theological School---now as liberal as they come.]…Then here comes to town this country preacher, this prophet of God with a message---a most unusual message, different from any other prophet.  Amos’ suit of clothes was not cut to the style of Bethel and neither was his message.  He did not give the type of messages they were used to hearing.  In the king’s chapel there was always a mild-mannered preacher, very sophisticated and well-educated, but a rank unbeliever who stood in the pulpit giving comforting little words to the people.  He gave them pabulum [a manufacture baby-food popular in the 1950s and 1960s, but this generation has never heard of it!  My am I getting old]; saccharine sweetness was in his message.  But now here’s a different kind of man.  When Amos first arrived, people glared at him.  But they were very indulgent, of course (they were broad-minded, you know), so they smiled at him…He had been with the long-haired sheep out on the desert all of his life; now he was with the well-groomed “goats” up yonder in Bethel.  He had left the place of agriculture and had come to the place of culture…Amos preached the Word of God.  Many of the people were moved, and some turned to God; but he disturbed the liberal element.  Organized religion in Beth-el, the worship of Baal and of the golden calf, got together.  They had the ecumenical movement going there, so they had the same program.  If you don’t’ believe anything, my friend, there is nothing to keep you apart.  If I don’t believe anything and you don’t believe anything, we can get together.  That is the ecumenical movement…They had a mass meeting of all the religions in Beth-el---it was really the first meeting of the World Council of Churches---and the motto of this first meeting was, “Away with Amos, away with Amos.”  And the inevitable happened at this meeting:  they appointed a committee chairman, Amaziah, to go and confront Amos.  Amaziah was a priest who had gone into idolatry…Amaziah was the hired hand of religion.  He was polished, he was educated, he was proud, he was scholarly, he was pious, and he was a classic example of a pseudosaint.  Cleverly, and subtly, Amaziah worked a master stroke.  He went to Jeroboam II and poisoned his mind against Amos.  Amaziah got the king to support him because he believed that the church and state, religion and politics, should be combined [sort of like king James in 1611, which drove the Pilgrim Separatists out of England].  This is what happened:  “Then Amaziah the priest of Beth-el sent to Jeroboam king of Israel, saying, Amos hath conspired against thee in the midst of the house of Israel:  the land is not able to bear all his words.  For thus Amos saith, Jeroboam shall die by the sword, and Israel shall surely be led away captive out of their own land” (Amos 7:10-11).  Let me ask you, friend, is that what Amos said?  No, he had not said that.  His actual words were that God had said, “I will rise against the house of Jeroboam with the sword” (Amos 7:9).  If you follow the record, you will find out that Amos’ pronouncement was accurate.  It is too bad that Jeroboam II did not believe Amos because his grandson was later slain with the sword, thus ending his kingly line.  It was true that Amos had said something about the sword and about Jeroboam, but he had not said that Jeroboam personally would die by the sword.  Amaziah was an ecclesiastical politician who was twisting the truth, and that is the worst kind of lying…Verse 13 [of Amos 7] is the crowning insult of all:  “But prophesy not again any more in Beth-el:  for it is the king’s chapel, and it is the king’s court” (Amos 7:13).  That is the height of Amaziah’s insolence and his arrogance.  He uses here a satire that is not only biting but also poisonous.  He says in effect, “Remember, you’ve been speaking in the leading church here in Beth-el, the king’s chapel.  You have been in the king’s sanctuary, and he’s dissatisfied with you.  Your message disturbs him.  In fact, there are a lot of people who do not like you.  You don’t use a very diplomatic method.  You don’t pat them on the back and tell them how wonderful they are.  You do not patronize the rich and the affluent.  And you’re not very reverent.  You tell funny stories every now and then.  You’re not dignified.  You pound the pulpit, and you lack graceful gestures.  You do not use a basso profundo voice as if you were thundering out of heaven.  And you don’t seem to read the latest books.  By the way, have you read the latest, Baal Goes to Yale?  And of course, poor Amos hadn’t read the latest book…listen to his answer and notice how gracious it really is:  “Then answered Amos, and said to Amaziah, I was no prophet, neither was I a prophet’s son; but I was an herdman, and a gatherer of sycomore fruit:  And the LORD took me as I followed the flock, and the LORD said to me, Go, prophesy unto my people Israel” (Amos 7:14-15).  And then Amos continued with his message in which he has some pretty harsh words to say to this man Amaziah…This man Amos is very naïve.  He says, “You say that I’m no preacher.  I know it---I’m no preacher.  And you say I’m not a prophet.  You’re right, I’m no prophet.  I’m not even a prophet’s son.  I’m a country boy, but God called me.”  Listen to him:  “And the LORD said unto me, Go, prophesy unto my people Israel” (Amos 7:15), italics mine [and bolded text mine]).  Amos says, “You want my credentials?  Here they are:  God called me.”  May I say to you, if you give out the Word of God today, you are going to be challenged…Amos was God’s man giving God’s message.  Simply because Israel was being religious on the surface did not guarantee that God would not judge their sin.  Because of their rejection of His law---their deceit and robbery and violence and oppression of the poor [not to mention their baby-toddler killing sacrifices to Baal]---God said, “I hate, I despise your feast days…Take thou away from me the noise of their songs [and they weren’t even keeping God’s appointed feast days, Jeroboam I had given them a whole counterfeit set of feast days Israel had been observing since his reign began several hundred years prior]…But let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream” (Amos 5:21-24).  It was a day of false peace.  In the north was Assyria hanging like the sword of Damocles ready to fall, and in the next half century it would destroy this little kingdom.  Israel was trying to ignore this, and they kept talking about peace.  But Amos said, “Behold, the eyes of the Lord GOD are upon the sinful kingdom, and I will destroy it from off the face of the earth” (Amos 9:8).  His message was not a popular message. He warned that it was God’s intention to punish sin.”  [THRU THE BIBLE, Vol. III, pp. 680-683, selected portions]

