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The Book of Amos
Israel is warned to depart from iniquity. Amos begins this chapter with a “Woe.” He is not a prophet who majors in woes, but you will find them in several other of the prophets and in the Book of Revelation. “Woe” also means “Whoa!” . . . it means to stop, look, and listen, because this is something that is important. The word woe is one that should draw our attention to that which follows.
Amos 6:1 Woe to them that are at ease in Zion, and trust in the mountain of Samaria, which are named chief of the nations, to whom the house of Israel came! (KJV)
Zion was a mountain in Jerusalem; so both Judah and Israel, are addressed here. Zion was the center of religion, God’s temple was there, and Samaria was the capital of a powerful kingdom. They were living in luxury. We in the USA have been doing that as a nation since the Depression and World War II.
“And trust in the mountain of Samaria.” Ahab and Jezebel had lived there, and lovely palaces of ivory (1 Ki.22:39) were built there. The mountains of Samaria was a natural fortification, and the city was able to stand the Assyrian siege for three years before it fell. Amos’ attack was aimed at those living in contentment and luxury in both Israel and Judah. Wealth and comfort may make people think they are secure, but God is not happy when we isolate ourselves from others’ needs. His kingdom has no place for being selfish or indifferent.
Amos 6:2 Pass ye unto Calneh, and see; and from thence go ye to Hamath the great: then go down to Gath of the Philistines: be they better than these kingdoms? or their border greater than your border? (KJV)
Great cities to the east, north and west had been destroyed because of the people’s pride. What happened to them would happen to Israel because Israel’s sin was just as great as theirs.
Amos 6:3 Ye that put far away the evil day, and cause the seat of violence to come near; (KJV)
The people refused to admit that a day of disaster was coming, but their actions only would bring the day of judgment closer. Israel was saying, “Yes, a day of judgment is coming, but it is not near. We do not need to worry about it.”
What are the three sins that destroy a nation? The first sins are given in verse 4.
Amos 6:4 That lie upon beds of ivory, and stretch themselves upon their couches, and eat the lambs out of the flock, and the calves out of the midst of the stall; (KJV)
Illicit sex and gluttony are the two sins that are mentioned here, and they are sins of the flesh. Ahab and Jezebel had built an ivory palace in Samaria. That palace represented the life of the upper class of that day. They had a life of ease. Ivory was an imported luxury, rare and extremely expensive. Even a tiny bit of ivory symbolized wealth. Something as extravagant as a bed of ivory shows the gross waste of resources that should have been used to help the poor. Isn’t this like the rich people today?
Why did Rome fall? Gibbon, in his Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, mentions that the destruction of the family was one of the important reasons Rome fell. When immorality came in, Rome went down. Is that the United States today???
The second national sin is given in verse 5.
Amos 6:5 That chant to the sound of the viol, and invent to themselves instruments of musick, like David; (KJV)
They were not writing music to the praise and glory of God . . . like David did. Instead, it was heathen music which took people away from God and away from the worship of God. Today’s jazz, rock and roll, and hard rock music also lead people away from God, away from the worship of Him. In many of the newer “seeker friendly” churches of today, there are none of the wonderful, old time hymns, nothing but loud, blaring bands playing the new songs of today. People then and now, had/have a passion for music, or what they call music. They pursue music and ALL pleasures for their own self-gratification. The character of music can destroy a nation, and as far as this old, old-fashioned woman is concerned, we have arrived at that point in our nation. Many then and now, think of themselves as the people of God, but they were/are living in sin, and conforming to the world. If we are wise, the examples of others’ ruin should serve as a solemn warning to us today. God punished sin in Israel’s day, and my friend, God shall punish sin in our day as well. He has NOT changed!
Now we come to the third national sin.
Amos 6:6 That drink wine in bowls, and anoint themselves with the chief ointments: but they are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph. (KJV)
Oh boy! They were really alcoholics; they did not drink in little glasses but in bowls! They had the finest perfumes. It was pretty important in Israel that they use the right kind of deodorant, but it was drunkenness that was destroying the nation.
What about the problem of alcohol in the United States? Drunkenness is what is destroying our nation today along with the other sins previously named. The number of alcoholics in this country and too, the many other people whose lives are directly affected by the alcoholic. The majority of fatal automobile accidents are caused by alcohol.
The sins of the flesh (illicit sex and gluttony), heathen music, and drunkenness are the three main sins which have brought great nations down in the past. Do you think the USA will be the exception to the rule? This great nation of ours started out right; “in God we trust,” “one nation, under God.” What happened?
The message from Amos was fulfilled in his day. The northern kingdom was destroyed and went into captivity. The sins that brought it down are: in verse 4 gluttony and illicit sex; in verse 5 it was heathen music; and in verse 6 it was drunkenness. Wine, women, and song. That is what so many people think life is all about, but in reality . . . that is what death is all about. “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die.” In other words, satisfy self. But, when a man (or a nation) goes down that road, he will not find a pot of gold; but a dead-end street with the emphasis upon dead. It has led to the death of individuals and of nations.
This reveals a fact about the human heart and soul. You can put the whole world into a person and yet they still are yearning for more, more of something . . . but what??? The heart and soul has a God-shaped void that only God can fill.
