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Bible: What Does Amos 4-7 Teach Us About Israel's Sins and Their Punishment?

Updated on September 23, 2016

Drunken "Cows"

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Irreverent Worship and Refusal to Repent

Amos 4

Amos directly addresses the women of Israel, calling them "cows" and rebuking them for their lack of mercy toward the poor as well as their propensity for drinking wine (v. 1).

He solemnly admonishes them that Yahweh will one day cause them to go into captivity with their children ("take you away with fishhooks") [v. 2], and that they will find themselves in Harmon (v. 3).

Yahweh condemns their offering of sacrifices, perhaps because they have made them in the wrong locations (Bethel, Gilgal) and with the improper ingredient (leaven) [cf. Lev. 2:11].

However, the LORD most likely disapproves of their worship because of their irreverent attitude toward Him (vv. 4-5; cf. 5:21-24).

Repetition of terms plays a major role in the next passage (vv. 6-11).

God recounts His attempts through His chastening hand to motivate Israel to repent.

He withholds bread (v. 6) and rain (vv. 7-8), causes blight, mildew, and locusts to destroy vegetation (v. 9), sends a plague and allows bloodshed through battles (v. 10), and overthrows them with even more violent judgment (v. 11).

Nevertheless, after each lash He laments, "They have not returned to Me" (vv. 6, 8-11).

Therefore, He informs them that their time on Earth is up (v. 12).

God is sovereign in these matters; He who controls, creates, and reveals has chosen to act (v. 13; cf. 9:6).

God's Law

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Three Forbidden Cities

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Amos 5

After hearing Yahweh's decision, Amos laments for Israel (v. 1).

The house of Israel will sustain heavy losses—a fall, forsakenness, and loneliness—, and exile will severely reduce their numbers (vv. 2, 3).

The LORD calls upon them to repent if they want to survive, and commands them not to seek the help of man; Bethel, Gilgal and Beersheba—"sacred" places in Israel—will not protect them from the onslaught (vv. 4-7).

God would still be willing to spare them if they obey His law, but He will not hesitate to punish them if they do not turn.

Amos again emphasizes Yahweh's sovereignty over nature to prove that He can do whatever He warns (vv. 8-9).

The man of God designates an attitude prevalent in Israel—hatred toward both the righteous and the poor (vv. 10-11a, 12)—as causing them to forfeit the enjoyment of their homes and vineyards (v. 11b).

The wise among them do not argue with Yahweh's determination (v. 13).

One Necessary Action

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False Worship

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Sacrificing With the Wrong Spirit

Again, the prophet demands repentance ("seek good," "hate evil," "love good," "establish justice").

If the people obey His commands, Yahweh may allow them to live, and He will be gracious to them (vv. 14-15).

Israel will raise a loud clamor when the LORD "passes through" them (vv. 16-17).

Those "who desire the day of the LORD" woefully misunderstand that this period represents a time of judgment upon them, not (only) one of restoration (v. 18).

Amos compares the “day” to unavoidable calamity and death, and darkness beyond comprehension (vv. 19-20).

As alluded to earlier (4:4-5), Yahweh does not categorically rule out sacrifices; only those the people do not mix with faith and good deeds does He despise and reject (vv. 21-24).

Verse 24 clarifies this point, stating the need for the worshiper to exhibit a right spirit.

Yahweh cites as an earlier example of false worship the time when Israel sacrificed to pagan gods while wandering in the wilderness; the nation is guilty of the same sin now (vv. 25-27; cf. Acts 7:42-43).

Israel's Fundamental Sin

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Amos 6

Amos announces a "woe'' upon Israelite leaders in Jerusalem and Samaria, because they have assured the house of Israel that all is under control (v. 1).

They sense no need to fear their enemies, deeming Israel better and greater than they are (v. 2).

The prophet's second "woe" addresses their complacency and luxurious lifestyle.

As they deny the validity of the imminence of the "day of doom," their enemies who will surely take them captive draw near (vv. 3-7).

Yahweh swears by Himself that He will deliver up proud Israel (v. 8).

All members of a household will perish, and no one will "mention the name of the LORD," perhaps in bitter lament at the loss of loved ones (vv. 9-10).

The enemy will destroy both great and small houses (v. 11).

The two questions in verse twelve, answered in the next verse, suggest that Israel has done what he ought not to have done: boast about his own strength.

Yahweh responds to his pride by planning an invasion of enemies who will sorely afflict the people (v. 14).

A "Locust" Invasion

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Plumb Line

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Amos 7

Amos receives the first in a series of four visions: a destructive locust invasion that consumes "the late crop after the king's mowing."

His fervent intercession saves Israel, for Yahweh relents from His plan (vv. 1-3).

[Is this "invasion'' an actual locust swarm, or is it symbolic of a human army ("a nation against you," see 6:14)]?

After his second vision, in which he sees a consuming fire devour the land and the great deep, the prophet once again intercedes successfully (vv. 4-6).

Holding a plumb line while standing on a wall (v. 7; cf. Jer. 1:11, 13), the Lord (adonay, perhaps a Christophany?) appears to Amos a third time.

After hearing the prophet's answer as to what he sees (a plumb line) [v. 8], He uses that object to show Israel that the nation is "out of line" with God, and that He will surely bring down his places of idolatrous worship (v. 9).


Priest of Bethel

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Amos's Profession

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Amos: A Herdsman and Tender of Wild Figs

A controversy then erupts between Amos and Amaziah, the priest of Bethel under Jeroboam, who complained to the king that the prophet's messages were disruptive in the land (vv. 10-17).


[This Jeroboam may be the one spoken of in 2 Kings 14:23ff (cf. also 6:14 with 2 Kings 14:25-26)].


Indeed they were, for Amos was prophesying the king's death and the people's captivity (vv. 10-11).


This priest, in short, tells Amos to leave the country and prophesy in Judah, because he is not welcome in the king's court in Bethel (vv. 12-13).



Amos asserts his obligation to obey God's call on his life to deliver a message, even though he is not a "professional'' prophet, only a herdsman and a “tender of sycamore fruit” (actually, wild figs) [v. 14].

He prophesies what Yahweh has given him; no one who tells him not to speak God's word can stop him (vv. 15-16; cf. Acts 4).

His personal message to Amaziah contains the announcement of a clear and harsh penalty levied against the priest for his wickedness (v. 17).

© 2014 glynch1

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