Amos: 9 Warnings for Today (Part 2)

Posted on February 24, 2018


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, Warnings 2, 3, & 4. Read part 1 here. 

Warning 2: Forsaking God’s Laws (Chapter 2)
The Crime: Forsaking God’s commandments to the point of disdain (2:4). 

amos bibleThe Evidence: During the days of Moses, Israel had made a vow which would prove a snag throughout her history. As the people gathered around their leader, they listened intently as Moses spoke the words of God to them. Among those many words was this promise: “Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine” (Exodus 19:5). In response, Israel replied: “We will do everything the Lord has said” (19:8). Those words would haunt the nation ever after. It did not take long for Israel to break its promise by practicing idolatry and immorality. By the time of Amos, the nation had turned so far from God’s Word that it was oppressing the poor (Amos 2:6); practicing sexual immorality (2:7); and shutting out the divine message of God – “But you made the Nazirites drink wine and commanded the prophets not to prophesy” (2:12). 

The Judgment: There was a tremendous cloud hanging over the nations, and it was Assyria. In just a few short decades, Israel would find itself being uprooted from its homes by this menace to the northeast and carried off to the cruel foreign land. God accomplished this by weakening Israel’s military (2:14-16), promising that even the “courageous among the mighty shall flee away naked in that day” (2:16).

Warning for Today: It is almost impossible not to see a parallel between ancient Israel and modern-day Western nations. Not only does the West continue to forsake God’s Word and the blessing which comes with obedience to that Word, but they also continue to pride themselves on their military strength, believing they can defeat any nation which tries to attack them. However, as the West continues to disdain the God who has so blessed them, it appears all too obvious that God will indeed shatter the very military strength which is so much a source of false hope and false security.

Warning 3: Worshiping Wealth (Chapter 3)
The Crime: Forsaking what’s right in the pursuit of wealth (v. 10).

amos artThe Evidence: Perhaps one of the strongest indictments ever uttered against the people of Israel from a cultural perspective is found in this chapter of the Book of Amos. The most brilliant prosecuting attorney could not point his finger at a defendant and say it in any more convicting terms: “‘They do not know how to do right,’ declares the Lord, ‘who store up in their fortresses what they have plundered and looted’” (v. 10). In this one verse alone we see three separate accusations: (1) moral corruption (they do not know “how to do right”); (2) brutality and wickedness (“plundered and looted”); and (3) greed (“in their fortresses”). It is clear by the prophet’s words that Samaria attained its wealth by dishonest gain and by trampling the poor. The nation was also far too extravagant in its accumulation of wealth, the rich building for themselves both winter and summer houses; houses of ivory and “mansions” (v. 15), with thankfulness for their prosperity being given not to the Lord, but to Baal, to whom they sacrificed on “the altars of Bethel” (v. 14).

The Judgment: God promised He would certainly “punish Israel for her sins” (v. 14) as all their wealth “will be destroyed” (v. 15).

Warning for Today: Though much of the world lives in unimaginable poverty, much of the West appears to be getting wealthier. Even worse, the West, as a whole, just as Israel, refuses to acknowledge that its wealth has come from God. Just as God was not willing to overlook Israel’s great transgression, so He will not overlook that of the West. Already, many of top global economists are predicting a major economic crash in the not-too-distant future. Several years ago, former U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said well more than a decade ago that: “It is just not credible that the United States can remain an oasis of prosperity unaffected by a world that is experiencing greatly increased stress.” Others have echoed this. Being the world’s foremost nation, if America falls, it is quite possible many other nations could crash with her.

Warning 4: Heed God’s Chastisements (Chapter 4)
The Crime: During Israel’s history, God had brought various forms of punishment upon the land, yet the people had “not returned to me” (vss. 4, 9-11). 

book of amosThe Evidence: Though Israel was the nation God chose to reveal His presence to and to dwell among (Exodus 25:8), this did not protect the people from suffering and trial if they willfully disobeyed Him. What catastrophes did God bring upon His chosen people as warnings to return to Him? There was drought (v. 7); diseases of vegetation and destruction of their food supply (v. 9); plague (v. 10); and war (v. 10). Despite all this, Israel still did not turn back to God. The Lord even dredged up the memory of an extinct wicked nation to make His point: “‘I overthrew some of you as I overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. You were like a burning stick snatched from the fire, yet you have not returned to me,’ declares the Lord” (v. 11). 

The Judgment: When the Lord says, “Therefore this is what I will do to you, Israel” (v. 12), He is referring back to the punishments listed in 3:11-15. Chapter 4 stands as further incrimination of Israel for her manifold sins. 

Warning for Today: Perhaps the West’s greatest asset, but also their greatest stumbling block, is that they has always recovered so well from national catastrophes. Such recovery gives a sense of invincibility, as Western nations seem to have forgotten that: (1) millions of their young people have perished in four major wars last century; (2) millions have lost life savings and homes during devastating depressions; and (3) natural disasters (earthquakes, floods, deadly cold, and destructive fires) have caused billions of currency worth of damage, as well as numerous precious lives. Through such calamities, God has practically been screaming at the West to return to Him, but they only continue to run farther away.

Up next: Part 3, Lessons 5, 6, & 7. 

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)