Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Amos 9:1-4

Amos 9

God's Judgment Unavoidable
1I saw the Lord standing beside the altar, and He said,
"Smite the capitals so that the thresholds will shake,
And break them on the heads of them all!
Then I will slay the rest of them with the sword;
They will not have a fugitive who will flee,
Or a refugee who will escape.
2"Though they dig into Sheol,
From there will My hand take them;
And though they ascend to heaven,
From there will I bring them down.
3"Though they hide on the summit of Carmel,
I will search them out and take them from there;
And though they conceal themselves from My sight on the floor of the sea,
From there I will command the serpent and it will bite them.
4"And though they go into captivity before their enemies,
From there I will command the sword that it slay them,
And I will set My eyes against them for evil and not for good."

The final chapter of Amos opens with the prophet's 5th vision. God's warnings to Israel of His upcoming judgment came through Amos' visions first in Chapter 7. This week and next focus on this "unavoidable" judgment.

Amos sees the Lord beside an altar, which my study Bible indicates is the altar at Bethel, which has been referenced often in Amos:

"For on the day that I punish Israel's transgressions, I will also punish the altars of Bethel; The horns of the altar will be cut off and they will fall to the ground."
--Amos 3:14

"Smite the capitals"--'Capitals' refers to the architecture of the columns of the temple. In the King James Version, the text reads, "Smite the lintel of the door." A lintel (see above) refers to the upper framework of a door [Smith's Bible Dictionary], which was often elaborately decorated. The idea is that God would use pieces of the temple itself to fall upon those worshiping in there. (Remember, these are the temples Jeroboam established for the worship of idols.) Those not killed in that act would be killed by the sword. The point being that those who were guilty would not go unpunished, and the rest of the verses in our passage today go into depth on this point.

"Though they dig into Sheol" (vs 2) or "Though they hide on the summit of Carmel" (vs 3) or "Conceal themselves from My sight on the floor of the sea" (vs 3), God is omnipresent and will find the perpetrators of this so-called worship. Carmel--which we read about way back in Chapter 1, was noted for being a lush growing area [which would be dried up!]--was known for its caves and forests, and great height. Even if they could hide themselves under the sea, God commands all living things, and He "will command the serpent" to do His will.

Reading through these verses has given me a new perspective on beloved Psalm 139:

"Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.
If I take the wings of the dawn,
If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,
Even there Your hand will lead me,
And Your right hand will lay hold of me."
--Psalm 139: 7-10

David wrote these words in full acknowledgment that He understood who God was, and he took respite in these thoughts. David had great comfort in knowing that the God who made him was there in his every place, at his every time, and He would lead him and care for him. These passages in Amos do not refute David's understanding. But for those who would choose to hide the ways of God in a cave on Carmel, The right hand of judgment would lead them to death.

"And I will set My eyes against them for evil and not for good."

He brings calamity upon the "sinners of My people." Chapter 9 continues.... 'Til next Wednesday!


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Next week: Amos 9:5-10

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).