Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Amos 2:9-16

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"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.
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!'
13"Behold, I am weighted down beneath you
As a wagon is weighted down when filled with sheaves.
14"Flight will perish from the swift,
And the stalwart will not strengthen his power,
Nor the mighty man save his life.
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.
16"Even the bravest among the warriors
will flee naked in that day," declares the LORD.

With the ninth verse of Chapter 2 comes a departure from the "standard" recitation of judgment delivered through Amos. It is becoming increasing clear that God is going to spend more time addressing Israel. The Lord begins a monologue recounting His leadership and providence over His chosen people, and the wayward directions His people have chosen to take in response.

"Yet it was I who destroyed the Amorite...." The Amorites lived in Canaan, a.k.a., the Promised Land. The Book of Numbers contains the story of the spying Israelites, who--after their 40-year exodus and wilderness experience--stood poised on the new land, determining if it was right to bring the people forward. Most of the spies would report back to Moses that it was filled with "giants." Brave Joshua not only challenged the spies' report but would eventually be God's chosen commander to lead the Israelites into successful battle with these "giant" Amorites, taking over their land.

"Then Joshua spoke to the LORD in the day when the LORD delivered up the Amorites before the sons of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel,

"O sun, stand still at Gibeon,
And O moon in the valley of Aijalon."
So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped,
Until the nation avenged themselves of their enemies
Is it not written in the book of Jashar? And the sun stopped in the middle of the sky and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day.

There was no day like that before it or after it, when the LORD listened to the voice of a man; for the LORD fought for Israel."

--Joshua 10:12-14 (emphasis mine)

God then recounts His raising up of prophets through whom to speak His holy word to the people. But His people rejected the prophets and the word. Specially anointed followers--Nazirites ("[who] consecrated himself or herself, and took a vow of separation and self-imposed discipline for the purpose of some special service, and the fact of the vow was indicated by special signs of abstinence"--International Standard Bible Encyclopedia)--were made to drink wine, one of those self-imposed disciplines.

"Behold, I am weighted down beneath you...," says the Lord. (vs 13) This is an interesting metaphor, as it's impossible to keep a holy God down! The Hebrew word means "packed, pressed or tottered." [Strong's] 'Totter' means "to walk or go with faltering steps, as if from extreme weakness. To swing, waver, quiver." []

We have spoken here of God seemingly being able to "change His mind"--the pleas of Jonah for one more show of mercy, for instance. God has certainly been oppressed by His people. When I read 'totter', I think it represents God's patience having been pushed to the brink. Weakened in His desire to show mercy, not in His capability. "O you who choose to try My patience. You burden Me with your idols, your unholiness, your lack of faith, your lack of obedience, your constantly thinking you know what's best for you, etc., etc." When we make our own bountiful yet thoroughly tainted harvest and pile it upon the graciousness of the One who allows its bounty yet desires to give us greater yields, what should we expect?

The chapter concludes with the assurance of God's judgment and discipline in the matter. There will be nowhere to flee. No one will be strengthened to fight the fight. No one will have the wherewithal to escape. Even the strongest and bravest will be naked before God. And, in 722 B.C., God raised up the Assyrians to defeat the Israelites, carrying them off into captivity (II Kings 17).

"Now this came about because the sons of Israel had sinned against the LORD their God, who had brought them up from the land of Egypt from under the hand of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and they had feared other gods and walked in the customs of the nations whom the LORD had driven out before the sons of Israel, and in the customs of the kings of Israel which they had introduced."

--II Kings 17: 7 & 8

Not that captivity was the end of God's grace to Israel. But, for the time, the nation needed to be cast from His sight. Cast out, not destroyed.

God continues His judgment of Israel next week in Chapter 3, posing a series of questions to the nation.... 'Til next Wednesday!


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Next week: Amos 3:1-8

Note: I read from the New American Standard Bible translation,
specifically, The MacArthur Study Bible (NASB).
I will quote other sources if used in a post.

I also use
Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible
(with notes from the King James Version).