 

Amos 1:1-15

 

Verses 1-5, “The words of Amos, who was among the sheepbreeders of Tekoa, which he saw concerning Israel in the days of Uzziah king of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel, two years before the earthquake.  And he said:  ‘The LORD roars from Zion, and utters his voice from Jerusalem; the pastures of the shepherds mourn, and the top of Carmel withers.’ 

 

Judgment of the Nations

 

Thus says the LORD:  ‘For three transgressions of Damascus, and for four, I will not turn away its punishment, because they have threshed Gilead with implements of iron.  But I will send a fire into the house of Hazael, which shall devour the palaces of Ben-Hadad.  I will also break the gate bar of Damascus, and cut off the inhabitant from the Valley of Aven, and the one who holds the scepter from Beth Eden.  The people of Syria shall go captive to Kir,’ says the LORD.”  From J. Vernon McGee we get, “Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel---did it also.  But the method of these other prophets was first to speak of God’s judgment of the nation Israel and then to take up the judgment of the other nations.  Amos reverses that method.  He spoke first of God’s judgment of the nations round about and then of Israel’s judgment.  When Amos first spoke in Beth-el, saying that God was going to judge Syria, Philistia, Phoenicia, Edom, Ammon, and Moab, everybody filled the king’s chapel.  He really was drawing a crowd…Amos exercised a great deal of diplomacy, it seems to me, in speaking of the other nations first.  He was an eloquent man.  Although he was a country preacher from out yonder in the desert, he used the language of a Shakespeare.  He was in my judgment, a great preacher…Amos was contemporary with Hosea, he was one of the first prophets, and he was a prophet to the northern kingdom of Israel…”And the habitations of the shepherds shall mourn, and the top of Carmel shall wither.”  Apparently, a drought and a famine would come upon that land, a famine that would extend throughout the entire land.”  [THRU THE BIBLE, Vol. III, p. 685]

 

Judgment against Syria for cruelty

 

“The Word of God, even the Old Testament, shows that God is not only the God of the nation Israel but He is also the God of the Gentiles…In 2 Kings 10:32-33, we read:  “In those days the LORD began to cut Israel short:  and Hazael smote them in all the coasts of Israel; from Jordan eastward, all the land of Gilead, the Gadites, and the Reubenites, and the Manassites, from Aroer, which is by the river Arnon, even Gilead and Bashan.”  Syria came down against these tribes first and actually destroyed them.  What does Amos mean by “Gilead”?  Gilead was on the east bank of the Jordan River.  It was the land which came up as far as the Sea of Galilee where the tribes of Reuben and Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh remained on the wrong side of the Jordan.  Syria is located right to the north and came down against them…”And the people of Syria shall go into captivity unto Kir” means that they were to be taken captive by the Assyrians.  Kir was a province in the Assyrian empire.”  [ibid. p. 686, selected parts]

 

Judgment Against Philistia

 

Verses 6-8, “Thus says the LORD:  ‘For three transgressions of Gaza, and for four, I will not turn away its punishment, because they took captive the whole captivity to deliver them up to Edom.  But I will send a fire upon the wall of Gaza, which shall devour its palaces.  I will cut off the inhabitant from Ashdod, and the one who holds the scepter from Ashkelon; I will turn my hand against Ekron, and the remnant of the Philistines shall perish,’ says the Lord GOD.”  “The judgment against the Philistines was for making slaves.  They took a certain number of Israelites, and they sold them into slavery to Edom and also to Phoenicia.  The Phoenicians were great traders, and they in turn sold them as prisoners of war into slavery.  They would send them all over the Mediterranean world…In the historical record of the reign of Hezekiah, we read:  “He [Hezekiah] smote the Philistines, even unto Gaza, and the borders thereof, from the tower of the watchmen to the fenced city” (2 Kings 18:8).  The record goes on to say how Hezekiah destroyed all that particular area.  Amos’ prophecy, you see, was literally fulfilled.  This example of fulfilled prophecy makes this section particularly interesting.  It also puts down a pattern for the way in which God will fulfill prophecy in the future [i.e. literally, not figuratively].”  [THRU THE BIBLE, Vol. III, p. 687, col.1, par.3, 5.]

