Amos 1-5 There is a reason for the judgment and a way to repent

From Amos 1-5

30 AmosIntroduction

Amos, possibly the first of the writing prophets, was a shepherd and farmer called to prophesy during the reigns of Uzziah (792–740 B.C.) in the southern kingdom and Jeroboam II (793–753) in the north. During this time both kingdoms enjoyed political stability, which in turn brought prosperity. It was also a time of idolatry, extravagance, and corruption. The rich and powerful were oppressing the poor. Amos denounced the people of Israel for their apostasy and social injustice and warned them that disaster would fall upon them for breaking the covenant. He urged them to leave the hypocrisy of their “solemn assemblies” (5:21) and instead to “let justice roll down like waters” (v. 24). Nevertheless, said Amos, God would remember his covenant with Israel and would restore a faithful remnant. (The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.)

This post is part of my bible in a year series.

Passage and Comments

Amos is another book set just before the exile of Israel. Amos is proclaiming judgment. One of the noticeable things that stands out in Amos’ judgment is that he is always giving reasons for the LORD’s judgment. Have a look;

4 Thus says the Lord:

“For three transgressions of Judah,

and for four, I will not revoke the punishment,

because they have rejected the law of the Lord,

and have not kept his statutes,

but their lies have led them astray,

those after which their fathers walked.

5 So I will send a fire upon Judah,

and it shall devour the strongholds of Jerusalem.” (Amos 2.4-5)

In the overview I described the progressive judgments on the various nations as Judgment-Reason-Punishment. The same pattern is evidenced here as well. Amos introduces the judgment (v4a), then gives the reason for the judgment (v4b ‘because…’) and announces the punishment they will receive (v5). Amos was sent to Israel and I bet there were many who may have been happy to hear judgment proclaimed on the other nations. The shock is, at the end he proclaims judgment on Israel as well! Amos gives extended treatment on Israel. Like the others he gives valid reasons why they are being judged and punished.

6 Thus says the Lord:

“For three transgressions of Israel,

and for four, I will not revoke the punishment,

because they sell the righteous for silver,

and the needy for a pair of sandals—

7 those who trample the head of the poor into the dust of the earth

and turn aside the way of the afflicted;

a man and his father go in to the same girl,

so that my holy name is profaned;

8 they lay themselves down beside every altar

on garments taken in pledge,

and in the house of their God they drink

the wine of those who have been fined. (Amos 2.6-8)

Israel sells the righteous for silver, kidnapping? slavery? They mistreated the poor, committed incest, deny the needy with adequate clothing, use ill gotten wine in the temple…

It might be helpful at this point to examine ourselves, and if necessary humbly confess our sins and ask forgiveness. We are looking in on the sins and judgment of others and its possible we could feel we have not or could not succumb to the same evil.

This is what LORD promised for Israel.

13 “Behold, I will press you down in your place,

as a cart full of sheaves presses down.

14 Flight shall perish from the swift,

and the strong shall not retain his strength,

nor shall the mighty save his life;

15 he who handles the bow shall not stand,

and he who is swift of foot shall not save himself,

nor shall he who rides the horse save his life;

16 and he who is stout of heart among the mighty

shall flee away naked in that day,”

declares the Lord. (Amos 2.13-16)

The LORD predicts a rescue, but it doesn’t look too good…

12 Thus says the Lord: “As the shepherd rescues from the mouth of the lion two legs, or a piece of an ear, so shall the people of Israel who dwell in Samaria be rescued, with the corner of a couch and part of a bed. (Amos 3.12)

Anyone want to be rescued like that?

Story of Israel

Click to enlarge.
Click to enlarge.

Despite the numerous warnings from the LORD, he was obligated under the covenant, as well as numerous warnings from the prophets he sent. Israel persisted in rejecting the LORD, they did not repent, and they were punished and exiled. He warned them. Importantly he told them what their sins were, which is what is necessary to repent and stop continuing in those sins.

Much later after they returned to the land, John the Baptist also predicted wrath on those who did not repent and he gave specific instruction on what repentance looked like (Lk 3). I think its helpful to tell people what their sins are if you want to ask them to repent. Otherwise they cannot repent.

Story of Jesus

After Jesus was crucified and was raised to life Peter shares the gospel with the Jews at Jerusalem.

29 “Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says,

“ ‘The Lord said to my Lord,

“Sit at my right hand,

until I make your enemies your footstool.” ’

Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” (Acts 2.29-37)

Peter has told them what they have done wrong. They crucified Jesus! Their sin demands repentance and forgiveness. Which is why they ask, ‘What shall we do?’ Unfortunately when Amos told Israel of their sins, they did not repent. They did not ask ‘What shall we do?’

38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” (Acts 2.38-39)

They repented and were baptised and joined the community of believers.

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