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Amos

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Amos

 

THEME:  The Lion Has Roared:  Divine judgment upon prosperous Israel for its social and religious sins

DATE:  760-755

HISTORICAL SETTING:  The historical setting is the Northern Kingdom of Israel in the final years of the prosperous, peaceful reign of Jeroboam II (793-753 BC).  One prophet during his reign had prophesied his prosperity (II Ki. 14:25).  But when the goodness of God becomes a license to sin instead of an opportunity to repent, God raises up Amos—a “southerner”[1]—to prophesy Israel’s doom.[2]

I.       Eight burdens against the nations (1-2)

The sins singled out by the Lord in every nation, except Judah, are the sins of social injustice and inhumanity.[3]  The message for Israel was clear:  if God does not overlook the sins of injustice and violence committed by the heathen nations, He will definitely not overlook such sins when they are committed by His chosen people.  Amos introduces each burden with the expression “for three transgressions and for four,” evidently an idiomatic expression for “crossing over the limit” (see other uses of this phrase in Proverbs 30:15, 18, 21, 29).[4] 

A.       Damascus (1:3-5)

B.       Gaza (1:6-8)

C.      Tyre (1:9-10)

D.      Edom (1:11-12)

E.       Ammon (1:13-15)

F.       Moab (2:1-3)

G.      Judah (2:4-5)

H.      Israel (2:6-16)

 

II.    Three Sermons of Judgment against Israel (3-6)[5]

 

A.       Chastisement Certain for the Chosen (ch. 3).

 

1.       Divine privilege as the basis of divine judgment (3:1-2)

In 3:2, Amos uses the word “know” in that sense of an intimate relationship—of one who has been “singled out.”[6]  God knows all families of the earth, but in a special sense he has singled out Israel.

2.       Amos prophesies because “the Lion has roared” (3:3-8)

The point of these verses is that nothing is accidental.  Behind everything that happens, there is a cause.  Two men walk together because they have made a previous agreement to do so.[7]  A lion roars because it has prey.  A trap springs shut, because something touched it.  Calamity occurs in a city because the Lord willed it.[8]  Amos pronounces judgment, because God has spoken.

3.       Proclamation of judgment (3:9-15)

B.       Impenitent Still (ch. 4)

1.       Luxury-loving, poor-oppressing women (4:1-3)

“Kine of Bashan” is Amos’ unflattering description of the women of Samaria.  These women were like the well-fed cows in the lush pastures of verdant Bashan.  They had every luxury.  But unsatisfied still, they harshly oppressed the poor and greedily pressured their husbands for more.

2.       Religious, but not right with God (4:4-5)

These same luxury-loving Israelites that thoughtlessly oppressed and abused the poor were also religion-lovers—they loved[9] to bring sacrifices “to the Lord” (v. 5).[10]  Their religious performances at Bethel and Gilgal were in reality transgressions because of the sins of social injustice against their fellow man in which they indulged.  God hated the religious acts they loved (see 5:21-22).  The “most elaborate worship, if insincere, is but an insult to God.”[11]  Sin against man prevents communion with and acceptance by God.  Christ taught the same truth when he taught that differences between brethren must be settled before gifts may be offered to God (Matt. 5:23-24). 

3.       Unrepentant, despite repeated chastenings (4:6-11)

Ignorant of the sinful character of their religious worship, Israel was also ignorant that God was chastening them.  Repeated chastisements—sent deliberately by God Himself[12]—did not bring forth the intended fruit of repentance.  Five times in this section God says:  “yet you did not return unto Me, saith the Lord” (4:6, 8-11).  Perhaps, in part, they failed to repent because they failed to see the hand of God behind the calamities they experienced.  Too often, man is blind to God’s gentle chastisements.  These verses present every-day calamity and “natural disasters” as what they really are:  Divinely sent messengers preaching  repentance.[13]

4.       Prepare to meet thy God, O Israel (4:12-13)

When one ignores the messengers (i.e., disaster and calamity), one must face the Master.  Those who stubbornly refuse present opportunities of repentance only store up for themselves wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God (Rom. 2:5).

