“Should not I pity…?”

Jonah | Lesson 2 | Lesson Notes/Talking Points

Read Jonah, chapters 3-4

INTRODUCTION

  1. This is Lesson 2, but the Lesson Notes were very scantily written for Lesson 1 since my time and attention was so preoccupied the week leading up to Lesson 1. I invested what time I had in study and lesson preparation and very little to the writing of Lesson Notes.
  2. Lesson 1 was titled ‘Salvation Belongs to Yahweh!’ from Jonah’s concluding confession of faith and thanksgiving in ch 2.9 following his ‘salvation’ from the belly of the great fish.
  3. This lesson is titled ‘Should not I pity…?’ from Yahweh’s concluding rebuke and explanation that He delivered to Jonah at the end of ch 4.11. We’ll elaborate further on that question at the end of this lesson as Yahweh expresses the overall theme of this Book: Salvation Through Judgment and Mercy [from the title of Bryan D. Estelle’s excellent commentary on this Book…].
  4. The Book of Jonah neatly divides itself into these two divisions which we are now concluding…

I / ch 3.1-4 / YAHWEH’S SECOND CALL TO JONAH & JONAH’S RESPONSE

  1. vv 1-2 / Take Two! Compare these two verses with ch 1.1-2. In this call, Yahweh also commissions Jonah to call out against it the message that I tell you. Whereas in ch 1, He simply said call out against it, for their evil has come up before Me. It very well may have been that He included the message that I tell you in the first call also. Whether He told Jonah what the content of that message would be, we don’t know … or whether He would tell Jonah what the message was when he got there. We do know from v 4 here, that when Jonah got to Nineveh, his message was primarily a message of their accountability to Yahweh and His judgment against their sin.
  2. v 3a / This time, Jonah obeyed Yahweh instead of running away from Yahweh and his responsibility in the opposite direction.
  3. v 3b / The description of Nineveh being an exceedingly great city means specifically ‘a great city to God.’ God cared about them [as He will express at the end of the Book in ch 4.11]. His first and priority desire was not to destroy them, but to save them. Hold on to that…
  4. What do we make of this description of Nineveh: three days’ journey in breadth? It was not that expansive in circumference or physical size; rather, being an important diplomatic city of Assyria, most likely it means that there were strategic centers of activity in the city where Jonah would deliver his message from Yahweh – it would take him at least three days to stop long enough and preach in these strategic points to convey his messages to the whole city.
  5. v 4 / Which is what Jonah did the first day which is described here. He began to publicly and boldly preach his message of Yahweh’s judgments against their sin: Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown! And we can be sure that he based his messages firmly on Yahweh’s authority and His sending him to them to deliver it!

II / ch 3.5-9 / THE PEOPLE AND KING OF NINEVEH RESPOND WITH HUMILITY, CONFESSION OF THEIR SINS & REPENTANCE

  1. v 5 / There was a popular response among the populace of Nineveh. The record here says And the people of Nineveh believed God. Notice that the word God is used here instead of Yahweh. However, they were acknowledging that Yahweh was the Supreme God. There is something else we must not miss. In Luke 11.32, Jesus says for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, meaning they accepted his message being from God. But Jesus also says back up in v 30, For as Jonah became a sign to the people of Nineveh [comparing this to the ‘sign’ that He Himself was to His own generation]. So what we can and should learn from this statement is that Jonah himself was a ‘sign’ of Yahweh’s judgment against sin and disobedience, but also His willingness to have mercy and save those who repent of their sin [which Jonah himself had done…and was saved from the belly of the great fish]. Maybe something about his physical appearance? Or from his personal accounts of how Yahweh had saved him from the belly of the great fish?
  2. vv 6-7 / There was also a royal response from the king of Nineveh – his own humility and repentance as well as a royal decree to every citizen of Nineveh, including even the livestock!
  3. v 8 / His decree included not only public humility and mourning over their sin accompanied by fasting, but also a decree to cry mightily to God. This was the same kind of crying prayer that the sailors offered to God in 1.14 and Jonah himself prayed in 2.2. It is the praying, crying, calling out to God in abject desperation, casting oneself upon His sovereign mercy to save them from the impending judgment against their sin. He also commanded Let everyone turn [repentance is another meaning of this word ‘turn’] from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. This ‘violence’ means all their acts of oppression, cruelty, and injustices against others. It means ‘infringement of human rights’ that are perpetrated against others.
  4. v 9 / Who knows? God may turn and relent and turn from His fierce anger, so that we may not perish. This is his clear summary of their dependance on the sovereign mercy of God. See another expression like this in Joel 2.12-14.

III / ch 3.10 / YAHWEH DOES RESPOND WITH COMPASSION, MERCY, & SALVATION

  1. This is precisely what He wanted to do … and why He sent Jonah with His messages of judgment. Again, Yahweh will reiterate His desire to save – yes, even His worst enemies and among the Gentiles – in ch 4.11.
  2. This is the Gospel Yahweh is pre-enacting in the story of Jonah…which will be fulfilled in the mission of Christ? see Romans 5.6-11.

IV / ch 4.1-3 / JONAH’S FURIOUS OBJECTION TO YAHWEH’S MERCY: “I OBJECT!”

  1. Now we’re coming to the real core and pith of Yahweh’s heart for the nations and His desire and purpose to save them. But Jonah quickly gets cross-ways with Yahweh and begins to protest angrily with what Yahweh has done in His mercy to the Ninevites…
  2. Jonah’s response here makes us question and speculate what was in his heart when he did obey Yahweh to deliver His message to the Ninevites. We know he obeyed the second commission and went. But did he go reluctantly? Did he go ‘under protest’? We know he had reservations about what Yahweh would do if he obeyed and went because he will tell Yahweh he did. He knew he had no choice but to obey, but did he obey Yahweh under the coercion of his own knowing he had tried the alternative and it had failed? Of course, we don’t know what all was going on in his mind and thoughts, but he’s going to show us at least part of it here…
  3. v 1 / Jonah was not only ticked – ‘But it was evil to Jonah a great evil.’ Meaning, Jonah considered Yahweh’s salvation of the Ninevites a great travesty of justice. And he told Yahweh so. He begins to give Yahweh ‘a piece of his mind.’
  4. v 2 / But at least Jonah began to pray. He’s trying to ‘wrap his head around’ what he knows about Yahweh’s character. O Yahweh, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? This is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish…” Now he reveals some of what was going through his mind when he fled from the Presence of Yahweh [ch 1.3 & 10]. …for I knew that You are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster. This was the primary standing summary of Yahweh’s heart and character ever since He revealed Himself to Moses with these words in Exodus 34.6. [Again, the ‘relenting from disaster’ is in Joel 2.13] Like Jonah is telling Yahweh “I knew You would do this. That’s why I didn’t want to be party to it!”
  5. So what Jonah reveals from his own heart here is not so much a xenophobic hatred against the Assyrians and Ninevites – a prejudice and bigotry against them – but more so, his problem is with Yahweh Himself. Jonah could understand how Yahweh could and would show this kind of mercy to Israel, even in their own rebellions, faithlessness, and disobedience against Him [as He had shown on numerous, repeated occasions] … but how could and why would He show this mercy on Ninevites? Didn’t His mercy belong exclusively to the covenant nation and people? Weren’t they exclusively entitled to His covenant mercies? “Your saving mercy belongs to us! Why are You giving it to these Ninevites?”
  6. v 3 / Jonah would rather die that have to witness Yahweh’s mercy and salvation being shared with and extended to the Ninevites.

V / ch 4.4 / YAHWEH BEGINS TO PATIENTLY COUNSEL AND REASON WITH JONAH

  1. And Yahweh said, ‘Do you do well to be angry?’ Jonah, I’m going to give you an opportunity to look into your own heart and see what’s there. What’s your problem with Me? What have I done that I shouldn’t have done? Where have I done wrong?”
  2. There is so much compassion for Jonah here. Yahweh could have zapped Jonah into ether for questioning or objecting to His mercy to His and Israel’s enemies … but instead, Yahweh begins to try to bring Jonah around to being in sync with His own heart and salvific purposes. But it’s going to be a hard sell!

