Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Amos 4:6-10

6"But I gave you also cleanness of teeth in all your cities
And lack of bread in all your places,
Yet you have not returned to Me," declares the LORD.
7"Furthermore, I withheld the rain from you
While there were still three months until harvest
Then I would send rain on one city
And on another city I would not send rain;
One part would be rained on,
While the part not rained on would dry up.
8"So two or three cities would stagger to another city to drink water,
But would not be satisfied;
Yet you have not returned to Me," declares the LORD.
9"I smote you with scorching wind and mildew;
And the caterpillar was devouring
Your many gardens and vineyards, fig trees and olive trees;
Yet you have not returned to Me," declares the LORD.
10"I sent a plague among you after the manner of Egypt;
I slew your young men by the sword along with your captured horses,
And I made the stench of your camp rise up in your nostrils;
Yet you have not returned to Me," declares the LORD.

With verse 6 comes something of a song by God, which runs through the remainder of Chapter 4. The song comprises several verses in which God explains how He has brought warning signs to Israel leading up to the day of their captivity. It's one of those, "If only you had..., then I would have...." situations. But, the refrain echoes in the nation's ears: "Yet you have not returned to Me," declares the Lord.

Getting back to verse 6, the first phrase completely threw me: "cleanness of teeth." What? Why would God clean their teeth? Ha, well, of course, He wouldn't! The phrase is actually a euphemism for having no food. If you have nothing to eat, your teeth wouldn't be filled with food particles. He didn't even give them particles of food, which then follows suit naturally with "lack of bread in all your places."

"For behold, the Lord GOD of hosts is going to remove from Jerusalem and Judah both supply and support, the whole supply of bread and the whole supply of water...."
--Isaiah 1:3

Picking up on the Isaiah passage, God not only reminds Israel that He sent famine, but also drought, and at a time in which the nation's farmers would most need rain--three months before harvest. He created a condition which would draw people far away from their cities in their search for water. We know in looking at events in human history that when people "go without," there tends to come discontent, most mildly, and violence and death at the extreme.

"Yet you have not returned to Me," declares the Lord. (vs. 8)

The Lord has also brought scorching hot desert winds and mildew. Mildew doesn't sound like a problem, but, if you don't take care of it, you open yourself up to disease. Mildew stems from a fungus, and, literally, the word translates to "paleness or jaundice" which described the appearance of the leaves on the dying crops. On top of that, God sends caterpillars, not unlike the locusts in Joel, who destroy what is left of any crops that were successfully grown.

Finally, verse 10, God reminds Israel of their heritage. Remember Egypt? Remember the plagues? There was a time in which God delivered the Israelites from the plagues. In this verse, however, He proclaims that He bestowed one upon them, in the hope that they would return. He took the responsibility for the nation's loss in battles, because He wanted them to cry out to Him for help.

"So the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and He gave them continually into the hand of Hazael king of Aram, and into the hand of Ben-hadad the son of Hazael.... For he left to Jehoahaz of the army not more than fifty horsemen and ten chariots and 10,000 footmen, for the king of Aram had destroyed them and made them like the dust at threshing."
--II Kings 13:3 & 7

"Yet you have not returned to Me," declares the Lord. (vs 10)

Israel's sinful nature led them on the road to destruction. Even as God was wreaking havoc upon the nation, their hearts were so inwardly turned that to cry out to Him for help would have meant forsaking themselves.

"O LORD, do not Your eyes look for truth? You have smitten them, but they did not weaken; You have consumed them, but they refused to take correction. They have made their faces harder than rock; they have refused to repent."
--Jeremiah 5:3

And they didn't see a problem with that....

God finishes serenading Israel.... 'Til next Wednesday!


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Next week: Amos 4:11-13

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).