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1 The words of Amos, who was among the herdmen 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.
The words of Amos
1. Judgment on six surrounding nations, and Judah (1:3-2:4);
2. The bulk of the book: judgments on Israel, the northern kingdom;
3. The promise of final glorious restoration (last seven vs. of the book).
All these surrounding nations were related to David's Kingdom, and were subject to him. They are referred to again in the final verses in connection with the final blessing under the greater David.
The judgments on these other nations are an introduction and build up to the principal message: the judgment of Israel.
If God judged the Gentile nations outside His specific Law, how much more Israel, who had been so specially blessed and privileged! But Israel took just the opposite message: that they could presume on special lenity and mercy.
And so with us. We talk glibly about God's terrible judgments on the "wicked" nations: what about our own so much greater obligations and responsibilities? That is what our concern should be.*
*Bro Growcott - Seek Yahweh, and Ye Shall Live
2 And he said, Yahweh will roar from Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the habitations of the shepherds shall mourn, and the top of Carmel shall wither.
This word "roar" (sha'ag) is the terrifying, paralyzing roar of the lion as he leaps upon his prey. We note man has borrowed this tactic: ... "stun-grenades" ... used for momentary paralysis and shock. Here it indicates the judgment is imminent. This roaring from Zion is typical of the last days when-
"Out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem" (Isa. 2:3).
It is, again, the lion-roar of the Rainbowed Angel (Rev. 10:3).
Bro Growcott - Seek Yahweh, and Ye Shall Live
3 Thus saith Yahweh; For three transgressions of Damascus, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they have threshed Gilead with threshing instruments of iron:
Why is Syria at the head of the list? It was the worst and most recent enemy. From the days of Saul, it was almost continually at war with Israel.
4 But I will send a fire into the house of Hazael, which shall devour the palaces of Benhadad.
5 I will break also the bar of Damascus, and cut off the inhabitant from the plain of Aven, and him that holdeth the sceptre from the house of Eden: and the people of Syria shall go into captivity unto Kir, saith Yahweh.
6 Thus saith Yahweh; For three transgressions of Gaza, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they carried away captive the whole captivity, to deliver them up to Edom:
7 But I will send a fire on the wall of Gaza, which shall devour the palaces thereof:
8 And I will cut off the inhabitant from Ashdod, and him that holdeth the sceptre from Ashkelon, and I will turn mine hand against Ekron: and the remnant of the Philistines shall perish, saith Adonai Yahweh.
Verses 6-8 pronounce judgment on the Philistines. These were the people who gave their name to the whole land: Palestine. They were especially brought in God's purpose from Caphtor (9:7)-most likely, Crete. They were among those left in the land to prove Israel (Jdgs. 3:3). They were the second great enemy of God's people, during the Judges and later: more especially of Judah, as the Syrians were of Israel. They were a highly developed people, with a strong political organization. They held the best of the land: the fruitful coastal plain.*
9 Thus saith Yahweh; For three transgressions of Tyrus, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they delivered up the whole captivity to Edom, and remembered not the brotherly covenant:
Tyre is next denounced (vs. 9-10), because they remembered not the "brotherly covenant." Hiram called Solomon "brother" (1 Kgs. 9:13), and he made a covenant with him (5:12). They were closely associated with Israel in the days of David and Solomon, and helped to build the Temple, but in Israel's distress they treacherously attacked them.*
Then we look at the things that God charges against these communities, and we learn another lesson not just visible in the charges themselves. They are different in form; Damascus had inflicted cruelty on Gilead; Gaza had handed over Israel to captivity; Tyre had violated the covenant with Judah; Edom had nursed perpetual anger with his brother Jacob; Moab had burnt the bones of the king of Edom into lime, etc.
But though differing thus in form one from another, all these offences (here made the ground of condemnation) resemble each other in this that at the time they were committed, they were apparently unnoticed and unrecorded. Those who got the upper hand in them and by them, seemed to do so with impunity. When Moabs slow fire, for example, was incinerating the bones of the enemy whom they had got into their power, it did not seem to matter to any one.
There was no interruption to the sunshine; the fresh air was not withheld; the Moabites were able to go home and sleep and rise and partake of their meals in all peace and security. Yet the iniquity was seen and remembered by One who does not forget, and here it comes forth by the pen of Amos, written on the indelible page of that Scripture that cannot be broken.
This reflection has a special value in our own circumstances. The most depressing part of our experience consists of this very thing. In hundreds of matters, we see the wrong done with presumptuous fearlessness on the part of the wrong-doers and without the least indication that God sees or regards.
Time passes, and the wrong-doer not only seems none the worse, but all the better for his wrong doing. In this, our faith is sorely tried. But if we are wise, we will endure the trial. We will not be deceived by appearances. We will be guided and fortified by this instruction of the Scripture. We will behold, without dismay, the success of evil doing in the knowledge of a final and effectual remedy.
We will hearken to the voice that addresses us by Solomon:
'If thou seest the oppression of the poor and violent perverting of justice and judgment in the province, marvel not at the matter, for He that is higher than the highest regardeth.'
We will remember that though God suffers long, there is an end to His patience with iniquity. ... We can endure when we have reason for it. We have great reason for endurance when we know that God will at last put right the dreadful wrongs of the present hour.
Exhort Bro Roberts - Fortified to endure
10 But I will send a fire on the wall of Tyrus, which shall devour the palaces thereof.
11 Thus saith Yahweh; For three transgressions of Edom, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because he did pursue his brother with the sword, and did cast off all pity, and his anger did tear perpetually, and he kept his wrath for ever:
Edom, too, (vs. 11-12) pursued his brother, and "kept his wrath forever." This enmity began with Jacob's deception about the blessing. The effects of actions continue long after: even today we still see the "perpetual hatred" of Arab for Jew. Edom (Red: same root as Adam) typifies the flesh, the natural man. Isaiah and Ezekiel tell us Edom shall be desolate in the Millennium, when all the earth is blessed.*
12 But I will send a fire upon Teman, which shall devour the palaces of Bozrah.
13 Thus saith Yahweh; For three transgressions of the children of Ammon, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they have ripped up the women with child of Gilead, that they might enlarge their border:
14 But I will kindle a fire in the wall of Rabbah, and it shall devour the palaces thereof, with shouting in the day of battle, with a tempest in the day of the whirlwind:
15 And their king shall go into captivity, he and his princes together, saith Yahweh.
Ammon (vs. 13-15) was a son of Lot. Israel was not allowed to touch them when they came from Egypt. They were always hostile and barbarous. It was Nahash king of the Ammonites who, unprovoked, desired to put out the eyes of the men of Jabesh-Gilead, and make them slaves. This led to the choice of Saul as king (1 Sam. 12:12).
Bro Growcott - Seek Yahweh, and Ye Shall Live