VI / ch 4.5-9 / YAHWEH WORKS JONAH THROUGH AN OBJECT LESSON TO EXPOSE HIS MISPLACED PRIORITIES AND ‘PITY’

  1. v 5 / Jonah doesn’t even answer Yahweh’s question. He knows he’s cross-ways with Yahweh and in the wrong. But we know how stubborn, hard-headed, and insistent on having his own way he can be. Instead of responding to Yahweh, he stomps out of the saved city, and goes out of the city a ‘safe’ distance [just in case Yahweh changes His mind and reverses course to destroy the city after all], builds himself a lean-to with as much shade as he could construct, and sits and sulks and stews in his continuing anger at Yahweh: “How could You?” He’s obviously throwing a hissy fit and temper tantrum … thinking he might persuade Yahweh to pity his attitude and concede to him?
  2. v 6 / Now Yahweh begins His object lesson by ‘preparing’ or ‘appointing’ a number of physical phenomena. [Remember: the first object lesson Yahweh ‘prepared’ or ‘appointed’ was the great fish in ch 1.17. There are three more to come in this object lesson: vv 6,7,8.] Now the LORD God [Sovereign Yahweh] appointed a plant and made it come up over Jonah, that it might be a shade over his head, to save him from his discomfort. So Jonah was exceedingly glad because of the plant. Just another expression and demonstration of Yahweh’s ‘saving’ mercy to Jonah personally … as the great fish had already been.
  3. v 7 / Yahweh again demonstrates His absolute sovereignty over all the elements and creatures of His universe: But when the dawn came up the next day, God appointed a worm that attacked the plant, so that it withered. The LORD giveth, and the LORD taketh away. But this time, Jonah will take it personally… “Hey, that’s MY mercy! I’m entitled to it! You can’t take that away from me!”
  4. v 8 / When the sun rose, God appointed a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on the head of Jonah so that he was faint. And he asked that he might die and said, “It is better for me to die than to live.” Now we have to see here that Yahweh is revealing to Jonah – from his own heart, experiences, and words – that Jonah is self-centered on his own comfort, convenience, preferences … and on his own mercies that he receives from Yahweh. But he has no heart at all, no pity at all whether the Ninevites would have been destroyed under Yahweh’s judgment. In fact, he would have preferred that! He was glad for the plant because it shaded and ‘saved’ him from his own discomforts. But he was furious at Yahweh because He had ‘shaded’ and saved the whole city of Nineveh from the heat and wrath of His fury had He chosen to destroy them!
  5. For the second time, Jonah prays to die: for it is better for me to die than to live. He would rather die that live to see the Ninevites saved [v 3]. Here, he would rather die than suffer his own physical discomfort from the shade of the plant Yahweh had provided for him. He didn’t want to suffer from the heat of the noonday sun … but he would have been happier if Yahweh had poured out the heat of His wrath upon the whole city of Nineveh.
  6. v 9 / Yahweh again confronts Jonah with His searching question: But God said to Jonah, “Do you do well to be angry for the plant?” And he said, “Yes, I do well to be angry, angry enough to die.” We call this ‘doubling down.’ “Jonah, do you see yourself? Do you hear yourself? Are you willing to stand by what you have just done and said to Me?” Jonah’s stubborn, insistent response: “Yes, I am!”
  7. The object lesson has been demonstrated, and the lessons clearly drawn out … but Jonah refuses to see the point in what Yahweh has done or learn the lesson Yahweh wants to teach him. Or, if he does see the contrast between his own self-centered heart and that of Yahweh’s, he’s not willing to admit and concede to this exposure of his heart.

VII / ch 4.10-11 / YAHWEH APPLIES THE OBJECT LESSON – WHY HE HAS SAVED NINEVEH & HE CALLS JONAH TO GET IN SYNC WITH HIS OWN HEART FOR THE NATIONS

  1. v 10 / So here Yahweh just points out to Jonah what He just demonstrated in the object lesson: And Yahweh said, “You pity the plant, for which you did not labor, nor did you make it grow, which came into being in a night and perished in a night.” Of course, that was irrefutable. To ‘pity’ means more than just having sympathetic feelings toward or feeling sorry for. It means to have enough concern for the plight of the objects of your pity that you are willing to act and intervene to save them through every means available to you. Which Jonah would have done for the plant if he could have. The plant was ‘saving’ his life … or at least the comfort of his life. Since he couldn’t save the plant, then he might as well die. He hadn’t created the plant; he hadn’t made it grow; he couldn’t sustain it or save it – Yahweh did all of that by His own sovereign power and mercy toward Jonah. Why couldn’t Jonah feel any of this ‘pity’ toward a whole city of Ninevites – and even furiously object and protest against Yahweh when He did?
  2. v 11 / And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle? The 120,000 demographic apparently applies to the whole population of Nineveh. Ancient cities were not large enough for that number to apply only to children who are ‘innocent’ of moral culpability. When Yahweh says ‘who do not know their right hand from their left,’ He is not saying they were innocent of sin because they certainly were not. “For their evil has come up before Me [1.2]. But, they were ‘ignorant’ of sin as Yahweh defines sin. They were ‘ignorant’ of their accountability to Yahweh until Jonah went at Yahweh’s commission to tell them they were and to call them to repentance. But, when Jonah did, the Ninevites believed God, and they repented for what Yahweh had told them. And He saved them.     

Jonah’s story is Yahweh’s intentional picture, pointer, prophecy, and pre-enactment of His desires and purpose to save the nations – yes, even those outside of His Old Testament covenant – by His future sending and the coming of Jesus Christ into our world: “And behold, something greater than Jonah is here!” [Matthew 12.41]. And Jesus will save us by suffering upon Himself the full weight and fury of God’s wrath against our sins. Our sins will suffer the just punishment and judgment against them by Jesus’ death on the Cross. And God will have mercy on us when we put our trust and faith in Jesus. This is Yahweh’s “Salvation Through Judgment and Mercy”!

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Yahweh restores! Hope in Him!

Amos | Lesson 4 | Lesson Notes/Talking Points

Read Amos 8.1-9.15

INTRODUCTION

  1. This is the fourth and concluding lesson in this current summary/survey of the Book of Amos. Our first lesson was Yahweh roars! Listen to Him! The second lesson was Yahweh calls! Return to Him! The third lesson was Yahweh shows! Appeal to Him! As you study each of these first three lessons, you will find that we have titled each one after key words and expressions that are found in each section of Amos’s prophetic messages from Yahweh.
  2. This fourth and concluding lesson is ‘Yahweh restores! Hope in Him!’ because after all the indictments and condemnations of their egregious faithlessness toward Him and transgressions against His covenant He had made with them, Yahweh will conclude His messages with a promise of restoration “In that day…” We now know this to be the ‘Day’ of Christ’s coming and His Gospel of Grace. We know this because this very concluding promise in ch 9.11-12 is quoted in Acts 15.12-17 by James, the half-brother of Jesus. He was quoting Amos here as Peter along with Paul and Barnabas were relating their accounts how the Gospel was being preached to the Gentiles, and they were responding by believing it and putting their faith in Christ!
  3. But we’re getting ahead of the start of this lesson. This lesson will actually pick up where our last lesson left off. Remember: our last lesson was ‘Yahweh shows! Appeal to Him!’ because Amos was relating a series of five visions Yahweh ‘showed’ him: ‘This is what the Lord GOD showed me…” In our last lesson, we introduced the first three of the five ‘shows.’ The first two ‘shows’ were ‘event shows,’ and the events were [1] swarms of locusts / ch 7.1-3, and [2] judgment by fire / ch 7.4-6. Both of these events will be thoroughly consuming and destructive, ‘eating up the land.’
  4. The third ‘show’ was a ‘word-play show’ in which Yahweh uses a metaphor, or a word-picture, to describe His coming judgment. This word-play show was a plumbline. Yahweh’s message was that He was measuring Israel for straightness [or righteousness] and they were sorely out of plumb. And so their kingdom would fall, be destroyed, made desolate, laid waste.

