Something Needs Saying (v.1-8) [OHP1] – What is this message that burns? Amos had seen it! - only a tiny remnant would be left. Those who sit back in luxury have it coming. The reason? Their idolatry and affluence. There always is a reason!
Read  V.1,2 - יהוה Himself brought up out of Egypt to be His own nation. The word was "against" them - a word of judgement (עַל 2x) – How wonderful to be chosen of God! but responsibility יהוה had singled this family out to be His own, His chosen, His special possession. This is the only one He knew out of them all - i.e. was in personal close relationship with. Because they were His own, therefore He held them accountable for their iniquities - they had been given His Torah, they knew what יהוה required, they were without excuse. They couldn’t claim ignorance of יהוה’s standards, as could other nations. Their relationship meant that they would be punished, disciplined for their waywardness (cf. Heb 12:5-13; Rom 5:13). יהוה expects and requires a different standard of behaviour from His own sons than from the rest. Judgement because He loves us.
v.3 [OHP2] - Questions to which the answers are obvious - arrange to walk bridle path - only if both turn up at 1000am Saturday will we go together. Israel had agreed to walk in fellowship with God. conditions weren't imposed on them, they agreed - Israel was in relationship with יהוה - not by happenstance, they had entered an agreement, a covenant. They were in relationship, walking together but only because they had mutually agreed to do so (Exodus 24:6-8Moses took half of the blood and put it in basins, and the other half of the blood he sprinkled on the altar. Then he took the book of the covenant and read it in the hearing of the people; and they said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient!” So Moses took the blood and sprinkled it on the people, and said, “Behold the blood of the covenant, which the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.”). Israel couldn’t back out or claim they were as other nations - this relationship that required this standard they themselves had agreed to and voluntarily entered into. This relationship was by their consent. The question is rhetorical - the very fact of the special relationship proves that they had agreed to the terms of the covenant. How can they now walk in fellowship with יהוה now that they have gone their own way?
v.4 - lion quiet while hunting otherwise will scare off prey. It roars, it's caught something. יהוה had roared (v.8; 1:2) He had caught his victim. A lion has roared (cf.1:2) - there has to be a cause. יהוה’s fearful cry of judgement proved that He had found something that merited such a roar - it wasn’t an empty threat. Indeed He had found iniquity in Israel. The lion’s roar is terrifying to it’s foes but comforting to its cubs. Likewise יהוה’s roar is only terrifying if we are guilty. Adam and Eve fled from יהוה’s voice in the garden of Eden but Mary wanted to cling to Him at the garden tomb when she heard His voice calling her name. How do I respond to the voice of יהוה calling my name? It indicates where I am in fellowship with Him But יהוה had caught His prey, Israel had broken her covenant
v.5 - יהוה had roared in judgement because He had indeed caught His people in iniquity. They had been trapped, taken as prey. But they had not been caught for no reason – always there is a reason, God is not capricious. The trap had sprung because they had triggered it by their iniquity. The bait, the temptation, had been fallen for - the lure of material luxury (cf. 2:6; 4:1; 3:15; 6:1, 4-6). The trap only springs when it has caught something - and Israel had been caught, the lure of wealth and comfort had led them into sin, oppressing the poor, injustice, abandoning God. The trap could only spring because of the iniquity in their heart. It revealed their heart, their love for this world, for things, was greater than their love for יהוה hence they were trapped (cf. 1 Tim 6:9,10 But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.). Death and destruction now awaited them. יהוה tested their heart. Trap had been set and sprung- materialism proved their heart wasn't with God.