C.      “A Funeral Dirge for the Living”[14] (chs. 5-6)

Amos calls this sermon a “lamentation” or “dirge” against the house of Israel.  Used in mourning for the dead, a lamentation “constituted the chief funeral ceremony” (TWOT).  Strikingly, this lament for the dead is uttered for a still-existing nation.  It suggests the certainty of Israel’s impending doom.  Nevertheless, it is in the midst of this dirge for the living that we find the only explicit pleas for repentance (5:4-6; 14-15) in Amos.  The dead bones of Israel might have lived if they had repented.  Israel is instructed, first of all, to seek God (and not Bethel, Gilgal, or Beersheba).[15]  Amos here focuses on the religious sins of Israel.  Bethel, the center of the calf worship established by Jeroboam I, was not a dwellingplace of the true God.  Thus, to go to Bethel or to go to Gilgal (evidently another center of religious worship) was not equivalent to seeking God (5:4-5).  But in addition to seeking God, these people needed to seek good (5:14-15; essentially what Christ called the Second Commandment), which for them meant the abandonment of their callous treatment of their fellow man and their shallow regard for justice and righteousness.

1.       Woe to the pseudo-religious (5:18-27)

Amos pronounces this woe against those who are desiring the day of the Lord—as if the day of the Lord would bring blessing for them.  Later verses (5:21-26) indicate that these are the pseudo-religious that Amos has mentioned before (see 4:1-5).  Evidently, they felt that their faithful performance of religious feasts and required offerings had purchased for them an “indulgence” from the terrors of judgment in the Day of the Lord.  Amos informs these religious hypocrites that God hates their festivals and rejects their sacrifices (5:21-22).  The reason for His rejection is given in verse 24.  There must first be justice (“judgment,” KJV) and righteousness—another allusion to the sins of social injustice—before there can be true communion with God.

Verses 25-26 are among the most difficult in the book.[16]  Is the expected answer to the question in Amos 5:25 yes or no?  Whatever the intended answer to the question,[17] context (Amos is addressing prolific sacrificers), Israel’s history (they apparently did offer sacrifices, even during the forty years), and Stephen’s use of this passage in Acts 7:39-43 make the meaning of these verses clear.  Amos’ point (and Stephen’s point) is that Israel’s sacrifices to God were invalidated because of their idolatrous practices.  Their sacrifices were really offered to other gods.  Thus, these Israelites, who were so secure in the day of the Lord because of their sacrifices to this Lord, found themselves in the unenviable position, according to Amos, of not offering sacrifices to Him at all!

2.       Woe to the wealthy, proud, and complacent (6:1-14)

Chapter six is a “woe” against the wealthy, complacent citizens in Jerusalem and in Samaria, who felt secure because of their economic and national prosperity.  This chapter gives a good portrait of the economic prosperity and pride of the Northern Kingdom in those days.  However, their prosperity—the beds of ivory, the finest of oils, their gluttonous eating—would be no security for them in the day of the Lord’s judgment.  A quick look at the fate of cities (e.g., Calneh, Hamath, and Gath; v. 2) bigger and stronger than the cities of Israel should have been ample proof of this.  The Lord detested their “arrogance” (“excellency,” KJV) and had sworn to bring about the destruction of Samaria.  Verse 14 brings these sermons on judgment to a close with the prophecy of the Assyrian invasion.  Their affliction would extend from the entrance of Hamath until the river[18] of the Arabah—the same extent to which they had prospered, according to the word of the Lord through Jonah (II Ki. 14:25).

III. Five visions of Judgment against Israel (7-9)

 

A.       Vision of locusts (7:1-3)[19]

B.       Vision of fire (7:4-6)

C.      Vision of the plumb line (7:7-9)

The Lord relented of His first two forms of judgment, but His hand of chastisement could no longer be stayed.  In this vision, His punishment takes the form of a plumb line.  A plumb line “was a cord with a lead weight used by builders to make sure that walls were constructed straight up and down.  A plumb line was also used to test existing walls to see whether they had settled and tilted, needing to be torn down” (Bible Knowledge Commentary, 1:1445).  In this case, Israel failed the plumb line test and, therefore, she must be torn down.  The religious and political leadership of the nation would be destroyed. 