I / ch 8.1-14 / THE FOURTH VISION ‘SHOW’: A BASKET OF SUMMER FRUIT

  1. v 1 / Like the plumbline vision or ‘show,’ this too is a word-play, or metaphor, show. Yahweh is showing Amos, and Amos will preach to Israel, that they, as a nation, were to Him a basket of summer fruit. Whatever this ‘basket of summer fruit’ means … it means “The end has come upon my people Israel; I will never again pass by them.” In other words, time’s up, the final curtain is about to fall. There will be no more reprieves or stays of judgment. Yahweh’s guilty verdict against their transgressions has been read, the sentence has been pronounced, and the execution has been scheduled. It will be carried out.
  2. v 2 / We need to take whatever time it takes to understand the significance of ‘a basket of summer fruit’ meant to them in their context. [1] It certainly meant that their ‘fruit’ of sin had grown fully ‘ripe’ and the time of reaping the consequences had come / Galatians 5.7-8. [2] But, it means much more than just generic ripe fruit – this basket is full of ‘summer fruit.’ Summer fruit was the very last harvest and produce of their year-long agricultural year. “The summer fruit was the last to come in Israel’s agricultural calendar. It came at the end of the season. Therefore, just as Israel’s agricultural cycle had an end, so will Israel as a nation.” [T. J. Betts, Amos] [3] Also, the word-play continues in that the Hebrew word for ‘summer fruit’ [qayits] sounds very much like their word for ‘end’ [qeets]. In fact, the way they pronounced it there in the dialect and inflection of the northern kingdom Israel, they may have even shortened the longer word so that it sounded exactly like the shorter word. So, when Amos pronounced ‘basket of summer fruit,’ he may have even sounded it out like ‘basket of the end.’ This was the message Yahweh is delivering to Israel by this ‘show.’
  3. v 3 / Instead of the joyful songs of harvest they were accustomed to singing to celebrate their harvests, they would be mourning and wailing funeral dirges … and their baskets of ‘harvest’ would be full of bloody, gory, dead bodies…
  4. vv 4-6 / Yahweh tells them what their ‘basket of summer fruit / the end’ was full of: it was all of their repeated, insistent, rebellious, egregious transgressions against Him and against one another. [1] They had no compassion toward the needy and poor / v 4; [2] Their idolatrous religious services were without any worship or heart for Yahweh – their minds were on making more money and profit / v 5a; [3] Their business practices were corrupt with cheating, under-weighing, and over-pricing / v 5b; [4] Their dealings with their weaker and poorer neighbors were oppressive, abusive, and full of injustices / v 6.
  5. vv 7-8 / Yahweh swears by Himself again as He already has twice before [chs 4.2 & 6.8]. Here He ‘has sworn by the pride of Jacob’ meaning that He Himself should have been their pride; but instead of boasting of their pride in Him, they had exchanged Him for pride in themselves, in their own accomplishments of prosperity and military strength, and even pride in the false gods they had chosen to worship [see ch 6.8]. So because of all this faithlessness toward Him, He will bring upon them floods of death and judgments … their land will be ‘flooded,’ and they will swept away with His judgments like the Nile floods and then recedes every year.
  6. vv 9-10 / When that time comes, their ‘darkness’ of death, destruction, desolation will be like a total eclipse of the sun at noonday. REMEMBER: at the time Amos is delivering these messages, Israel was flush with prosperity and military strength. They were as rich and powerful as they had been since the zenith era of David and Solomon. They couldn’t imagine that such ‘dark’ times would come at any future time. But, the ‘end’ has come … and Yahweh delivers four dark pronouncements of “I will” that He will bring upon them. NOTE: the repetition of ‘mourn,’ ‘mourning,’ ‘lamentation,’ ‘sackcloth,’ ‘baldness’ [another expression of mourning],  ‘mourning,’ ‘bitter day.’
  7. vv 11-12 / The Sovereign Yahweh continues to press upon them how bitter this day will be. There will be not only famine of physical food, but they will desperately seek some word of comfort, some message of salvation and deliverance, some glimmer of hope for rescue from Yahweh’s judgments … but they will not find any. WHY? Because Yahweh has been pleading with them for centuries and generations – repeatedly and persistently sending His prophets to them with His ‘words of Yahweh’ to turn them from their wicked ways. But they have rejected and spurned every word of His pleadings and warnings. When the day of judgment comes, Yahweh will have no further word for them – except for these He is delivering to them in this very message. But all you have to do to assess how they are rebelling against this very word is go back to chapter 7.10-17. They will continue on with this same rebellious rejection of Yahweh’s appeals to them until the ‘end.’
  8. vv 13-14 / The youngest and strongest among them will faint and die along with the older, weaker, and more infirm among them. They all will die alike. They will continue to swear their allegiance to their false gods, idols, traditions, and religion that got them to where they are now. Yahweh calls it ‘the Guilt of Samaria.’ He is referring here to the golden calf idols that Jeroboam I had set up when they first seceded from Judah [see 1 Kings 12.25-33]. One calf idol was set up in the south at Bethel and the other one in north in Dan [v 29]. These false gods and the whole system of religious observances that was established around it became their ‘guilt,’ their ‘sin,’ their ‘end’ [see also Hosea 8.6 & 10.8].

II / ch 9.1-10 / THE FIFTH VISION ‘SHOW’: THE LORD STANDING BESIDE THE ALTAR

  1. This is the fifth and final vision ‘show’ that Yahweh gives Amos to deliver to Israel. And again … this vision is one of final destruction that will come upon them because of their sins.
  2. v 1a / Let’s identify this ‘the altar’ where Amos sees the Lord standing to deliver His judgments against Israel. What altar? Where is it? This altar has a long history: [1] Likely, this is the same altar that Jeroboam I erected for the worship of the golden calf he had set up in Bethel [see 1 Kings 12.25-33, especially vv 32-33]. Not only that, but at that very time, when Jeroboam I began worshiping at this altar and making sacrifices on it, Yahweh had sent an unnamed prophet to the first King Jeroboam to denounce the idolatrous altar and condemn it to destruction [see 1 Kings 13.1-5]. Yahweh further prophesied: “Behold, a son shall be born to the house of David, Josiah by name, and he shall sacrifice on you the priests of the high places who make offerings on you, and human bones shall be burned on you” [v 2]. The altar, even at that earlier time, had been supernaturally ‘rent’ [KJV], split, ‘torn down’ [ESV] and the ashes spilled out on the ground [vv 3-5] as a sign that its future final desecration and destruction would be carried out. THIS first encounter was at the beginning of the altar when it was first built under Jeroboam I. The future Judah King Josiah would be 300 hundred years later … but he did in time to come just as Yahweh had prophesied he would do [see 2 Kings 25.15-20]. [2] ALSO, this ‘the altar’ was likely the place where Amos had the hostile encounter with the priest of Bethel in ch 7.10-17, when Amos pronounced their coming ‘exile away from its land.’ [3] NOW, in Amos 9, this same altar in Bethel comes under judgment again. Amos sees the Lord Himself standing beside the altar as He decries it, denounces it in His displeasure, and decrees its coming destruction and the destruction of Samaria. [4] ‘The altar’ also had become the focal point and the very symbol and definition of their rebellion and transgressions against Yahweh / see again Amos 8.14; Hosea 8.1-6 & 10.8. [5] This ‘the altar’ had also become their ‘good luck charm’ and talisman in which they had come to trust – they had deceived and deluded themselves into believing that if they came to this altar, conducted services there, made offerings and sacrifices there, that Yahweh would be obligated to deliver them … even in spite of their continued violations of all His covenant commands and their responsibility to be faithful to Him / see 8.14 again.
  3. v 1b / Their destruction will be violent and complete. But Yahweh declares that He will completely destroy Samaria along with all their temples, idols, and places of false worship. ‘Strike the capitals until the thresholds shake, and shatter them on heads of all the people.’ The ‘capitals’ were the ornately carved heads and tops of the columns that supported their buildings. Yahweh will send an earthquake [which were common in that region and that day – see ch 1.1]. The earthquake will ‘bring the house down’ killing those who were in the temple. If any escaped from the earthquake, they will be killed by the swords of the invaders.
  4. vv 2-4 / Their destruction will be inescapable. There will be no place to go to escape the invaders whom Yahweh will send upon them to execute His just and deserved punishments: ‘If they dig into Sheol [the grave, unseen regions of the departed dead]…,’ ‘if they climb up to heaven…,’ ‘If they hide themselves on the top of Carmel [mountainous, heavily-forested regions] …,’ ‘and if they hide from My sight at the bottom of the sea…,’ – yes, even if they survive all the desolations that come upon Samaria ‘and if they go into captivity before their enemies, there I will command the sword, and it shall kill them….’         
  5. vv 5-6 / Their destruction will be sovereignly executed by the hand of Yahweh. Yahweh declares again His unquestioned Lordship, power, and control over all the elements of His created universe. ALL of them are at His disposal, and He executes His sovereign purposes in the ways He administers them. He ‘shows’ His Holiness and justice in them: ‘Yahweh is His Name.’
  6. vv 7-10 / Their destruction will be no different than the destructions He brought upon their pagan neighboring kingdoms. Yahweh is sovereign over ALL the nations. His justice requires that He judge without showing partiality.  The Cushites were from Ethiopia to the south in Africa. And yet Yahweh had established them also. Even the Philistines and Syrians had established their national identities under Yahweh’s dominion. They had experienced their own similar ‘exodus’ beginnings under Yahweh’s oversight: “Did I not bring up Israel from the land of Egypt, and the Philistines from Caphtor and the Syrians from Kir?” But though Israel had enjoyed immensely special privileges from Yahweh, they had proven to be unfaithful to Him and all of His mercies – and now He will utter destroy them ‘from the surface of the ground…’ / v 8a. All of their self-constructed deceptions and delusions will betray them and fail them in the ‘end’“All the sinners of my people shall die by the sword, who say, ‘Disaster shall not overtake us or meet us’” / v 10.   

BUT! there is a dramatic turning point in verse 8b: “‘…except that I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob,’ declares Yahweh.” Yahweh’s messages through Amos now conclude with a promise of restoration. “In that day…Behold, the days are coming…”

III / vv 11-15 / YAHWEH RESTORES! HOPE IN HIM!