v.6 - Trumpet sounds to signal war - so when it sounded people knew the enemy was upon them and they trembled with fear. The army of God's punishment was near and Amos was the trumpet cry. He didn't speak for no reason. Disaster was coming on the city - it was self evident that the LORD caused it. He is in control of all - Israel was ensnared by her iniquities, she’d fallen for the bait of the attractions of this world - material pleasures - just as has the western church. Now caught as prey, destruction awaited - judgement from יהוה, and it would come in the form of war - an enemy would attack them. Israel was to understand the signs of the times - realise the significance of events around her. They aren’t random actions - all the questions point out that there is always a reason, a consequence, a meaning. Not random events, but a God who is sovereign, in control, at work behind all that happens, directing events. Events have significance - through יהוה’s interaction in history we learn His ways - this is the method the Old Testament uses to teach. We would be wise to consider the import and significance of what is taking place around us. If the war trumpet sounds the people do indeed tremble - because it doesn’t sound without cause, it indicates that war is imminent. Thus the prophetic trumpet call of Amos indicates that war, attack, was imminent, inevitable. They shouldn’t be settled back in their luxurious homes but trembling over the impending disaster. Calamity was coming! It was not senseless, irrational - there was a reason, there is a cause. Calamity comes to the city because יהוה has done it! It is the LORD’s doing, He has decreed it. It is judgement from יהוה. The conclusion is just as obvious as the other rhetorical questions. If it is from יהוה we should be asking, "What is He saying?" "Why has He done this?" "Why is He getting our attention?" "Why is He punishing us?" "What have we done wrong?" "How can we turn from our evil that has merited this punishment, this judgement?" "What is He requiring of us?" "What is He teaching us?" יהוה has acted, we ought to be seeking the reason why, seeking to understand the significance, turning from the wrong that has caused His displeasure and turn back to seeking Him. We have got to the stage where God cannot warn us - we attribute all bad to the enemy, rather than looking to see יהוה's warning. Obviously things have deteriorated to a remarkable degree if He resorts to such strong action. For יהוה doesn’t act capriciously, answers can be found, for He has spoken. Indeed He doesn’t act without first speaking - telling His prophets.
 v.7 - just as sure as the answers to the previous questions is the fact that God warns before He acts. he always announces through His prophets before He acts - If we see יהוה’s hand at work we must look back for the prophecy that spoke about it - for He does nothing without revealing His counsel, His secret, to His prophets (cf. Gen 18:17). There will have been a word of prophecy that warned, that explained the reason, that pointed out the error for which the present calamity is the consequence. If we want to understand the true significance of events we should be looking into what the prophets have said, not what the expert analysts say. Prophets are יהוה’s servants - they merely do what He tells them to, say what He tells them to. It is a secret to those who it befalls but not to those in relationship with יהוה, those who are hearing His voice (cf. 1 Thess 5:1-6). It is imperative that we are alert and hearing the Master’s voice. There is always prophetic warning. Do you want to know the significance of events? - look to prophecy.
v.8 - the lion had roared this implies that prey has been caught. The lion is יהוה! He has roared, spoken, prophesied - His voice is heard through His prophets - indeed a lion has roared! Indeed prey (Israel) has been taken. The other consequences all follow, judgement and calamity must inevitably follow. יהוה must act, therefore He will speak to His prophets. And when יהוה Himself speaks! - how can you but prophecy?! It must come out! This is vital! These are words from יהוה Himself! Precious! Valuable! Holy! Awesome! Imperative! Of vital significance and relevance! Life and death issues! The genuine word of יהוה cannot be contained within - it must be declared, prophesied (cf. Jeremiah 20:9 But if I say, “I will not remember Him or speak anymore in His name,” Then in my heart it becomes like a burning fire Shut up in my bones; and I am weary of holding it in, and I cannot endure it; 23:29 Is not My word like fire?” declares the Lord, “and like a hammer which shatters a rock?). With true prophecy there is no uncertainty as to whether this is the Lord or not, should or should I not prophesy? - if it is truly from the LORD you will not be able not to prophesy. If this principle were applied much confusion generating, non-genuine prophecy, would cease. Indeed Israel and יהוה had agreed to walk together, indeed the lion had found prey and roared, Israel was indeed caught. The trap had indeed sprung, the bait of material enticement had been taken and ensnared Israel. Indeed the trumpet heralding war had sounded and the people would be terrified. Indeed calamity was coming and it was the LORD’s doing! Indeed יהוה had spoken to His servant Amos and he prophesied all this - the word of יהוה had been spoken. The appropriate response to any heeding it was fear, for the Lion had roared! What יהוה had spoken to Amos, His servant, proclaimed. Now יהוה would act! There is a prophetic imperative to speak. Something has to be said about the situation, about the sin of the nation.
