Today: [Amos 2] What Brings Downturn? In this chapter, the prophet brings God’s word concerning Moab, Judah and Israel. In each of these nation’s case they were reproved for taking actions that in the situation at hand may have seemed unavoidable. Yet for all the justifications for why certain disobediences took place, accountability was still enforced. In reading this chapter we pause and consider whether there are sins of expediency we allow in our own lives, being justified by pressures we feel make our actions unavoidable?
[Amo 2:1-16 KJV] 1 Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of Moab, and for four, I will not turn away [the punishment] thereof; because he burned the bones of the king of Edom into lime: 2 But I will send a fire upon Moab, and it shall devour the palaces of Kerioth: and Moab shall die with tumult, with shouting, [and] with the sound of the trumpet: 3 And I will cut off the judge from the midst thereof, and will slay all the princes thereof with him, saith the LORD. 4 Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of Judah, and for four, I will not turn away [the punishment] thereof; because they have despised the law of the LORD, and have not kept his commandments, and their lies caused them to err, after the which their fathers have walked: 5 But I will send a fire upon Judah, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem. 6 Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of Israel, and for four, I will not turn away [the punishment] thereof; because they sold the righteous for silver, and the poor for a pair of shoes; 7 That pant after the dust of the earth on the head of the poor, and turn aside the way of the meek: and a man and his father will go in unto the [same] maid, to profane my holy name: 8 And they lay [themselves] down upon clothes laid to pledge by every altar, and they drink the wine of the condemned [in] the house of their god. 9 Yet destroyed I the Amorite before them, whose height [was] like the height of the cedars, and he [was] strong as the oaks; yet I destroyed his fruit from above, and his roots from beneath. 10 Also I brought you up from the land of Egypt, and led you forty years through the wilderness, to possess the land of the Amorite. 11 And I raised up of your sons for prophets, and of your young men for Nazarites. [Is it] not even thus, O ye children of Israel? saith the LORD. 12 But ye gave the Nazarites wine to drink; and commanded the prophets, saying, Prophesy not. 13 Behold, I am pressed under you, as a cart is pressed [that is] full of sheaves. 14 Therefore the flight shall perish from the swift, and the strong shall not strengthen his force, neither shall the mighty deliver himself: 15 Neither shall he stand that handleth the bow; and [he that is] swift of foot shall not deliver [himself]: neither shall he that rideth the horse deliver himself. 16 And [he that is] courageous among the mighty shall flee away naked in that day, saith the LORD.
Chapter two of Amos is a continuation of denunciations against nations surrounding Israel and Judah. The focus is primarily upon Moab, Judah, and Israel in this chapter and the calamities that are predicted to befall them because of their transgressions. Verse 1 decries the cruelty of the king of Moab for burning the bones of the king of Edom, and according to some reports, rendering them into a plaster by which the king of Moab’s walls were covered, as a particularly mocking manner in which to disdain the king of Edom. Moab was the brother nation of Ammon, descended from Abraham’s nephew Lot. Verse 2 declares that a fire will be sent on the entire nation, which came to pass with the Moabites fell to the invading Babylonians.
It is important to note that the king of Edom, whose honor God is defending is the same king who invaded the northern kingdom of Israel and sold its captives into slavery for which he himself was judged in chapter 1. Just as God advocated for disobedient Israel and Judah, bringing consequences down on the nations that abused them, even so the Father is chastising the king of Moab for desecrating the bones of the very king of the nation that brought so much suffering upon His own people. Here we see reflected the words of Jesus in the gospel of Matthew:
[Mat 5:44 KJV] 44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
God takes notice of how you treat those who abuse you. They may not be excused in their behavior, but mistreatment by others is not a justification for retaliation in kind. In Islam, it is acceptable to commit any form of debauchery against an infidel, but in Christ we are called upon to love our enemies, and are held accountable as an individual and as a nation with how we conduct ourselves toward those who seek our hurt. This points up a glaring inconsistency in the Western World that has taught for generations that as individuals we should be kind to our detractors, yet on the national scale that sentiment is not in evidence. Are nations held accountable to the Golden Rule? Are individuals only expected to conduct themselves in a Christ-like manner, but nations can pursue and retaliate without consequences? These denunciations in Amos suggest otherwise.
Verse 4 turns attention from Moab to the privileged nation of Judah. The transgressions mentioned in v. 4 are repeated from chapter 1:
1. They despised God’s law in their hearts.
2. They did not keep His commandments.
3. They walked after the lies of their fathers in justifying why it was not necessary to obey God’s law.For this reason v. 5 declares that Jerusalem and the line of kings will suffer by fire, which all came to pass when the Babylonians invaded and consequently destroyed the city and leveled the temple.
What is our attitude toward God’s law? We understand from the writings of Paul that the dietary laws, and other aspects of the Torah are not incumbent upon the New Testament believer. How do we know which laws to obey and which laws apply differently? In Christian culture the attitude toward the Old Testament statutory expectations is very vague and lax. We would do well to pause and remember the words of Jesus:
[Mat 5:17-18 KJV] 17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. 18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
Paul taught that the primary purpose of the law is to bring us to Christ. Having come to Christ are we then given a pass without any expectation or need to ever consider the law again? Jesus made the following statement directed to the community of the redeemed:
[Mat 5:20 KJV] 20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed [the righteousness] of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.
How then might we apply ourselves in our understanding of the law? Paul’s teaching was as follows:
[Rom 7:6 KJV] 6 But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not [in] the oldness of the letter.
Our obedience then, is not expressed in terms of legalistic adherence to the law, but rather allowing its precepts and underlying principles to be the influence that guides us in our living and in our dealings with those around us and our commitment to Christ Himself.
In verse 6 the transgressions of the northern kingdom are addressed.
1. They sold their fellow Israelites into slavery.
2. They oppressed the poor.
3. Incest was a systemic practice in their culture.
4. They disenfranchised the suffering and dying.
5. They adopted the sins of the Amorites before them.
6. They ignored the prophets that God sent to them.
For these reasons, the Father declares that He will render them incapable of defending themselves and incapable of fleeing the judgment that comes in the form of the Assyrian invasion. In looking at the transgression of the northern kingdom, one sin stands out. They ignored the prophets, and commanded them not to prophesy.
Christian culture as we know it largely rejects the prophetic, even among those churches who claim to believe in the fullness of the Holy Spirit and the Charismatic gifts. The Assemblies of God themselves have issued a stated doctrine (what they call a “white paper”) that rejects prophetic office in the modern day church and strongly dampens the freedom to prophesy or move in the utterance gifts in their congregations. This is the sin of the Amorites, that destroyed the northern kingdom of Israel, yet the Assemblies of God wipe their mouth and claim they have done nothing wrong. This policy did not serve the northern kingdom of Israel and if we who are a part of these things do not learn from their error, we will not be blessed for doing so.
The warning from God is that in rejecting His law and rejecting His prophets, that the people would be rendered incapable of waging war on their enemies. In the last many decades, we have seen the church defeated time and time again, in the political arena, in the courts and in the public square. We can blame it on the enemy but we must first look at ourselves, at the culture that expresses itself in the Christian community and ask ourselves have we been given up to these defeats because there are systemic transgressions of God’s witness and God’s law that we have failed to consider and been reluctant to repent from.
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