Study Notes

Amos 1:2-2:16


Last Thursday night, we were introduced to Amos, a simple shepherd who was called by the Lord to be His prophet. Tonight, we look at the first two chapters of Amos' writings, as the Lord makes his Word known to many nations.

1:2 The Lord Roars

When God speaks it is often described by the prophets as sounding like a roaring lion (Hosea 11:10; Joel 3:16).

Jer. 25:30 "Therefore you shall prophesy against them all these words, and you shall say to them, The LORD will roar from on high, And utter His voice from His holy habitation; He will roar mightily against His fold. He will shout like those who tread {the grapes,} Against all the inhabitants of the earth.

From Zion

Amos describes that voice as coming from Zion, the mountain which sits atop Jerusalem, what we today call Temple Mount.

This place is near and dear to God's heart, it has the focus of His attention. The psalms say,

Ps. 9:11 Sing praises to the LORD, who dwells in Zion...

Ps. 87:2 The LORD loves the gates of Zion more than all the {other} dwelling places of Jacob.

Ps. 135:21 Blessed be the LORD from Zion, Who dwells in Jerusalem. Praise the LORD!

And Isaiah wrote,

Isa. 8:18 ...the LORD of hosts, who dwells on Mount Zion.

And the Lord Himself has said,

Joel 3:17 ...I am the LORD your God, dwelling in Zion My holy mountain...

His voice is proclaimed from this mountain. This is one reason why a trip to Israel is such a spiritual experience. Israel has been, and will one day again, be the center of His kingdom, the location of His habitation.

1:3-5 Three And Four

This judgment against Damascus establishes a pattern which will be used seven more times in these two chapters. His statements begin by saying, "For three transgressions and for four..."

Now each of these eight nations were not guilty of just four sins. This is a figure of speech that the Lord uses to express a multitude of transgression. We would understand it better as Him saying, "For sin after sin after sin after sin..."


The first judgment God proclaims is against Damascus, the capital city of Syria (or Aram, as it is frequently called), which was the Jews' neighbor to the northeast.

The accusation against them is that they "threshed Ghil-AWD with implements of sharp iron." The Syrians/Arameans had been brutal to God's people. Under Khaz-aw-ALE, and later under his son Ben-had-AD, Aram had killed countless Israelites.

2Kgs. 13:3-7 So the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and He gave them continually into the hand of Khaz-aw-ALE king of Aram, and into the hand of Ben-had-AD the son of Khaz-aw-ALE. Then Yeh-ho-aw-KHAWZ entreated the favor of the LORD, and the LORD listened to him; for He saw the oppression of Israel, how the king of Aram oppressed them. And the LORD gave Israel a deliverer, so that they escaped from under the hand of the Arameans; and the sons of Israel lived in their tents as formerly. Nevertheless they did not turn away from the sins of the house of Jeroboam, with which he made Israel sin, but walked in them; and the Asherah also remained standing in Samaria. For he left to Yeh-ho-aw-KHAWZ of the army not more than fifty horsemen and ten chariots and 10,000 footmen, for the king of Aram had destroyed them and made them like the dust at threshing.

The Arameans had practically wiped out the Israelites. Notice that God used them to bring judgment upon Israel, but they are also going to be judged. This is an interesting equation in the kingdom of God - He will use the ungodly for His purposes, but they are still judged for their sins.

Some people have a problem with this. Paul addressed this difficulty to the Romans, saying,

Rom. 9:19-20 You will say to me then, "Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?" On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God?...

We don't always fully comprehend the ways of God, but we must have faith that He knows what He is doing, and His judgments are always righteous and true.

God's judgment against the Arameans is that His fire will

Amos 1:4-5 "...consume the citadels of Ben-had-AD. I will also break the {gate} bar of Damascus, And cut off the inhabitant from the valley of AW-ven, And him who holds the scepter, from Bayth AY-den; So the people of Aram will go exiled to Keer,"...

This judgment against them was accomplished by Assyria under Tig-LATH Pil-EH-ser in 2Kings 16. There we read,

2Kgs. 16:9 ...the king of Assyria went up against Damascus and captured it, and carried {the people of} it away into exile to Keer, and put Rets-EEN (the king of Aram) to death.

1:6-8 Gaza

Gaza is the next to have judgment pronounced against them. The Philistine Empire had five capital cities: Gaza, Ash-DODE, Ash-kel-ONE, Gath, and Ek-RONE.

Although the transgression of Gaza is mentioned, the judgment is in actuality upon the entire Philistine Empire, as the Lord mentions four of these capital cities. By this point in history, Gath had been destroyed in the attacks made by King Uzziah of Judah (2Chron. 26:6).

The sin that the Lord addresses specifically is "because they deported an entire population to deliver it up to Edom." The Lord addressed this tendency of the Philistines through the prophet Joel as well, saying that they had ...

Joel 3:6 ...sold the sons of Judah and Jerusalem to the Greeks in order to remove them far from their territory

The practice of the Philistines was to make slaves of their captives. Samson is an example of one who was captured and enslaved:

Judg. 16:21 Then the Philistines seized him and gouged out his eyes; and they brought him down to Gaza and bound him with bronze chains, and he was a grinder in the prison.

At one point in history, the Philistines sold off their Israeli captives to the Edomites.

For enslaving God's people, they will be judged. The same is true for anyone today who would seek to enslave the people of God. Those advertisers who market alcohol and pornography, those cult leaders that brainwash people into following them, any who seek to enslave the people of God will be judged. Jesus said to His disciples,

Luke 17:1-2 ..."It is inevitable that stumbling blocks should come, but woe to him through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should cause one of these little ones to stumble.