[OHP1] – need to be careful that analysis doesn't rob the passion from the message. "Do two walk ... etc." - answer: no! No! No! There is always a reason, a consequence – judgement is certain, יהוה is going to act! God is not capricious - calamity doesn't come for no reason – even if not sin (e.g. Job) still God has a purpose. We should seek the reason – God will tell us – we are not caught unawares. God will not act without telling – the question is: are we listening?
יהוה's Assesement of Israel (v.9,10) [OHP1] v.9,10 – Here is the message that just had to be proclaimed: call the nations to witness the judgement against Israel - for her sins, materialism, hoarding wealth and relying on human security - we have secure investments and electronic surveillance systems. Israel’s crime was announced to the nations - the verdict made public so that the nations would understand the reason for the calamity befalling her - it wasn’t because יהוה was impotent, unable to protect His people; or that he forsakes His own, is unfaithful - no the judgement was because of what Israel had done. The nations were called to witness for themselves the injustice and evil rampant in Israel - see for themselves what she was doing, then they would understand that יהוה’s judgement was right and just. Israel was guilty, Always in the mouth of 2 or 3 witnesses. She practised injustice. Evil, violence, oppression, riots and disturbances were rife within her. The constraint on society and individuals that the Law maintained had been completely cast off and society had degenerated and moral standards disintegrated. The same as we see happening in our western society as the rejection of the Christian ethic (the rejection of יהוה) begins to reap its consequences. It is always the same - man is not basically good as so futilely believe - once he rejects God and His standards and lives according to human values - what is within man comes out. Why are we continually surprised by it? - evil, violence, injustice and oppression abound because man is inherently evil through and through.- יהוה declares Israel’s guilt before the nations. They don’t even know how to do what is right, so inveterate are they in their evil ways which they have heaped up (cf. 2:6) - violence, oppression, wickedness, unrighteous gain, destruction. There are no limits in what they will do and inflict on others in order to obtain what they want. The same spirit is rife in our society. We stand equally condemned by יהוה!
יהוה's Sentence (v.11-15) v.11 Human security -This overwhelming, all pervading, evil has its consequence: "THEREFORE ....." (v.11-15) – always there is a reason. Judgement would come in the form of invasion by an enemy. War, destruction and exile would be the consequence. Israel had oppressed the poor and helpless now she would be oppressed. An oppressor, an enemy would surround her - she would be besieged by the Assyrians who would pull down - pull down her strength from her, her human strength in which she had relied, man made refuges, the citadels which feature so prominently in this book. The great fortifications, the splendour and glory, the boast of this wealthy regime - all would be pulled down. The wealth that they had amassed would be looted from their "secure" citadels and fancy palaces. What futility! All that effort to amass wealth and build security but it would all vanish before them because it was acquired by unjust means. It is not so much what you have but how you obtained it that will determine whether it will last. What are your foundations, the principles you live by? - they will determine whether your work remains. You can have a mighty edifice built of wood but the small place built of precious stones will be greater than it after the fire. We are so taken up with statistics and numbers as if that were the measure of spiritual success. Do your statistical analysis after the fire, not before it. All we have spent our entire life working for may prove to end up as nothing! They relied on their own efforts for security: hoarding wealth, secure fortresses, but their security that they rely on will prove futile - the LORD has decreed destruction of the wealth they had hoarded and protected.
