Friday 06 June 2014

Bible Book:

“I will fix my eyes on them for harm and not for good” (v. 4)

Amos 9:1-12 Friday 6 June 2014


This passage represents Amos's vision of the destruction of thepeople of Israel as a result of their refusal to listen to God'sword. And it is total destruction - exile is not good enough,instead "not one of them shall flee away, not one of them shallescape" (v. 1).

Not only is there physical destruction, but Amos tells thepeople of Israel that they will no longer be special in the eyes ofthe Lord, saying in verse 7 that they will be no more to God thanthe Ethiopians (an example probably used to recall a people whowere seen as both strange and remote). How far Israel has fallenfrom being the chosen people.

 One of the most chilling sections in this passage isverses 2-4. This recalls Psalm139:7-8, one of the most comforting of the psalms, whichasks:

"Where can I go from yourSpirit?
Or where can I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there;
if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there."

The answer here is that no matter where you go, you cannotescape the love and knowledge of God, who knew you before you wereborn, and is familiar with all our ways.

Amos however uses a similar image, but this time to warn peopleof a vengeful god who cannot be outrun. Wherever the people ofIsrael try to hide, God will search them out and kill them. Insteadof the blessing in Numbers 6:24-26, in which the Lord's face shinesupon those God loves, here the Lord's eyes are fixed on them - forharm and not for good.

What a devastating and frightening prophesy. Amos truly believedthat he was preaching a message of judgement upon Israel forbreaking with the covenant, and the punishment to follow wasinescapable. When the Israelites ended up in captivity in Babylon acouple of centuries later, other editors added to the prophesies ofAmos foretelling of the raising up of Israel once again.

To Ponder

  • Do you find the thought of not being able to escape from Godcomforting, threatening, or something else?
  • Do you think people listened to Amos? Would you have done?
  • Later readers of Amos living in exile clearly needed a happyending. Is this part of human nature?
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