  1. Build back better! So here’s where we get the title of this lesson.  Note the ‘restore’ verbs and promises that Yahweh reveals here as His last vision ‘show’ that takes us all the way to Christ, His Cross, His Gospel, and even to the end of this age in the New Heaven and New Earth! ‘I will raise up… repair … raise up … rebuild … I will restore … they shall rebuild … I will plant…’ In all these promises, Yahweh will prove Himself to be faithful to all the promises He has made to Israel.
  2. Before we even look at these last ‘restore’ promises, we’re going to fast forward to the New Testament in the Book of Acts 15.12-17. James, the half-brother of our Lord, quotes this passage from Amos to ‘show’ us that what Yahweh promises here was being fulfilled right before their eyes at that time. So, what was God doing in the Book of Acts? He was visiting and saving the Gentiles, “to take from them a people for His Name. And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written,…” and then he goes on to quote this passage from Amos. So, what does God promise to restore?
  3. vv 11-12 / Yahweh promises to restore the throne of David. This promise goes back to 2 Samuel, chapter 7, when Yahweh promises David that his ‘house,’ or dynasty, ruling family will last forever. That David will never lack one of his sons sitting on the throne of Israel. By this time, the ‘house’ of David had been weakened, and they, too, will be sent off into their own captivity in Babylon. So, their dynasty is called a ‘booth / tent / tabernacle’ rather than a ‘house.’ However, Yahweh is going to send another King, even Jesus, and He will sit on David’s Throne and rebuild the Kingdom. AND He will do so by saving people from “all the nations who are called by My Name, declares Yahweh who does this.” He was doing just this when James quotes this passage in Acts 15. It had just begun in earnest in that NT narrative and is still on-going – and God will continue this re-building of His Kingdom through the Gospel until it has been completed!
  4. vv 13-14 / Yahweh promises to restore the blessings of His covenant. “Behold, the days are coming, declares Yahweh…” and then He proceeds to describe the physical blessings of fruitfulness and prosperity that will be experienced in the New Heaven and New Earth. These are truly utopian blessings that we will enjoy when the curses of sin have been lifted from the very New Earth we will live in forever. / see 2 Peter 3.13; Romans 8.18-24
  5. v 15 / Yahweh promises to restore the fullness of our inheritance. “I will plant them on their land, and they shall never again be uprooted out of the land that I have given them, says Yahweh your God.” In that Day, in that New Age, we will be Home with Him. / see Revelation 21-22.

ALL OF THIS IS COMING AND WILL COME ACCORDING TO YAHWEH’S PROMISE! AND IT WILL ALL BE GIFTED TO US THROUGH THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST! YES, THE FULL MEASURE OF GOD’S PUNISHMENTS MUST BE EXECUTED IN KEEPING WITH HIS HOLY JUSTICE AND WARNINGS. BUT HIS JUSTICE AGAINST OUR SINS WAS FULLY SATISFIED BY JESUS CHRIST ON HIS CROSS – AND WE RECEIVE AND ENJOY THE FULLNESS OF HIS SALVATION AND OUR INHERITANCE BY GRACE!

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A famine for hearing the words of the LORD

“Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord GOD, “when I will send a famine on the land – not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD. They shall wander from sea to sea, and from north to east; they shall run to and fro, to seek the word of the LORD, but they shall not find it.” / Amos 8.11-12.

“How many people in the church today either forget or take too lightly the magnitude of God’s Word upon their lives? There is no substitute for God’s Word.

As the Creator, the Lord reveals that He exists and puts on display His divine attributes, but it is the written Word of God that tells us the way to a restored relationship with the Creator is by faith in His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. It is the written Word of God that establishes Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and the Word of Life. It is the written Word of God that reveals God’s ways to His children and His will for them.

That being said, why do so many in the church diminish the centrality of the Word of God?

  • It happens when leaders fail to study God’s Word.
  • It happens when so much time is given to other things, sometimes worthwhile things, in corporate worship that inadequate time is given to the reading of and proclamation of God’s Word.
  • It happens when churches fail to properly disciple their people in God’s Word.
  • It happens when believers neglect reading and meditating on God’s Word throughout the week.

However, what truly is appalling is when leaders do provide the people with ample opportunities and encouragement to learn and apply God’s Word only for people to spend years in the church and believe that since they are reading it and hearing it they must then have it in their hearts and minds.

It is like a student in a calculus class who has a knowledgeable teacher on the subject. The student may follow every step the teacher shows the class. Walking out of the class the student may feel confident about the material. However, if the student cannot do the homework later on, then the student has learned only one thing – the teacher knows calculus. It is only when the student can do the problems (and I might add communicate the information to someone else) that the student has learned the material.

Like this student, there are many who have listened to sermons and sat in Bible studies for years thinking that since they have attended these studies they have learned everything they have heard, but it is only with prayer, meditation, and concentrated effort that one will really learn God’s Word so as to apply it. My professor used to say, ‘Calculus is not a spectator sport.’

Neither is learning and applying God’s Word.”

~T. J. Betts, Amos: An Ordinary Man with an Extraordinary Message

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Yahweh shows! Appeal to Him!

Amos | Lesson 3 | Lesson Notes/Talking Points

Read Amos 5.18-7.17

INTRODUCTION

  1. This is the third lesson in this current summary/survey of the Book of Amos. Our first lesson was Yahweh roars! Listen to Him! The second lesson was Yahweh calls! Return to Him! As you study each of these first two lessons, you will find that we have titled each one after key words and expressions that are found in each section of Amos’s prophetic messages from Yahweh.
  2. Now this third lesson is titled Yahweh shows! Appeal to Him! That is because in this next section, Amos is going to write about five separate visions that Yahweh showed him as prophetic forewarnings of judgments He is about to bring upon Israel because of their transgressions and iniquities. So each of these messages will begin with the preface “This is what the Lord GOD showed me…” / see 7.1, 7.4, 7.7, 8.1, and then “I saw the Lord…” in ch 9.1.
  3. And then I have titled Amos’s responses as “Appeal to Him!” because that is what Amos did when Yahweh showed him these ominous visions. / see ch 7.2 & 5. He appealed to Yahweh to ‘relent’ by showing mercy and forgiveness for Israel’s sins and ‘please cease’  and avert His destructive judgments Yahweh had determined to bring upon Israel.
  4. But before we get to the first four of those five visions, this larger section we have chosen for this study will be prefaced with three messages of ‘woe’ which will serve as attention-getters to let Israel know that these judgments are about to be announced. / see ch 5.18, 6.1, 6.4.
  5. So, in this lesson we will at least point out: three ‘woe’ messages and then the first three “This is what the Lord GOD showed me…” messages…

I / ch 5.18-27 / THE FIRST ‘WOE’ TO THEIR SELF-DECEPTION & DELUSION

They were living and worshiping in what would become a fatal self-deception and self-delusion… / see 1 Thessalonians 5.1-3

  1. This three-fold pronouncement of ‘woe’ or grief or mourning is echoed again in Revelation 8.13 and is indicative that these three judgments that are coming upon them will be, not just disastrous, cataclysmic, and catastrophic, but they will be utterly, thoroughly, and finally destructive – so destructive there will be nothing left. It will be the end of the northern kingdom Israel.
  2. v 18 / “Woe to you who desire the day of Yahweh! Why would you desire the day of Yahweh?”
  3. Let’s remind ourselves that this expression ‘the day of the LORD’ is used throughout the Scriptures, both OT and NT, to describe an event or a season in which Yahweh interrupts and intervenes in man’s human affairs in such a way that He leaves no doubt that HE has done it. It is undoubtedly HIS Day. It is also used to describe the final events of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
  4. So the people of Israel in those final few years of their very existence say they are desiring ‘the day of the LORD’ – that they are looking forward to it – can’t wait until it comes. Isn’t that a good thing?
  5. Their only problem was that they were assuming that just because they were Israel, that if days of danger did, in fact, come [which they doubted they would] that Yahweh would swoop down to save them. That ‘the day of the LORD’ would be a day of salvation for them … and a day of destruction upon their enemies. After all, they were Israel, weren’t they? The covenant nation … Yahweh’s chosen, special, favored people.
  6. vv 19-20 / Yahweh has bad news for Israel – it won’t be a day of salvation for them, but rather a time of darkness and gloom. In fact, it will be like someone who narrowly escapes from one jeopardy [lion] only to be met by another [bear] … or maybe does escape them both and runs home, out of breath, and as soon as he gets into his house, huffing and puffing to get his breath again, he slams and secures the door behind him, thinking he’s safe, and then leans up against the wall … only to be fatally bitten by a poisonous snake! In other words, “Judgment is out to get you – and you will not escape alive!”
  7. vv 21-23 / What does Yahweh have against them? What have they done wrong? In fact, they were being very ‘religious’ with all their outward ceremonial services – they were observing feasts, they were ‘going to church,’ they were making and giving offerings, they were singing their songs and playing their instruments. But they were doing all these outward shows of their ‘religion’ to ‘buy’ the favor of Yahweh and make themselves feel good about themselves. Their hearts were not in any of it, and even the forms of their worship were corrupted with their own traditions and substitutions in the place of what Yahweh had commanded them in His covenant [see 1 Kings 12.25-33]. Listen to what Yahweh says about their ‘religious services’: “I hate, I despise …I take no delight in …I will not accept them …I will not look upon them … Take away from Me … I will not listen ….”
  8. v 24 / Then Yahweh gets to the root of their faithlessness: they were offering to Him vain, empty, lip-service-only kinds of outward religious services – but in their otherwise daily lifestyles, practices, and conduct, they were cheating, oppressing, and abusing their neighbors every way they could in order to exercise their privilege, their power, and their injustices against those who were poorer and weaker than they were. Yahweh commands them / see Matthew 23.23-24.
  9. vv 25-27 / Yahweh concludes this woe by reminding them that all the forty years they wandered in the wilderness, He didn’t require and they didn’t offer Him sacrifices – only the love, loyalty, and faithfulness of their hearts and worship of Him. But when ‘the day of Yahweh’ does come, it will be their adopted gods of the Babylonians and Assyrians they will be holding up as He leads them into exile beyond Damascus, that is, into Assyria.

