Our sins affect other people, including our children and grandchildren. God said the northern kingdom, the House of Israel, were so far gone, so utterly unrepentant that God’s only recourse was to send 90 percent of them to the grave and the other 10 percent into exile.
The culture and economy of Israel’s royals, nobles and judges were so entrenched in the oppression of the poor, the righteous and the just that God couldn’t do anything with them except wipe them out. Their exile has endured for millennia and is still in force to this day.
The exile of the House of Israel will only end when Messiah Yeshua returns to the earth.
The main theme of Amos is God’s rebuke of the rulers of Northern Israel for their oppression of the:
Unjust laws affect the righteous. The just laws are the laws of Torah, which the Northern Tribes have subverted.
Amos mentions several city-states in Amos 6 including:
The Assyrians wiped all of them out after Amos’ death. Amos warns Israel to watch what happens to these cities because what happens to them will happen to Israel as well.
Amos also tells Israel they are actually worse than these other nations. Israel had a covenant relationship with God that the nations did not have. God expected more of Israel than the other nations, so even thought Israel’s sins might not have been quite as bad as the other nations, God have given them so much and they rejected all of Him. If you know better, you will be punished more severely than if you are ignorant.
We hold our leaders to a higher standard than we hold ourselves. That is human nature.
“The Lord GOD has sworn by Himself, the LORD God of hosts has declared: “I loathe the arrogance of Jacob, And detest his citadels; Therefore I will deliver up the city and all it contains.” (Amos 6:8 NASB)
Humans are not supposed to swear by anything or anyone. God is swearing by Himself, of which there is nothing greater.
The people of Israel frequently swore by the name of Baal, which was a false name, rather than by YHWH, which is the only true name.
Have you read the phrase “As the Lord lives…”? This is a way of swearing by God. God is true because He does not change. Whatever He wrote down will always be true. The phrase “As the Lord lives” was a very common greeting 1,500 years ago.
“Again, you have heard that the ancients were told, ‘YOU SHALL NOT MAKE FALSE VOWS, BUT SHALL FULFILL YOUR VOWS TO THE LORD.’ But I say to you, make no oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet, or by Jerusalem, for it is THE CITY OF THE GREAT KING. Nor shall you make an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. But let your statement be, ‘Yes, yes’ or ‘No, no’; anything beyond these is of evil.” (Matthew 5:33–37 NASB)
Don’t swear by things you have no control over.
The critical point is not about who Israel were swearing upon but what they were swearing about.
God swore upon Himself that He loathed Jacob’s glory, pride/arrogance and citadels/land.
“And it will be, if ten men are left in one house, they will die.” (Amos 6:9 NASB)
God is saying that 90 percent of the people of the Northern Tribes will not repent. He will only save the 10 percent who will repent, yet they will still carry their glory, pride and arrogance. Jacob’s glory, pride and arrogance is as constant as God Himself, this is God’s testimony.
“Thus the Lord showed me and behold, an early offspring of grasshoppers coming, and behold, one locust larva, Gog the king. And it will be, if they finish to devour the grass of the land―and I said, “O Lord, O Lord, be gracious. Who will raise up Iakob, because he is very small? Repent, O Lord, at this.” “Even this shall not be,” says the Lord.” (Amos 7:1–3 New English Translation of the Septuagint (NETS))
Locusts are very good at eating.
The king always takes his taxes first out of the first harvest and the people have nothing. When the second harvest is ready, that is when the locusts come, devouring the grass of the earth and it is the poor who will suffer.
Amos intervenes to God on behalf of the poor and He relents.
“Thus the Lord showed me, and behold, the Lord called for a sentence by fire. And it devoured the voluminous deep and devoured the portion. And I said, “O Lord, O Lord, do cease! Who will raise up Iakob, because he is very small? Repent, O Lord, at this.” “Even this shall not come about,” says the Lord.” (Amos 7:4–6 NETS)
Fire is like the locusts, it consumes everything. Amos intervenes to God on behalf of the poor and He relents again.
“Thus the Lord showed me, and behold, one that stood on an adamantine wall, and adamant was in his hand. And the Lord said to me, ‘Amos, what do you see?’ And I said, ‘Adamant.’ And the Lord said to me, ‘Behold, I am inserting adamant in the midst of my people, Israel. I will no longer add to pass them by, and altars of laughter shall be annihilated, and the mystic rites of Israel shall be laid waste, and I will rise against the house of Jeroboam with a sword.'”(Amos 7:7–9 NETS)
God does not relent on this judgement, because it targets the kings and aristocrats, not the poor.
“Then Amaziah, the priest of Bethel, sent word to Jeroboam king of Israel, saying, “Amos has conspired against you in the midst of the house of Israel; the land is unable to endure all his words.” (Amos 7:10 NASB)
Amaziah twists Amos’ words and tries to convince Jeroboam II to have him executed for treason. He also disparages Amos as a prophet for hire. Amos responds with a prophesy against Amaziah.
