30 June 2010

Amos 3:1-12

"The lion has roared; who will not fear? The Lord God has spoken; who can but prophesy?" (v.8)


If you have read the earlier passages this week you will, by now, be familiar with the tone of this lengthy passage from the book of Amos. Once again it is addressed to Israel, the northern kingdom centred on Mount Gerizim (here called Samaria) - "the people of Israel who live in Samaria". And once again, though now the tone is more urgent, the warning to Israel is of impending doom. Israel will be "punished for all her iniquities". All the signs pointed towards this inevitable consequence for those who "do not know how to do right" and "who store up violence and robbery in their strongholds". An additional reason for Israel's punishment though is its unique status amongst "all the families of the earth". As a people 'known by God' Israel should have known better how to live.

Amos uses a whole array of metaphors linking sign and significance in verses 3 to 8. What was happening was all too obvious to those watching from Judea. God had spoken a warning through the events that had befallen Israel. And as things went wrong within, Israel's enemies were gathering on the borders, ready to exploit the nation's vulnerability. The might of Assyria was gathering, and those who knew Assyria's reputation knew that there would be little left of Israel to rescue - just "the corner of a couch and part of a bed". As useless as two legs and a scrap of a sheep's ear after a predator has feasted. The lion of Assyria was the servant of the Lion of Judah. Thus says the Lord.

To Ponder

Corrupt nations tend to collapse (there are many examples from history) - but not always. How do you explain that?

Do you think God's judgment is more severe for those 'who should have known better'? Why?

Do you think that God uses the violence of others to do God's will?

Bible notes author

The Revd David Rhymer

The Revd David Rhymer has done a number of things over the last 40-odd years - including teaching (science), publishing (theology), full-time ministry (Baptist and Methodist) and national Methodist Team work (training & development officer for Cornwall). More recently he has been responsible for a part-time theology degree course at Exeter University, and until 2017, was involved with teaching students preparing for ministry in the south-west.