Amos, Missionary to Israel, Part 5
Issue No. 353
Amos’ indictment against the House of Israel came after first indicting Israel’s neighbors, including Judah. Hence, the audience could not accuse Amos of being partial or of singling out Israel. The message was that Israel was just as bad as her neighbors, and that God would not overlook her sin and rebellion.
God then appealed history, where He had taken the land from the Amorites and had given it to Israel on account of the sin of the Amorites. Amos 2:9, 10 says,
9 Yet it was I who destroyed the Amorite before them, though his height was like the height of cedars and he was strong as the oaks; I even destroyed his fruit above and his root below. 10 And it was I who brought you up from the land of Egypt, and I led you in the wilderness forty years, that you might take possession of the land of the Amorite.
When God promised to give the land to Abraham’s descendants, He told him that this would not occur during his life time. First they would have to serve others for 400 years. He then said in Gen. 15:16,
16 Then in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.
In other words, Israel was required to wait until the iniquity of the Amorites had reached the level where divine judgment was required according to the law. The timing of this judgment was actually set by Noah’s curse upon Canaan in Gen. 9:25-27. Noah’s curse put Canaan and the Canaanites as a whole under Cursed Time (2 x 414 years). Their time ended in the year that Joshua led Israel into Canaan 828 years after the curse was given.
It is interesting that Amos’ rehearsal of Israel’s history mentions the Amorites, which refers to God’s prophesy to Abraham in Gen. 15:16. The term Amorite was a general term that also included the Canaanites—not that they were technically the same people, but that they were all ruled by Nephilim in the same area.
Amos describes the Amorites as giants, saying, “his height was like the height of cedars and he was strong as the oaks” (Amos 2:9). Yet the Hebrew word translated Amorites is Emoriy, which is defined as “a sayer” in the sense of publicity or prominence. We are told that it can also refer to a mountaineer, or one who came from a mountain. Most likely, this is a reference to the Nephilim, or giants, who came from Mount Hermon saying or claiming that they were the sons of God.
We know that God delivered the Amorites and various giants into the hands of Moses in the battles on the east side of the Jordan River even before Joshua led Israel across the river into the land of Canaan itself (Deut. 4:46-48).
Amos reminds Israel how God empowered them to overcome the giants and to take their land. This implies that God had the right to be worshiped, since the Israelites ought to follow the God who had established them in the land at the beginning.
Second, it was the God of Israel who had redeemed them from the house of bondage in Egypt. In the prologue to the Ten Commandments, God claimed the exclusive right to be worshiped, saying in Exodus 20:2, 3,
2 I am the Lord [Yahweh] your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 3 You shall have no other gods before Me.
Unfortunately, the people thought that they had been given freedom to worship whatever god they chose, not realizing that God had purchased them as His own slaves. Slaves may have some level of equality among other slaves, but they do not have the right to serve another master. The laws of redemption are clear on this point (Lev. 25:53).
Enforcing Sin in Israel
Amos 2:11, 12 continues,
11 “Then I raised up some of your sons to be prophets and some of your young men to be Nazirites. Is this not so, O sons of Israel?” declares the Lord. 12 “But you made the Nazirites drink wine, and you commanded the prophets saying, ‘You shall not prophesy!’”
First it should be understood that true prophets and true Nazirites are not self-called, but God calls them and raises them up as His spokesmen to minister to the people. In the case of Nazirites (or Nazarites), the law speaks of them in Num. 6:1-21.
Nazirites were not to drink wine (Num. 6:3), and they were not to shave (Num. 6:5). The word nazir also means “unpruned” (Lev. 25:5, 11 KJV) or “untrimmed” (NASB), showing that unshaven Nazirites were like unpruned fruit trees or vines, which were not to be pruned or trimmed during Sabbath years and Jubilees. In other words, they were signs of the Jubilee, that is, of entering into God’s rest.
But the authorities in Israel apparently had been forcing Nazirites to drink wine and had been forbidding God’s prophets to prophesy when their prophecies ran contrary to national policy and the nation’s desire to sin. This shows that Israel had not truly entered into God’s rest, even though they had been given the land of Canaan. God’s rest is about refraining from one’s own works and words and about doing the works of God and speaking His words (Isaiah 58:13; Heb. 4:10).
It seems that Amos himself was told to stop prophesying judgment upon Israel, because Amos 2:13 says,
13 Behold, I am weighted down beneath you as a wagon is weighted down when filled with sheaves.
The word translated “weighted down” is uwq, which means to totter under a crushing weight. What was it that made Amos totter? It was the oppressive weight of the command to cease prophesying, for he was “weighted down beneath you.” It seems that Amos was expelled from the country and wrote his account back home in Judah.