II / ch 6.1-3 / THE SECOND ‘WOE’ TO THEIR SELF-CONFIDENCE

They were assuring themselves of their perpetual safety and security by their self-confidence in their military prowess and superiority…

  1. v 1 / “Woe to those who are at ease in Zion, and to those who feel secure on the mountains of Samaria…” Kinda reminds you of Mad magazine’s iconic mascot, Alfred E. Neuman, whose slugline was “What, me worry?” But his smug self-confidence was just an expression of his doltish ignorance and denial of any serious reality.
  2. v 2 / These kingdoms Yahweh names were among some of Israel’s conquests and victories. However, Yahweh warns them that in ‘the day of Yahweh’ which will come upon them to destroy them at the hands of their enemies they will fare no better than did the kingdoms they themselves had defeated.
  3. v 3 / Yahweh calls them to wake up to their own danger, their faithlessness toward Him, their injustices toward their neighbors … their smug and proud self-confidence was only hastening the violent destruction they were bringing on themselves.

III / ch 6.4-14 / THE THIRD ‘WOE’ TO THEIR SELF-PRIDE & PLEASURE

They were entertaining themselves in their pride, wealth, and luxurious living [at the expense of those they were oppressing] only to suffer utter destruction at the hands of the nation Yahweh will raise up against them.

  1. vv 4-6 / “Woe to those who lie on beds of ivory and stretch themselves out on their couches, and eat lambs from the flock and calves from the midst of the stall, who sing idle songs to the sound of the harp and like David invent for themselves instruments of music, who drink wine in bowls and anoint themselves with the finest oils, but are not grieved over the ruin of Joseph!” Just look at their self-absorbed lifestyles … and then remember that they were enriching themselves from their abuses of others / see ch 4.1; 5.10-13; 5.24; 6.12
  2. v 7 / However, these very ‘rich and famous’ among them will be the first ones who will be stripped and ripped away from their luxurious parties and revelries and taken off into exile.
  3. v 8 / Yahweh reiterates and denounces again His abhorrence and hatred of all their self-absorbed pride and riotous pleasures – He will give them over to their enemies who will treat them much worse than they have treated those whom they abused and oppressed.
  4. vv 9-14 / Yahweh repeats again in gloomy detail just how utterly deadly all their coming judgments will be upon them … and why? But you have turned justice into poison and the fruit of righteousness into wormwood [bitterness] / v 12.

IV / ch 7.1-3 / THE FIRST VISION ‘SHOW’: LOCUSTS

  1. This is the first of the visions of the coming judgments on Israel – this and the next ‘showed me’ are ‘event’ visions … utterly destructive events that Yahweh will bring upon them.
  2. These locusts will swarm upon their land and crops after their first harvest called ‘the king’s mowings.’ These were the first harvests that they were required to turn over to the king as taxes or required revenues. After they gave the king his share, then they would plant and harvest what came later for themselves to live on…
  3. Except that, there wouldn’t be any crops to follow – Yahweh would send swarms of locusts to totally devour and strip everything that grew after that … absolute and total devastation.
  4. v 2 / This is why we have titled this lesson: Yahweh shows! Appeal to Him! because that is what Amos does: he appeals to Yahweh: “O Lord GOD, please forgive! How can Jacob stand? He is so small!” What makes this appeal to Yahweh so significant is that: [1] Amos is a prophet after Yahweh’s own heart. He appeals to Yahweh because Amos knows He is a God of forgiveness and mercy! Also [2] Amos appeals to Yahweh to forgive and have pity on Israel even though they are persecuting him for delivering this message even as he delivers it / see ch 7.10-17 … just a few verses later on in this chapter. / see also how Jesus prays the same way for rebellious Israel and Jerusalem in His own day [Matthew 23.37-39; Luke 19.41-44].
  5. And, true to His character and promises to have compassion on His people, Yahweh does ‘relent.’ “The LORD relented concerning this: ‘It shall not be,’ said the LORD.”
  6. There are numerous examples of Yahweh’s ‘relenting’ to execute His immediate judgments on those He is warning / see Exodus 32.14; Jonah 3.10.
  7. Does God change His mind when He ‘relents’ [this same word is translated ‘repent’ in KJV]. How does God ‘relent’ or ‘repent’? It is not a change of His mind or character – but rather a change in His immediate course of action. It is always an expression of His willingness to forgive if we repent of our sins, confess and admit to our transgressions against Him, and return to Him in love and faith. God’s ‘relenting’ is always an extension of His mercy toward us, giving us an opportunity to repent ourselves.

V / ch 7.4-6 / THE SECOND VISION ‘SHOW’: JUDGMENT BY FIRE

  1. Here is another vision of a judgment ‘event’ that Yahweh threatens to bring upon Israel. This one, too, will totally devour, devastate, and eat up the land in destruction.
  2. Yet once again, Amos intercedes for Israel and appeals to Yahweh: “O Lord GOD, please cease! How can Jacob stand? He is so small!”
  3. And yet once again, Yahweh relents in compassion and mercy: “The LORD relented concerning this: ‘This also shall not be,’ said the Lord GOD.”

VI / ch 7.7-9 / THE THIRD VISION ‘SHOW’: THE PLUMB LINE

  1. vv 7-8a / Anybody who has ever built anything that needs to stand straight up and not fall over has used a plumb line. A plumb line is a string that has a weighted stone or metal plumb-bob on the end of it to make the string hand straight down. You attach the string to the top of your wall or post and let the string hang down. Your vertical construction needs to be as straight up and down as the plumb line. Otherwise it’s going to lean with the weight of the wall or building … and fall.
  2. vv 8b-9 / Yahweh pronounces to Israel that He is measuring [and has measured] them against the ‘plumbline’ of His own Holiness, righteousness, and justice. They don’t measure ‘straight’ and haven’t for generations. They have repeatedly and egregiously bent, distorted, transgressed, and violated His holy and just requirements for their faithful obedience to Him and His gracious covenant…
  3. And so, because of their not measuring up to His standards of measurement – that is, loving Him, trusting Him, fearing Him, and worshiping Him only – and because they have egregiously, presumptuously, and insistently disobeyed Him in their treatments of others … therefore, His Holiness gives Him no other recourse but to destroy them in keeping with His patient forewarnings. He will bring desolation upon their ‘high places’ of idolatrous worship, upon their ‘religious’ sanctuaries, and against the house of their king Jeroboam II.

VII / ch 7.10-17 / SHOWDOWN AT BETHEL: “GO HOME!”

