Amos: 9 Warnings for Today (Part 1)

Posted on February 23, 2018

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By David Ettinger 

For those who don’t know, I have been a longtime writer for the magazine Zion’s Fire. Here’s one I wrote from 1998, and felt it would make for a good blog series, to run in four parts. (I freshened it up a tad.) Today, Introduction, and Warning 1. 

book of amosIntroduction: Warning Against the Times
Warnings in the Word of God must never be taken lightly. If what is written in the Holy Scriptures was meant solely for the time in which it was written and held no meaning for today, the Bible would have been declared obsolete centuries ago. However, each book of the Bible is as relevant today as when first jotted down in scrolls and stands before us as God’s unerring, inspired message.

Ignoring God’s message has caused nations to fall and civilizations to become extinct. Indeed, a sure recipe for disaster always includes the total disregard for God’s divine message. As our world – and especially the West – continues to move farther and farther away from God’s truth, His day of reckoning draws ever nearer. And yet, God is “patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). Therefore, He has given us His living, breathing Word that we might fulfill His purpose.

The Book of Amos is a perfect example of God’s purpose in action. Contained within its pages are nine specific warnings against the evil which surrounds us as much today as it did when the book was written. And well it should, for Israel of 790 B.C. bore much resemblance to the West today.

Amos prophesied during days of great prosperity. In the southern kingdom of Judah, King Uzziah was in the midst of his 52-year reign (790-738 B.C., 2 Chronicles 26:3). Uzziah, along with Hazael, king of Aram, had conquered the Philistines in the west, the Ammonites in the East, and the Arab states to the south (2 Kings 12:17; 2 Chronicles 26:1-15).

In the northern kingdom of Israel, or Samaria, Jeroboam II was enjoying his 41 years on the throne (793-753 B.C., 2 Kings 14:23), as his nation was at the peak of its power. Longtime northern foe Aram had been defeated by Assyria and its king Adad-Nirari III (811-783 B.C.), leaving Israel unmolested and free to extend its borders into Aramean territory and to reclaim its lost lands east of the Jordan River (2 Kings 14:23-29; Amos 6:13).

amos artHaving free reign over the trade routes, Israel prospered economically, the large homes dotting the landscape proof of the nation’s prosperity. Religiously, the nation filled the shrines during festivals and holy days, offering sacrifices to God for His goodness, but in reality, “worshiping” only for what they could get out of it. When not sacrificing, however, the nation was steeped in corruption, their only the desire to grow even more prosperous – achieving it in any way possible. And it was usually the poor who paid the price for the excesses of the rich.

Amos, a prophet of Judah sent to the North, warned Israel in no uncertain terms that not only was God displeased with this nation’s sin, but also would not sit idly by while it continued its transgression. His warnings to the nation 2,800 years ago are just as fresh and relevant to Westerners today.

Warning 1: Forsake Cruelty (Chapter 2:1-2:3)
The Crime: The excessive cruelty of heathen nations.

The Evidence: Six nations are mentioned in this portion of Amos’s prophecy, the first of which is Damascus, which refers to Syria, or Aram. Damascus is cited because it has “threshed Gilead with sledges having iron teeth” (1:3). The “threshing” took place during the reigns of kings Hazael and Ben-Hadad, when Aram was at the peak of its power. The threshing refers to the brutal treatment – probably torture – of prisoners captured from Gilead, the land on the east side of the Jordan river, following military victories (2 Kings 8:12; 10:32-33; 13:3-7).

Next to be condemned are Gaza and Tyre, the first a city of the Philistines located on the west coast of Israel, and Tyre, located in Lebanon to the north. These two cities were guilty “Because she took captive whole communities and sold them to Edom” (1:6), and disregarded “a treaty of brotherhood” (1:9). When these two cities captured helpless, defenseless people, they often sold them as slaves to the nation of Edom, thus reaping monetary gain from the misery of others.

Amos then focuses his attention on the nation southeast of Israel, Edom. Edom’s vile crime was that it was unrelenting in its hostility to Israel during that nation’s time of suffering. God promised to punish Edom “Because he pursued his brother with a sword and slaughtered the women of the land, because his anger raged continually and his fury flamed unchecked” (1:11).

Another eastern neighbor of Israel, Ammon, is next to be cited. The Ammonites displayed extreme brutality, executing their atrocities against defenseless women and children that they might “extend [their] borders” (1:13).

amos bibleAmos finished his condemnation of Israel’s enemies with Moab, also to the east. Moab disdained both ancient and sacred tradition by opening up the grave of a deceased king of Edom and burning his bones “to ashes” (2:1). Even the dead were not allowed to rest in peace in Moab’s cruelty.

Judgment: In all six cases, God promised to punish these nations with fire (1:4; 1:7; 1:10; 1:12; 1:14; 2:2). Also in each case, the various nations’ defenses were to be devastated, leading to either destruction or captivity.

Warning for Today: Just as in those days, this new century been marred with the unspeakable atrocities of heathen nations. “Ethnic cleansings,” chemical weapons attacks on innocent men, women, and children, brutal governments terrorizing the populace, and the extreme persecution perpetrated upon Christians of Third World nations are just a few examples of the cruelty which God has promised to judge. He has done it before; He will do it again.

Up next: Part 2, Lessons 2, 3, & 4. 

Haggai: 8 Lessons in Priorities (Part 1)

Haggai: 8 Lessons in Priorities (Part 2)

Haggai: 8 Lessons in Priorities (Part 3)

Haggai: 8 Lessons in Priorities (Part 4)

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