 

Judgment Against Tyre

 

Verses 9-10, “Thus says the LORD:  ‘For three transgressions of Tyre, and for four, I will not turn away its punishment, because they delivered up the whole captivity to Edom, and did not remember the covenant of brotherhood.  But I will send a fire upon the wall of Tyre, which shall devour its palaces.’”  J. Vernon McGee has “We come now to the judgment against Phoenicia.  The Judgment against them is not only for selling slaves---the Philistines sold slaves to Phoenicia, and Phoenicia in turn sold them out to the world---but the judgment is for breaking their treaty with Israel.  Hiram, king of Tyre, had been a personal friend of David, and they had enjoyed many years of friendship.  No king in Israel or Judah had ever made war upon Phoenicia.  Now Phoenicia had broken the treaty.”  [THRU THE BIBLE, Vol. III, p. 687, col.1, par 6, col.2, par. 1]  Jeroboam II was the great-grandson of Jehu, who had killed Jezebel, wife of Ahab, and she was a Zidonian princess and the priestess of Baal in Zidon, and then in Israel under Ahab.  Jehu had also killed all the Baal worshippers and priests he could find in all of Israel.  This couldn’t have sat well with the capital cities of the Phoenician Empire, Tyre and Zidon.  So we see here (and it probably occurred at the time of Jehu) this strong treaty and alliance between the Phoenician Empire and the northern kingdom of Israel was temporarily broken (during the reigns of Jehu’s line, one king past Jeroboam II).  Philistia to the south and on the coast was taking slaves probably both from Judah and Israel, and selling them to the now ‘unfriendly’ Phoenicians.  But Phoenicia was (as we saw in our series on Kings & Chronicles) in far deeper trouble with God, for infecting the northern kingdom with Baal worship.  How did God judge the Phoenicians?  J. Vernon McGee says, “First the Assyrians came against Tyre, and he was not able to take the city.  Then there has been some question whether the Chaldeans under Nebuchadnezzar took the city or not [he succeeded in taking the mainland portion of the city, but not the fortified island portion of Tyre].  However, it is conceded that Nebuchadnezzar forced the Tyrians (Tyre was the great city of Phoenicians) to retire to an island that was out to sea about one-half mile.  The Tyrians build their city there, and Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the old city that was on the mainland.  About 250 years later, Alexander the Great came along.  He saw the very prosperous, very wealthy city out on the island, and he built a causeway out to it.  In doing so, he fulfilled Ezekiel’s prophecy in which God said that they would absolutely scrape the ground of old Tyre and throw it into the ocean.  Alexander made a causeway out to the island; he took it and destroyed it, bringing Tyre to an end.  Amos’ prophecy concerning Tyre was literally fulfilled.”  [THRU THE BIBLE, Vol. III, p. 687, selected parts]  During Alexander’s conquest of Tyre, the Phoenicians were driven out of their homeland port city-states of Tyre and Zidon [also called Sidon], first to Carthage and North Africa.  From there they dispersed among their trading colonies along northwestern Europe, England and America, mixing with and becoming part of the Celtic race, and becoming as distinct Phoenicians, lost from historic view.  It is thought the last of the Tyrians escaped Alexander by ship and sailed to and founded the city of Venice, with later became a powerful naval and merchant marine empire of its own (wonder why?---duh), before they were absorbed into the Italian race in the late 1800s AD.  This could be part of the reason Phoenicia, Tyre, is mentioned as being an economic part of Babylon the Great in end-time prophecy.  Phoenicia is still there, mixed in with the Italians.

 

Judgment Against Edom

 

Verses 11-12, “Thus says the LORD:  ‘For three transgressions of Edom, and for four, I will not turn away its punishment, because he pursued his brother with the sword, and cast off all pity; his anger tore perpetually, and he kept his wrath forever.  But I will send a fire upon Teman, which shall devour the palaces of Bozrah.’”  Log onto http://www.unityinchrist.com/ezek/Ezekiel%20pt3-1.htm and scroll to Ezekiel 35:1-15, Who Are The Palestinians? and read through that historic “smoking gun” trail from the time of Biblical Edom to now.  It will save duplication of a lot of material, since it is already covered in that file, which gives a complete explanation of who Edom is and how he deals with Edom. 

 

Judgment Against Ammon

 

Verses 13-15, “Thus says the LORD:  ‘For three transgressions of the people of Ammon, and for four, I will not turn away its punishment, because they ripped open the women with child in Gilead, that they might enlarge their territory.  But I will kindle a fire in the wall of Rabbah, and it shall devour its palaces, amid shouting in the day of battle, and a tempest in the day of the whirlwind.  Their king shall go into captivity, he and his princes together,’ says the LORD.”   J. Vernon McGee has this to say about verses 13-15, “The Ammonites were located over on the east bank of the Jordan, and they joined with the Syrians in fighting against the two and one-half tribes of Israel which were in the land of Gilead.  They did it “that they might enlarge their border.”  “But I will kindle a fire in the wall of Rabbah, and it shall devour the palaces thereof.”  This is God’s judgment against the Ammonites.  Rabbah was a great city and the capital city of the Ammonites.  Later it was called Philadelphia by the Greeks.  It was named after Ptolemy Philadephus of Egypt.  We know it today as Amman, the capital of the nation of Jordan.  You can see the ruins there of the great civilization of the past which was totally destroyed.  Modern Jordan has been built upon the ruins of the nation of the Ammonites.”  [THRU THE BIBLE, Vol. III, p. 688, col.1, par. 8, col.2, par.1, 4.]  Modern day Jordan is mainly composed of the descendants of Lot’s two children, Ammon and Moab.  They still figure in some modern-day end-time prophecies.  That is why we know they weren’t completely wiped out or destroyed.  Jordan has always been friendlier to the modern Israeli nation than most Arabic nations descended from Ishmael. 

