Book of Amos
Chapter 2, Part 4
“Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of Moab, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because he burned the bones of the king of Edom into lime: But I will send a fire upon Moab, and it shall devour the palaces of Kirioth: and Moab shall die with tumult, with shouting, and with the sound of the trumpet: And I will cut off the judge from the midst thereof, and will slay all the princes thereof with him, saith the LORD” (Amos 2:1-3). Moab is like the rest of the Gentile nations mentioned. They were cruel and vicious in war, especially against the nations of Israel and Judah.
Moab was born the son of Lot through the incestuous relation his daughter arranged when they were living in a cave after Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed. Their mother nad husbands did not survive the wrath of God, and the oldest daughter came up with this plot to “save the world” by using their father to repopulate it. The Moabites are related with Israel, but hated them nonetheless. Their fear of Israel and all her conquests under the hand of God was powerful. They sent for Balaam to curse Israel, but God reversed the curse and spoke it against Moab and the surrounding nations of Sheth, Edom, Seir, and Asshur, etc...
Moab also was a nation of idol worshippers. Their main gods were Chemosh and Baalpeor.
“Because he burned the bones of the king of Edom into lime…” During Old Testament times, were important to families, and in the case of kings, to nations. The people took time to bury bodies properly. They would be prepared with spices and laid in family tombs. Walvoord and Zuch, in their commentary, say, “In ancient times much importance was placed on a dead man’s body being peacefully placed in the family burial site, so that he could be ‘gathered to his father” and find rest in the grave.’ To rob, or disturb, or desecrate a grave was an offense of the highest order.” They go on to say that many tombs of those fathers still existing today have written on them inscriptions promising “violent curses’ against anyone who would desecrate the tomb. Apparently the Moabites, while at war against Edom, broke into the graves of the Edomic kings, took their bones and burned them so thoroughly they became as white powder. This was an insult to God for which He would punish them.
God doesn’t always bring the punishment He promises when He speaks it. Look at King Hazael of Syria, for example. God spoke against that king and that nation for what they did against Gilead, but it took Him 50 years to actually let loose His wrath upon them. When God did vent His anger against Moab to send and army against it, it was destroyed so completely it no longer exists.
It rises up in my spirit now that you might be thinking God is unfair to come against heathen nations so harshly. They didn’t know God so didn’t live according to the Ten Commandments. It’s true, they didn’t understand the depth of God and that He wanted them all to come to Him, but they knew of God. Look at how David said it in Psalm 19:1-4, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.” Want to see this in the New Testament? “Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened” (Romans 1:19-21). They knew about God and they knew who God was in Israel just as the world leaders know now who God is in Israel. God is righteous and would never punish man or nation for sins they did not know they committed.
“And I will cut off the judge from the midst thereof, and will slay all the princes thereof with him…” Judges were often the kings of the nations. I believe this is so here, as it says the judge and the princes will be cut off. In other words, they were about to see who the real King was when His wrath was loosed and the king and his descendants will be forever removed from office.
“Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of Judah, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they have despised the law of the LORD, and have not kept his commandments, and their lies caused them to err, after the which their fathers have walked: But I will send a fire upon Judah, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem” (verses 4, 5). Notice the difference in why Judah is being punished versus the other nations we saw before it. The others were punished for the inhumanity to man, particularly against the Israelites and Jews. Judah will be punished for her indignities committed against God, “because they have despised the law of the LORD.”
Judah did not follow God’s Commandments (the Law). One sin they committed was an affront to God because He mentioned it here by name: lying. The kings of Judah perpetuated the lies of their fathers and led their people to walk in sin. There were some good kings in Judah, notably David, but the majority of them were evil and worshipped gods made with hands. They bowed down to Baal and to Asherah and worshipped gods of the moon, stars, sun and things on earth like statues of people made with hands. The only reason Judah was not destroyed at the same time as Israel when Babylon crushed them and took away their princes was because of the young king, Josiah who tore down high places and destroyed idols. Josiah built an altar to God where he commanded that the people should worship God and where they made sacrifices to Him. (II Chronicles, chapters 34, 35)
Lying is sin and the Lord hates it so much that He has a place reserved for liars in the Lake of Fire. If you are born again, one of your main battles is learning not to lie. “These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination (outrage) unto him: A proud look (vain arrogance), a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood (murder), An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations (dreams of evils that can be done), feet that be swift in running to mischief (disobedience), A false witness that speaketh lies (gossips), and he that soweth discord (disagreement, conflict, division) among brethren” (Proverbs 6:16-19). These were all things the people of Judah were spending time in rather than taking time to worship and honor God.