Historical Narrative:  Response to Amos’ plumb line prophecy (7:10-17)

The five visions of Amos are interrupted with a brief historical narrative that records the response of Amaziah, the high priest at Bethel, to Amos’ plumb line prophecy.  His protest confirms the validity of the “plumb line test.”  Recognizing Amos to be a foreigner (from the Southern Kingdom), Amaziah commands Amos to return to his home country and to do his work of preaching there.  Amos responds by citing His divinely given commission (vv. 14-15) and pronounces destruction upon the house of Amaziah.

D.      Vision of the summer fruit (8:1-14)

The vision of locusts referred to the “spring crop,” the crop before the summer.  This vision refers to the “ ‘end-of-the-year fruit’—the last fruit of the season, fully ripened, with a short edible life” (BKC, 1:1447).  Just as summer fruit was fruit at the end of the harvest, so Israel had come to the end.[20]

A refusal to hear God’s Words (e.g., Amaziah) results in “divine silence,”[21] a fate far worse than the physical judgments God had pronounced upon apostate Israel.  King Saul might agree (I Sam. 28:6).

E.  Vision of the Lord beside the altar (9:1-7)[22]

Some identify “the altar” as the altar at the Temple in Jerusalem.[23]  Amos’ ministry to the North, however, strongly suggests that Amos 9:1 alludes to the Temple in Bethel, the center of Israelite worship.  At the very least, “it represents the religion of the northern kingdom.”[24]

IV. The preservation of a remnant and the restoration of the Booth of David (9:8-15)

This is the only section in Amos that speaks of restoration and future hope, and even this future restoration is introduced in terms of judgment (vv. 8-10).  Restoration is the aftermath of judgment, judgment being a prerequisite that makes such future blessing possible.  The kingdom that failed the “plumb line test” must be removed before the booth (“tabernacle,” KJV) of David can be rebuilt. 

The “fallen tabernacle of David” (v. 11) refers to the kingdom of David.  Verse 11 gives a three-fold description of God’s plan for the kingdom of David.  Literally, this verse reads:  “I will wall up their breaches, and I will raise up his ruins, and I shall rebuild it as in the days of old.”  All three of the possessive pronouns (their, his, it) are different in Hebrew.[25]

“I will wall up their breaches” probably refers to the divided monarchy (Barrett, 40).  In the eschatological future, God will repair the breach in the kingdom between North and South (see also Ezek. 37:15-28). 

“I will raise up his ruins” (v. 11) probably refers to David Himself—in this case, the Second David, the Messiah.  “I shall rebuild it as in the days of old” alludes to the re-united kingdom.  In the future, as it was in the early days of the monarchy, the kingdom will be one (Barrett, 40).

This Davidic Kingdom will extend its domain over “all the nations who are called by my name” (9:12).  It is to this God-intended purpose of calling out a people for His name from among the Gentiles that James refers when he quotes this passage in Acts 15:16-18.  James is not saying that the church is the restoration of the tabernacle of David (which leads to amillennialism).  James is merely using this passage to prove that the early church’s concern for the Gentiles was a concern that reflected the heart of God toward the Gentiles.[26] 


The Theological Message of Amos

THEME:  The Lion has Roared:  Divine judgment upon prosperous Israel for its social and religious sins

I.       God pronounces judgment upon a prosperous and secure people

A.       It was a time of unparalleled prosperity

 

1.       God sent Amos during the latter years of the reign of Jeroboam II.

The Samaritan ostraca (63 potsherds) found in 1910 in Samaria date to the time of Jeroboam II.  They authenticate the pictures of prosperity mentioned by Amos (e.g., demands for “refined oil” and “pure clarified wine”).[27]

2.       Amos provides descriptions of Israel’s prosperity (3:15; 4:1; 5:11; 6:4-6)

B.       It was a time of unprecedented national security and military strength (2:14-16; 6:1-2, 13)

 

Because of the military strength of Israel under Jeroboam II, there was a feeling of protection from any military threat (6:1).  In fact, they boasted over victories won against Lo Debar and Karnaim (6:13).[28] 

II.    Sins of social injustice and religious hypocrisy are the causes of Israel’s impending judgment.[29]

A.       Israel is primarily condemned for its social sins.

Another writing prophet raised up by God to announce judgment upon the Northern Kingdom (Hosea) focused on the religious sins of Israel.  Amos, however, primarily exposes the social sins of the people.

