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Chapters 1 and 2
Jehovah pronouncing judgment from the place of His throne on the nations surrounding His land
In the outset Jehovah, proclaiming His own rights from the place of His own throne, roars from Zion and utters His voice from Jerusalem. Afterwards, quite at the end, the restoration of the house of David and of Israel likewise is announced. We may remark that, before the judgment of Israel and Judah is declared, that also of the surrounding nations is pronounced; and this, on account of their hostile and cruel behaviour to the people of Israel, and on account of that also which was essentially cruel in them, and opposed even to the sentiments of humanity; for God takes cognizance of all these things.
Syria is to be carried away captive into Assyria. The means employed for the judgment of the others is not mentioned. Gaza and the Philistines, Tyre, Edom, Ammon, Moab, pass successively in review; and, finally, Judah and Israel. God enters into much more detail with respect to the sins of His people. He had indeed specified that which characterised each nation judged; but with Israel He goes into detail. We may here again remark -- that which we have seen elsewhere -- that these judgments of Jehovah fall upon the nations that are established on the territory promised to Abraham, and belonging, according to this gift of God, to the people of Israel. God purges His land of that which defiles it, and consequently alas! of Judah and Israel likewise; but at the same time asserting and retaining His own rights, which He will exercise in grace on Israel's behalf in the last days. We see here the folly of the hope entertained by the enemies of the people, in seeking their ruin with the idea of finding their own advantage in it. Doubtless God can chastise His people, for He must make His own character manifest; but the malice of their enemies brings His judgment upon them also.
The sins of Judah and Israel specified
With respect to Judah, Jehovah especially points out their contempt of the law and disobedience of His commandments.
In Israel the sin specified has a character more independent of the law (the reason of which is easily understood, if we consider the condition of that people), and connected with that departure from the fear of God, which allows man to give way to the selfishness of his own heart, and to oppress those whom God regards. They sell the righteous for silver, and the poor for a pair of shoes. They care not for the sufferings of the poor; but even at the altar -- supposed, at least, to be that of Jehovah -- they lie down upon garments pledged through poverty, and make merry with the fines inflicted for transgressions. Nevertheless God had brought them up out of Egypt, had destroyed their enemies to put them in possession of their lands, and had given them the tokens of an especial relationship with Himself, whether by persons set apart for Himself, or by those whom He had sent as messengers to them; but they had caused the former to defile themselves, and had commanded the latter not to prophesy in the name of Jehovah. The heart of God was crushed, as it were, by their sins; and His judgment should overtake them. The charge of despising the poor is often repeated in this prophecy (chap. 2: 7; 4: 1; 5: 11; 8: 6); and this in special connection with Israel.Synopsis by John Darby