Monday, January 31, 2011

Amos 6:8-14

8The Lord GOD has sworn by Himself, the LORD God of hosts has declared:
"I loathe the arrogance of Jacob, And detest his citadels;
Therefore I will
deliver up the city and all it contains."

9And it will be, if ten men are left in one house, they will die.

10Then one's uncle, or his undertaker, will lift him up to carry out his bones from the house, and he will say to the one who is in the innermost part of the house, "Is anyone else with you?" And that one will say, "No one." Then he will answer, "Keep quiet. For the name of the LORD is not to be mentioned."

11For behold, the LORD is going to command that the great house be smashed to pieces and the small house to fragments.
12Do horses run on rocks?
Or does one plow them with oxen?
Yet you have turned justice into poison
And the fruit of righteousness into wormwood,
13You who rejoice in Lodebar,
And say, "Have we not by our own strength taken Karnaim for ourselves?"
14"For behold, I am going to raise up a nation against you,
O house of Israel," declares the LORD God of hosts,
"And they will afflict you from the entrance of Hamath
To the brook of the Arabah."

God continues to elaborate on the punishment coming Israel's way. Their attitude is ungodly and their greed is overwhelming. He will "deliver up the city" (vs 8) and "raise up a nation against you." (vs 14)

In verse 12, God uses rhetorical questions to make His point: Do horses run on rocks? An alternate translation of the 2nd question is, Does one plow the sea with oxen? As surely as these answers are "no" does God then infer, "Do you turn My justice into poison?" Yet, this is exactly what Israel has done.

"Seek the LORD that you may live, or He will break forth like a fire, O house of Joseph, And it will consume with none to quench it for Bethel, for those who turn justice into wormwood and cast righteousness down to the earth."
--Amos 5:6-7

Remember, wormwood means bitterness, the Hebrew coming from a word for curse.

Israel's pride in conquering other nations also displeased God, even though God had allowed for this conquering to occur as a measure of His grace.

"He (King Jeroboam II) restored the border of Israel from the entrance of Hamath as far as the Sea of the Arabah, according to the word of the LORD, the God of Israel, which He spoke through His servant Jonah the son of Amittai, the prophet, who was of Gath-hepher."
--II Kings 14:25

Prior to Amos' prophecy, Israel was not a healthy, prosperous, spiritually sound nation. God saw their weakened condition and, as shared through Jonah's message, made it possible for Jeroboam II to restore the boundaries of Israel. However, as we know from reading Amos, Israel did not change, except to become richer, greedier and more self-indulgent. How often we see in Scripture that those God tries to save turn away the gift of grace, resorting to their own strength and power. This was Israel:

"Have we not by our own strength taken Karnaim for ourselves?" (vs. 13)

Lodebar (which means "a thing of nothing") and Karnaim (which means "horns" as horns of strength) were two of the places conquered by Jeroboam II. Yet, look at what this is saying. Those who rejoice in "a thing of nothing" and have taken land by their own "horns"' of strength.... Justification for God's wrath.

And punishment!, which God outlines in verses 9 through 11. After the Lord comes (breaking forth like a fire, Amos 5:6), "then one's uncle (or beloved) or his undertaker (literally, one who burns him--as in cremation), will lift him up to carry out his bones from the house...." "And they will afflict you from the entrance of Hamath to the brook of the Arabah"--exactly what Jeroboam II had conquered per God's provision.

"For thus says the Lord GOD,
'The city which goes forth a thousand strong
Will have a hundred left,
And the one which goes forth a hundred strong
Will have ten left to the house of Israel.'"
--Amos 5:3

"And it will be, if ten men are left in one house, they will die."
--Amos 6:9

God will take great measures to restore His people, even as they are lost under the rule of a greedy, idol-worshiping king. Many will die in the assault that Assyria will deliver in 722 B.C. The saved remnant will face hard times in their Assyrian exile. Grace doesn't always look like roses at first. But God's ultimate goal of re-establishing a relationship with His chosen people is, to Him, worth the cost of extreme discipline.

"As for you, O house of Israel," thus says the Lord GOD, "Go, serve everyone his idols; but later you will surely listen to Me, and My holy name you will profane no longer with your gifts and with your idols."
--Ezekiel 20:39

"How dreadful, how miserable, is the case of those whose eternal ruin the Lord himself has sworn; for he can execute his purpose, and none can alter it! Those hearts are wretchedly hardened that will not be brought to mention God's name, and to worship him, when the hand of God is gone out against them, when sickness and death are in their families."
--Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible

Amos receives visions in Chapter 7.... 'Til next Wednesday!


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Next week: Amos 7:1-9

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).