This study of Amos Ch2 vs4, through to Ch4, was given on 7th November 2021 by Pastor Barry Forder at Calvary Portsmouth.
How is the church in this country doing? Certainly, better than the world right?
The world is deserving of judgment, God’s divine wrath. But the church, well, we’re doing just fine… aren’t we? So why does Peter say that the coming season of Judgment will begin with the house of God!? (1 Peter 4:17).
That is exactly how Israel saw themselves in c.760 B.C. when Amos was called to bring to them a thunderous wake-up call.
In chapter 1 we saw how God, through Amos, uttered His judgment on six of the surrounding Gentile nations; but then, in chapter 2, the bombshell! “Thus saith the Lord; For three transgressions of Judah, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof” v4 and “Thus saith the Lord; For three transgressions of Israel, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof” v6. In God’s eyes, Judah and Israel were no better than their heathen gentile neighbours. Their transgressions were ‘full to overflowing’. The church today can scarcely be said to be any better than the world, embracing immorality and idolatry, all in the name of expediency. Tolerating what God calls abominations so as not to offend. We have become more concerned about our reputation in this world than God’s! In so doing, the light we are supposed to be, to a world that has lost its way, has often become little more than a flickering ember. Israel too, were to have been a light to the nations, to be a conduit through which God’s blessing would come to the world. Instead, they were ripe for judgment.
It has been said that our sin always looks worse on other people! We always try to play down and justify our own failings, but when we see the same in other people, we are quick to tut and roll our eyes in distain. Judah and Israel had done just this, but now it was time to be faced with their sin and prepare for God’s rebuke.
In Amos’ day, the surrounding nations had incurred God’s wrath because of their cruelty (Damascus), merciless profiteering (Gaza), betrayal (Tyre), hatred, (Edom), murder (Ammon), and contempt for others (Moab). However, Judah and Israel’s crime was much worse! Their crime had not been so much committed against their fellow men, but against God Himself! “because they have despised the law of the Lord, and have not kept his commandments” v4.
Jerome comments: ““Those other nations, Damascus and the rest, he upbraids not for having cast away the law of God, and despised His commandments, for they had not the written law, but that of nature only. So then of them he says, that “they corrupted all their compassions” – and the like. But Judah, who, at that time, had the worship of God and the temple and its rites, and had received the law and commandments and judgments and precepts and testimonies, is rebuked and convicted by the Lord, for that it had “cast aside His law and not kept His commandments;” wherefore it should be punished as it deserved.”
God expects a standard from His people that He does not demand from the world; “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more”. (Luke 12:48).
How had it come to this? God answers: “their lies caused them to err”.
“They would not have been deceived by their idols, unless they had first rejected the law of the Lord and not done His commandments.” They had sinned with a high hand: “despising” and so rejecting the law of God; and so He despised and rejected them, leaving them to be deceived by the lies which they themselves had chosen. So it ever is with man. Man must either “love God’s law and hate and abhor lies” Psalms 119:163, or he will despise God’s law and cleave to lies.” – Jerome
In the remainder of chapter 2, God reminds Israel of how He has cared for, provided for, and led them since the time of Egypt to the present day. Yet they still rejected Him and chose to walk their own path toward destruction.
In chapter 3, God gives them a number of idioms to drive home their predicament, such as the idea of a trap being sprung but not catching its pray.
Will then the jaws of such a trap suddenly spring up from the ground, on which before they were lying flat, and catch nothing? Shall they let the prey that was within them escape? Certainly not. So my trap is laid for these offenders; and when it springs up, (and they themselves will soon by their transgressions free the key,) shall not the whole family of Israel be inclosed in it? Most certainly they shall. – Adam Clarke
Chapter 4 ends with some of the most ominous words in scripture:
“Therefore thus will I do unto thee, O Israel: and because I will do this unto thee, prepare to meet thy God, O Israel“. Amos 4:12
May you be blessed and challenged by this study!