 

Amos 2:1-16

 

Judgment Against Moab

 

Verses 1-3, “For three transgressions of Moab, and for four, I will not turn away its punishment, because he burned the bones of the king of Edom to lime.  But I will send a fire upon Moab, and it shall devour the palaces of Kerioth; Moab shall die with tumult, with shouting and trumpet sound.  And I will cut off the judge from its midst, and slay all its princes with him,’ says the LORD.”  The Moabites had gained a victory against the Edomites in battle, killed the king of Edom, and out of revenge burned his body and bones down to lime.  This angered God.  Don’t forget, both the Moabites and Edomites have the seed of Abraham and his family in them.  Esau was Abraham’s grandson, who became Edom.  And the Moabites came from Lot, Abraham’s nephew.  God destroyed the Moabite leadership and army and a lot of their people through Nebuchadnezzar II right after he conquered Judah in 586BC.  Moab is around today, because she is mentioned in end-time prophecy, in Daniel 11:41. 

 

Judgment Against Judah

 

Verses 4-5, “Thus says the LORD:  ‘For three transgressions of Judah, and for four, I will not turn away its punishment, because they have despised the law of the LORD, and have not kept his commandments.  Their lies lead them astray, lies which their fathers followed.  But I will send a fire upon Judah, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem.’”  Amos next turns to Judah, from where he came.  He doesn’t leave them out.  But he’s preaching in Bethel, in the king’s chapel, Bethel in the northern kingdom of Israel.  So his Israelite (10-tribed) audience is probably still sitting there saying ‘Yeah, give it to them, Amos!  Those nasty Jews south of the border, let ‘em have it!’  The Jews, of all people, had the Law of God, residing in the very Temple of God, along with the Aaronic priesthood of God (to say nothing of Yahweh himself dwelling in the Temple until sometime in Ezekiel’s  and Jeremiah’s ministry).  But they were hypocrites.  They had the Law, but they weren’t practicing it, they weren’t living by it.  God through Amos here in these short two verses promises to burn and destroy the palaces (and ultimately the Temple itself) in Jerusalem.  This ultimately did occur under Nebuchadnezzar’s army in 586BC.  Finally we come to God’s judgment against the northern 10-tribed House of Israel, as he communicated it through his prophet Amos.  Amos has his audience’s attention, and they probably were cheering him on as he delivered God’s scathing corrections onto their enemies around them (and even to Judah to their south).  Now it’s their turn.

 

God’s Judgment Against Israel---for their mistreatment of the poor

 

