The way we can correct our path and avoid judgement is to look at our own history and the history of our nation.
Human nature hasn’t changed and God hasn’t changed either. He created the Heavens and Earth including the weather. God has control over all of nature whether it’s rain, earthquakes, etc. Humans have no control over those tools.
God uses the things He has created to judge, reprimand and nudge mankind into the right direction. God says so Himself repeatedly through out Scripture, including in the book of Amos.
What Amos is saying to Northern Israel is repeated about a generation later to Judah by Jeremiah. Amos is detailing the abuses of the elites in the government and monarchy upon the regular citizens. Amos is not talking about the sins of each individual citizen but of the nation as a whole.
“Hear this word, you cows of Bashan who are on the mountain of Samaria, Who oppress the poor, who crush the needy, Who say to your husbands, ‘Bring now, that we may drink!’” (Amos 4:1 NASB)
When a government is corrupt, that corruption trickles down to the bottom levels of society. The mother of the king had a profound role in how well or poorly her son ruled the nation. The elite, aristocratic women of Israel egged their husbands to take more and more from the poor to enrich themselves.
“The Lord GOD has sworn by His holiness, ‘Behold, the days are coming upon you when they will take you away with meat hooks, and the last of you with fish hooks. You will go out through breaches in the walls, each one straight before her, and you will be cast to Harmon,’ declares the LORD.” (Amos 4:2–3 NASB)
The phrase “cast to Harmon” is a variation on the word “harem” which is basically concubinage and sex slavery. This is the fate awaiting these wicked women.
Starting in Amos 4:4, Amos goes straight into sarcasm to critique their worship and how it falls short of the true worship.
“Enter Bethel and transgress; In Gilgal multiply transgression! Bring your sacrifices every morning, Your tithes every three days. Offer a thank offering also from that which is leavened, And proclaim freewill offerings, make them known. For so you love to do, you sons of Israel,” Declares the Lord GOD.” (Amos 4:4–5 NASB)
Gilgal was supposed to represent the rolling away of God’s reproach. It’s where all the children of Israel were circumcised just before they entered the land of Israel but it has been re-purposed, and not in a good way.
The issue is not the frequency of the offerings but the object of their offerings. They weren’t supposed to bring offerings to Bethel or Gilgal, but to Jerusalem.
The showbread which is in the Temple was leavened but that is not a grain offering. Amos is sarcastically showing how the people of Northern Israel had made offerings in a way that God specifically forbade and yet presumed to do it for Him and used “free will offerings” to advertise their own greatness while pretending to honor God.
“But I gave you also cleanness of teeth in all your cities And lack of bread in all your places, Yet you have not returned to Me,” declares the LORD.”(Amos 4:6 NASB)
“Clean teeth” is not a reference to a good dental plan, but a reference to starvation and famine. By making sacrifices to God to gain favor with men, garnered God’s disfavor and invoked God’s punishment on themselves.
God took away their food with famine, drought, etc., using natural causes.
“So two or three cities would stagger to another city to drink water, But would not be satisfied; Yet you have not returned to Me,” declares the LORD.” (Amos 4:8 NASB)
The droughts and famine is creating ghost towns. Even today, Northern Israel gets more water than Judea and the Negev and a lack of water hits Northern Israel more seriously than Judea or the Negev, which are more accustomed to dealing with desert conditions.
“God placed seven divine acts of punishment on Northern Israel to try to get their attention before He has to judge them: famine, drought or selective rainfall, blight, locusts, plagues, loss of manpower, & loss of territory. ” New Bible Commentary: 21st Century Edition (ed. D. A Carson et al.; Accordance electronic ed. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1994).
No matter what natural disaster God brings on them, the children of Northern Israel fail to come back to God. They fail to see their own failure on a personal or national level.
God does not have a short memory, He knows our entire history. We are to pay attention to what is going on around us but the children of Northern Israel refused to do this.
Even if you ignore God, God will not allow you to ignore Him forever. He will make you face Him at some point. The nation of Northern Israel are prepared to meet God on good terms.
You don’t have to die to meet God. It simply means that God is going to make a judgement. It means to receive what God has for you, to receive something and to be accountable for what you have done.
