Amos 2 – Judgment on God’s People
A. Judgment on Moab and Judah.
1. (1-3) The word of the Lord against Moab.
Thus says the Lord: “For three transgressions of Moab, and for four, I will not turn away its punishment, because he burned the bones of the king of Edom to lime. But I will send a fire upon Moab, and it shall devour the palaces of Kerioth; Moab shall die with tumult, with shouting and trumpet sound. And I will cut off the judge from its midst, and slay all its princes with him,” says the Lord.
a. Because he burned the bones of the king of Edom to lime: Moab was a southern neighbor to Judah, and the last of the six judgments Amos pronounces against the Gentile nations in this section. God promises judgment against Moab because of their cruelty to Edom and her king.
i. We could say that Moab sinned against the past by desecrating the remains of an Edomite hero.
2. (4-5) The word of the Lord against Judah.
Thus says the Lord: “For three transgressions of Judah, and for four, I will not turn away its punishment, because they have despised the law of the Lord, and have not kept His commandments. Their lies lead them astray, lies which their fathers followed. But I will send a fire upon Judah, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem.”
a. For three transgressions of Judah, and for four, I will not turn away its punishment: It hurts to see the same judgment formula applied against Judah – the people of God – as was applied against the previous six Gentile nations. It shows that Judah piled “sin upon sin upon sin” just like the other nations.
i. We find it easy – and comfortable – to expose and rebuke the sins of those who aren’t the followers of God. That is what Amos did with the first six pronouncements of judgment, but just as Amos went on to look at sin among God’s people, we should do the same.
b. Because they have despised the law of the Lord: Judah’s sin was that they despised and disobeyed the law of the Lord. This is a higher accountability than God required of any of the six Gentile nations previously mentioned in Amos. God blessed His people with His law and commandments, but He expected them to honor and obey His word.
c. Their lies lead them astray: Since the word of God brings us truth, when we despise and disobey God’s word we naturally embrace and follow lies. You can’t reject the truth without grabbing hold of a lie.
d. I will send a fire upon Judah, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem: Because Judah sinned like the other nations, they will be judged as the other nations, with fire against them and their palaces (Amos 1:4, 1:7, 1:10, 1:12, 1:14, 2:2).
i. The repeated use of fire to express judgment is continued in the New Testament. Without doubt, Amos meant material fire coming against material walls and palaces, but the Bible also uses fire in a spiritual way, to describe the purifying work of God in the believer. The Bible says that God will test the works of each believer with fire, to burn away what is unworthy (1 Corinthians 3:13-15). The Bible says believers will be tested by fire (1 Peter 1:6-7).
ii. When we think of God’s purifying fire, we should think the way Peter expressed in 1 Peter 4:17: For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God. We should invite God to burn down whatever “walls” or “palaces” we build against Him, so His work can continue in us and through us without hindrance.
B. Judgment on Israel.
1. (6-8) The sins of Israel.
Thus says the Lord: “For three transgressions of Israel, and for four, I will not turn away its punishment, because they sell the righteous for silver, and the poor for a pair of sandals. They pant after the dust of the earth which is on the head of the poor, and pervert the way of the humble. A man and his father go in to the same girl, to defile My holy name. They lie down by every altar on clothes taken in pledge, and drink the wine of the condemned in the house of their god.”
a. For three transgressions of Israel, and for four, I will not turn away its punishment: The pattern continues. Israel has piled sin upon sin upon sin, just as the previous seven nations.
b. Because they sell the righteous for silver, and the poor for a pair of sandals: Amos saw the injustice of rich against the poor, and how the rich took cruel advantage against the poor.
c. A man and his father go in to the same girl: Amos saw the sexual immorality and perversion of his day, and how standards once accepted were now disregarded.
i. This probably speaks of father and son using the same ritual, idolatrous prostitute. “They were licentious to the uttermost abomination; for in their idol feasts, where young women prostituted themselves publicly in honor of Astarte, the father and son entered into impure connections with the same female.”
d. They lie down by every altar on clothes taken in pledge: Amos saw the idolatry of his day, and how people worshipped idols even as they cruelly oppressed the poor. Exodus 22:26-27 commanded, If you ever take your neighbor’s garment as a pledge, you shall return it to him before the sun goes down. For that is his only covering, it is his garment for his skin. What will he sleep in? And it will be that when he cries to Me, I will hear, for I am gracious. The prophecy of Amos shows that God has heard the cry of the oppressed in Israel and will bring judgment against Israel.
e. In combination, the whole picture is almost overwhelming. Amos pictures a man committing sexual immorality with a temple prostitute – the same girl his son visited the day before – keeping warm with a garment extorted from the poor, toasting his success with wine bought with money dishonestly gained.
