Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Judgment to Come on Judah and Israel

Amos 2:4-16

“Thus saith Jehovah: For three transgressions of Judah, yea, for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they have rejected the law of Jehovah, and have not kept his statutes, and their lies have caused them to err, after which their fathers did walk: but I will send a fire upon Judah, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem. “ (Amos 2:4-5)

God had just pronounced judgment on the nations around Israel for their ongoing rejection of God and their mistreatment of his people.  Judah followed the Lord during most of Uzziah’s reign, but near the end, he began to think his position gave him authority to do as he pleased.  God warned that he would not overlook ongoing sin by Judah either.  When they began to exchange God’s law for their own, he would destroy the power of their rulers.   Jotham, Uzziah’s son listened and God’s judgment on Judah was postponed.  The others did not.  

“Thus saith Jehovah: For three transgressions of Israel, yea, for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they have sold the righteous for silver, and the needy for a pair of shoes; they that pant after the dust of the earth on the head of the poor, and turn aside the way of the meek: and a man and his father go unto the [same] maiden, to profane my holy name: and they lay themselves down beside every altar upon clothes taken in pledge; and in the house of their God they drink the wine of such as have been fined.” (Amos 2:6-8)

God had repeatedly warned Israel but as a nation, they made no effort to turn and follow God’s commands.  They were using unethical lending practices to take people’s property and foce them into slavery, sometimes over something as small as a pair of shoes.  They were using every means at their disposal to get people indebted to them.  They were punishing and shaming those who tried to do right.  They were profaning God by indulging in incest and other sexual perversions.  They were using things they had taken as security against a loan even to worship God, in violation of their agreement.  Finally they were using things they had seized from those who were charged with some crime to worship God. 

“Yet destroyed I the Amorite before them, whose height was like the height of the cedars, and he was strong as the oaks; yet I destroyed his fruit from above, and his roots from beneath.  Also I brought you up out of the land of Egypt, and led you forty years in the wilderness, to possess the land of the Amorite.” (Amos 2:9-10)

They had completely ignored what God had done for them, destroying the powerful Amorite nation, so that there would never again be an Amorite nation to fight them.  He set them free of slavery in Egypt, leading them into the wilderness and supplying their every need for forty years before giving then the Amorite’s land, based on their covenant or contract to obey God’s commands.  He had fulfilled his part of the contract but they were not fulfilling theirs. 

“And I raised up of your sons for prophets, and of your young men for Nazirites. Is it not even thus, O ye children of Israel? saith Jehovah.  But ye gave the Nazirites wine to drink, and commanded the prophets, saying, Prophesy not.” (Amos 2:11-12)

God had chosen some of their own people as prophets to act as God’s spokesmen.  He had chosen some of them to fulfill the Nazarite vow and set a moral example for them.  They had deliberately encouraged and even forced the Nazarites to ignore the moral code God had established, and forbidden the prophets to say what God said, much like the demands for political correctness of today. 

“Behold, I will press [you] in your place, as a cart presseth that is full of sheaves.  And flight shall perish from the swift; and the strong shall not strengthen his force; neither shall the mighty deliver himself; neither shall he stand that handleth the bow; and he that is swift of foot shall not deliver [himself]; neither shall he that rideth the horse deliver himself; and he that is courageous among the mighty shall flee away naked in that day, saith Jehovah.” (Amos 2:13-16)

As a result God will squash them like a heavy loaded wagon or truck squashes an animal laying in the road.  Once they are under the wheel, there will be no escape and their strength will not make them survive or enable them to pull free.   Their weapons will be of as little value as the snake’s fangs or the teeth and claws of a cat or dog.  Once they are under the wheel, even the bravery or speed of others cannot save them, and the brave ones that come to their rescue will run away after losing hide and limbs.    

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