Day 172 (June 21): Israel’s neighbors of judged, Israel and Judah prophecies about destruction, Israel ignores God’s warnings to change or face wrath

His prophecy is precisely dated to two years before the earthquake in Uzziah’s (787-734BC) and Jeroboam II’s (791-750BC) reigns. This earthquake is usually set around c. 750BC. So Amos prophesied circa 752BC.
The Jewish Museum / A gift of the heirs of Jacob Schiff

Welcome to BibleBum where we are exploring the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives.  The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version.  At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture.  To start from the beginning, click on “Index” and select Day 1.

Today’s Reading
— Amos 1-6
(766 BC) Click here for a timeline of the entire Bible.

Questions & Observations

Q. (Amos 1:4): Didn’t God raise up these kingdoms to punish Israel?  Now they are being punished for doing what God made them do?  But, if I have my thoughts correct, God was just using them.  They were evil anyway.  He wouldn’t do that to His followers.

A. God is using these nations to punish Israel, but that does not make them any less responsible for their sins.  Like we read in Jonah, God sees the need for repentance in every nation.  And there is a great wave coming: Israelite and Gentile alike in this area are going to be swept away.

O. (1:3-2:3): Now, God is showing all nations, not just Israel, His authority.  He is the God of Israel and He is destroying these other nations for bringing harm and suffering to His people.  Now all can see that God takes care of His people.

Q. (2:16): On what day?

A. The day when His wrath is poured out.  Verse 13 points to a day in the future when the people will groan and suffer for their sins.

Q. (3:3-7): I don’t understand the point these verses are trying to make.  To some of the questions I answer “no,” to others “yes” and some are “maybe.”  To 6b I would say “no” to this answer remembering that the answer would be for that date in time in the OT.  And, verse 7 says He tells of disasters before they happen.  This is so the people know that God’s predictions do come true, so He had to have planned them?

A. Yes, you’ve got it right.  Amos is using metaphorical language; so don’t worry so much about the “content” of the question.  They are basically saying, as you suggest, God will not bring this judgment without warning the people, as He has done over and over again, and as Amos is doing here.

Q. (3:10-11): Do we know who the enemy is that is going to impart this destruction?  Is it unimportant who the enemy is?

A. It won’t really matter in the narrative of the story, but sure, the nation is the Assyrians, who originate from what is today Iraq.  Around 730 BC, they moved into what is now Jordan with a huge army and conquered/destroyed everything in their path, including the entire nation of Israel, which is also being called Samaria.  They will not conquer Judah, Jerusalem in particular, for reasons that we will see.  Feel free to read more about the Assyrians from this era here:

Q. (3:12, 4:1): So, for those living high on the hog, God will strip them of their luxurious life and leave them with little?  4:1 cracks me up!

A. It’s a pretty well known line from the OT.

Q. (4:6-10): This answers the question in 6b if God brings disasters … at this time in history.

A. Remember, the punishment is always predicted beforehand.  That’s what bothers me about folks like Pat Robertson making judgments about natural disasters: he only does it afterward.  The Bible, and the OT in particular, is clear that if God brings disaster, His reasons for doing so are spoken loud and clear through His prophets.  Nearly all the prophets — with the possible exception of Jeremiah and Ezekiel, for reasons that will become clear — proclaim a message of repentance.  They say, “It’s not too late!  Turn from this, or God will bring disaster upon you!”  That is a central theme of most of these prophecies and the genre of these books: Turn back now, for it’s not too late to avoid disaster.  But if you keep going, you’ll only have yourself to blame.

Q. (4:12-13): Amos is talking about the disasters God announces in 3:12-15?

A. Yes.

Q. (5:2): This sounds like a permanent death sentence for Israel, but they get an out in v. 4?

A. Nope.  It’s the same thing I’ve answered in the questions above, Amos is saying its not too late to turn, but if you don’t it will be a death sentence.

O. (5:21): I don’t know if this applies to today, but I think we can link it.  There are people who go to church just because they are “supposed to.”  I don’t know if this will get them into heaven, but like you said in a reading a while back, God doesn’t want us to just skate by.  He wants us to take Jesus’ example and love others the way He loves us.  So, merely showing face at church is an injustice to God.

I admit I used to be like this.  In a way, though, I’m glad that I felt I had to go to church because it helped me to remember to stay connected to God.  Now, that I am more into my faith — and try to live it, rather than be exposed to it — I have a greater appreciation for being part of the church.  I would encourage everyone to make sure they have a church that fits them.  Once you do that, reach out to get involved.  I think it’s a two-way relationship.

The church should reach out to you, but you have to reach also.  Use your talents to get involved.  I confess, that I have always battled to stay awake for church.  The monotone of most of the preachers I had would put me to sleep — that and actually sitting with no activity for an hour will do it.  But, since I have found pastors that bring you into the Bible stories, I’m wide awake and take the message with me.  So, I encourage everyone to find a church that is engaging so you go out of desire and not obedience.

O. (6:6): It sounds like there were selfish people that thought as long as the disaster isn’t affecting them, they will not be alarmed and change their actions.  And, it’s this kind of attitude that infuriates the Lord, causing him to inflict punishments.

Q. (6:8): God’s frustration was started by Solomon who built his own palace larger than the Temple of the Lord?

A. No, that’s not what Amos is referring to here.  Solomon built his palace in Jerusalem, which is part of Judah, and this judgment is against Israel.  God is saying He is greatly displeased with the arrogance of the people trusting in stone walls and fortresses rather than God.  They are trusting their own might and power, rather than God’s.  We can clearly see here how far Israel — and to a lesser extent Judah — has fallen from being a people who trusted God with their whole heart, as when they first entered the Promised Land.  And, just as Moses predicted back in Deuteronomy, if the people reach that point, then they will suffer the judgment of God and be removed from the land.  We are at the precipice of that day.  Bad things are coming for the nation who have forsaken their God.

O. (6:14): God has had it with Israel!

For further study: Lessons to learn from Amos,

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Tomorrow’s reading
— Amos 7-9
— 2 Kings 14:28-29
— 2 Kings 15:8-29
— 2 Kings 15:6-7
— 2 Chronicles 26:22-23
— Isaiah 6:1-13

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