When Josiah died, the ascending kings rebuilt the high places and reinstituted idol worship. Do you think the people were stupid for following along? Do you think this could never happen today? Look at the churches out there now that teach their people to pray to plaster statues and use beads to utter repetitious prayer and who pray for the dead. Look at the churches now that have pastors teaching there is no one God, but that God is the God of all religions and that no matter what path we follow, we will all land in Heaven eventually. Look at those who followed Jim Jones and killed themselves. Look at those who were in the Heaven’s Gate cult! Wikipedia says, “On March 26, 1997, police discovered the bodies of 39 members of the group who had committed suicide in order to reach an alien aircraft which they believed was following the Comet Hale-Bopp, which was at its brightest.” They were convinced, by Marshall Applewhite (1931–1997) that if they killed themselves they could catch a ride on the comet right into Heaven.
There have always been and will always be people who follow on fire leaders, no matter what crazy rhetoric they are shoveling. Your only safety net is in knowing the Bible and what GOD says. Man can interpret, reinterpret and misinterpret the Word any way he likes, but your spirit can know the truth if you are in Christ and in the Word.
“Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of Israel, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they sold the righteous for silver, and the poor for a pair of shoes; That pant after the dust of the earth on the head of the poor, and turn aside the way of the meek: and a man and his father will go in unto the same maid, to profane my holy name: And they lay themselves down upon clothes laid to pledge by every altar, and they drink the wine of the condemned in the house of their god” (verses 6-8). And now we come to the ten tribes of Israel. Although Israel is God’s chosen and blessed nation and the people of Israel are God’s chosen people, Israel will not and has not escaped the wrath of God for their sins against Him. We saw from the previous judgments against the nations, that God is sovereign over all, not just Israel and Judah. But He is also fair and will judge all according to their personal and national sin.
Now we come to the meat of God’s anger against Israel. They “sold the righteous for silver.” Who are the righteous? It’s the people of Israel who were poor and could not pay their debt. They sold either the man himself, his son, or even his wife into servant duty for the price of what the man owed. The person would serve the buyer for 6 years, or until the year of Jubilee, whichever came first.
They also corrupted the justice system with bribes. When man came before a judge to have his case heard, if he had money to pay the judge, he might win. If not, or if someone really wanted him sentenced and had more money, they could bride the judge and have him render a tainted verdict. Also, for a pair of shoes, he would render a guilty verdict against the poorest people of the land. This was totally at odds with what God commanded. Deuteronomy 16:19 says, “Thou shalt not wrest judgment; thou shalt not respect persons, neither take a gift: for a gift doth blind the eyes of the wise, and pervert the words of the righteous.” The judges were breaking the Law of God by subverting the judicial system. They were using the poor to fill their greedy pockets. This sin against man was so oppressive that it felt like the judges were standing on the people’s heads.
The third sin God speaks of through Amos in condemnation of Israel is the fact that the father and his son were both having sex with the same woman. It didn’t matter if the woman was a concubine, the father’s wife, or the son’s wife, they shared her body. This is absolutely forbidden by God. If you want the full impact of the law against this behavior, read Leviticus 18. God itemized every situation one could get into regarding evil intimacy. It’s very clear that anyone doing this would and should be “cut off.” They would be cast out of the congregation and separated from the people.
“And they lay themselves down upon clothes laid to pledge by every altar…” That is, the garments which were taken in pledge were being used badly. In the Law, a millstone could not be taken as a pledge of payment because it was needed to grind grain for food. (Deuteronomy 24:6) A widow’s garment was not to be taken in pledge at all. (Deuteronomy 24:17) And the cloaks of poor men were not to be kept overnight. (Exodus 22:26, 27).
Now watch this! Israel not only sinned against God in not keeping His Commandment, they willfully broke one of the basic commandments, “For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God. Thou shalt make thee no molten gods.“ (Exodus 34:14; 17). The wine they had taken in pledge from the poor was raised high in glasses to toast their false gods. So, they take pledges unlawfully, use the cloaks which should have been returned by nightfall to lie on in front of the altars (they had many altars) as couches, and they celebrated these blasphemous gods with the wine they had extorted from the people. Any wonder God was angry enough to destroy Israel?
Book of Amos
Chapter 2, Part 5
September 4, 2011
“Yet destroyed I the Amorite before them, whose height was like the height of the cedars, and he was strong as the oaks; yet I destroyed his fruit from above, and his roots from beneath. Also I brought you up from the land of Egypt, and led you forty years through the wilderness, to possess the land of the Amorite” (Amos 2:9, 10). Here God is upbraiding the Israelites for their ingratitude for all He had done for them. It’s like a human parent saying, “You ungrateful twit. I did this or that for you and you treat me this way?”