Judgment was Unavoidable
Amos 2:14 continues,
14 “Flight will perish from the swift, and the stalwart will not strengthen his power, nor the mighty man save his life.”
Those who think that they are swift runners will not be able to flee when divine judgment comes. The powerful will find that they are weak. The mighty man cannot save his own life in that day.
Amos 2:15 continues on the same vein, saying,
15 He who grasps the bow will not stand his ground, the swift of foot will not escape, nor will he who rides the horse save his life.
Horses were symbols of salvation and deliverance, since they often made the difference in a battle. But in God’s Kingdom, the kings were not to depend upon horses for national defense, but they were to rely upon God’s blessing for their obedience to Him. So Deut. 17:16 instructs the kings of Israel in this way:
16 Moreover, he shall not multiply horses for himself, nor shall he cause the people to return to Egypt to multiply horses, since the Lord has said to you, “You shall never again return that way.”
Israel, however, ignored this injunction in later years. When the nation put away God’s law and adopted the ways of men, it became clear that God would no longer defend them. So they felt the need to build up their national defense to defend themselves from the nations whom God had raised up to bring judgment upon Israel. Isaiah 31:1, 3 says,
1 Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, and rely on horses, and trust in chariots because they are many, and in horsemen because they are strong… 3 Now the Egyptians are men and not God, and their horses are flesh and not spirit; so the Lord will stretch out His hand… and all of them will come to an end together.
The people did not understand that to rely upon one’s military strength was to “return to Egypt.” In other words, Israel would find themselves in bondage to Egypt once again. The principle can be applied to America today, which has followed Israel’s example of ruling by military might. We have thus fallen into the trap of which President Dwight Eisenhower warned in his farewell address on Jan. 17, 1961.
This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence—economic, political, even spiritual—is felt in every city, every statehouse, every office of the federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society. In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military–industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals so that security and liberty may prosper together.
Eisenhower understood that depending upon “the military-industrial complex” could easily “endanger our liberties or democratic processes.” It is hard to know if he had read this in the Bible or if he was speaking purely through experience and observation. Either way, however, he spoke the truth, but America did not heed his words.
America’s dependence upon military might instead of upon God’s favor changed dramatically during the 1930’s, when the nation began to be secularized by Socialism in the Roosevelt administration that began in 1933. By rejecting the truth that all nations are accountable to God and are subject to His law, America began to depend upon its own military strength and its own cavalry (“tanks”).
In so doing, we began to return to Egypt as we came into bondage to the horse breeders—that is, the men who owned the big corporations who manufacture armaments and the banks which are allied with them.
The words of Amos thus are timeless, for the laws of God did not end at the cross. When we violate those laws, we pay the price, even as Israel did thousands of years ago. And when the time of divine judgment arrives, the power of fleshly horses/tanks will not suffice, nor will the mighty man be able to save himself.
Fortunately for us, we have served our time in captivity, and the time of our deliverance is drawing near. The deliverance of the people will mean the overthrow of the ungodly rulers who have put America (and the world) into captivity to Mystery Babylon.
Amos concludes in Amos 2:16,
16 “Even the bravest among the warriors will flee naked in that day,” declares the Lord.
This occurred in ancient times when Israel was defeated and captured by the Assyrian army. Israel was no match for Assyria, because God had raised up Assyria to judge Israel. In the same way, as John tells us in Revelation 18:8-10, the rulers of Mystery Babylon, the mother of harlots, will be helpless in the day of God’s judgment.
8 For this reason in one day her plagues will come, pestilence and mourning and famine, and she will be burned up with fire; for the Lord God who judges her is strong. 9 And the kings of the earth who committed acts of immorality and lived sensuously with her, will weep and lament over her when they see the smoke of her burning, 10 standing at a distance because of the fear of her torment, saying, “Woe, woe, the great city, Babylon, the strong city! For in one hour your judgment has come.”
If ancient Israel had taken heed to the words of Amos, they might have avoided the destruction of their nation and their deportation to Assyria. Likewise, we today might have avoided the captivity to Mystery Babylon in the past century if we had heeded Amos’ words. But our rulers were intent upon dethroning Jesus Christ as our King, for they desired to usurp His ownership of America and of the whole earth, which He owns by right of creation.
Israel was Chosen
Amos begins a new thought in Amos 3:1, 2, saying,
1 Hear this word which the Lord has spoken against you, sons of Israel, against the entire family which He brought up from the land of Egypt, 2 “You only have I chosen among all the families of the earth; therefore, I will punish you for all your iniquities.”
