AMOS CHAPTER 3.
The Announcement of the Divine Judgment.
THE LORD READY TO PUNISH. — V. 1. Hear this word that the Lord hath spoken against you, O children of Israel, all the descendants of Jacob being here addressed, against the whole family which I brought up from the land of Egypt, by the mighty deliverance which resulted in their becoming His covenant people, saying, v. 2. You only have I known of all the families of the earth, acknowledging them and choosing them on the basis of His peculiar favor toward them; therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities; for the greater the privileges granted, the heavier is the punishment for the abuse of them, as the transgression is made worse by ingratitude. V. 3. Can two walk together except they be agreed? This and the following propositions, bringing out illustrations from daily life, are intended to substantiate the prophet's right to speak to the people in this manner, even if they were inclined to resent his sharp words. Jehovah and His prophet are in perfect agreement, as the sequel was bound to show. V. 4. Will a lion roar in the forest when he hath no prey? Jehovah is the lion, and His roaring is that of satisfaction over the certainty that His prey cannot escape, that is, that Israel, in its present state of mind, will surely be punished. Will a young lion cry out of his den, with a satisfied roaring, if he have taken nothing? In the same way Jehovah already has the guilty people in His power and is ready to carry out His judgment upon them. V. 5. Can a bird fall in a snare upon the earth, a trap placed on the ground, where no gin is for him? That is: Could destruction come upon Israel if his own sin-fullness did not draw him into it? Shall one take up a snare from the earth and have taken nothing at all? literally, "Does the trap rise from the ground if a snared bird does not cause it to do so?" that is. Did Israel, knowing his own corruptness, hope to escape destruction, which was bound to take hold of him? V. 6. Shall a trumpet be blown in the city and the people not be afraid? As the signal of the trumpet was intended to arouse the people out of their security, so the message of the prophet was intended to awaken the people of Israel to the peril of their position. Shall there be evil in a city and the Lord hath not done it? The destruction which would strike Israel on account of the iniquities of the people was indeed planned by Jehovah, who in this sense is the Author of the calamities which come upon men on account of their sins. V. 7. Surely the Lord God will do nothing but He revealeth His secret unto His servants, the prophets, that is, Jehovah does not send His judgments without warning, but gives the people knowledge of His counsel and opportunity to turn from their evil ways. V. 8. The lion hath roared, in sounding the warning of his approach, who will not fear? The Lord God hath spoken, who can but prophesy? Amos was simply carrying out the work of his calling in announcing to his people the impending judgment of Jehovah. Even so the servants of God are bound to make known His holy will, regardless of the manner in which their hearers react to the truth.
THE LORD DECLARING HIS PURPOSE. — V. 9. Publish in the palaces of Ashdod, in the land of the Philistines, and in the palaces in the land of Egypt, two of the neighboring heathen countries being summoned as witnesses, and say, Assemble yourselves upon the mountains of Samaria, those near the city, and behold the great tumults in the midst thereof, caused by the fact that the mighty ones of the nations were oppressing the poor, and the oppressed in the midst thereof, right and order being overthrown by open violence on the part of those in authority. V. 10. For they know not to do right, saith the Lord, having so thoroughly become accustomed to unrighteousness, who store up violence and robbery in their palaces, like evil treasures stored up for purposes of destruction. V. 11. Therefore, thus saith the Lord God, An adversary there shall be even round about the land, literally, "and that, too, from every side of the land," attacking Israel, and particularly Samaria, from all sides; and he shall bring down thy strength from thee, dashing it down to the ground, and thy palaces, heaped with the treasures of unrighteousness, shall be spoiled. V. 12. Thus saith the Lord, As the shepherd taketh out of the mouth of the lion two legs or a piece of an ear, insignificant, useless remnants, so shall the children of Israel be taken out that dwell in Samaria in the corner of a bed, occupying the most comfortable part of the divan, sitting in carefree idleness, and in Damascus in a couch, rather, "on the damask of the bed." The powerful men of Samaria, living a life of luxury and ease, would save their lives only with the greatest difficulty. V. 13. Hear ye and testify in the house of Jacob, the heathen bearing witness against the iniquities of Israel, saith the Lord God, the God of hosts, v. 14. that in the day that I shall visit the transgressions of Israel upon him, with an adequate punishment, I will also visit the altars of Bethel, the center of idolatrous worship in Israel; and the horns of the altar shall be cut off and fall to the ground, thus demolishing the altars themselves. Cp. Ex. 27, 2. V. 15. And I will smite their winter-house with the summer-house, for not only the kings, but the noble and the rich as well had at least two establishments; and the houses of ivory, whose walls were decorated with inlaid ivory, cp. 1 Kings 22, 39, shall perish, and the great houses shall have an end, saith the Lord. All extravagance of luxury is displeasing to the Lord, especially if it is connected in any manner with denial of the Lord's truth.