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Bible: What Does Amos 1-3 Teach Us About God's Wrath?

Updated on September 23, 2016

The Prophet Amos


Tool of Divine Judgment

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"For Three and for Four"


Verse one establishes the author's identity, his occupation and hometown, and the time span during which he "saw" words concerning Israel (c. 760-753 B.C.).

As verses two and following clearly demonstrate, God's wrath, manifested in His "voice" of judgment, is the theme of this prophecy.

Yahweh systematically addresses the nations surrounding His land and pronounces their doom before He turns to His people to discuss their sins (cf. chap. 1-2).

Amos writes/God delivers His message, employing a formulaic style: "For three transgressions of (the name of the nation), and for four, I will not turn away its punishment, because . . . ." Then He discloses their disparate offenses and reveals their punishment.

For example, God says that Damascus "threshed Gilead with implements of iron" (v. 3). Because that city acted so harshly, it will lose its leadership and enter captivity (vv. 4-5).

Gaza's transgression involves what appears to be selling captives into slavery (v. 6).

As with Damascus, fire will destroy both (governmental) buildings and personnel in Gaza, and its city inhabitants will perish (vv. 7-8).

Tyre committed the same offense as Gaza, except that Yahweh accuses it of not remembering "the covenant of brotherhood" as well (v. 9).

Apparently, they mistreated "the whole captivity," despite their relationship to these prisoners.

The same destruction awaits Tyre as that which will destroy Gaza (v. 10; cf. v. 7).

Unquenchable, unmerciful rage against his brother is Edom's sin (v. 11); he, too, will see his cities burn (v. 12).

Ammon's vicious brutality in pillaging Gilead for avaricious purposes (v. 13) will meet with fire, disarray, and captivity from the LORD (vv. 14-15).

The Worship of Mammon


Amos 2

Moab was guilty of burning "the bones of the King of Edom to lime" (v. 1).

[This act certainly represents extraordinary cruelty—perhaps the desecration of a corpse].

Again, the fire of judgment rests upon the palaces of their main city, and their officials will perish (vv. 2-3).

Finally, Yahweh addresses His own people, confronting Judah first.

Disobedience to His law and following after lies into apostasy will bring fire upon Jerusalem to devour her (vv. 4-5).

Israel's judgment appears somewhat more extensive, for God discloses much more regarding him than any other people (vv. 6-16).

His sins include:

(1) avarice, especially at the expense of the poor (vv. 6b-7a),

(2) ritual prostitution (?) ["defile My holy name," v. 7b],

(3) debauchery amid idolatry (v. 8b), and

(4) lack of compassion toward the poor (v. 8; cf. Ex. 22:26, 27).

Despite Yahweh's wonderful works for His people—including the total defeat of the Amorite (v. 9), His deliverance out of Egypt and through the wilderness to possess the land of the Amorite (v. 10), and His raising up of spiritual leaders (v. 11)—, the nation turns its back on the LORD by spoiling or rejecting their ministries (v. 12).

God declares that He is "fed up" with them (v. 13).

None, no matter how swift, strong, or skilled, will escape judgment (vv. 14-16).

God's Word


The Lion


Near Eastern Trumpet


God's First Action

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Amos 3

Amos directs all Israel to heed Yahweh's word to him (v. 1).

He says, in effect, "With great privilege (being "known" intimately by the LORD) comes solemn responsibility. If you abuse your privilege by failing in your responsibilities, you will suffer the consequences" (v. 2).

The prophet then engages Israel in a "game" of rhetorical queries (vv. 3-8).

First, in question form Amos presents negative circumstances that prevent certain people or objects from causing something else to happen (vv. 3-5).

For example, no agreement exists between two individuals; therefore, they separate (do not walk together) from one another (v. 3).

Second, the lion has no reason to roar, nor the young lion cause to cry out, because they have not been victorious in the hunt (v. 4).

Third, there is no trap to catch a bird, so how will the creature fall into it (v. 5a)?

Fourth, there is no reason for a snare to spring up if nothing has fallen into it (v. 5b).

Verse 6, however, indicates actions which both take place (causes) and which evoke responses (effects):

(1) the trumpet sounds, and the people fear;

(2) a calamity comes upon them, and they know Who caused it.

Amos asserts that Yahweh, like a lion, has reason to act (v. 8), and the prophet has no choice but to announce "His secret" (vv. 7, 8b).

Verses 7-8 provide keys to interpreting the passage, for they relate that God will not act (in judgment) unless He first communicates that determination to the people through the prophets.

Yahweh vindicates the latter’s message when disaster strikes.

God then commands Amos to proclaim to the royal families of Ashdod and Egypt that they should "assemble on the mountains of Samaria" to see Israel's punishment for his unrighteousness (vv. 9-10).

These peoples will surround, attack, and plunder the land and palaces of Israel (v. 11); little remains of Israel afterwards (v. 12).

According to the word of the LORD, Bethel (as well as Israel) will suffer destruction, especially its altars and great houses (vv. 13-15).

© 2014 glynch1


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