1.       The nations are singled out for their sins of violence and social injustice (1:2-2:3).

2.       Israel is also singled out for its sins of social injustice in 2:6-16.

If the pagan nations would be judged for their sins of social injustice, surely God’s chosen people did not think they could get away with such!

3.       Repeatedly, God condemns Israel for her social injustice (4:1; 5:7, 10-13, 24; 6:12; 8:4-6).

God does not overlook sins committed against our fellow man.  He is especially jealous of the poor!  Our treatment of others is a good spiritual thermometer!

B.       Israel’s social sins invalidated their religious performances.

One might think that Israel, so devoid of social justice, was irreligious.  The fact is that they were very religious—excessively zealous in their performance of religious sacrifices and religious duties.  In fact, Amos 4:5 says they love (“liketh,” KJV) to offer even voluntary offerings!  They made pilgrimages to “holy shrines” like Beersheba (5:5) and celebrated festivals (5:21).  But alas!  Religious, but not right with God.  Their social injustice—their sins against their fellow man—invalidated their religious performances (making them just that—religious performances!; 5:22-24).  God calls their religion at Bethel transgression (4:4).

You cannot be right with God if you are wrong with your fellow man (Matt. 5:23-24).

C.      Israel is also condemned for their rejection of true religion (2:11-12; 5:5, 26; 7:10-17; 8:14).

This includes the idolatrous worship established at Dan and Bethel by Jeroboam I (I Ki. 12:28-33).

III. Israel’s impending judgment is certain and comprehensive

 

A.       Neither the mighty, the prosperous, nor the “religious” would find escape in that day.

1.       The mighty (2:14-16)

2.       The prosperous (3:15; 4:1-3; 5:11; 6:1-7)

3.       The “religious” (4:4; 5:5, 18-27)

B.       Their judgment would include the tearing down of both the religious and political structures.

1.       The religious worship at Bethel and Dan (3:14; 5:5; 7:9a, 17a; 8:10, 14; 9:1)

2.       The “mighty” house of Jeroboam (7:9b)

C.      Their judgment would include exile in a foreign country (5:27; 7:17).

D.      Their judgment would correspond to their prosperity (6:14).

E.       Their judgment would include a “spiritual famine” (8:11-14).

IV. Yahweh is the source of Israel’s impending judgment

A.       The sovereign Yahweh,[30] God of Hosts, has roared against Israel.

Amos contains some very striking and beautiful descriptions of Yahweh (4:13; 5:8-9; 9:5-6).  Throughout, Amos stresses the sovereignty of God.[31]  This suggests that at the heart of Israel’s problems was a need to have their Theology Proper adjusted.  Despite economic prosperity and military strength, they were still under the dominion of the sovereign Creator of the Universe.  Also, it suggests that a people characterized by social injustice are a people who have forgotten the character of God.  (See Matt. 5:44-48, where love for our enemies is based upon the character of God.)

B.       The ministry of Amos was proof in itself that God had pronounced their doom (3:3-8; 7:14-15).

 

C.      Their relationship to God did not bring immunity; it brought responsibility.

1.       Amos 3:2—“privilege brings peril” (Motyer, 17)

2.       Amos 5:18-27

D.      God was the source behind previous calamities they had experienced (3:6b; 4:6-11).

“Every disaster is but a new call to repentance” (Robinson, p. 57).

V.    God’s purposes in judgment also encompass future restoration

A.       God pleads for repentance even in the midst of declarations of judgment (5:4-6, 14-15).

B.       One of God’s purposes in judgment is to purify and to reveal a righteous remnant (9:9).

C.      God must destroy the sinners before He can bring in the promised blessing (9:8, 10).

D.      God’s promises of future hope are centered in the revival of the Davidic Covenant and the millennial blessings that will accompany this “resurrection” of the dynasty of David (9:11-15).