What house is being measured? It’s the house of Bethel, her false golden calves and how the worship there does not measure up to the truth. Amaziah and his family are crooked people and the House of Amaziah will fall just as the House of the Northern Tribes will fall.
“Thus the Lord GOD showed me, and behold, there was a basket of summer fruit. He said, ‘What do you see, Amos?’ And I said, ‘A basket of summer fruit.’ Then the LORD said to me, ‘The end has come for My people Israel. I will spare them no longer. ‘The songs of the palace will turn to wailing in that day,’ declares the Lord GOD. ‘Many will be the corpses; in every place they will cast them forth in silence.’” (Amos 8:1–3 NASB)
What does summer fruit mean? It’s the fruit that is harvested at the end of the summer as fall is approaching. This will be the time of Israel’s end. Israel no longer produces good fruit, all the produce is bad fruit and God is done with them. He is killing them off because they won’t enact justice, they refuse to change.
“Do hear this, you who rub out the needy in the morning and oppress the poor from the land, who say, ‘When will the month pass and we will do business, and the sabbaths, and we will open storehouses, to make a measure small, to enlarge weights and to make the balance unfair, to acquire the poor with silver and the humble for sandals, and we will trade in every kind of produce?’” (Amos 8:4–6 NETS)
Some of this is a repeat of the prophet’s rebuke in Amos 2:
“This is what the Lord says: For three impious acts of Israel, and for four, I will not turn away from him, because they sold the just for silver and the needy for the sake of sandals―” (Amos 2:6 NETS)
The poor, the needy and righteous are considered to be worth so little to the people of Israel that they will buy and sell the poor, need and righteous for a pair of sandals.
As a consequence, the righteous, who refused to practice the extortion and dishonesty can’t trade fairly and become poor because of the rigged legal system set up to favor dishonest trade practices over fair trade. When these righteous business people and landowners leave, then there will be a famine of the word of God in the land.
“Behold, days are coming, says the Lord, and I will send a famine on the land, not a famine of bread or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing a word of the Lord.
And the waters will be shaken as far as the sea, and from north to east they shall run to and fro, seeking the word of the Lord, and they shall not find it.
In that day, the beautiful maidens and the young men shall faint for thirst,
those who swear by the atonement of Samaria, and say, “Your god lives, O Dan,” and, “Your god lives, O Beersheva”― and they shall fall and never rise again.” (Amos 8:11–14 NETS)
The “maiden and the young man” are not known to be deep thinkers. Teenagers and young adults are the same in ever generation. They want to be admired, and try to attract the opposite sex. They are unencumbered by real responsibilities. Most teens are quite frivolous.
However, Amos predicts that there will come a time when the maidens and young men of Israel will not be interested in attracting the opposite sex. They give up their frivolity and seek after God but they will not find Him.
God will fix the problem after he wipes most of the Northern Tribes out.
“I saw the Lord standing on the altar, and he said: Strike the propitiatory, and the gateways shall be shaken, and cut through the heads of all, and those who are left I will kill with the sword; not one of them fleeing shall escape, and not one of them attempting to return safe will come through safely.” (Amos 9:1 NETS)
God is referring to the altar in Bethel, not Jerusalem. This is a prophecy against Bethel, not against Jerusalem. He is going to throw down Israel’s false altar.
“If they be buried in Hades, from there my hand shall draw them up; even if they ascend to heaven, from there I will bring them down. If they hide on the top of Carmel, from there I will search out and take them; even if they sink from my eyes to the depths of the sea, there I will command the dragon, and it shall bite them. Even if they go into captivity in front of their enemies, there I will command the sword, and it shall kill them, and I will fix my eyes on them for harm and not for good.” (Amos 9:2–4 NETS)
God’s condemnation is very strong, no exceptions because Jacob will not return. God will not relent. They will not be able to hide. Mt. Carmel has roughly 2000 or so caves, they are huge and interconnected in a serpentine cave style. Fugitives would go to Mt. Carmel to flee from justice, pursuers stop because it’s not worth trying to find them It’s easier to wait them out. But God will go and pursue them. God will hunt them down to kill them.
They have been constantly evil for over 200 years. Jacob will not change and return. They won’t stop. They enjoy their sin way too much.
Even those who surrendered will be killed. Why is God so cruel and harsh to Jacob? It’s because the poor deserve justice. Imagine you’re one of those who were bought and sold for a pair of shoes and you’re a slave who is being abused to death? Would you be happy if God gave your oppressors forgiveness without justice first?
God tells them you have killed enough people, and it’s time to pay it back. He’s done with them.
“The Lord GOD of hosts, The One who touches the land so that it melts, And all those who dwell in it mourn, And all of it rises up like the Nile And subsides like the Nile of Egypt;
The One who builds His upper chambers in the heavens And has founded His vaulted dome over the earth, He who calls for the waters of the sea And pours them out on the face of the earth, The LORD is His name.
“Are you not as the sons of Ethiopia to Me, O sons of Israel?” declares the LORD. “Have I not brought up Israel from the land of Egypt, And the Philistines from Caphtor and the Arameans from Kir?
