LORD OF ALL NATIONS (AMOS) Lesson 4 for April 27, 2013
HISTORICAL CONTEXT AMOS Amos (“burdened”) was born in the kingdom of Judah. His job was to shepherd oxen and to pick wild figs (Amos 7:14) So he was a man with little economic resources and education. God ordered him to go to the kingdom of Israel and to preach about the city of Beth-el. His ministry took place sometime between 767 BC (Uzziah began to reign over Judah) and 753 BC (end of Jeroboam II’s kingdom in Israel) His ministry coincided with the beginning of Hosea’s ministry. OBADIAH Obadiah (“Servant of Yahweh”) was also born in Judah. His little book is a prophecy against the cruelty of Edom. Since he didn’t mention any king, we cannot sure if he wrote about the sacking of Jerusalem in Joram’s time (IX BC) or the capture of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar (586 BC)
AGAINST THE PAGAN NATIONS: LACK OF HUMANNESS The announced punishment for the pagan nations (Amos 1:3-2:3) are a result of their acts against conscience (lack of loyalty and mercy) and against the people of God. The expression “for three transgressions… and for four” is a poetic structure to highlight that the sin of those nations was intentional and hopeless (three sins) and that they had gone beyond the limits of their impiety (the fourth sin)
AGAINST THE PAGAN NATIONS: LACK OF HUMANNESS The three pagan nations that had covenants with Israel were accused of more serious moral crimes. “God permits the wicked to prosper and to reveal their enmity against Him, that when they shall have filled up the measure of their iniquity all may see His justice and mercy in their utter destruction. The day of His vengeance hastens, when all who have transgressed His law and oppressed His people will meet the just recompense of their deeds; when every act of cruelty or injustice toward God’s faithful ones will be punished as though done to Christ Himself” E.G.W. (The Great Controversy, cp. 2, pg. 48)
AGAINST THE PEOPLE OF GOD: SOCIAL INJUSTICE Judah and Israel also suffered the divine accusation. They were charged because of more specific acts since they already knew God’s will. Judah was accused of scorning the divine law (Amos 2:4) and Jerusalem was sentenced to destruction (Amos 2:5) Israel had already abandoned the law of God a long time ago, so they were accused of other crimes: Social injustice (Amos 2:6-8) Lack of gratitude for the received blessings (Amos 2:9-10) Scorning holy people (Amos 2:11-12) “I saw that it is in the providence of God that widows and orphans, the blind, the deaf, the lame, and persons afflicted in a variety of ways, have been placed in close Christian relationship to His church; it is to prove His people and develop their true character. Angels of God are watching to see how we treat these persons who need our sympathy, love, and disinterested benevolence. This is God’s test of our character. If we have the true religion of the Bible, we shall feel that a debt of love, kindness, and interest is due to Christ in behalf of His brethren” E.G.W. (Christian Service, pg. 191)
THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE PRIVILEGE “Hear this word that the Lord has spoken against you, O children of Israel, against the whole family which I brought up from the land of Egypt, saying: “You only have I known of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.”” (Amos 3:1-2) The people of Israel had been blessed with great privileges from God. They were His special treasure.
THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE PRIVILEGE That privilege involved great responsibility. But Israel underestimated those privileges and didn’t accept their responsibility. “And that servant who knew his master’s will, and did not prepare himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few. For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more” (Luke 12:47-48) As Adventists, we have the great privilege of knowing the Present Truth. That is why we are a people with a prophetic duty: to announce the last message from God for this Earth. A great privilege and a great responsibility.
CALL TO MEET GOD The punishment for Israel’s sins was the total destruction of the nation. They would be captured and maltreated: “He will take you away with fishhooks, and your posterity with fishhooks” (Amos 4:2) • Before doing that, God had already tried to make them react so they could turn to Him. He sent them seven disasters to do so. Lack of bread (Amos 4:6) Drought (Amos 4:7) East wind (Amos 4:9) Caterpillar (Amos 4:9) Locust (Amos 4:9) Illness (Amos 4:10) War (Amos 4:10)
CALL TO MEET GOD God gave them their last chance before being captured: “Prepare to meet your God, O Israel!” (Amos 4:12) “Satan will continue to play the game of life for our souls as long as time shall last. And the end of all things is at hand. “Ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.” Watch therefore, that when he cometh, ye may be found ready. Prepare to meet thy God. There are sins to be confessed, and wrongs to be righted. Time should now be devoted to earnest preparation for the Master. In this solemn day of atonement we must humble our hearts before God, and confess our sins. We must have faith corresponding to the important, solemn truths which we profess. This is the only evidence we can give to the world to show that our religion is genuine” E.G.W. (The Review and Herald, July 11 1899)
OBADIAH: PROPHECY AGAINST EDOM (PRIDE AND FALL) The people of Edom was a pride people. They were protected by caves and high mountains, so they felt impregnable. Because of that pride, they despised the nations around them, especially the people of Israel. They were united to Israel by brotherhood (Esau, who was also called Edom, was brother of Jacob, who was also called Israel) The way Edom was delighted about Israel’s disaster caused the divine rage to fall on them. “Remember, O Lord, against the sons of Edom the day of Jerusalem, who said, “Raze it, raze it, to its very foundation!”” (Psalm 137:7) God makes those who take advantage of others in their hard times responsible. “Then saviors shall come to Mount Zion to judge the mountains of Esau, and the kingdom shall be the Lord’s”(Obadiah 1:21)