Having uttered the declarations of Jehovah’s judgment upon all the nations, the prophet next proceeded to deliver his particular message to the people of Israel. This was done in a series of three discourses – in each of which, the introductory word is, “Hear this word!” The first discourse is in this chapter, and it consists of a statement of Jehovah’s verdict and sentence. It opens with a simple announcement that the privileged people were to be punished; then their privileges were named, and their punishment is stated.
But from the first verse of this discourse, we must take a moment to notice that the family name and relationship between God and His people remained the same! Yes, Israel and Judah were rebellious indeed; but the Lord still refers to them as His children, even though they were rebellious children. Israel was about to be punished, but they were still God’s Israel. In fact, the Lord Himself declares that their correction and chastisement is because of this very relationship – because they alone were the people whom the Lord knew as His covenant-children, out of all the families of the earth! That is the very reason why He would correct them for their iniquities. Let us pause over this verse and stand amazed at the goodness of God! Even in His chastisements, He manifests His love to His sons and daughters.
In view of the probability that the people would object to his message of punishment, the prophet – in an interpolation – defended himself. By a series of seven questions (verses 3-6), he illustrated a principle which may be stated thus: an effect proves a cause. The illustrations may be summarized like this: friendship proves agreement, a roaring lion proves the existence of prey, the cry of the young lion proves the prey to be taken, the fall of a bird proves that there is a bait, the springing of the snare proves that the bird is captured, the blast of the trumpet proves that there is an alarm, and calamity in a city proves the working of Jehovah’s hand! From this principle, the prophet deduced an application (verse 8): “Jehovah has roared, therefore you must fear; Jehovah has spoken, therefore I must prophesy!” Then, turning back to the main argument, Amos proclaimed the punishment of the privileged people of Israel; and he also declared its reason. And this reason was stated to the heathen, who were invited to witness the justice of the doom of the Lord’s chosen people. By the expostulations in these verses, Israel would also be taught that their own revolt and rebellion was the reason why the sweet communion and fellowship between them and the Lord was interrupted.
Beginning in verse 9 and 10, God speaks of the sins of which His people were guilty of. They had stored up the unjustly-gotten fruits of their robbery and violence toward the poor whom they had oppressed. When people abuse their God-given power as a tool to work the deeds of unrighteousness, their power will be justly brought down and broken. Nevertheless, despite the general wickedness and general destruction of the land of Israel, there would be a few who would be spared. The imagery in verse 12 is borrowed from the life of a shepherd in those days. When a flock of sheep was entrusted to the care of a shepherd, he was expected to make good any losses that the flock sustained – unless he could provide some kind of physical evidence to the owner that the sheep had been killed by a wild beast, and not stolen or sold. So if the flock was attacked by a lion, the shepherd would take great pains to secure at least a piece of the torn carcass – so that thereby he could prove to his master that the sheep had been lost to circumstances outside of his control; and that he had indeed risked his life to fight the wild beast for the protection of the sheep, even though he had been unable to save its life. Herein we see a resemblance of the diligent care that our Good Shepherd takes of His flock. And unlike the shepherds of Old Testament times, who may have been as diligent and watchful and brave as they could possibly be, and yet were not always able to save the life of the sheep, and could only rescue a leg-bone or a piece of an ear – unlike them, our Savior never loses even one of His flock to the dangers of their spiritual enemies! No matter what desolations are being made in the midst of a wicked nation because of their sins, there is always a remnant that is preserved by His grace; and every member of that remnant will be safely secured by Him. He shall pull them – safe and sound – out of the very jaws of destruction, even in the worst of times!
The Lord speaks in verse 9 of the “great tumults” that were in the midst of His people – great tumults between the oppressed and their oppressors. Such turbulences are a disgrace and shame to any people! Freedom from these great tumults is a great mercy indeed! Wherever they exist, national honor may soon be darkened with stains that will leave behind a perpetual blot. If our nation has generally enjoyed a merciful exemption from these “great tumults,” we must bless God’s holy name for it, and pray for the continuance of this happiness. We ought to follow the example of the Royal Psalmist and pray “that our sons may be as plants grown up in their youth; that our daughters may be as corner-stones polished after the similitude of a palace; that our garners may be full, affording all manner of store; that our sheep may bring forth thousands and ten thousands in our streets; that our oxen may be strong to labor; that there be no breaking in nor going out; that there be no complaining in our streets!” (Ps. 144:12-14)
Thank You, Lord, that Your correction of Your children is not intended to destroy us, but to reform our hearts and bring us back home to Yourself! Amen.
If you prefer to listen, today’s Family Bible guide is available in audio format on both SermonAudio and YouTube.
Join other families all around the globe and receive the full-color, freely downloadable format of these thoughts in your email every day! It’s my prayer that you and your family will be equipped to receive abundant blessings from the hand of the Lord as you study His Word and worship in His presence together.
illustration created with DALL·E on canva.com