Verses 6-8, “Thus says the LORD:  ‘For three transgressions of Israel, and for four, I will not turn away its punishment, because they sell the righteous for silver, and the poor for a pair of sandals.  They pant after the dust of the earth which is on the head of the poor, and pervert the way of the humble.  A man and his father go in to the same girl, to defile my holy name.  They lie down by every altar on clothes taken in pledge, and drink the wine of the condemned in the house of their god…”  Now that Amos has the attention of his audience, a lot of it leadership and royalty (he’s in the king’s chapel, don’t forget), he gets personal, and really starts to lay into the sins of the northern 10-tribed House of Israel.  In his correction of Judah he addressed their commandment breaking, i.e. the Ten Commandments.  But with the House of Israel he aims at their breaking of the Mosaic Law, the judgments and statutes---which deal with everyday life.  The first thing Amos condemns northern Israel of is the way they were treating the poor.  The Mosaic Law of God has a lot to say about how one was supposed to treat the poor.  Amos 4:1 says, “Hear this word, you cows of Bashan, who are on the mountain of Samaria, who oppress the poor, who crush the needy, who say to your husbands, ‘Bring wine, let us drink!’”  And 5:11 says, “Therefore, because you tread down the poor and take grain taxes from him, though you have built houses of hewn stone, yet you shall not dwell in them; you have planted pleasant vineyards, but you shall not drink wine from them.”  As J. Vernon McGee says “the poor will not be treated fairly until Jesus Christ returns.”  We have the same problem, sin, in America which Amos was condemning the House of Israel of back then.  The middle class is rapidly disappearing in America, most are now becoming the poor and the working poor, and the few rich ones.  The politicians are all made up of the rich.  They make laws that tax us to death and regulations that kill the small businesses which employ many of us, now that our manufacturing base has moved to Communist China.  And these rich politicians don’t suffer a bit.  “A man and his father will go into a maid.”  Now there’s a good one.  Temple prostitution in the Baal worship which had infected the northern House of Israel was rampant.  Sexual rites were rampant in this form of idol worship, which had then mixed with Jeroboam I’s golden calf worship.  This created a lot of unwanted babies, which they then sacrificed to Baal as burnt offerings.  Are we any different?  Since the sexual revolution of the 1960s took over and the passing of Roe vs. Wade, 45 million babies have been killed through abortion, with one million more being added to this gruesome list with every passing year.  Deuteronomy 24:12-13, “And if a man is poor, you shall not keep his pledge overnight.  You shall in any case return the pledge to him again when the sun goes down, that he may sleep in his own garment and bless you; and it shall be righteousness to you before the LORD your God.”  This is another law to protect the poor which they were breaking.  I like what J. Vernon McGee says here about how we in America are breaking the spirit of this law big-time.  “We talk about how just our laws are today, but how sad it is that we will permit an entire family to be moved from their home when they cannot pay the rent [or mortgage] because of poverty.”  Right now America is going through a collapse in its housing market, with countless defaults on mortgages taking place as I write, all due to greedy unsound banking processes coming home to roost.  The sins of America are coming upon her fast.  Albert Einstein was not only a genius in his chosen profession as a physicist, but also was very gifted in the area of social science.  I think he hit the nail squarely on the head in defining our problem, our sins, against the poor.  This is taken from a book about the various writings of Albert Einstein.  He wrote:  “The economic anarchy of capitalist society as it exists today is, in my opinion, the real source of the evil.  We see before us a huge community of producers the members of which are unceasingly striving to deprive each other of the fruits of their collective labor---not by force, but on the whole in faithful compliance with legally established rules.  In this respect, it is important to realize that the means of production---that is to say, the entire productive capacity that is needed for producing consumer goods as well as additional capital goods---may legally be, and for the most part are, the private property of individuals.  For the sake of simplicity, in the discussion that follows I shall call “workers” all those who do not share in the ownership of the means of production---although this does not quite correspond to the customary use of the term.  The owner of the means of production is in a position to purchase the labor power of the worker.  By using the means of production, the worker produces new goods which become the property of the capitalist.  The essential point about this process is the relation between what the worker produces and what he is paid, both measured in terms of real value.  In so far as the labor contract is “free,” what the worker receives is determined not by the real value of the goods he produces, but by his minimum needs and by the capitalists’ requirements for labor power in relation to the number of workers competing for jobs.  It is important to understand that even in theory the payment of the worker is not determined by the value of his product.  Private capital tends to become concentrated in few hands, partly because of competition among the capitalists, and partly because technological development and the increasing division of labor encourage the formation of larger units of production at the expense of the smaller ones.  [i.e. big business trumps small business, directly, and through lobbying for harsher regulations against small businesses.  This is taking place so badly in the U.S. right now, that small businesses are dying by the thousands every month as I write!]  The result of these developments is an oligarchy of private capital the enormous power of which cannot be effectively checked even by a democratically organized political society.  This is true since the members of the legislative bodies are selected by political parties, largely financed or otherwise influenced by private capitalists who, for all practical purposes, [through lobbyists especially] separate the electorate from the legislature.  The consequence is that the representatives of the people do not in fact sufficiently protect the interests of the underprivileged sections of the population.  Moreover, under the existing conditions, private capitalists inevitably control, directly or indirectly, the main sources of information (press, radio, education).  It is thus extremely difficult, and indeed in most cases quite impossible, for the individual citizen to come to objective conclusions and to make intelligent use of his political rights.”  [“On Politics, Government, and Pacifism”, pp. 156-157]  That article was written some time in the 1950s under the title “Why Socialism” by Albert Einstein,  what a forward thinker.  It basically explains the modern mechanics of how the wealthy maintain control over the poor, keeping them poor, and concentrating the wealth at the top echelons of society---as well as how the capitalists have influenced our state and federal laws, regulations, on small businesses, to crush them, keeping “free enterprise” in the hands of an elite group of wealthy businessmen.  This evil has been progressing steadily since Albert Einstein wrote this, and has rapidly accelerated in recent years.  And this includes big farming companies, agribusinesses as they’re called, putting laws like S510 on the books which are designed to cripple small farmers (“eliminating the competition”).  Major amounts of money must have flowed into politicians’ hands from major farming chemical manufacturers and agribusinesses to guarantee that one passed in both our Federal House and Senate so that it is now a Federal law.  That’s just one tiny example.  Amos would have been pounding the pulpit in Washington, D.C. over that one, let me tell you.  As for Einstein, you can’t blame him for looking to Socialism to solve these sins.  But Socialism wouldn’t work either, as it destroys incentive, and will ultimately fail, just as Communism did.  The real solution is following God’s laws of outgoing concern for our neighbors.  When Jesus Christ returns he will institute over all mankind both the 10 Commandments and the Mosaic laws, the Judgments and Statutes, written to guarantee the rights and freedoms of all men to pursue life, liberty and the genuine pursuit of happiness.  Free enterprise in the hands of caring Christians is the governmental system which will ultimately win out, under the loving control of Jesus Christ and his government over mankind.  Sadly, for the House of Israel and Judah, they had that system of government over them.  They just refused to follow it.  They allowed similar sins to occur, crushing the poor.  They were judged by God for that.  As we have seen throughout these Minor Prophets, these prophecies are dual, and apply to then and now for whomever Israel is.