  1. v 10-11 / This passage is pivotal to understanding much of the context of this book and these messages. Bethel was their primary center of worship in the northern kingdom Israel / see 1 Kings 12.25-33.
  2. But to make the immediate connection between this hostile encounter Amos had with the chief priest of Bethel, just note that the last thing out of Amos’s mouth was “Then the Lord said,…and I will rise against the house of Jeroboam with the sword” / v 9. This was Yahweh’s specific pronouncement of judgment against King Jeroboam II and his monarchial family.
  3. So this Amaziah the priest of Bethel sends an urgent message to King Jeroboam II to the effect that “this upstart prophet from rural Tekoa in the southern kingdom Judah is not just saying bad things about you and calling you out by name, but ‘Amos has conspired against you in the midst of the house of Israel.’
  4. Of course, this immediately got King Jeroboam II’s attention: [1] conspiracies, coups, and assassination plots against kings of both kingdoms were common occurrences and a constant threat; and [2] Jeroboam II’s own house/family/dynasty was in power as a result of an assassination. His great-grandfather, Jehu, had assassinated the then-king Joram to put their family in power / see 2 Kings, chs 9-14. [NOTE: that Amaziah the priest of Bethel conveniently lied about Amos’s personal intentions of leading an insurrection against Jeroboam II and left out the part that Amos was only preaching the messages that Yahweh had sent him there to deliver to Israel.]
  5. vv 12-13 / So Amaziah serves this ultimatum to Amos: “O seer, go home back to Judah where you came from, stay there, and prophesy there if you want to … but don’t ever come back here. This is our turf, I’m the priest here, Jeroboam II is king here … and besides, we already have our own religion here!”
  6. vv 14-17 / That’s when Amos replied with Yahweh’s authority … let’s just let him speak for himself: Then Amos answered and said to Amaziah, “I was no prophet, nor a prophet’s son, but I was a herdsman and a dresser of sycamore figs. 15 But the LORD took me from following the flock, and the LORD said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel.’ 16 Now therefore hear the word of the LORD. “You say, ‘Do not prophesy against Israel, and do not preach against the house of Isaac.’ 17 Therefore thus says the LORD: “‘Your wife shall be a prostitute in the city, and your sons and your daughters shall fall by the sword, and your land shall be divided up with a measuring line; you yourself shall die in an unclean land, and Israel shall surely go into exile away from its land’” … and Yahweh has more to say: “Amos, keep on preaching!”
  7. Everything Amos had just preached was from the mouth of Yahweh, at His commission, and by His authority. So Yahweh just doubles down and reiterates what He had just pronounced. Amaziah’s objections were overruled – Yahweh’s word will stand … it shall be done as He had said.

“Therefore this I will do to you, O Israel; because I will do this to you, PREPARE TO MEET YOUR GOD, O Israel!” / ch 4.12

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Oh, Could I Speak the Matchless Worth

Hymn by Samuel Medley (1738-1799) | Tune arranged by Lowell Mason

  1. Oh, could I speak the matchless worth,
    Oh, could I sound the glories forth
    Which in my Savior shine,
    I’d soar, and touch the heav’nly strings,
    And vie with Gabriel while he sings
    In notes almost divine,
    In notes almost divine.
  1. I’d sing the precious blood He spilt,
    My ransom from the dreadful guilt
    Of sin, and wrath divine;
    I’d sing His glorious righteousness,
    In which all-perfect, heav’nly dress
    My soul shall ever shine,
    My soul shall ever shine.
  1. I’d sing the characters He bears,
    And all the forms of love He wears,
    Exalted on His throne;
    In loftiest songs of sweetest praise,
    I would to everlasting days
    Make all His glories known,
    Make all His glories known.
  1. Soon, the delightful day will come
    When my dear Lord will bring me home,
    And I shall see His face;
    Then with my Savior, Brother, Friend,
    A blest eternity I’ll spend,
    Triumphant in His grace,
    Triumphant in His grace.

This keyboard rendition is by Brian Winger:

Another piano rendition with lyrics to three verses:

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Yahweh calls! Return to Him!

Amos | Lesson 2 | Lesson Notes/Talking Points

Read Amos 3.1 – 5.17

INTRODUCTION

1. We opened up this four-lesson survey of The Book of Amos in Lesson 1. We gave you some background on Amos, the prophet, and summarized the eight indictments he delivered from Yahweh detailing and condemning the sins that the neighboring nations – including Judah and Israel themselves – had committed against Him, other peoples, and against each other.

2. We will now pick up Amos’s prophetic messages where we last left off and continue through the next section: chapters 3.1 – 5.17. This section will contain three messages Amos delivered in Bethel [one of Israel’s primary centers of worship / see ch 7.10-17].

3. Each of these messages is introduced by the same announcement:

[1] Hear this word that the LORD has spoken against you, O people of Israel, against the whole family that I brought up out of the land of Egypt… / ch 3.1

[2] Hear this word, you cows of Bashan, who are on the mountain of Samaria… / ch 4.1

[3] Hear this word that I take up over you in lamentation, O house of Israel… / ch 5.1

4. We will take them in order and describe their themes along with Yahweh’s assessments of their sins and the impending judgments He was bringing on them because of their transgressions of His covenant, righteousness, and Holy justice.

I / CHAPTER 3.1-15 / FIRST MESSAGE:

HEAR THIS WORD THAT THE LORD HAS SPOKEN AGAINST THE WHOLE FAMILY THAT I BROUGHT UP OUT OF THE LAND OF EGYPT.”

1 / vv 1-2 / Yahweh addresses Israel as “family” – His ‘family.’ He reminds Israel that He is the One who had created them as a family [through Abraham] and nation by choosing them to be His people, redeeming them from bondage and slavery in Egypt, and delivering them to belong to Him only and exclusively.

[1] Israel had been blessed with immeasurable privileges by the Grace of Yahweh: “You only have I known of all the families of the earth…” This verb ‘known’ is so much more than mere acquaintance or familiarity; it is intimacy. It is the same verb that is used to describe marital intimacy and union [as in Genesis 4.1, et. al.]

[2] Yahweh had singled out the people of Israel to be His covenant people. He had not only claimed them to belong to Him and fear Him only, but He had also committed to bless them, protect them, and provide for them in every way. / Deuteronomy 7.6-11 & 10.12-22

[3] But with that immeasurable privilege had also come a corresponding responsibility and accountability to be faithful in their response to and use of those privileges – but they had historically and repeatedly failed to live up to those privileges. The weight of their guilt had been compounded by the riches of their privileges they had violated. So Yahweh does what His Holy justice requires: He must and will punish them proportionately to their iniquities.

2 / vv 3-6 / Yahweh gives them seven examples of His just ‘cause and effect’ punishments He will bring upon them. [Yahweh’s justification for v 2]

[1] Yahweh’s Holy justice is an example of Newton’s Third Law of Motion: ‘For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.’ See Proverbs 26.2 KJV, “…the curse causeless shall not come…”

[2] Yahweh will ask them seven simple questions, all answered ‘No!’ They knew the answers from their own common experience. Every question and answer will serve as a self-pronouncement of their own guilt and a vindication of Yahweh’s coming judgments. They had brought everything upon themselves … they had been the ‘cause’ of all of Yahweh’s punishment ‘effect’ they would suffer. “Is the ‘effect’ of Yahweh’s judgments without the ‘cause’ of your iniquities? ‘NO!’”  

3 / vv 7-8 / Yahweh is giving them a loud, clear, unmistakable, unambiguous, advance forewarnings of His judgments against them. Yahweh’s judgments are never ambushes or sneak attacks. In truth, He had been repeatedly and persistently forewarning them for centuries what the disastrous consequences would be for their faithless breaking of His covenant (see 2 Kings 17.7-21). He is now ‘roaring’ again through Amos’s prophetic warnings. / see ch 1.2: Yahweh roars from Zion and utters His voice from Jerusalem…

4 / vv 9-10 / Yahweh even calls their equally-guilty neighbors, Ashdod [Philistia] and Egypt, to come to the mountains of Samaria and witness what He will do in punishment to His own ‘family’ for their covenant unfaithfulness.

[1] They will see the ‘tumults within her.’ These are both the internal conflicts they are waging against each other and also the disastrous destructions Yahweh will wreak upon them. They will also witness ‘the oppressed in her midst,’ that is, all the injustices they are committing against one another [which Yahweh will detail as He goes on here…]

[2] Why would He call on these equally-guilty ‘foreign’ kingdoms to witness and witness against Samaria? [see ch 1.6-9]. Because it would show the foreign nations that Yahweh is also equally just to punish the same injustices and atrocities in EVERY nation and peoples. Yahweh is Sovereign Judge over ALL nations and will hold them all accountable for their conduct – even though He will judge Samaria more severely because of their greater privilege and responsibility. / see Luke 12.35-48    

[3] v 10 is very important: it is one of Yahweh’s summary sentences against Israel: They do not know how to do right,’ declares Yahweh, ‘those who store up violence and robbery in their strongholds.’ He commands them ‘to do right,’ but they have no interest or intention to do so.

[4] Contrast this statement with v 2: “You only have I known [same verb] of all the families of the earth…” And again, Yahweh will indict them in ch 5.12: For I know how many are your transgressions and how great are your sins – you who afflict the righteous, who take a bribe, and turn aside the needy in the gate.  Again, this ‘knowing’ is intimate, first-hand, personal knowledge … except that Israel has betrayed and violated the intimate knowledge with which Yahweh had known them. Yahweh commands the ‘knowing’ and loving of your heart for Him and His Word.

5 / vv 11-15 / This is the ‘word’ that Yahweh is declaring to them – this is what He is going to do…

[1] v 11 / Therefore, thus says the Lord GOD…: He will bring an adversary [Assyria] to surround their land … the defenses they had built and fortified will fall to the enemy … their strongholds will be plundered.

