Amos: 9 Warnings for Today (Part 3)

Posted on February 25, 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, Warnings 5, 6, & 7. Read Part 1 here. Read Part 2 here. 

Warning 5: Flee False Religious Practices (Chapter 5)
The Crime: Israel confessed God with her lips, but disdained Him with her idolatry and practices. 

book of amosThe Evidence: Israel did a good job keeping up the outward appearance of a nation which followed God by performing much of the requirements of the Mosaic Law (vss. 21-23, i.e., celebrating feast days, joining together in “religious festivals,” and bringing burnt and peace offerings to the Temple). However, because of the nation’s extensive corruption and injustice (v. 12), God hated and despised (v. 21) her religious rituals. 

The Judgment: God was explicit: The people would continue to build their large houses but would not live in them (v. 11); and would plant their food, but would not eat of it (v. 11). In other words, Israel would sow but others would reap. The end result of the judgment God would bring upon her would be painful: “There will be wailing in all the streets … The farmers will be summoned to weep and the mourners to wail. There will be wailing in all the vineyards” (vss. 16-17). Ultimately, the nation would be sent into captivity (v. 27). 

Warning for Today: Polls show that an overwhelming number of Americans say they believe in God and, on the outside, this would appear to be true as millions attend churches every Sunday. (The numbers are not nearly as large in Europe and Australia.) However, what most of America preaches on Sundays and what it practices the rest of the week are two different things. Just as with Israel, those who speak God’s Word in truth and righteousness in the West are often hated and mocked. Indeed, it seems inevitable that the West will one day wail as ancient Israel did for the wrath that God will bring upon her. It is not the mere attendance of church and idle confessions of faith which save, but a true heart and true spirit for Him. “This is what the Lord says to Israel: ‘Seek me and live’” (v. 4).

Warning 6: False Security (Chapter 6)
The Crime: Israel’s wealth and military strength lured the nation into a false sense of peace (v. 1). 

The Evidence: Israel had made several political alliances with other nations (v. 1) and felt “secure” and therefore became “complacent” (v. 1). Also, the nation was comfortable in its excessive wealth (vv. 4-5) but paid no heed to the afflicted of the land (v. 6). On top of all that, Israel was completely oblivious to the fact that judgment was looming: “You put off the day of disaster and bring near a reign of terror” (v. 3). 

amos artThe Judgment: Not only would the nation go into captivity, but it would be the wealthiest of the people who would depart first (v. 7). God also cautioned Israel to examine the fates of other cities which once lived well and to note their destruction (v. 2). God then challenges the people with a question meant to make them look deep within. He wanted them to consider: “Are they better off than your two kingdoms? Is their land larger than yours?” (v. 2). The obvious answer was a resounding “No,” and the obvious conclusion was that if those nations fell under God’s judgment for their sins, Israel would as well.

Warning for Today: For the most part, Western nations live in relative peace and security within its own military and financial strength. Yet, many of the West’s political leaders practically mock God with their corruption and immorality in the very highest seats of government, while all but shutting the Lord out of our public institutions of learning. Despite all this, the West in general sees no danger of imminent judgment, feeling fully secure in their wealth and military prowess. Just like Israel, the West seems to have forgotten the fallen empires of the past, from ancient Rome to the Soviet Union, once-invincible geopolitical entities which have come tumbling down. What God asked so long ago of Israel, He now asks of the West: “Are you ‘better than these kingdoms?”

Warning 7: Do Not Disdain God’s Spokesmen (Chapter 7)
The Crime: Israel not only forsook God’s Word, she also tried to silence those who spoke it (vv. 12-13). 

The Evidence: This chapter features a confrontation between the prophet Amos and a priest of Bethel named Amaziah. First, Amaziah reports to King Jeroboam that Amos’s words of coming judgment are a burden to the people of the land (v. 10). Amaziah, showing utter disregard for God’s divinely appointed spokesman, confronts Amos, telling him to leave the north alone and to return to his home in the southern kingdom of Judah, and to never again disturb the king with his message of gloom and doom (v. 13). Amos rightly replies that he is not even a professional prophet, but simply a “shepherd, and I also took care of sycamore-fig trees (v. 14). In other words, it is highly likely that Amos had no inclination to be a prophet, but nevertheless God hand-picked him for His purposes and equipped him with the words to speak (v. 15).

amos bibleJudgment: For wishing to silence and hinder God’s word, the nation would see her women become harlots, her young people executed, and the land conquered by foreigners (v. 17).

Warning for Today: Preaching God’s truth to a sinful world has never been a popular thing to do. And when that Word is preached without being watered down with modern-day compromise, it makes the hearers very uncomfortable. In the West, not only have our educational and cultural institutions done their best to hinder God’s Word from being taught, but they have launched attack after attack upon God’s truth, often corrupting the message when it is presented, or ridiculing and characterizing as fanatical those who teach it. Just as Israel was conquered for trying to squelch God’s truth, so the West will face the same fate so long as she wages war against His Word.

Up next: Part 4, Lessons 8, 9, & conclusion. 

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)