Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Amos 9:5-10

5The Lord GOD of hosts,
The One who touches the land so that it melts,
And all those who dwell in it mourn,
And all of it rises up like the Nile
And subsides like the Nile of Egypt;
6The One who builds His upper chambers in the heavens
And has founded His vaulted dome over the earth,
He who calls for the waters of the sea
And pours them out on the face of the earth,
The LORD is His name.
7"Are you not as the sons of Ethiopia to Me,
O sons of Israel?" declares the LORD
"Have I not brought up Israel from the land of Egypt,
And the Philistines from Caphtor and the Arameans from Kir?
8"Behold, the eyes of the Lord GOD are on the sinful kingdom,
And I will destroy it from the face of the earth;
Nevertheless, I will not totally destroy the house of Jacob,"
Declares the LORD.
9"For behold, I am commanding,
And I will shake the house of Israel among all nations
As grain is shaken in a sieve,
But not a kernel will fall to the ground.
10"All the sinners of My people will die by the sword,
Those who say, 'The calamity will not overtake or confront us.'

Amos speaks in the opening of our passage today, reminding Israel of who God is by drawing on one of His "flashcard" characteristics--Creator. He is to touch the land in judgment, creating tumult, such as one navigating the raging Nile River (vs 5).

"He looks at the earth, and it trembles; He touches the mountains, and they smoke."
--Psalm 104:32

Verse 6 is not unlike reading part of the Ten Commandments. Recall Moses speaking to the Israelites prior to their receiving the commandments: "The LORD spoke to you face to face out of the fire on the mountain. (At that time I stood between the LORD and you to declare to you the word of the LORD, because you were afraid of the fire and did not go up the mountain.)...." (Deuteronomy 5: 4 & 5) How different the focus in Amos, as God judged the Israelites because of their lack of fear in facing the Fire and in their building (of idols) on the mountain.

"For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them...."
--Exodus 20:11

In verse 7, God, speaking, declares that His people are like the "sons of Ethiopia" or Cushites. The Cushites are not generally well spoken of in the Bible. Cush is a grandson of Noah and the father of Nimrod, who--if you'll remember from Jonah--founded Nineveh and Babel, amongst other cities. The reputation of this nation is one of domination, and not one of submission to the Lord, hence the tag on the Israelites in Amos' time. Had they only remembered King Asa's words in his dealings with the Ethiopians:

"Now Zerah the Ethiopian came out against them with an army of a million men and 300 chariots, and he came to Mareshah. So Asa went out to meet him, and they drew up in battle formation in the valley of Zephathah at Mareshah.

Then Asa called to the LORD his God and said, 'LORD, there is no one besides You to help in the battle between the powerful and those who have no strength; so help us, O LORD our God, for we trust in You, and in Your name have come against this multitude. O LORD, You are our God; let not man prevail against You.' [What a marvelous prayer this is!]

"So the LORD routed the Ethiopians before Asa and before Judah, and the Ethiopians fled. Asa and the people who were with him pursued them as far as Gerar; and so many Ethiopians fell that they could not recover, for they were shattered before the LORD and before His army. And they carried away very much plunder."

--II Chronicles 14: 9-13

The Lord also states His powerful control of Israel is not unlike other nations through which He has worked, sending the Philistines from their original home in Caphtor (possibly Crete) across the Mediterranean, and the Arameans--the people of Aram (Syria)--from Kir. (See map above) Although scholars do not actually know where Kir was located, it is interesting to note Amos 1:5, in which Kir was a place of exile for the Arameans. Proof that God can definitely move people around to His liking.

God closes out His message of judgment in the closing verses of our passage. "...The eyes of the Lord God are on the sinful kingdom." That is pretty much the summation of this book. God's plans, now, are for evil and not for good (9:4). But, it's not all evil, as we are reminded again that He intends to save a remnant of His people to receive blessing and restoration (next week's post).

"I will shake the house of Israel among all nations...." (vs. 9) Some translations, like the King James Version, use 'sift'. God has created another metaphor that Israel would know well--that of farming and the processing of grain. At a point in the process, harvested corn was run through a sieve or strainer. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia describes it as such: "When the chaff is gone then the grain is tossed in a wooden tray to separate from it the stones and lumps of soil which clung to the roots when the grain was reaped."

God's people were to experience a shaking up in the form of His judgment upon them. "All the sinners of My people will die by the sword...." (vs. 10) And a remnant would find protection under His providence.

"The Lord would scatter the Jews, and visit them with calamities, as the corn is shaken in a sieve; but he would save some from among them. The astonishing preservation of the Jews as a distinct people, seems here foretold."

--Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible

"The Restoration of Israel" marking the end of Amos' prophecy.... 'Til next Wednesday!

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Next week: Amos 9:11-15

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).