[2] v 12 / Thus says the LORD: “As the shepherd rescues from the mouth of the lion two legs, or a piece of an ear, so shall the people of Israel who dwell in Samaria be rescued, with the corner of a couch and part of a bed.” Amos gives this interesting simile to serve as a parable … Amos is taking this illustration from his own personal experience as a shepherd … and it also comes from the Law of the LORD. Exodus 22.10-13 / If a man gives to his neighbor a donkey or an ox or a sheep or any beast to keep safe, and it dies or is injured or is driven away, without anyone seeing it, 11 an oath by the Lord shall be between them both to see whether or not he has put his hand to his neighbor’s property. The owner shall accept the oath, and he shall not make restitution. 12 But if it is stolen from him, he shall make restitution to its owner. 13 If it is torn by beasts, let him bring it as evidence. He shall not make restitution for what has been torn. There was a code of honor among shepherds: they would never lose a sheep due to their negligence. They would defend the lives of their flocks with their own life if necessary. But if an animal they were responsible for was killed or torn by a lion or another predatory beast, they could bring back a piece of the animal that was left behind as evidence of the loss that was beyond their control, thus absolving them of personal responsibility. The meaning of which is: Yahweh will not totally annihilate Israel – He will still keep His own word to His covenant by rescuing a faithful remnant [‘the corner of a couch and part of a bed’] from the devouring punishment that is coming.

[3] vv 13-15 / Yahweh will destroy the very parts of their lifestyle and works that were the evidences of their most egregious transgressions: their centers of idolatrous worship – the altars of Bethel … and their opulently furnished winter and summer houses they had built with the proceeds of their injustices against the weak and poor – whom they had oppressed and taken advantage of.

II / CHAPTER 4.1-12 / THE SECOND MESSAGE:

HEAR THIS WORD, YOU COWS OF BASHAN, WHO ARE ON THE MOUNTAIN OF SAMARIA…”

1 / vv 1-3 / SELF-ABSORPTION: Yahweh condemns them for their self-absorption – living opulent lifestyles from the proceeds of their injustices toward others.

[1] So, is Yahweh delivering this message to their livestock? No, actually – these ‘cows’ are the women of Samaria. Yahweh calls them ‘cows of Bashan’ because Bashan was a rich, fertile region known for the livestock that grazed there. [Psalm 22.12; Ezekiel 39.18]. It was the ‘bread-basket’ for the region.

[2] So, these self-centered, self-absorbed, narcissistic, demanding wives could have been called ‘The Real Housewives of Samaria’ or ‘Keeping Up With The Bashan-ians.’ They were real Jezebels after the example of one of their former queens. They made constant demands on their husbands to ‘feed’ their excessive tastes and appetites of the ‘high life.’ They didn’t care who their husbands had to rob, extort, or oppress to supply their luxuries: ‘who oppress the poor, who crush the needy.’ There was also a real sense of selfish entitlement to their demands. This was their ‘right’ … they ‘deserved’ it: “…who say to their husbands, ‘bring, that we may drink!’”

[3] Yahweh pronounces judgments on them: they will be led away with ‘hooks/fishhooks’ which may have been literal hooks which the Assyrians were known for using to pierce the flesh of their captives to keep them in line as they led them away into captivity. They would be led out through the breaches in their walls of defenses that will be broken through by the invaders.

2 / vv 4-5 / SELF-DECEPTION: Yahweh condemns them for their self-deception – their hypocritical, lifeless, and self-serving exercises of worship.

[1] Amos kinda mocks them as he issues this ‘call to worship’: ‘Come to Bethel…to Gilgal…’ In fact, they were doing just that. They were being very ‘religious’ in their exercises. But they were doing all this religious activity for their own aggrandizement … to assuage their guilt … and to ‘secure’ their place in Yahweh’s favor. But Yahweh not only rejects their self-serving religious activities – He actually says it has the effect of ‘multiply transgressions.’ Yahweh saw through and rejected their hypocrisies.

[2] Both Bethel and Gilgal were historic places where Yahweh had revealed Himself to them and where His covenant with them had been memorialized and renewed over the previous generations. But they had deceived themselves into believing that there was some kind of ‘lucky charm’ inherent in just frequenting these places and going through the motions of their self-made preferred traditions. Both Bethel and Gilgal will come up again in ch 5.4-5.

3 / vv 6-13 / SELF-DELUSION: Yahweh condemns them for their self-delusions – they had deluded themselves into believing that none of these calamities that had previously come upon them were at all associated with any fault or guilt of their own faithlessness … nor did they hear the ‘roaring’ of Yahweh when he had sent all these catastrophes on them.

[1] NOTE: how Yahweh repeats five times: “…yet you did not return to Me, declares the LORD.” / vv 6, 8, 9, 10, 11. This is why I have titled this section of Amos’s messages “Yahweh calls! Return to Him!” These are just more of the often-repeated forewarnings and disciplinary measures Yahweh had administered over the previous generations to try to get their attention so they would repent, turn away from their transgressions, iniquities, and injustices, and return to Him. But, “yet you did not return to Me, declares Yahweh.”

[2] There are eight specific calamities Yahweh had brought upon them to call them to return to Him:

  • v 6 / Famine: ‘cleanness of teeth’ … because they had nothing to eat…
  • vv 7-8 / Drought: rains were critical to their growing seasons – but Yahweh withheld their rains…
  • v 9a / Blight and mildew: spoiling what little would and did grow … ruined crops…
  • v 9b / Locusts: they would devour and strip bare their essential and staple crops…
  • v 10a / Plagues and Diseases: maybe Bubonic Plague…
  • v 10b / War and Corpses: multitudes of bodies of young men and horses left to rot…
  • v 11 / Fires and Wastelands: landscapes burned, maybe salted, and left uninhabitable…
  • v 12 / Coming Final Desolations: “Prepare to meet your God, O Israel!”

[3] NOTE: that in all these previous desolations – and especially in those yet to come – they were not just ‘random flukes of nature.’ NO! Yahweh says of each one: “I…I…I…I…I…I…I…” until He declares that the day is coming when “Therefore thus I will do to you, O Israel; because I will do this to you, prepare to meet your God, O Israel!” He had sent all the calamities of the previous generations upon them to urgently, insistently, pleadingly call them to ‘Return to Me!’ But, they would not. “Therefore,” Yahweh says, “if you will not return / come to Me, I will come to you … in my judgments! Get ready! Prepare to meet Me!” And it will not be pretty … it will not go well.

[4] Further, to conclude this ‘word’ from Yahweh, He makes it clear to Israel who He is … who this God is … who is calling them … and whom they will meet:

  • He is Israel’s God – the Giver of all their incalculable privileges
  • He is the Creator of Israel and of all the elements of the physical world
  • He is the One who has known them intimately – their most private thoughts and hearts
  • He is the One Sovereign True Judge of Israel … and all the nations of the earth
  • He is Yahweh, the God of armies
  • That is His Name! And they will know it when He comes!

III / CHAPTER 5.1-17 / THE THIRD MESSAGE:

HEAR THIS WORD THAT I TAKE UP OVER YOU IN LAMENTATION, O HOUSE OF ISRAEL…”

This third message [“Hear this word…”] has several distinctive characteristics:

  • It is a lamentation – that’s what Amos himself calls it. That’s what he wrote it to be. A lamentation is dirge – funeral dirge – that is written and delivered to mourn the death of someone. Like David’s lament over Saul and Jonathan in 2 Samuel 1.17-27; or more famously, Jeremiah’s lamentations over the fall and death of Judah and Jerusalem in The Lamentations of Jeremiah. When Amos delivered it in Bethel [maybe even at one of the public services he refers to in ch 4.4-5], he may have even composed a minor key tone or tune and delivered it by singing or chanting it.
  • It is also a literary masterpiece. It is what is called a chiasm [from the Greek alphabet character ‘X/chi’ to mark with a chi]. That means that the verses [or stanzas] are laid out in a symmetrical pattern of statements and reiterations. The first line [or stanza] corresponds with the last line [or stanza]. The second line corresponds to the next-to-last line. And so on – until the climax of the chiasm is written in the middle stanza.

So in the case of this lamentation:

A-vv 1-3 are repeated in other words in vv 16-17.

B-vv 4-6 are repeated in other words in vv 14-15

C-v7 is repeated in other words in vv 10-13

D-HYMN TO YAHWEH is smack in the middle as the climax/theme of the lamentation

So when we outline this chiasm, it will flow like this:

A-Lament of the death of the nation / vv 1-3

B-Call to seek Yahweh and live / vv 4-6

C-Charges of no justice [injustice] / v 7

D-HYMN TO YAHWEH / v 9

C’-Charges of no justice / vv 10-13 [see how we’re working our way backward toward the beginning]

B’-Call to seek Yahweh and live / vv 14-15

A’-Lament of the death of the nation / vv 16-17

Now let’s summarize the messages in each of these stanzas following this chiastic scheme…

A / vv 1-3 / Lament of the death of the nation, 1st part [couple with vv 16-17]

[1] Amos sees forward and projects his message into the inevitable and soon-to-come future when Israel and Samaria will fall in defeat and death to the Assyrians.