 

 

MISCELLANEOUS RESEARCH NOTES (personal)

Theme:  The sovereign Yahweh will accomplish His purposes in judgment upon prosperous Israel because of their social and religious sins.

Motyer, The Message of Amos, pp. 17-18, gives three “central points” of Amos.

His title for Amos:  The Day of the Lion

“The Roar of the Lion” (his heading for 1:2-3:8) (p. 25)

(1)     “privilege brings peril (3:2).  The claim of the day clearly was that privilege brings security.  They had been privileged to have direct dealings with God (2:9-11).  At certain dates in the historical past God had shown that He was on their side.  The particular stress of Amos is this:  the nearer to God the closer the scrutiny and the more certain the judgment” (p. 17).

(2)     “Secondly, past history cannot take the place of present spiritual and moral commitment….God looks for up-to-date commitment to Himself (5:6), to moral values (5:14, 15), to personal and social ethics (5:24)” (p. 18).

(3)     “The third emphasis in Amos’ message to the church is that religious profession and religious practice are invalid—to be more precise, repulsive to God and therefore not just useless but also dangerous—unless verified by clear evidences” (p. 18).

On 5:25-26.  “Certainly there were sacrifices and offerings in the wilderness, but in the Mosaic ideal they had their raison d’être in the summons of the law to obedience and holiness.  Deprive them of that context, and they become a religion-game played at Gilgal” (p. 136).  Motyer notes that sacrifices and offerings stands at the beginning of v. 25 in Hebrew.  “Was it sacrifices and offerings you brought to me…?”  (p. 134).  “the force of his question is this, ‘Was that what you brought—that and nothing more?’” (p. 134).  The implication is that this is all Israel is bringing God—when He expected so much more from them (obedience and holiness).

George L. Robinson, The 12 Minor Prophets.

“Samaria must be destroyed” is the “essence of his [Amos’] book” (p. 52).

“Amos is the first of the prophets to declare the doom of North Israel” (p. 52).

“The causes for such judgment were patent:  wealth and luxury, frivolity and corruption, opulence and oppression, summer and winter palaces, ivory couches, songs of revelry and wine,--these were enough to convince the clear-headed prophet of the desert that there was left but one course for Providence; besides, there were specific crimes still more culpable and worthy of censure:  namely, victimizing the poor, confiscating their garments for debt, unbridled licentiousness even under the cloak of religion, hypocritical tithing, and hollow Sabbath-observance, even pilgrimages to far distant shrines” (p. 52).

Great truths in Amos:

(1)     “Amos vindicates the moral personality of God, emphasizing that the essence of the divine nature is absolute righteousness” (p. 55)

(2)     “Amos also taught that the most elaborate worship, if insincere, is but an insult to God” (p. 56)

(3)     “there must be social justice between man and man” (p. 56)

(4)     “privilege involves responsibility” (57)

(5)     “meaning and purpose of calamity”  (“Every disaster is but a new call to repentance”) (p. 57)

(6)     “warning is never obsolete” (p. 57)—“the gospel of the Lion’s Roar”

(7)     “The necessity of personal conviction in a prophet” (p. 57)

The Minor Prophets by Charles L. Feinberg

See his discussion of 5:25-26.  He argues that the answer to the question in 5:25 is yes.  “Says the prophet:  ‘Yes, you did offer to the Lord, and yet you have borne the images also which you made of your gods.’  Thus Amos is charging Israel with observing the ritual of the Mosaic law at the same time that they followed idols, just as the contemporaries of the prophet in the Northern Kingdom were doing” (pp. 106-107).  “Israel from time immemorial had given herself to idolatry, and hoped at the same time that God would be pleased with her perfunctory round of ritual in the Temple” (p. 107).

Minor Prophets in vol. 10 of Commentary on the Old Testament by C. F. Keil and F. Delitzsch.

