(15 verses, 2:30 to read)
What I am about to READ
The Lord announces judgement upon the surrounding nations of Israel and Judah, for their brutal treatment of God’s people and for increasing lawlessness.
MARK and LEARN
The Lord raised up the prophet Amos from among the shepherds of Tekoa, similar to David before him (vs 1). Amos reports that he saw his prophecy concerning Israel and Judah in the days of King Uzziah, which makes Amos a contemporary of Isaiah. Amos further clarifies the date of his prophecy by mentioning a well-known earthquake in verse one, one which was so catastrophic that the prophet Zechariah also mentions it centuries later (Zech. 14:15). Amos preached probably around 760 BC.
The message of Amos is a primarily one of judgment not only upon the surrounding nations who abuse God’s people in ghastly ways, but also upon Israel and Judah for abandoning God’s commandment. The ray of hope, the prophecy of Christ, will not come until the final chapter of Amos.
Amos begins his prophecy by condemning the surrounding nations and pronouncing judgement upon them in the name of the Lord. The first chapter condemns the nation-state of Damascus, Gaza, Tyre, Edom, and the Ammonites, historical enemies of the people of God.
An idiom the Amos uses throughout chapter one and two is a bit obscure: “for three transgressions of (fill in the name of the judged nation) or for four, I will not revoke the punishment.” Luther even mentions the difficulty of understanding what this means, and how “many have knocked themselves over it” (AE 35:320). A plausible interpretation is that these nations are ever increasing their evil from three to four and beyond, an evil that is escalating as one speaks. Luther points out as well that the three and four make seven, a number of completeness, and in this case a complete and utter evil.
The pronouncements of judgement in chapter one would be completed in time, as the Lord brought to an end their evils against his people by bringing down their cities, making them unable to rise again. But the total vindication of his people would not come until the coming of Christ, who would deal with evil and its effects not by tearing down walls, but by tearing down his own body and rising again.
Lord Jesus, we are surrounded on all sides by those who hate us and wish our utter ruin. Be with us on the battlefield. Make us strong to trust your promises to us. Turn the hearts of those who seek our harm and bring them to the knowledge of sin and their need for You. And when our last hour comes, take us to yourself in heaven, where you reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, now and forever. Amen.