Amos 2 - Outline of Amos (Book Notes menu page)
1. Thus saith the LORD;
For three transgressions of Moab, and for four,
I will not turn away [the punishment] thereof;
because he burned the bones of the king of Edom into lime:
2 But I will send a fire upon Moab, and it shall devour the palaces of Kerioth:
and Moab shall die with tumult, with shouting, [and] with the sound of the trumpet:
3 And I will cut off the judge from the midst thereof,
and will slay all the princes thereof with him, saith the LORD.
The people of Moab occupied the region east of the Dead Sea.
Although Ammon and Moab were both descended from Lot (Abraham's nephew), neither nation was friendly toward Israel. Therefore, both Ammonites and Moabites were forbidden from joining the congregation of Israel (Deu 23:3,4).
...because he hath burned the bones of the king of Edom...
While this event is not recorded elsewhere in scripture, it seems probable that it refers to an event which occurred about 100 years prior to the time of Amos. At that time, the kings of Israel, Judah and Edom were allied in military action against Moab (2Kin 3:5-9). When he saw that the conflict was going against him, the king of Moab attempted to take out the king of Edom, but could not. In great rage, he offered his son as a burnt sacrifice to his god (2Kin 3:26,27). Perhaps after the armies of Israel and Judah returned to their land, the king of Moab took action against the king of Edom with a vengeance... not satisfied to kill him, he erased all trace of his dead body.
The judgment of Moab would come via the Babylonian invasion (See Jeremiah ch. 48; eg., 48:1,24-30).
4 Thus saith the LORD;
For three transgressions of Judah, and for four,
I will not turn away [the punishment] thereof;
because they have despised the law of the LORD,
and have not kept his commandments,
and their lies caused them to err, after the which their fathers have walked:
5 But I will send a fire upon Judah, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem.
Judgment would fall upon Judah and Jerusalem.
...because they have despised the law of the LORD...-
How frightful this is. The surrounding nations, which lived in heathen darkness, would be judged for their crimes against God's people, and for violating their consciences concerning common decency, against their 'brothers' (eg., 1:11) and against their fellow man (eg., 2:1). But Judah had rejected the light of God's Word, preferring to follow humanistic lies, rather than obeying God's truth.
I will send a fire... devour... Jerusalem.
This would be fulfilled by the Babylonian invasion (in 586 BC). 2Chr 36:14-21
I will not turn away the punishment thereof... I will send a fire...-
This pattern has been repeated in all of the preceding pronouncements of impending judgment. While judgment would come via military conquest by Assyria and / or Babylon, it would be as directed by the LORD. Observe the continual refrain: "I will... I will..."
     Because each of these nations was more than deserving of judgment, "I will not turn away {or, turn back} the punishment thereof." The coming judgment was unavoidable and certain.
     Amos had the attention of his listeners, because they were in agreement that these other nations should be judged... although they may have begun to feel some discomfort with the charge against Judah, for like them, they had been privileged to have God's Word, and had turned from it. With privilege comes greater responsibility.
     Now Amos turns to address his target audience, the people to whom God had sent him with His message (which occupies most of the remainder of the book of Amos).
6 Thus saith the LORD;
For three transgressions of Israel, and for four,
I will not turn away [the punishment] thereof;
because they sold the righteous for silver,
and the poor for a pair of shoes;
7 That pant after the dust of the earth on the head of the poor,
and turn aside the way of the meek:
and a man and his father will go in unto the [same] maid, to profane my holy name:
8 And they lay [themselves] down upon clothes laid to pledge by every altar,
and they drink the wine of the condemned [in] the house of their god.
...for three transgressions of Israel, and for four...
Whereas in the previous statements, only one transgression was identified as more than enough cause to judge a nation, here, the LORD lists several sins of Israel. He will expand upon this list in subsequent chapters.