Divides the book into lengthy introduction (1-2), part one (3-6), part two (7-9)

Ch. 3:  “Announcement of the Judgment” (p. 258)

Ch. 4:  “The impenitence of Israel” (p. 266)

Chs. 5-6:  “The overthrow of the kingdom of the ten tribes” (p. 277).

                He divides 5-6 into four parts (seek Jehovah, seek good, two woes):  “In every one of these sections, therefore, the proclamation of the judgment returns again, and that in a form of greater and greater intensity, till it reaches to the banishment of the whole nation, and the overthrow of Samaria and the kingdom” (pp. 278-79).

Thomas E. McComiskey, “Amos” in vol. 7 of The Expositor’s Bible Commentary

“The conquest of Damascus and the attendant quiescence of Assyria, coupled with the brilliant leadership of Uzziah and Jeroboam, brought Judah and Israel to heights of prominence second only to Solomon’s golden age.  The kingdoms prospered financially and at the same time expanded their borders.  But as their economic well-being and national strength continued to foster their security, an internal decay was eating at their vitals” (p. 269).

“Amos is particularly vehement in denouncing the lack of social concern in his time” (p. 270).

Chs. 1-2:  God holds all men accountable for their cruelty and violent ill-treatment of others.

                **Stems from man made in the image of God.

Ch. 3:  If God holds the world accountable for their social inequities, He will surely hold Israel, His chosen people, accountable.

                Would God really Judge His People?  [Judgment Must Begin at the House of God!]

               

                YES!…

vv. 1-2:  You are specially known (and therefore specially accountable) [God’s people can’t get away with anything]

                vv. 3-8:  Amos’ ministry is proof that the Lion Has Roared!

                vv. 9-12:  Publish it abroad.

                vv. 13-15:  Including Bethel and the wealthy elite

Ch. 4:  God had repeatedly tried to get their attention but they remained impenitent.

Ch. 5-6:  The funeral bells chime.  The only ray of hope is if Israel will Seek the Lord.

                vv. 18-27:  Instead of taking refuge in their religiosity

                6:1-14:  Instead of basking in the comforts of a secure and prosperous economy

Ch. 7:  God cannot relent of all His judgments (their sin is too great)

Ch. 8:  The end has come:  Those who want religion without ethics will have neither!  Those who refuse the light they have shall find it taken away.

Ch. 9:  Utter destruction…but wait!—a ray of hope (vv. 11-15)


----

[1] Amos was from Tekoa, which is located in the Southern Kingdom of Judah about 10 miles south of Jerusalem.  Tekoa is only some 25 miles from Bethel, the religious capital of the Northern Kingdom.

[2] “Amos is the first of the prophets to declare the doom of North Israel.” George L. Robinson, The 12 Minor Prophets, 52.

[3] Robert D. Bell says the “central principle is cruelty” (emphasis his).  Biblical Viewpoint:  Focus on Amos, 5.

[4] For discussion, see Bell, 5; Bible Knowledge Commentary, 1:1428; J. A. Motyer, The Message of Amos, 41-42.  The idea that the three and the four should be added (to equal seven sins) falters when one considers the parallels in Prov. 30.

[5] The identification of these three sermons is based on the repetition of the phrase “Hear this word” (3:1; 4:1; 5:1).

[6] See Thurman Wisdom, “The Call and Consecration of Jeremiah,” Biblical Viewpoint:  Focus on Jeremiah, p. 10.

[7] This verse has often been incorrectly used to teach the importance of “doctrinal agreement” or “compatibility of position.”  “Be agreed” (KJV) is probably better translated “made an appointment” (NASB).

[8] “Shall there be evil in a city” is better translated “shall there be calamity in a city.”  The word “evil” here refers not to moral evil (as if God caused sin) but to calamity or disaster—such as drought, famine, earthquakes, pestilence, etc.  God is not the author of moral evil, but He is the sender of calamity.  Amos 4:6-11 reveals His purpose in sending such disasters.

[9] The word “liketh” (KJV; 4:5) is the Hebrew word often translated “love.”

[10] Note that the offerings specifically mentioned in 4:5 are the thanksgiving offerings and the freewill offerings—offerings that were completely voluntary and not required by Mosaic Law. 