 

Verses 9-16, “‘Yet it was I who destroyed the Amorite before them, whose height was like the height of the cedars, and he was as strong as the oaks; yet I destroyed his fruit above and his roots beneath.  Also it was I who brought you up from the land of Egypt, and led you forty years through the wilderness, to possess the land of the Amorite.  I raised up some of your sons as prophets, and some of your young men as Nazirites.  Is it not so, O you children of Israel?’  says the LORD.  But you gave the Nazirites wine to drink, and commanded the prophets saying, ‘Do not prophesy!’  Behold, I am weighed down by you, as a cart full of sheaves is weighed down.  Therefore flight shall perish from the swift, the strong shall not strengthen his power, nor shall the mighty deliver himself; he shall not stand who handles the bow, the swift of foot shall not escape, nor shall he who rides a horse deliver himself.  The most courageous men of might shall flee naked in that day,’ says the LORD.”  This applied to the northern 10-tribed House of Israel as a nation back then, but I love how J. Vernon McGee shows it applies to us in the English-speaking nations now, particularly we in the United States of America.  “We as a nation today ought to do a little thinking about what has happened in our land.  In two world wars we were able to cross the sea and to bring an end to the conflict.  In that we became a great nation, and we were very proud.  We felt we didn’t need God at all---we had the atom bomb.  Then a little country called North Vietnam came along, and we thought that we would subdue them overnight.  I am not attempting to fix blame on anyone [our soldiers fought courageously and were improperly treated by the American public], but I do say that America should have learned a lesson from that.  We did not win a victory.  We were never able to subdue the little enemy and we were divided at home.  It is true that we did not want to bring the full force of our military power to bear, but this reveals the fact that we are becoming weak as a nation.  We ought to wake up instead of shutting our eyes to the condition of our land.  We ought to begin to call attention to the fact that God is already beginning to bring us down as He brought down his own people down.  God said to Israel, ‘You are becoming weak, and you do not seem to realize that I have already begun to judge you.’  That was Amos’ message, and it is no wonder that the people wanted to run him out of town.  It is no wonder they didn’t want to hear the message he had for them.  And he is not through yet!”  [THRU THE BIBLE, Vol. III, pp. 693-694]

 

Amos 3:1-15

 

‘Light Creates Responsibility’

 

Verses 1-3, “Hear this word that the LORD has spoken against you, O children of Israel, against the whole family which I brought up from the land of Egypt, saying:  ‘You only have I known of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.  Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?...  J. Vernon McGee has this to say about verses 1-3, “God chose Abraham from among the nations, out of Abraham He brought forth the nation of Israel [all 12 tribes, one nation, before it divided into two], and to the nation He gave His Word.  His purpose was that this nation would give His Word to the world.  And this is God’s purpose for us, my friend…‘Therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.’  God is saying, ‘I intend to judge you.’  The nation of Israel occupied a unique relationship to God.  God had given to them His commandments. And the reason He would judge Israel so severely is because they had broken so many of His commandments.  You see, light creates responsibility.  An enlightened nation has a greater responsibility than a nation which is in darkness.  This is a great principle God puts down here.  He intends to judge in harsher manner those who have received light than those who are in darkness.  The Lord Jesus also mentioned the fact that some would receive fewer stripes and others would receive more stripes.  Many times I have made the statement that I would rather be a heathen Hottentot in the darkest corner of this earth, bowing down before an ugly, hideous idol of stone, than to be the so-called civilized man in this country, sitting in church on Sunday [or Saturday] morning while he hears the gospel preached and does nothing about it.  The man who hears the Word of God has a greater responsibility than the man who doesn’t.  Therefore, there are different degrees of punishment… “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?”  Here is a cause and an effect.  The cause:  there must be agreement if you are to walk together with God.  The effect:  you will walk with Him when you are in agreement.  This doesn’t mean that God will come over and agree with you.  You and I have to go over to His side and agree with Him.  As someone has said, ‘God rides triumphantly in His own chariot.  And if you don’t want to get under the wheels of that chariot, you had better get aboard and ride. After all, God is carrying through His purpose in the world.’…My friend, God is running His universe His way, and is not asking advice from little man.  If you and I are going to walk with God, we will have to go His way.  Amos has stated a great principle in his first question:  “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?”  [THRU THE BIBLE, Vol. III, pp. 694-695, selected parts.]

 

Cause and Effect of Sin---God Will Warn Through His Prophets

 

Verses 4-8, “Will a lion roar in the forest, when he has no prey?  Will a young lion cry out of his den, if he has caught nothing?  Will a bird fall into a snare on the earth, where there is no trap for it?  Will a snare spring up from the earth, if it has caught nothing at all?  If a trumpet is blown in a city, will not the people be afraid?  If there is calamity in a city, will not the LORD have done it?  Surely the Lord GOD does nothing, unless he reveals his secret to his servants the prophets.  A lion has roared!  Who will not fear?  The Lord GOD has spoken!  Who can but prophesy?”  “Amos asks seven questions which illustrate that for every effect there is a cause and that the judgment of God which is coming is not accidental but is a result caused by the sin of the people… [First:] Amos is saying that God will not move in judgment until He gives His message to the prophets.  He will let them known what He intends to do.”  [ibid. p. 696]  Verses 9-12, “Proclaim in the palaces at Ashdod, and in the palaces in the land of Egypt, and say:  ‘Assemble on the mountains of Samaria; see great tumults in her midst, and the oppressed within her.  For they do not know to do right,’ says the LORD, ‘who store up violence and robbery in their palaces.’  Therefore thus says the Lord GOD:  ‘An adversary shall be all around the land; he shall sap your strength from you, and your palaces shall be plundered.’  Thus says the LORD:  ‘As a shepherd takes from the mouth of the lion two legs or a piece of an ear, so shall the children of Israel be taken out who dwell in Samaria---in the corner of a bed and on the edge of a couch!’”  “After God’s judgment has fallen on Samaria, the remaining remnant is likened to a piece of an ear and two legs which are all that are left of a lamb after a lion has devoured it.  You see, God’s judgment was severe because Samaria had light from heaven which made their responsibility great.”  [ibid. p. 698]  Assyria’s three year siege of the fortress city of Samaria was brutal.  Anyone captured trying to escape the city during the siege had their lifeless bodies impaled on stakes facing the city walls.  I imagine they were alive as they were being impaled.  The Assyrians were brutal, but you have to understand, lest you want to condemn them for their brutality, it is God who brought the Assyrians against the northern kingdom of Israel for her sins.  And it is mainly the leadership God was judging, within the capital city of Samaria.  All those who feared God and listened to God’s prophets had fled between 740BC and 724BC (see http://www.unityinchrist.com/kings/3.html).  So it was the guilty, the dregs in God’s eyes, who weren’t spared.  God’s judgment is tempered by mercy upon repentance. 

