November 17, 2020

Amos 3:3
In the days of Amos, both Israel and Judah appeared to be prosperous. Jerobam II ruled Israel; and King Uzziah, one of Judah’s handful of godly kings, reigned in Jerusalem. But it was all deceptive. Corruption and decay had advanced to the point in Israel where there was no remedy. Judgment was inevitable. Temporary revivals in Judah would postpone that country’s fall, but the rot had already gone too deep in Israel. 
When revival is no longer an option, God sends ruin. Already, over, the distant northern skyline, the Assyrian army was preparing to march. Its arrival would bring vengeance, and Amos knew it to be so. For centuries Israel and Judah had been made up of fighting farmers. Theirs had been a rural economy and lifestyle. Life had been generally simple and wholesome. But now society had become urbanized, sophisticated, and worldly-wise. It was a situation that heralded judgment to come. Amos himself was a farmer. He was also very poor.
He was what we would call a cowboy or a herdsman. His hometown was perched on the edge of a fearful desert. What he saw of urban society shocked and outraged him. We can imagine the effect he had on high society in sophisticated Samaria when he came clomping into the halls of polite people in his cowboy boots and when he addressed the cultured court women as “ye kine of Bashan” (4:1)—that is, “you barnyard cows!”
Nevertheless, we suspect that he was received, at first, with some enthusiasm in Israel, for he began by denouncing the surrounding cites and nations of Damascus, Gaza, Tyre, Edom, Ammon, Moab, and even Judah. But when he turned on Israel, it was a different story. The Israelites were furious. By the time his scathing tongue lashed out at them, the Israelites “cognized his formula—“For three transgressions … and for four.” It expressed a Hebrew idiom. It means that the cup of God’s wrath was not only full; it was more than full.
Amos was fond of using illustrations, usually drawn from desolate desert scenes familiar to him since boyhood days. For instance, he remembered once seeing a shepherd saving from the maw of a glutted lion all that was left of a sheep-a pair of shinbones and the tattered fragment of an ear (3:12). That was all. And that was what Israel could look forward to, when the Assyrians were finished with them.
He pictures also, a city after the Army of Assyria had ravished it. He describes a house of ten family members with only one survivor. He sees that wretched man, ravished by the plague, cowering in some dark corner. A relative comes to burn the bodies of the dead; but the relative hovers outside, afraid to go in lest he, too,
should catch the plague. He calls, The sole survivor is terrified. He is afraid that the echoing voice will precipitate some new horror. “Hush! ” he says. “Be quiet” (6:9-10).
Like Joel and others, Amos saw the day of the Lord and pictures the terror of end-time events. He sees a man fleeing from a lion, only to run into the arms of a bear. He pictures a fleeing man leaning, exhausted, against a wall, only to be bitten by a serpent. He sees a man praying; but, alas, he does not know God, and the Bible is, to him, an unknown book. How can he pray (5:19-23)?
All of this was the end result of the calf cult that had slowly poisoned the whole northern kingdom. It has been founded on a wholesale allocation of Bible-twisting, liberal theology. No wonder that the sight of the golden calf in Bethel gave wings to the prophets words. So where Hosea preached love, Amos preached law. While Hosea was full of feeling, Amos was full of facts. Where Hosea went into the house for his illustrations, Amos scoured the nations and the wilds.
If God were to send a modern cowboy to stalk the halls of Congress and the White House with a message for America, what would that man say? He would probably preach what Amos preached – wrath! Wrath is already on its way!

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