[11] Robinson, 56.

[12] Note the use of the first person (“I”) in vv. 6-11.  Also, vv. 6-7 are emphatic in Hebrew:  “I…I gave you cleanness of teeth”; “I…I withheld the rain from you.”  The truth suggested in Amos 3:6b is now made explicitly clear.

[13] The earthquake that occurred two years after Amos’ ministry (1:1) was probably yet another divine plea for repentance.

[14] This is the designation that Thurman Wisdom gives to Amos 5:1-9.  Biblical Viewpoint:  Focus on Amos, 17.

[15] Beersheba, although in Judah, had become a site for religious pilgrimages, perhaps due to its association with Abraham.

[16] See discussion in Motyer, 134-136; Charles L. Feinberg, The Minor Prophets, 107; BKC, 1:1442.

[17] If you follow the KJV, the intended answer to v. 25 is yes (“Yes, you did sacrifice to me, but you carried [idols]…”).  If you translate the first word of v. 26 as “because” (and the waw conjunction can occasionally be causal), the expected answer would be no (“No, you did not sacrifice to me because you carried [idols]…”).  Either way, the basic meaning of the passage is the same:  their idolatry invalidated their sacrifices to Yahweh.  Some have erroneously asserted that Israel did not offer sacrifices during the 40-year wilderness wanderings.

[18] “River” (nachal) is really the word for wadi or riverbed—“in summer a dry river-bed or ravine, but a raging torrent in the rainy season.”  New Bible Dictionary, “River,” p. 1032.  The parallel passage in II Ki. 14:25 uses the word “sea” (yam), but it refers to the same location.

[19] Amos 7:1 mentions the latter growth “after the king’s mowings.”  The “king’s mowings” probably refers to some kind of income tax, where the king received a portion of the harvest.  The setting of this vision is the spring harvest.  If the locusts destroyed this spring crop (“latter growth,” KJV)—the last harvest before the hot summer—the nation would starve.

[20] There is probably a play-on-words in the Hebrew between the word “summer fruit” (qayits) and the word “end” (qets).

[21] Bible Knowledge Commentary, 1:1448.

[22] Most commentators extend this vision through v. 10.  However, Amos’ preference to begin a new section of thought with an introductory formula suggests that verse 8, which begins with “Behold,” introduces the final section of his book.  Bell, 49.

[23] See Minor Prophets, vol. 10 in Commentary on the OT by C. F. Keil and F. Delitzsch, pp. 320-21.

[24] Thomas E. McComiskey, “Amos,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, 7:327.

[25] I am indebted to Michael P. V. Barrett for this keen observation.  See Biblical Viewpoint:  Focus on Amos, 39-40.

[26] “Since Amos predicted the reestablishing of the Davidic kingdom and not the Mosaic ceremonies, there was no reason for placing Gentiles under the restrictions of circumcision or any other ritual.  God had revealed His ultimate purpose for Gentiles; it was proper for the church to honor and obey God’s will.”  Barrett, 45.

[27] See “Amos,” Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, 1:144.

[28] “These were evidently the sites of recent victories in Jeroboam’s incursion into Aramean territory.”  McComiskey, 320.  In the KJV, Lo Debar is translated “a thing of nought.”  Amos refers derisively to their recent conquest of this place as a “thing of nothing.”

[29] “The causes for such judgment were patent:  wealth and luxury, frivolity and corruption, opulence and oppression, summer and winter palaces, ivory couches, songs of revelry and wine…there were specific crimes still more culpable and worthy of censure:  namely, victimizing the poor, confiscating their garments for debt, unbridled licentiousness even under the cloak of religion, hypocritical tithing, and hollow Sabbath-observance, even pilgrimages to far distant shrines.”  Robinson, 52.

[30] The phrase ’Adonai Yahweh (“Lord GOD,” KJV) occurs 20 times in the eight chapters of Amos (e.g., 1:8; 3:7, 8, 11, 13).

[31] “Central in Amos’s teaching about God is his divine sovereignty.”  McComiskey in EBC, 7:276.

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