 

Altars of Bethel Judged---the king’s chapel

 

Verses 13-15, “‘Hear and testify against the house of Jacob,’ says the Lord GOD of hosts, ‘that in the day I punish Israel for their transgressions, I will also visit destruction on the alters of Bethel; and the horns of the altar shall be cut off and fall to the ground.  I will destroy the winter house along with the summer house; the houses of ivory shall perish, and the great houses shall have an end,’ says the LORD.”  J. Vernon McGee describes this set of verses pretty well, “‘The houses of ivory shall perish.’  Ahab and Jezebel had built on the top of the hill of Samaria.  Their tremendous palace was in a most beautiful location.  I particularly noticed that on my last trip there.  That palace covers the very brow of the hill, the tip-top of the hill.  From their palace they could look in every direction. To the west they could see the Mediterranean Sea on a clear day.  To the east they could see the Jordan valley. To the north they could see the Valley of Esdraelon with Mount Hermon in the distance. To the south they could see Jerusalem.  What a view!  There they built a palace of ivory.  Of course, the enemy in days gone by has carted away that beautiful ivory, but excavations have been going on there recently.  In fact, Israel is excavating there now.  Our guide told us that they have found several very delicate vessels of ivory. Apparently one of them was for perfume.  The other vessels were probably for wine.  Ivory was the color scheme of the palace, if you please.  Everything was done in ivory.  Apparently, Ahab and Jezebel had the best interior decorator of the period come up and decorate for them.  It was a palace of luxury.  God said He would destroy it and bring it to an end.  I do not know of a more desolate spot today than the ruins of Samaria on top of that hill.  I have many pictures that I took of it.  God has certainly fulfilled that prophecy.  Although we do not see prophecy which is being fulfilled in that land today, we can see that many prophecies have been fulfilled in the past.  However, I repeat, that certainly the stage currently is being set for the fulfillment of future prophecies in the land of Palestine.”  [THRU THE BIBLE, Vol. III, p. 698, col.2, par. 3-5]

 

Amos 4:1-13

 

Verse 1, “Hear this word, you cows of Bashan, who are on the mountain of Samaria, who oppress the poor, who crush the needy, who say to your husbands, ‘Bring wine, let us drink!’”  “Kine of Bashan,” Bashan was the territory occupying the section of northern Israel east of the Jordan River between the mountains of Gilead in the south and Mount Hermon on the north.  The tribes of Gad, Reuben and the half tribe of Manasseh settled there.  It was very fertile, noted for its fine breed of cattle---strong and sleek.  It is thought Amos, as a scrub farmer and shepherd was making a sarcastic reference to the leadership at Samaria, the capital city of the northern House of Israel.  These rulers were responsible for “crushing the needy” and “oppressing the poor.”  Verses 2-3, “The Lord GOD has sworn by his holiness:  ‘Behold, the days shall come upon you when he will take you away with fishhooks, and your posterity with fishhooks.  You will go out through broken walls, each one straight ahead of her, and you will be cast into Hermon,’ says the LORD.”  This speaks clearly about the way the conquering Assyrians would drag the remaining Israelites out of their rich palaces in Samaria.  Very interestingly, the wealthy farmland territory of Bashan was conquered and led into captivity by Assyria between 745 and 740BC.  Then about six and one half tribes of Israel evaded the coming conquest and captivity Samaria would go through by marching north beyond Armenia sometime between 726-724BC.  Then Assyria marched southwest, laying siege to the city of Samaria in 724BC.  Samaria fell in 721BC and a mere 27,900 inhabitants were recorded in Assyrian annuls as having been taken captive (the northern kingdom of Israel was reputed to have been at least several million strong in population). 

