BOOK BY BOOK BIBLE STUDY
BIBLE STUDY LESSON
For the week beginning Sunday March 31, 2013
UNSEAL THE INDICTMENT
(What your relationship with others reveals about your relationship with GOD)
Amos 1:1-2, 2:6-8, & 3:6-15
The prophet Amos was a contemporary of the prophets Hosea, Isaiah, and Micah. His message, not unlike Hosea’s, was directed at the northern Kingdom of Israel, even though he himself, lived in the southern Kingdom of Judah. He begins his prophesy by announcing judgment on the surrounding nations (Amos 1:3-2:3), before later changing his focus to northern Israel itself (Amos 2:4-9:10).
In this scathing condemnation of GOD’s chosen people, Amos severely denounces, in particular, the social sins of the nation, such as injustice, government and judicial corruption, greed, and the worship of false gods. A series of five stern messages unfold, and still we find this important book coming to an end with little hope that Israel was interested in changing their wayward behavior towards the indigent and weak sector of their society, nor their intolerable disrespect towards the GOD WHO sees them.
The events in the Book of Amos take place during one the most prosperous times in northern Israel’s history. Their dynamic king Jeroboam II had led them in war to successful victories over their hostile neighbors, and, as a result, had won control of the lucrative trade routes that now poured wealth into Samaria, Israel’s northern capital. It was a golden age for the wealthy that built grand homes and proud public facilities, near the popular worship centers of Bethel and Dan. Even the fertile land of northern Israel presented bumper crops year after year, in those days.
Unfortunately, beneath the glitter, glamour, and prosperity of this golden society, lay the dark tragedy of social injustice and economic disparity. The rich had little regard for their, less fortunate, Jewish brothers, or, for that matter, had little regard even for GOD HIMSELF, or HIS sacred Laws. The poor were mercilessly oppressed by merchants, who used unjust weights of measure in the marketplace, and by judges whose justice was for sell to the highest bidder.
And so, it is against this backdrop of prosperity and wickedness that we find the prophet Amos, a farmer and shepherd from the town of Tekoa in nearby Judah, being called by GOD to deliver a resounding message to his wayward kinsman in northern Israel. In this deeply penetrating prophesy, Amos exposes the very underbelly of this seemingly upright society.
In Amos 1:1-2, he writes of the reception of his prophesy from GOD, just two years before the earthquake that occurred during the reign of Uzziah, king of Judah. Here he describes what he had seen and heard, as the LORD’s roar of judgment vividly places an “imaginary noose” around the necks of Judah and northern Israel. He first, reveals how GOD would serve justice on Israel’s surrounding neighbors (Vs. 3-2:3), and then later, he reveals just how GOD would tighten that noose to choke off the sins of Israel.
In chapter 2, verses 6-8, Amos’ message focuses on northern Israel (namely Ephraim), who would be the first of GOD’s chosen nation to fall (in 722 B.C.). Ephraim, the most influential of Israel’s twelve tribes, during that period, had used that influence to lead the whole nation into sin. They had perverted justice by selling poor and honest people into slavery in exchange for silver, gold, and, in some cases, as little as a pair of sandals. They committed incest (father and son sleeping with the same woman), oppressed the poor even further, held festivals to their idol gods and sacrificed to them, money, and things that they had stolen from others.
In chapter 3 we see the prophet Amos unveiling the first of his five messages to the nation of Israel. The word “known” (v.2) is translated from the original Hebrew word “yada” in the KJV version of Scriptures, and it describes “a close and intimate relationship”. There GOD tells Israel that, “You only have I “known” of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities”. This tells us that GOD takes it personal when we put other things and people before HIM.
The ensuing verses, verses 3-6, are foundational in setting up the impact of the list of disasters that are mentioned later on in chapter 4, verses 6-11. Here in these verses, Amos gives us a vivid example of “cause and effect”, by asking a series of questions that calls loudly for “common sense” answers. For example, “Can two people walk together without agreeing on the direction?” The common sense answer is, “No, two people can only walk together if they agree on one direction. And again he poses a question, “Does a bird ever get caught in a trap that has no bait? And the logical answer would be, “Not likely. A bird will likely only be ensnared by a trap that is first baited.
Following this logic, one can safely say that a disaster is always preceded by an action that makes it inevitable. This is not to say that every natural disaster, for example, is a direct result of GOD spanking us about something that we did (but, it might be). No, seriously I think that certainly when we are faced with disaster we need to examine ourselves and try to find out IF it is something that we did, or, are doing, that is so far out of the Will of GOD, that, HE becomes moved to act against us. After all, we are living in a time where it seems that the people who call themselves by GOD’s name (Christians), are rapidly forgetting how to do what is “right” by GOD’s standards (vs. 10).
Amos closes out this first message from GOD with a warning that even we here in the twenty-first century can relate to. In fact, it can be seen as a valid warning to all generations, especially those who have come into great wealth and prosperity, as northern Israel had, and, who have fallen into love and worship of the things of this world. In verse 15, this is what the LORD says; “And I will destroy the beautiful homes of the wealthy, their winter mansions and their summer houses too, all their palaces filled with ivory. I the LORD have spoken”.
A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website