These judgments against the Philistines were accomplished in Biblical history by King Hezekiah (2Kings 18:8), by the Pharaoh of Egypt (Jer. 47:1), and ultimately by the conquests of Alexander the Great.

1:9-10 Tyre

The third prophecy of judgment is spoken against Tyre. Like the Philistines, they had delivered God's people to the Edomites as slaves. But their sin was even worse, because they had made a covenant of brotherhood - of peace with Israel.

Back in the days of Solomon, we read,

1Kgs. 5:12 And the LORD gave wisdom to Solomon, just as He promised him; and there was peace between Hiram and Solomon, and the two of them made a covenant.

When Tyre sold Israelites into slavery, it was not just wickedness, but a breach of trust and friendship. This is among the most grievous of sins. David wrote of a similar betrayal in Psalm 55, saying,

Ps. 55:12-13 For it is not an enemy who reproaches me, Then I could bear {it} ; Nor is it one who hates me who has exalted himself against me, Then I could hide myself from him. But it is you, a man my equal, My companion and my familiar friend.

God judges this breach very strictly. We remember that He Himself has been betrayed by someone claiming to be His friend. When He returns to earth, and the people see His scars,

Zech. 13:6 And one will say to him, ‘What are these wounds between Your arms?' Then He will say, ‘ {Those} with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.'

Certainly, Tyre would be judged for their betrayal. God used Nebuchadnezzar (Ezek 26:7-14) to defeat Tyre, and used Alexander the Great to finish them off completely.

1:11-12 Edom

The Edomites, as we know, had been receiving Israeli slaves from Tyre and the Philistines. But, far above the sin of slavery and of a broken covenant, God would judge them even harsher still. The intense judgment was coming from the fact that the Edomites and the Israelites were blood relatives.

The Edomites were descendants of Edom, or Esau. The Israelites were descendants of Jacob, Esau's brother. The Philistines were neighbors, those in Tyre were friends. But the Edomites were brothers!

God's judgment was going to be upon the Edomites, as He specifically mentions Bots-RAW, the former capital of Edom (Gen. 36:33), and Tay-MAWN, the district in which it lay.

1:13-15 Ammon

The Ammonites are next on God's prophetic "hit list." Their transgressions were total and immoral brutality against God's people. Their capital, Rab-BAW, is mentioned specifically in the judgment. Their king and his sons would be brought into exile.

2:1-3 Moab

The Moabites are next. You would think that their condemnation would arise from hiring Balaam to curse the Israelites, or maybe because they led the people of Israel into idolatry. Or even for their rebellion against Israel's control of them. But interestingly, their condemnation is specified as being for burning the bones of the king of Edom.

Why does God care what happens between the leaders of two ungodly nations? He does. Remember that God is...

2Pet. 3:9 ...not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.

The Lord cares about all people.

Matt. 5:45 ...He causes His sun to rise on {the} evil and {the} good, and sends rain on {the} righteous and {the} unrighteous.

Because of their brutality, the Moabites will be judged as well.

2:4-5 Judah

This is interesting to me. God has brought words of judgment upon those who sold people into slavery and butchered pregnant women. But the same words are brought against Judah for being given the Law of the Lord and rejecting it.

To the Lord, the atrocities are the same. I have heard so many people say, "Well, I'm not a bad person. I don't steal, and I've never murdered anyone. I'll just trust that God will see that I'm good." But they don't realize that by rejecting His Word, by refusing to accept the gospel, they might as well be stealing or murdering! Jesus said,

John 3:36 "He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him."

When God graciously gives the truth to a human being, and he or she slaps His hand away, rejecting the gift, God sees that as being as terrible as any of the "bad" sins.

2:6-8 Israel

Notice that during the days of Amos, the sins of Israel were far outnumbering the sins of Judah.

Crimes Against People

They were guilty of terrible crimes against their fellow human beings.

- Selling people for money and material things.

The Israelites judges would take bribes to find righteous people guilty. Many would take the price of a simple pair of sandals for a poor man's freedom.

- Panting after dust on the heads of the helpless.

Some were so greedy that they pursued everything that a man owned - even the most worthless things, which are equated with the dust he put on his head to show his sorrow.

- Turning aside the way of the humble.

They would, through manipulation and coercion, force even the most humble man to violate his own moral code and lead him down a crooked path.

- A man and his father resort to the same girl.

Both fathers and sons would lie with the same temple prostitute. These women were often forced into this lifestyle, to pay for the temples of the false gods.

- Taking garments as pledges.

The Israelites had also forsaken the Law, which clearly stated,

Exod. 22:26-27 "If you ever take your neighbor's cloak as a pledge, you are to return it to him before the sun sets, for that is his only covering; it is his cloak for his body. What else shall he sleep in? And it shall come about that when he cries out to Me, I will hear {him,} for I am gracious.

- Drinking wine of those who have been fined.

They had developed a system of corruption by which the unrighteous and powerful benefitted from false accusations against the righteous, being enriched by the fines levied against the innocent.

2:9-12 Nazirites

In addition to the terrible sins we have already seen mentioned, even the Nazirites and the prophets were being persecuted.

Nazirites were people who made special vows to dedicate themselves to the Lord (see Numbers 6). They did not drink alcohol, or even compromise by drinking grape juice, eating grapes, or raisins. They also did not cut their hair during the time of their separation.

The prophets were those people who spoke the Word of the Lord to the people. The Israelites were so corrupt at this time, they actually forced the Nazirites to drink wine, and the prophets not to prophesy.

2:13-16 In That Day

Although Israel thought themselves above judgment, God will make clear to them that no one is.

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