The Amorites were of the race called giants. They were very large people and the spies had said of them, “But the men that went up with him said, we be not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we. And they brought up an evil report of the land which they had searched unto the children of Israel, saying, ‘The land, through which we have gone to search it, is a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof; and all the people that we saw in it are men of a great stature. And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight’” (Numbers 13:31-33). But, Caleb, one of the spies that had been sent out, said, “Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it (or them)” (Numbers 13:30). The bad report of these spies angered the Lord and He took Israel through the wilderness for 40 years. There came a day when the punishment for their lack of faith was over. The Israelites would now take over the covenanted land that God had promised them. Before Israel could occupy the land, the people who lived there had to be removed. And God gave the people the power and ability to overcome people at least twice their size.
God didn’t just move the Amorites out of the land; He caused them to be destroyed from the root to the fruit. That is to say, he destroyed father and son, mother and daughter, and He gave that land to Israel, the land flowing with milk and honey.
Why was God so angry? His plan was that He would cleanse the land of all Amorites, and with them would go the idols they worshipped and God would be the God of Israel. He set this up so Israel would worship only Him, but they went after other gods and pleased the flesh rather than the Father. They worshipped gods designed by and formed by the hands of man rather than worship the Creator of all mankind.
“And I raised up of your sons for prophets, and of your young men for Nazarites. Is it not even thus, O ye children of Israel? saith the LORD. But ye gave the Nazarites wine to drink; and commanded the prophets, saying, Prophecy not” (verses 11, 12). The calling on the life of those in the five-fold ministries is directly from God. Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers who are truly in the ministry by calling received the call from the heart of God. Some in ministry don’t belong there. They were not chosen and called, but if they are doing the work of the kingdom of Heaven, let them work. Mark said, “And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us. But Jesus said, “Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me. For he that is not against us is on our part’” (Mark 9:38-40).
God has always called men and women to be prophets from among the people. There was Moses, the seventy elders, David, Ezekiel, Deborah, Huldah, Anna and so on who were responsible for telling the people the things of God. Their ministry was to prophesy for the Lord warnings of His wrath to come and promises of His blessings. They were also responsible for teaching the people the truth about God, His Commandments and doctrines and to warn them of the folly of sin. Those who fear the Lord are wise and have hope.
I love God’s question that Amos wrote to the Israelites. He asked, “Is this not so?” The Israelites knew the truth of all God had done, so this rhetorical question was designed to bring their focus to the goodness of God. It’s as though God were saying to them, “Hey, My children, it was I who raised up the Prophets, the Priests, and the Nazarites to lead and guide you into all understanding so you can walk with me in peace. Am I telling you the truth about this, or what?”
God never leaves His children in the dark. He has always raised up prophets to reveal to the people His mind and heart. Even today there are true prophets in this world who are operating for the Lord. But understand this; prophecy is not all about fore-telling the future. Anyone who preaches and/or teaches the Word is a prophet. One of the descriptions of a prophet is someone who forth-tells the Word. Those who preach and teach the Bible are telling the truth of the Word of God for His people as written by God’s Holy Spirit through men.
Albert Barnes said, “God’s past mercies live on in those of today; the mercies of today are the assurance to us that we have a share in the past; His miracles of grace are a token that the miracles of His power are not our condemnation.” In other words, what God did for Israel, He does for us today. “For the LORD is good; His mercy is everlasting, And His truth endures to all generations” (Psalm 100:5). “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (Romans 8:1).
“But ye gave the Nazarites wine to drink…” Giving them wine to drink of itself was not a sin. It was causing the Nazarites to break their vow which was the sin. It was just another one in a long list of covenant breaking that Israel participated in. Nazarites were men and women who took a vow before God and man not to drink or eat anything to do with grapes or the grape vine. These people, either for life like Samson, or for a named period of time, dedicated themselves to the service of God. They were demonstrations before Israel of self-denial. They set themselves apart from all things of physical pleasure: Drinking, eating certain foods, and even taking care of their personal care. They could not shave head or beard. They could not wear fancy clothes. They were to deprive themselves in these ways to draw closer to God instead of pleasing the flesh. Israel knew the job of the Nazarite and so, because it highlighted her own corruption, she corrupted the Nazarites. It’s the equivalent of someone giving food to a person who had vowed a fast unto God. If you cause the person to eat, you cause him/her to break the vow they made to abstain for a length of time. It’s a sin and the person who tempts the Nazarite or the faster is a stumbling block. “Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother's way” (Romans 14:13).
That not being bad enough, they tried to silence the prophets of God. God called men and women and commanded them to prophesy over Israel. Israel issued commands against prophesying. In essence, they were countermanding God’s command. Again, it seems that the more wicked and evil the Israelites became, the more God spoke out to them and the harder they worked to shut Him up. The more God unveiled of His plans to draw Israel into relationship with Himself, the more they opposed Him and the harder they ran from him. The desire of those people to quiet the prophets was so strong that they actually killed some of them. That’s why Jesus spoke as He did against Israel, saying, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not” (Luke 13:34)! It’s always been about a sound healthy relationship to God. But Israel preferred to live by the flesh and satisfy earthly desires.