v.12 Ease - Their good times of luxury would abruptly be brought to an end by the hand of יהוה. A lion had roared (cf. v.4, 8), the lion of Assyria, fierce, cruel, savage and mighty., would attack Israel as a lion does a flock of sheep and Israel would be as defenceless as a lamb. Utterly at the mercy of this vastly superior foe. As the shepherd manages to snatch the odd limb or tiniest portion from the lion, so too Israel would be almost entirely consumed. Deliverance would come too late to save the nation, only the tiniest remnant would remain (cf. 1 Kings 19:18). Scathing indictment of those who live for luxury and ease. Israel, dwelling in comfort in Samaria, would be snatched away into exile. They would desperately cling to their possessions, their items of luxury that they had lived for. But they would be carried away, still clasping useless fragments of the luxurious life that was now forever gone. Still desperately clinging to the corner of the divan they laid on in their ease and wealth, or to its silken cover. These people were used to lounging around, luxuriating in the ease their affluence afforded them - "Houses of ivory" lavishly decorated with ivory inlays. Numerous fragments of such inlay have come to light in the archaeological diggings at ancient Samaria in the "Samaritan ivories".. Their life was characterised by luxury and ease - all this abruptly would come to a sudden end. We too live in luxury and ease - will this too also come to a sudden end? What will we do then?
v.13 – Why I use the term Yahweh [OHP3] - יהוה, the Lord, God of armies has declared! The full force of God's Name! What a full, majestic and awesome title. Who will not tremble at it? יהוה calls witnesses (Philistines and Egyptians v.9) to testify against Jacob - the wayward, deceiving, human reliant, unregenerate Israel, - fleshly, twisted, lived by human effort. - Jacob, Israel before his encounter with יהוה. They were to testify that Israel was guilty, that what she had received was indeed a just and right sentence in view of the iniquity found in her. There was to be no sentence without the evidence of witnesses They were to hear the evidence against Jacob and testify that יהוה was right in His action (cf. Rev 19:1,2; 15:1-8; Rom 3:4).
v.14 Religion [OHP1] - יהוה had appointed a day - a day of judgement – destruction of false religion. On that day He would punish Israel for her transgressions. There is a day appointed - the Day of the LORD when יהוה will enter into judgement with all and establish final and absolute justice. It is a day none will escape or avoid - a day on which יהוה will punish transgressions - a great and terrible day! The punishment, the visitation, would be directed specifically against Israel’s idolatry - the calf-worship set up in Bethel in competition to Jerusalem, by the former Jeroboam (1 Kings 12:26-33). Bethel had become the centre for false worship and idolatrous religion. The altars, and their horns (symbolising strength and refuge) would be destroyed and fall to the ground. False religion would be cut off and false worship brought to an end. These "gods" in which they trusted, prove impotent before the hand of יהוה. יהוה is a jealous God who will tolerate no rivals! He is incensed by false worship and will cut it off completely. There is a warning to us in the church: much of what we call "worship" is not true, but is soulish manipulation. How will יהוה react to it in the day of His visitation in judgement?!
v.15 Luxury - Again יהוה declares. Declares judgement against materialism and luxury and affluence. First He acts against false religion, now He acts against materialism, the amassing of worldly possessions and luxury (cf. Rev 17 with ch.18). Israel had amassed wealth, multiplied houses. Houses are the most expensive commodity man possesses but they had masses of them. Not just one to live in but one for winter, one for summer as well - luxurious ivory panelled in the most expensive and tasteful manner. Against such indulgent excessive materialistic behaviour יהוה will swiftly and decisively act. Warning to us in the materialistic, possession pursuing, pleasure and comfort seeking west! It will come to an END! Declares יהוה! Note it is Himself who takes this action in judgement: "I will punish ...." "I will also punish ...." "I will also smite ....". We may amass the finest of things but יהוה Himself will bring them to an end and who can withstand Him?!
Conclusion: -Something needs to be said! What is God's complaint against His people?:
–relying on human security
–living for ease and pleasure
–empty religion that is mere form and soulish pleasure
–amassing material wealth
Are these complaints relevant to us today?