  • Injustice - ...they sold the righteous... the poor...-
    Being greedy for materialistic gain, they perverted justice and took advantage of those who could not afford fancy lawyers, selling them as slaves. Deu 16:19,20
  • Covetousness - ...that pant after the dust...-
    They coveted even the dust which those, whom they had impoverished and afflicted, cast on their heads in mourning for their troubles. Their oppressive actions were against their own people (Amos 4:1; 5:11).
  • Immorality - ...a man and his father go in unto the same maid...-
    The picture is of temple prostitution.
  • Idolatrous religion -...they lay... upon clothes laid to pledge by every altar...-
    There was only one altar where Israel was to worship. But the northern kingdom of Israel had erected several, at various parts of their territory. They performed their abominable perversions upon garments which they had taken as security for financial loans to poor people (Ex 22:26,27; Deu 24:12,13).
  • Drunken debauchery - ...they drink the wine of the condemned in the house of their god...-
    They certainly were not worshipping the LORD God of Israel. What they thought to be joyful religious celebration, was actually the numbing drink given to men in preparation for their execution. 1Cor 10:7-8,21
9. Yet destroyed I the Amorite before them,
whose height [was] like the height of the cedars,
and he [was] strong as the oaks;
yet I destroyed his fruit from above, and his roots from beneath.
10 Also I brought you up from the land of Egypt,
and led you forty years through the wilderness,
to possess the land of the Amorite.
Yet destroyed I the Amorite... I brought you up from the land of Egypt... to possess the land of the Amorite.
With tender care and great power, God had delivered Israel from bondage in Egypt, and brought them through the wilderness. Before them, He destroyed the powerful Amorites, because they had engaged in hideous sins (like those described in v.6-8). He gave their land to Israel, as He had promised Abraham (Gen 15:16). The Amorites had been completely wiped out, 'fruit and root.' The nation ceased to exist, and no longer produced its perversions. But now, Israel had taken up where they had left off. The iniquity of the Israelites was almost full.
11 And I raised up of your sons for prophets,
and of your young men for Nazarites.
[Is it] not even thus, O ye children of Israel? saith the LORD.
12 But ye gave the Nazarites wine to drink;
and commanded the prophets, saying, Prophesy not.
...your sons for prophets... for Nazarites...-
The LORD desired Israel to be His peculiar people, set apart to serve Him. Though the nation had gone another way, some individuals did enter into a Nazarite vow of total dedication to the LORD (Num 6:1-8). From among the people, the LORD also raised up prophets to speak His Word, to call the nation to repentance.
...but ye gave the Nazarites wine to drink... and commanded the prophets... Prophesy not.-
The ungodly nation tempted the Nazarites to break their vows, and sought to silence God's Word on the lips of the prophets (eg., Amos 7:12,13). Do you see any parallel with our nation, today?
13 Behold, I am pressed under you,
as a cart is pressed [that is] full of sheaves.
14 Therefore the flight shall perish from the swift,
and the strong shall not strengthen his force,
neither shall the mighty deliver himself:
15 Neither shall he stand that handleth the bow;
and [he that is] swift of foot shall not deliver [himself]:
neither shall he that rideth the horse deliver himself.
16 And [he that is] courageous among the mighty
shall flee away naked in that day, saith the LORD.
Behold, I am pressed under you...-
The sins of Israel were a great burden to the LORD. Israel had put God in a difficult position: Could He ignore their sins, the sins for which He had expelled the Amorites, just because He had chosen and planted Israel in the land? No. To do so, would be unjust.
At the time that Amos spoke, Israel was at the peak of its military strength. His message was in conflict with what the government experts said. But their strength would be taken from them. Even well trained and well equiped soldiers would be unable to deliver themselves. They would 'flee away naked,' having shed their armour, and cast away their weapons (lest their weight hinder their escape).
     When the LORD determines judgment upon a nation, nothing will hinder it. Even the world's strongest military forces and the best prepared survivalists will not deliver themselves. The judgment which the LORD announced upon Israel came in the form of the Assyrian invasion and captivity, less than 50 years later. The things which happened unto them are for meant our instruction (1Cor 10:11). But is our nation listening? Are we any less ripe for judgment than Israel in Amos' day?

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