2. (9-12) The goodness of God to Israel and how they despised it.
“Yet it was I who destroyed the Amorite before them, whose height was like the height of the cedars, and he was as strong as the oaks; yet I destroyed his fruit above and his roots beneath. Also it was I who brought you up from the land of Egypt, and led you forty years through the wilderness, to possess the land of the Amorite. I raised up some of your sons as prophets, and some of your young men as Nazirites. Is it not so, O you children of Israel?” says the Lord. “But you gave the Nazirites wine to drink, and commanded the prophets saying, ‘Do not prophesy!’”
a. It was I who destroyed the Amorite before them: God reminds Israel of His past power and faithfulness to them. When they first came into the Promised Land, they were afraid of the mighty nations like the Amorites. Yet God conquered them. How could they reject and despise a God who has done so much for them?
i. This principle – a walk with God based in gratitude for what He did for us – is important for the Christian, and shows why the believer must continually hear the message of the cross. We must live our lives in proper gratitude for what the Lord has done for us.
b. I raised up some of your sons as prophets: God reminds Israel of the great privilege they had in working together with God. Gratitude for this great honor should have kept them humble and obedient before the Lord, but they rejected and despised Him (commanded the prophets saying, “Do not prophesy!”).
c. And some of your young men as Nazirites: The vow of a Nazirite was a special vow of dedication unto the Lord, and God gave the gift of this deeper opportunity to Israel. Instead of receiving this honor with gratitude and humility, the rejected and despised the Lord (you gave the Nazirites wine to drink).
i. The vow of the Nazirite is described in Numbers 6 and was used to express a special desire to draw close to God and to separate from the comforts and pleasures of this world. Under the Nazirite vow a man would eat or drink nothing from the grape vine, would not cut his hair, and would not go near any dead carcass.
3. (13-16) Judgment to come upon Israel.
“Behold, I am weighed down by you, as a cart full of sheaves is weighed down. Therefore flight shall perish from the swift, the strong shall not strengthen his power, nor shall the mighty deliver himself; he shall not stand who handles the bow, the swift of foot shall not escape, nor shall he who rides a horse deliver himself. The most courageous men of might shall flee naked in that day,” says the Lord.
a. I am weighed down by you: God regarded the people of Israel as a weary burden, not as a joy. It is the difference between the pleasure a parent feels in dealing with a obedient child and the drudgery a parent feels in dealing with a stubborn, rebellious child.
i. Any time justice is perverted – any time the rich receive preferential treatment, or the poor are oppressed – it burdens the God who sees from heaven and He promises to set it right.
ii. Any time people cheat and manipulate and make money off of others in questionable ways – even if it is legal – it burdens the God who sees from heaven and He promises to set it right.
iii. Any time people unfairly profit at the expense of the unfortunate, it burdens the God who sees from heaven and He promises to set it right.
iv. “Now, it is to be understood, dear friends, before we proceed farther, that our text is but a figure, since God is not to be oppressed by man; all the sin that man can commit can never disturb the serenity of his perfections, nor cause so much as a wave upon the sea of his everlasting calm. He doth but speak to us after the manner of man . . . so the Lord says that under the load of human guilt he is pressed down, until he crieth out, because he can bear no longer the iniquity of those that offend against him.” (Spurgeon)
b. Flight shall perish from the swift, the strong shall not strengthen his power: One way the judgment of God would express itself against Israel was that they would find themselves unable to succeed in ways they previously thought they were strong. Without the blessing of God, the swift isn’t fast enough, thestrong isn’t strong enough, and themighty isn’t mighty enough to succeed. Israel was far too confident in their own ability, but God would bring them low.
i. We can escape this judgment by realizing now that even our strength is nothing without the Lord. Paul communicated this idea in 1 Corinthians 10:12: Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. We can become more vulnerable in our perceived strengths than in our acknowledged weaknesses.
© 2001 David Guzik – No distribution beyond personal use without permission