 

‘Come and sin in church’

 

Verses 4-5, “‘Come to Bethel and transgress, at Gilgal multiply transgression; bring your sacrifices every morning, your tithes every three years [cf. Deuteronomy 14:28].  Offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving with leaven, proclaim and announce the freewill offerings; for this you love, you children of Israel!’ says the Lord GOD.”  Amos is using bitter sarcasm here where he’s essentially saying ‘Come and sin in church’ because that’s essentially what you’re doing.  J. Vernon McGee brings out a very interesting point about sinning in church, it’s a warning we need to take very seriously.  “Do you know that sometimes it can actually be dangerous to go to church?  The Devil goes to church, you know.  I think he gets up bright and early on a Sunday [or Saturday] morning, and wherever there is the preaching and teaching of the Word of God, he is there trying to wreck their [the genuine pastor’s] work in any way he can.  That is the reason we ought to pray for Bible-preaching and Bible-teaching pastors.  The Devil doesn’t need to be busy in cults or in liberal churches which deny the Word of God.  Those places are already in his domain.  He must concentrate his efforts in those places where there is spiritual life and the Word of God is being given out.  When Jesus Christ was about to die and His enemies were plotting the details of His execution, He spent time in the Upper Room with His twelve disciples.  You would think that was the most sacred spot in all the world at that moment.  You might expect that the Devil was busy with those who were plotting the death of Jesus.  But do you know where the Devil was that evening?  He was in the Upper Room!  He hadn’t been invited, but he was there.  Satan had entered into the heart of Judas Iscariot to betray Him, and he walked into the Upper Room on the legs of Judas.  That’s how he got there.  And,  my friend, sometimes he walks into our so-called conservative, fundamental churches on the legs of a deacon or a Sunday [or Sabbath] school teacher or another church member.  It is tragic today to fail to recognize our enemy and to be ignorant of his devices.”  [THRU THE BIBLE, Vol.III, p. 700, col.1, par. 2-3]  And that Sunday or Sabbath-school teacher or deacon or local member he’s referring to would be one who does not have the indwelling Holy Spirit (as Satan or a demon cannot inhabit a person in whom the Holy Spirit dwells).  But this person could be perceived as one who does have the Holy Spirit indwelling him or her.  Satan and the demons know the Bible inside and out, they can put on a pretty good act through this ‘host’, and really look the part.  “Wolves in sheep’s clothing” do exist and must be watched for in all our congregations, large and small, right down to house-church size where you ‘think’ you know everyone.  One key trait is that they tend to be divisive, they like to try to divide the part of the Body of Christ where they attend into factions, bringing in alternate teachings on the sly. 

 

Coming Drought and Famine on the Land

 

Verses 6-10, “‘Also I gave you cleanness of teeth in all your cities.  And lack of bread in all your places; yet have you not returned to me,’ say the LORD.  ‘I also withheld rain from you, when there were still three months to the harvest.  I made it rain on one city, I withheld rain from another city.  One part was rained upon, and where it did not rain the part withered.  So two or three cities wandered to another city to drink water.  But they were not satisfied; yet you have not returned to me,’ says the LORD.  ‘I blasted you with blight and mildew.  When your gardens were increased, your vineyards, your fig trees, and your olive trees, the locust devoured them; yet you have not returned to me,’ says the LORD.  I sent among you a plague after the manner of Egypt; your young men I killed with a sword, along with your captive horses; I made the stench of your camps come up into your nostrils; yet you have not returned to me,’ says the LORD.”  God through Amos is essentially showing this northern 10-tribed House of Israel that he’s brought them into the opening phases of the National Curses pronounced on Israel in the Torah Law, should they disobey God’s Law.  This is found in Leviticus 26:14-22, “But if you do not obey me, and do not observe all these commandments, and if you despise my statutes, or if your soul abhors my judgments, so that you do not perform all my commandments, but break my covenant, I also will do this to you:  I will even appoint terror over you, wasting disease and fever which shall consume the eyes and cause sorrow of heart.  And you shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it.  I will set my face against you, and you shall be defeated by your enemies.  Those who hate you shall reign over you, and you shall flee when no one pursues you.  And after all this, if you do not obey me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins.  I will break the pride of your power; I will make your heavens like iron and your earth like bronze.  And your strength shall be spent in vain; for your land shall not yield its produce, nor shall the trees of the land yield their fruit.  Then, if you walk contrary to me, and are not willing to obey me, I will bring on you seven times more plagues, according to your sins.  I will also send wild beasts among you, which shall rob you of your children, destroy your livestock, and make you few in number; and your highways shall be desolate.”  This section of Leviticus 26 is describing the first phase of National punishment outlined by God in this chapter.  The first stage lists incurable diseases sweeping the country, loss of national pride (military), and heavens of iron and earth of bronze, causing widespread drought and loss of food supply, ultimately causing famine.  It also shows loss of food in the woods and farmland causes a loss of wildlife, so that big cats, wolves, etc., start going after human prey.  This happens during severe drought.  Phase 2 of the curses in Leviticus 26 is shown in verses 23-43 and lists military defeat and national captivity and enslavement of the surviving population.  Verses 44-45 promise some of the survivors will find grace in the land of their captivity, and ultimately God brings them out of it.  This is what Amos 4:11-13 describes, “‘I overthrew some of you, as God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, and you were like a firebrand plucked from the burning; yet you have not returned to me,’ says the LORD.  Therefore thus will I do to you, O Israel; because I will do this to you, prepare to meet your God, O Israel!  For behold, he who forms the mountains, and creates the wind, who declares to man what his thought is, and makes the morning darkness, who treads the high places of the earth---the LORD God of hosts is his name.”  But at this point the judgment and captivity haven’t taken place yet for Samaria, and maybe even for the two and one half tribes. But then again, it may have for the two and a half tribes east of the Jordan River, they may have already been conquered and taken captive into Assyria.  It’s hard to tell exactly when this was written, although the timing is pretty clear, it’s close to these events.

 

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