Only Israel was chosen, he says. Some have taken this to mean that only those who could trace their genealogy to the Jacob-Israel could be “chosen.” But this is not so. First, Amos was talking about the NATION of Israel, which included more than just those whose ancestor was the man called Israel.
A “mixed multitude” left Egypt with the Israelites (Ex. 12:38). They were included in all of the feasts (Deut. 16), and they participated in the covenants as well. When the Old Covenant was instituted in Exodus 19:8, “all the people” swore obedience to God. And in the second covenant 40 years later, the aliens in Israel were specifically included (Deut. 29:11).
Furthermore, the law commanded that the genealogical Israelites must love the aliens as themselves (Lev. 19:34), and that the law applied equally to all (Num. 15:15, 16). When Israel entered Canaan, there were only 12 tribal territories, for the aliens had been integrated into their midst and had joined whatever tribe they chose. So there was no separate tribe of Egyptians in the land. All were Israelites by nationality, if not by genealogy.
Hence, when God speaks through Amos saying, “You only have I chosen among all the families of the earth,” one cannot use this to prove that only genealogical Israelites were chosen. It refers to all of the citizens of the nation who had come under the covenants of God.
To be “chosen” is to be under covenant. Not only were the aliens under the second covenant (Deut. 29:1, 11), but also, many years later, Isaiah said specifically that aliens could come under God’s covenant, saying in Isaiah 56:6, 7,
6 Also the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord, to minister to Him, and to love the name of the Lord, to be His servants, every one who keeps from profaning the sabbath, and holds fast My covenant; 7 even those I will bring to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be acceptable on My altar; for My house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples.”
Isaiah says nothing of second-class citizens of Israel, nor does the law discriminate in its system of justice. Anyone who joins himself to the Lord “and holds fast My covenant” is chosen of God.
The only real caveat here is in distinguishing between the two covenants. Because all have sinned, no one has been able to keep the Old Covenant that was made in Exodus 19. However, the New Covenant (type), which was established in Deut. 29, by which Joshua led Israel into the Promised Land, was a covenant by which God vowed to make them His people and to be their God (Deut. 29:12, 13).
In fact, God broadened this to include all who were not present at the time, saying in Deut. 29:14, 15
14 Now not with you alone am I making this covenant and this oath, 15 but both with those who stand here with us in the presence of the Lord our God and with those who are not with us here today.
This covenant included the aliens in verse 11 who were standing there at the time, and hence, it also included all of the aliens who were not present. In other words, it was a universal covenant that included all men in every generation from the beginning to the end of time. God vowed to make the aliens “His people” in the same manner as Israel was “His people.” There was no distinction.
For this reason, when God says to Amos that only Israel was chosen, it means that all men must become Israelites to be chosen. To become an Israelite is to come under the New Covenant, even as Jacob himself had to be transformed by the renewing of his mind in order to become an Israelite.
As people appropriate the New Covenant by faith in its Mediator, Jesus Christ, they become “chosen,” along with the remnant of grace in the days of Elijah, who alone were chosen among the millions of Israelites. Paul says in Rom. 11:7, “those who were chosen obtained it [grace], and the rest were hardened.” It is clear that one cannot be chosen under the Old Covenant, for all have sinned and failed to keep the terms of their vow or oath.
God says that because Israel was chosen, “therefore, I will punish you for all your iniquities.” Being chosen, then, does not mean that one is privileged to sin without any consequences. In fact, it means the opposite.
Recall what Heb. 12:5-8 says,
5 and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons, “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor faint when you are reproved by Him; 6 For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and He scourges every son whom He receives. 7 It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father dies not discipline? 8 But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.
So we see that because Israel was part of God’s family, He was responsible to discipline the nation as a son, for Hos. 11:1 says, “out of Egypt I called My son.” Israel was not exempt from punishment or discipline. In fact, being “chosen” made God responsible to discipline Israel.
Making an Appointment
Amos continues, giving a series of rhetorical questions, saying first in Amos 3:3,
3 Do two men walk together unless they have made an appointment [ya’ad]?
The Hebrew word translated “appointment” is ya’ad, which is defined as “to meet with anyone at an appointed time or place.” The word is used again in Job 2:11, where Job’s three friends “made an appointment together to come to sympathize with him and comfort him.”
So to paraphrase Amos 3:3, God was saying, Do two men walk to a designated place for a meeting unless they have first made an appointment? In other words, there is no point in deciding to meet someone, say, at the temple, unless you know that he will be there. If you do not make an appointment, it is not likely that you will be able to meet.
Hence, the obvious answer to God’s rhetorical question is: Of course not. No one is going to meet another person without first contacting him and making an appointment. To do otherwise would make little sense.
(To be continued.)