Amos (Part Eight)
The book of Amos was penned by the prophet Amos. He was a shepherd and a dresser of sycamore trees by trade. His prophecy was by inspiration of God and lasted a very short time. Some scholars believe he prophesied just a few days. He prophesied during the reigns of Jeroboam the second in Israel, and Uzziah in Judah.
He used the expression "thus saith the Lord" 40 times. He did not claim to be a professional prophet but actually admitted his lowly beginning. The name "Amos" means burden or burden-bearer. He was of the tribe of Judah. He condemned the luxurious living of the wealthy.
He prophesied about 750 B.C. This was a time of much affluence in their land. Amos' message of coming punishment was not very well accepted.
Verses 1-2: “Two years before the earthquake”: While earthquakes are not uncommon in Palestine, the one to which Amos refers must have been unusually severe; for it is mentioned again by Zechariah in his prophecy (Zech. 14:4-5), more than two hundred years later. It stands as a reminder of God’s great power in nature and is a warning of His judgment that is about to overtake Israel. Amos begins his prophecy with words taken from Joel (verse 2; with Joel 3:16).
Amos 1:1 "The words of Amos, who was among the herdmen of Tekoa, which he saw concerning Israel in the days of Uzziah king of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash king of Israel, two years before the earthquake."
“The earthquake”: Mentioned by Zechariah (14:5), Josephus (Antiquities, IX 10:4) connects it with Uzziah’s sin of usurping the role of a priest (2 Chron. 26:16-23). An earthquake of severe magnitude occurred (ca. 755 B.C.).
Tekoa was a town about 12 miles south of Jerusalem. It was in a very rough area. The words came from the mouth of Amos, but he had seen this miraculously. The Words then, were from God spoken through the mouth of Amos. An earthquake is God dealing in judgment toward man. The following is another reference to this earthquake, even though the history books have not mentioned it.
Zechariah 14:5 "And ye shall flee [to] the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal: yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and the LORD my God shall come, [and] all the saints with thee."
Amos 1:2 "And he said, The LORD will roar from Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem, and the habitations of the shepherds shall mourn, and the top of Carmel shall wither."
“Roar”: In Joel 3:16, the Lord “roars” against the nations; here His wrath was directed primarily toward Israel (Jer. 25:30). Amos, a shepherd, courageously warned the flock of God’s pasture that they were in imminent danger from a roaring lion who turned out to be the ultimate Shepherd of the flock (3:8).
“Carmel”: Known for its bountiful trees and lush gardens. “Carmel” means “fertility” or “garden land” and refers to the mountain range that runs east to west in northern Israel and juts out into the Mediterranean Sea (9:3).
Notice, this voice comes from Jerusalem, and from the church (Zion). The "roar of the voice" is speaking of a thunderous voice. This is a warning from Jerusalem, even to Carmel, that judgment is coming. Mount Carmel was beautiful green pastureland. It had been the sight of Elijah calling down fire from heaven to prove that God is God. Now even Carmel will not be spared.
Verses 3-5: Damascus is the capital city of Syria and is to be especially stricken in judgment because of the cruelties Syria had inflicted on Israel.
“For three transgressions … and for four”: (which introduces the message of judgment to all of the nations, including Israel), is a rhetorical way of saying that the offender has been guilty of an incalculable number of offenses.
From (verses 1:3 – 2:3), Amos began with Israel’s enemies, and thereby gained an initial hearing. When he turned to God’s judgment on Israel, the leaders tried to silence him (7:10-17).
Amos 1:3 "Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of Damascus, and for four, I will not turn away [the punishment] thereof; because they have threshed Gilead with threshing instruments of iron:"
“Three transgressions … for four”: This rhetorical device is repeated in each of the 8 messages, differing from a similar pattern used elsewhere. These are specific mathematical enumerations (e.g., Prov. 30:18, 21, 29), emphasizing that each nation was being visited for an incalculable number of infractions. With 3, the cup of iniquity was full; with 4 it overflowed. This judgment was to fall on Syria, whose capital is Damascus.
“Threshed Gilead”: Large threshing sleds which, when dragged over grain, would both thresh the grain and cut the straw. Gilead, located in the northeastern, Golan Heights region of Israel, was vulnerable to Syria’s cruel attacks (2 Kings 13:7; 18:12).
Damascus was a large city in Syria.
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