“Behold, the eyes of the Lord GOD are on the sinful kingdom, And I will destroy it from the face of the earth; Nevertheless, I will not totally destroy the house of Jacob,” Declares the LORD.” (Amos 9:5–8 NASB)
“Can the Ethiopian change his skin Or the leopard his spots? Then you also can do good Who are accustomed to doing evil.” (Jeremiah 13:23 NASB)
God is pointing out that the Northern Tribes are so stubborn that they can’t change just as an Ethiopian can’t change the color of their skin. Israel/Jacob can’t make their evil to good. They were so far gone, they couldn’t reverse their course.
“For behold, I am commanding, and I will winnow the house of Israel among all the nations as one winnows with a winnowing–fan, and nothing crushed shall fall to the ground. All the sinners of my people shall die by the sword, who say, ‘Evil shall not draw near or be against us.'” (Amos 9:9–10 NETS)
The Northern Tribes were selling the chaff, the garbage, the animal feed and passing it off as real food. Even though they sold waste passed off as food to the poor and righteous, God is going to sift them and preserve all the good, righteous grain.
God is going to winnow and sift the house of Israel so completely that not one perfect grain, not one righteous person will be lost.
“On that day I will raise up the tent of Dauid that is fallen and rebuild its ruins and raise up its destruction, and rebuild it as the days of old in order that those remaining of humans and all the nations upon whom my name has been called might seek out me, Says the Lord. Behold days are coming, says the Lord, and the grain harvest shall overtake the vintage, and the grape shall ripen at seedtime, and the mountains shall drip sweetness, and all the hills shall be thickly grown. And I will return the captivity of my people Israel, and they shall build the annihilated cities and inhabit them, and they shall plant vineyards and drink their wine, and they shall plant gardens and eat their fruit. And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall never again be plucked from their land that I have given them, Says the Lord.” (Amos 9:11–15 NETS)
This explains God’s intent. This remnant that God sifts out will only make up about 10 percent of the House of Israel, a tiny remnant. God promises to will rebuild the House of Israel with this remnant.
Yeshua Messiah is the Booth of David. When God raises the Messiah up, that is when this 10% will return and will never be expelled again.
Judah will have 70 years of exile but the House of Israel will live in exile for millennia. The Northern Tribes will be in exile until Messiah comes to bring them back. Israel has been in exile for 2,800 years with no end in sight. It will only be the Messiah who will bring them back.
How do we recognize who the descendants of the Northern Tribes are in our day? The one thing God says is always constant about the Northern Kingdom of Israel and their heirs is their pride and their glory is detestable. That’s who they are and how they will be until Messiah comes and fixes it.
I really don’t care much about where the Northern tribes of Israel migrated. I don’t care what person is from what place? Their self-delusional pride, their fake glory and self-importance is just as detestable in God’s sight now as it was 2,800 years ago.
Judah didn’t have to wait that long.
“For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? AND IF IT IS WITH DIFFICULTY THAT THE RIGHTEOUS IS SAVED, WHAT WILL BECOME OF THE GODLESS MAN AND THE SINNER? Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.” (1 Peter 4:17–19 NASB)
Dan and Bethel received that judgement. There are limits to God’s patience and forbearance with injustice. Once Israel had reached the limits of God’s patience, it’s up to God as to when he brings down the judgement.
God does not forgive arbitrarily. When God relents or gives comfort, He is still a God who never changes.
When God says, “I will do this…” God is going to do it. It may not happen right away but it will happen. He may delay it for a generation or so but He will do what He said He will do.
Even with King David when he sinned with Bathsheba, God said you will go through the punishment. David fasted, prayed and cried but God still made David walk through the punishment. God walked through it with him and helped him through it but God didn’t take the punishment away.
God was the same way with King Hezekiah. He did lots of bad things and Hezekiah prayed and repented. God didn’t take the punishment away but He changed the timing of it.
When God told Moses that He was going to wipe all the Israelites out and start all over again with Moses, Moses begged God not to do that. Moses didn’t want all of Israel to be wiped out. God “relented” in the sense that He didn’t start over with Moses, but He did destroy all those who believed the bad report. It took him 40 years to do it but He did do it.
God may change when and how He punishes someone, but He will do it nonetheless less. That is God’s decision. God is consistent. He may be more compassionate, walk with them through it or delay it until the next generation but that is God’s call.
God doesn’t change, He doesn’t lie. Once He has made a decision, He follows through.
For God, death is a temporary state. He holds the power of resurrection, so that is why it is up to God as to what crimes can be punished by death. It’s better to pay for your crimes when you are flesh and blood then for God to punish you later.
God doesn’t change but we need to.
Our sins affect other people, including our children and grandchildren or as Scripture says, “to the third and fourth generation.” We aren’t punished for our parent’s sins, but we have been affected by them. We suffer when other people sin.
By this time, the Northern Tribes of Israel have lived without a knowledge of who God is for over 200 years. Many generations have passed in that time. They are at the point of “God who? I’m busy.”
In the case of the Northern Tribes, their descendants are still living with the consequences of their sins 2,800 years later.
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