We do that now, don’t we? When God calls us to come aside for a time of prayer, praise, or worship, we just don’t have the time. We need to make supper, wash clothes, watch the favorite TV program, or whatever else steals our attention. Jesus said He would “never leave us or forsake us” but we don’t have that commitment toward Jesus. Everything has become more important than Him. Do you ever take time to sit in the presence of the Lord and let His glory fill your spirit and soul? Or are you like Israel and work hardest to silence the voice of God?
Can we be born-again and not pray or spend time with God yet still go to heaven? Sure we can. Can we be not pray and worship our Creator and be blessed too? Maybe for a period of time we can, yes, but not for long. God is a jealous God and wants our attention.
“Behold, I am pressed under you, as a cart is pressed that is full of sheaves” (verse 13). God has been carrying Israel from the day He called her to be His “peculiar people”. God told the Israelites through Moses, “Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto myself” (Exodus 19:4). “But they rebelled, and vexed his Holy Spirit: therefore he was turned to be their enemy, and he fought against them” (Isaiah 63:10). “Thou hast bought me no sweet cane with money, neither hast thou filled me with the fat of thy sacrifices: but thou hast made me to serve with thy sins, thou hast wearied me with thine iniquities” (Isaiah 43:24).
Israel was a burdensome weight on God’s shoulders. John Gill said they were, “As a cart in harvest time, in which the sheaves of corn are carried home; when one sheaf is laid upon another, till they can lay no more, and the cart is loaded and overloaded with them, and ready to break, or be pressed into the earth with them: thus. Jehovah represents himself as loaded and burdened with the sins of these people, and therefore would visit for them, and inflict deserved punishment.”
“Therefore the flight shall perish from the swift, and the strong shall not strengthen his force, neither shall the mighty deliver himself: Neither shall he stand that handleth the bow; and he that is swift of foot shall not deliver himself: neither shall he that rideth the horse deliver himself. And he that is courageous among the mighty shall flee away naked in that day, saith the LORD” (verses 14-16). This is a message to this world even for today. Look at how it explains what God will do to the proud who reject Him and say they don’t need God. The strong become weak and can’t even escape when they need to.
God had used His prophets to warn Israel what would come if they continued to act rebelliously. They ignored all warnings, killed the prophets, and went on their merry way, but God is a just God, and His vengeance is mighty. He would send a nation against them that He would empower so that even the strong, the mighty, the swift, the best bowmen and the best horsemen would not get away to save themselves from death. A few decades after this warning, in 722 B.C., God used Assyria to wreak His vengeance. The wrath of God came through the Assyrians and they killed many Israelites and took the rest captive. This world and this country need to pay heed to those warnings. God will not be mocked forever.
The Passover meal is the last supper Jesus would have on earth before His death. He wanted to share it with His apostles as a way for them to remember him and a way for them to cause others to remember Him. More than 2,000 years later we are still meeting in an “upper room” with the Lord to remember Him and honor His sacrifice.
We who are born-again and have access to the Bible know the account of that night. We know about the spiritual, emotional and physical pain the Lord suffered during that meal. It had to be difficult as He announced one from His inner circle would betray Him. As He dealt with that truth, He was dreading what was to come in the Garden. He knew He would be tormented before being hanged. Jesus was not surprised by any of the events to take place. His spiritual pain came in the Garden of Gethsemane later that night as He worked up His courage to face the cross the next day.
What Jesus was doing with the bread and wine was drawing His disciples into a closer fellowship with Him. Only those who are in Christ have the true right to accept the bread and wine of communion. Only those who remember and believe what He did should take it. Jesus wants us to be in fellowship with Him, to eat and drink with Him, to take the bread and wine in remembrance of Him.
“And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body” (Matthew 26:26). Notice this: Jesus took the bread, Jesus blessed the bread and Jesus broke the bread. Oh bless the Lord! Jesus laid down His body for us willingly for each one of us! Please be sure you are in the right heart to take communion. Do receive it if you are angry or upset with God or man. Get things right first, then come back and take it.
Take the bread now, please.
“And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matthew 26: 27, 28). Jesus shed His Blood in many ways from the first Blood shed as great drops in the Garden to the piercing of His side on the cross. This Blood is the Blood of redemption, of renewing, of salvation. Take this wine only if you are sure you are saved, born-again, and on your way to Heaven.
Take the cup now, please.
Thank You, Jesus for your ultimate, painful sacrifice for the redemption of mankind, Jew first, then us. Thank You for Your great love. Thank You for this way to remember what You did.