Israel is NOT grieved for the affliction of Joseph, meaning like the sons of Jacob, towards Joseph, "eating bread" while their brother lay in the pit, then sold him to Ishmaelites. Those who insist on their pleasures (me, me, me), really never consider the troubles of others; and this is great offence to God.
The iniquity of Israel is going to lead to the destruction of the nation.
Amos 6:7 Therefore now shall they go captive with the first that go captive, and the banquet of them that stretched themselves shall be removed. (KJV)
Any time a verse starts with “Therefore,” always go back and see what came before it. In this instance, it is because of these three great sins, the northern kingdom will go into captivity first. They were moving rapidly. They were much closer to it than they could really know.
Amos 6:8 The Lord God hath sworn by himself, saith the Lord the God of hosts, I abhor the excellency of Jacob, and hate his palaces: therefore will I deliver up the city with all that is therein. (KJV)
Their palaces were places of immorality and corruption; and their storehouses of plunder from the poor. God hated it. If you want to know God’s attitude toward the present-day philosophy of the new morality, of illicit sex, gluttony, degrading music, and drunkenness, He makes it very clear here. God says He hates them. Because of these sins, Israel had become a godless nation. BEWARE!!! These are the things which will take you away from God or prevent your coming to Him in the first place.
Amos 6:9 And it shall come to pass, if there remain ten men in one house, that they shall die. (KJV)
Some commentators believe that this refers to the coming of a devastating plague, like that which often follows a war.
Amos 6:10 And a man's uncle shall take him up, and he that burneth him, to bring out the bones out of the house, and shall say unto him that is by the sides of the house, Is there yet any with thee? and he shall say, No. Then shall he say, Hold thy tongue: for we may not make mention of the name of the Lord. (KJV)
This is an odd verse. This is Charles L. Feinberg’s explanation (from his book Joel, Amos and Obadiah pp. 89–90), which is probably right: How widespread the plague will be is noted for us in verse 10. When one’s next of kin, to whom the duty of burial belonged, would come to carry the corpse out of the house to burn it, he would find but one remaining out of the ten who lived there formerly. And that last surviving one hidden away in the innermost recesses of the houses fearfully awaiting the hour when the plague would carry him away also. In ancient Israel in accordance with the words of Genesis 3:19 burial was the accepted method of disposal of the dead. In this the New Testament doctrine of the body concurs. Hence cremation was considered wrong and not countenanced (see Amos 2:1). But when God’s judgment falls upon His people, there will be so many dead that they will not bury but burn them. The cases here and 1 Samuel 31:12 are exceptional cases. Here cremation is resorted to in order to prevent contagion; in 1 Samuel it was done to obviate further dishonor of the bodies of Saul and his sons by the Philistines. When asked if there are others alive, the remaining occupant of the house will say there is none. Immediately he will be told to hold his peace for fear he would mention the name of the Lord in announcing the death of the others in the household, or in praising God for his own deliverance. Punishment will so work fear and despair in them all that they will refrain from even the mention of the name of the Lord (which should be their sole refuge in such an hour) lest further wrath come upon them.
Amos 6:11 For, behold, the Lord commandeth, and he will smite the great house with breaches, and the little house with clefts. (KJV)
Rich and poor, great and small were going into Assyrian captivity.
When the Lord gives the command, the homes of all people will be smashed to pieces.
Amos 6:12 Shall horses run upon the rock? will one plow there with oxen? for ye have turned judgment into gall, and the fruit of righteousness into hemlock: (KJV)
Running a horse on rock is dangerous. A horse can slip and fall easily. It would be impossible to plow on a mountain of rock. You cannot run a plow over a rock. When Israel had turned "judgment (justice) into gall (poison), and . . . righteousness into hemlock" (wormwood, bitter and noxious), they acted as stupid as if they were to make "horses run upon the rock" or to "plough with oxen there." How can they expect the favor of the Lord while they are all the while committing deeds that displease Him?
Amos 6:13 Ye which rejoice in a thing of nought, which say, Have we not taken to us horns by our own strength? (KJV)
They were bragging of their insignificant pursuits, like beating up the weak and shouting, "Look what I've done!" Too, this could have been a reference to the military strength of Jeroboam II in which Israel was trusting. Theirs was a false security doomed to catastrophe.
Amos 6:14 But, behold, I will raise up against you a nation, O house of Israel, saith the Lord the God of hosts; and they shall afflict you from the entering in of Hemath unto the river of the wilderness. (KJV)
Again Amos foretells the coming of the nation which is the rod of God’s chastisement for Israel, namely, Assyria, although the name is not given. What God is saying is: “Throughout the whole of your land this enemy will come down from the north.” That enemy was not Ben-hadad of Syria, but it was the king of Assyria who would take these people into captivity. When we turn our back on God, and our services to Him are rotten with sin, His providences will rightly be made bitter to us. Amos started this chapter by pronouncing a “Woe,” and ends it with the fulfilling of that woe. We should be warned . . . do NOT harden our hearts, for all those who walk in pride, God will destroy.
Ch.1 . Ch.2 . Ch.3 . Ch.4 . Ch.5 . Ch.6 . Ch.7 . Ch.8 . Ch.9