“Therefore thus I will do to you, O Israel; Because I will do this to you, Prepare to meet your God, O Israel. For behold, He who forms mountains and creates the wind And declares to man what are His thoughts, He who makes dawn into darkness And treads on the high places of the earth, The LORD God of hosts is His name.” (Amos 4:12–13 NASB)
Recent posts in Discussions
- Leviticus 21–24: How the High Priest deals with death - May 13th, 2017
- Leviticus 16; Hebrews 4–10: 'Because we have a great High Priest…' - May 6th, 2017
- Amos 6-9: Only the Messiah can restore Israel's Northern Tribes - April 29th, 2017
- Leviticus 12–15: Dishing and spreading the dirt is easy; preventing its spread is hard - April 22nd, 2017
- Exodus 14:1–15:21: Seventh day of Unleavened Bread teaches repentance, salvation and righteousness - April 17th, 2017
- Leviticus 9-11; Mark 7; Acts 10: Become clean and holy from the inside out - April 15th, 2017
- Leviticus 6:8–8:36: God wants a relationship with you that responds and grows - April 8th, 2017
- Leviticus 1:1-6:7: Entering God's Presence via the sacrifice of a contrite heart - April 1st, 2017
- Exodus 35–40: Enter God's rest before building His home - March 25th, 2017
- Parashat Vayakhel/Pekudei (ויקהל/פקודי): Exodus 35:1–40:38 - March 19th, 2017
- Exodus 30:11–34:35: You are not 'just a number' to God - March 18th, 2017
- Exodus 27:20–30:10: High priest foreshadows Messiah Yeshua's redeeming humanity - March 11th, 2017
- Genesis 44:18–47:27: Yosef foreshadows Yeshua's grace - January 7th, 2017
- Genesis 41:1-44:17: Yitzkhak's and Yosef's extended passion play - December 31st, 2016
- Genesis 37–40: What's your legacy in the Kingdom of God? - December 24th, 2016
- Genesis 32:4–36:43: Face up to your past, so Mashiakh can purge it - December 17th, 2016
- Genesis 28:10–32:2: Underestimating the strength of the 'weak' - December 10th, 2016
- Genesis 25:19–28:9: What does Heaven really want from me? - December 3rd, 2016
- Genesis 23:1–25:18: Sarah's 'lives' and our 'new creation' - November 26th, 2016
- Genesis 18:1–22:24: Abraham's teachable moments on faith - November 19th, 2016
Recent posts in Prophets and Writings
- Amos 6-9: Only the Messiah can restore Israel's Northern Tribes - April 29th, 2017
- Genesis 28:10-32:3: Is it better to learn through mistakes? - November 21st, 2015
- Genesis 25:19–28:9: Esau lives out why 'following your heart' can be folly - November 14th, 2015
- Genesis 23:1-25:18: Believers' bargain bonanza from Sarah and Rivkah - November 7th, 2015
- Amos 5: Why are the prudent silent? - August 29th, 2015
- Amos 3: To whom much is given, much is required - May 23rd, 2015
- Amos 2: Amos starts calling out Israel's social injustice - May 9th, 2015
- Amos 1: Calling Israel to repent from social injustice - April 25th, 2015
- Jonah 4: God does not desire the death of the wicked - March 28th, 2015
- Jonah 3: Contrasting contriteness of Nineveh and Israel - March 14th, 2015
- Jonah 2: Yonah's messianic psalm on salvation for a righteous man - February 28th, 2015
- Jonah 1: Beginning look at the 'sign of Yonah' - February 14th, 2015
- Book of Jonah drama - January 31st, 2015
- 2nd Kings 14: Amaziah allows Yehudah to slide back into idolatry; enter Yonah - January 17th, 2015
- 2nd Kings 13: Messianic prophesy of death, resurrection of Israel - January 3rd, 2015
- John 13:36-38: Shepherd Friend of God - December 28th, 2014
- Chanukah: Prophecy and memorial for conception of Messiah and declaration of His mission - November 29th, 2014
- 2nd Kings 11: Fall of the House of Ahab - November 15th, 2014
- 2nd Kings 10: Yehu and Yehonadab: What God respects in a person - November 1st, 2014
- 2nd Kings 9: Meaning of 'peace' shown in death of King Ahab's line - October 18th, 2014