[2] Samaria has fallen, no more to rise; she has been forsaken…with none to come to her aid and raise her up again. Those cities and villages that sent out their thousand troops to fight in Samaria’s defense will have maybe a hundred left … and those who sent a hundred will have maybe ten left. Utter decimation.

B / vv 4-6 / Call to seek Yahweh and live, 1st part [couple with vv 14-15]

[1] Two times in this stanza, Yahweh calls to Israel: “Seek Me and live / Seek Yahweh and live.” He calls on those who were frequenting and running to their historical cities of worship: Bethel, Gilgal, and Beersheba. Everyone one of these cities had a long and illustrious legacy of places where Yahweh had promised He would be with them, or where Yahweh had given them promises of His blessing.

[2] But now, for centuries, they had prostituted those same sites with their idolatries. Now they think they can run back there and somehow these places will have magical, mystical, talisman powers – like a ‘good luck charm.’ Or maybe they thought that Yahweh would be obligated to deliver them and save them just because He had given them covenant promises and blessings – even though they had egregiously violated every one of His commandments, conditions, and privileges over and over again…

[3] Their cries for help and their expectations of entitled deliverance shall come to nothing. / see Proverbs 1.20-33

C / v 7 / Charges of no justice [injustice], 1st part [couple with vv 10-13]

O you who turn justice to wormwood [a bitter fruit] and cast down righteousness to the earth!

[1] This is another summary indictment/judgment as in ch 3.10, “They do not know how to do right, declares Yahweh.” / see also ch 2.6-8; 4.1.

[2] Their transgressions, iniquities, and sins were not only spiritual faithlessness, idolatry, and covenant-breaking against Yahweh … but also all their injustices against their neighbors and one another. And they not only committed injustices themselves, but they also colluded with and profited from others who did so also. There was a power structure that abused all those who were weaker than they were.

[3] Yahweh keeps accounts of it all, and He will call them into account for it all.

D / vv 8-9 / HYMN TO YAHWEH [this is the crux, climax, core theme of the chiasm]

[1] The constellations Pleiades and Orion were associated with the new year and the change of the winter and summer growing seasons. And of course, their agricultural cycles were dependent on the consistency of those seasons. If the waters of the Mediterranean Sea did not form into clouds and pour their rains on the earth at the proper times, nothing is going to grow.

[2] Yahweh was in control of it all! He created it all, He commands it all, He provides it all. But He declares in His justice that He will punish them by sending upon them instead destruction and destroy their fortresses in which they were trusting.

C’ / vv 10-13 / Charges of no justice [injustice], 2nd part [see how we’re working our way backward toward the beginning … couple with v 7]

[1] Here are more charges of their social injustices against their neighbors – those who were weaker, poorer, who had no advocates to plead their cases on their behalf against these who were oppressing them.

[2] Not only what they were doing against those weaker than they were, but also “They hate him who reproves in the gate, and they abhor him who speaks the truth.”

[3] Amos himself would certainly have been included in these who were the targets of these rich and powerful people’s attacks against anyone who would dare confront or challenge them.

B’ / vv 14-15 / Call to seek Yahweh and live, 2nd part [couple with vv 4-6]

[1] NOTE how Yahweh turns these commands, promises, and warnings every way they can be turned – how He expresses them every way they can be expressed: “Seek good, and not evil, that you may live… / Hate evil, and love good, and establish justice in the gate [where their town councils, trials, hearings, community affairs took place]…”

[2] If they will return to Him, if they will repent, if they will learn to ‘do good’ as He commands, then He will give them what they want: “that you may live; and so Yahweh, the God of hosts, will be with you as you have said … it may be that Yahweh, the God of hosts, will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.”

[3] What is the ‘good’ Yahweh seeks in our social and public conduct? One of Amos’s contemporary prophets, Micah, tells us: “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does Yahweh require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” / Micah 6.8

[4] But, in these cases also, they will continue to do what they have been doing for generations: “yet you did not return to Me, declares Yahweh.”

A’ / vv 16-17 / Lament of the death of the nation, 2nd part [couple with vv 1-3]

[1] So there is no other recourse but to suffer Yahweh’s just and pronounced punishment. Once again, Amos returns to mourn and lament the coming destruction and death of Samaria and Israel at the murderous hands of the Assyrians…

[2] There will be wailing and lamenting in every community, every activity, every sector of their society: in all the squares, in all the streets, the farmers, the poets, artists, singers, in all vineyards – everybody will be mourning the destruction and death that will overtake them.

[3] Remember how Yahweh reminded them in verse 1 that they are the whole family that I brought up out of the land of Egypt. You also remember what the last plague was that Yahweh stuck Egypt with: it was the death of all their firstborn. “But I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I AM the LORD.” [Exodus 12.12]. The people of Israel were spared because they obeyed Yahweh and sprinkled the blood of the Passover lamb [Christ] on their houses.

[4] But now, because they have defied Yahweh and have stubbornly rejected His Word through His prophets, and have stubbornly refused to repent of their sins and return to Him, NOW He says, “for I will pass through YOUR midst, says Yahweh.”

[5] Now, THEY will be the ones who are destroyed by His justice and consumed by His wrath.

But … this is not the end of the story by any means! Amos laments in ch. 5.1, “Fallen, no more to rise, is the virgin Israel; forsaken on her land, with none to raise her up.”

But Yahweh promises in ch. 9.11 “In that day I will raise up the booth of David that is fallen and repair its breaches, and raise up its ruins and rebuild it as in the days of old….”

That is the promise of Christ who will come! (see Acts 15.12-17).

He will satisfy the justice of Yahweh by His perfect obedience to the Covenant! And He will justify His people by suffering the just punishments of our sins upon Himself! (see Isaiah 53.10-12).

IN CHRIST…WE HAVE BEEN RAISED & RESTORED!

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Yahweh roars! Listen to Him!

Amos | Lesson 1 | Lesson Notes/Talking Points

NOTE: The Lesson Notes document is in PDF form at the end of this post. I also copied the text from those Lesson Notes into this WordPress post, but WordPress doesn’t always respect my original formatting, so there will be some distracting re-formatting going on here…

Read Amos, chapters 1 & 2

I / INTRODUCTION

We are going to conduct a brief survey through the Old Testament Book of Amos. Amos is one of what we call ‘minor prophets.’ There are twelve of them altogether. You will find them at the end of the Old Testament beginning with Hosea and concluding with Malachi. We call them ‘minor’ prophets, not because they are less important than the ‘major’ prophets, but rather because they are shorter, briefer. But each of these twelve ‘minor’ prophets was a very ‘major’ voice and influence during the times they prophesied – or declared Yahweh’s ‘major’ messages to His intended recipients.

II / CHAPTER 1.1  / WHO IS AMOS?

  1. Amos was not called by Yahweh to be a prophet as the primary vocation of his life. He tells us that himself in chapter 7.14-15. By occupation, he was a sheep-breeder/rancher/wool merchant. The word used here in verse 1 for ‘shepherd’ is not the common word for tending one’s personal flock. It is used only one other time in the OT in 2 Kings 3.4 and refers to a sheep-breeder/rancher who owns and runs a substantial business. Most likely the ‘dresser of sycamore figs’ [ch 7.14-15] was an auxiliary business he had to raise food for his flocks. He was faithfully working his business and livelihood when Yahweh called him to deliver His messages to the northern kingdom Israel. We might even say he was an ‘unlikely prophet’ and a surprising choice for Yahweh’s messages … even a ’one-hit wonder’ of a prophet. Just be faithful doing what God gives you to do – and when He wants you to do something else, He’ll let you know and lead you into it.
  2. He came from Tekoa, which is in the northern part of the southern kingdom Judah. Tekoa was about 10-11 miles south of Jerusalem and 5 miles south of Bethlehem. But Yahweh was going to send him north across the border between the two divided kingdoms to deliver His messages ‘concerning Israel.’ There had been intense rivalries between these two divided kingdoms ever since they split from one another. A lot of bad feelings for one another and even wars had been fought across that border. But Amos faithfully obeyed and went … disregarding the consequences.
  3. He delivered his messages to Israel in Bethel / ch 7.10-12. Bethel was only about five miles north of the dividing boundary between Judah and Israel … and it was a center of their idolatrous worship. Jeroboam I had erected one of his two ‘golden calves’ in Bethel / 1 Kings 12.25-33.
  4. Amos conducted his brief prophetic ministry ‘in the days of Uzziah king of Judah and in the days of Jeroboam [II] the son of Joash, king of Israel.’ If you want to find out what was going on in each of these two kingdoms at that time, you can find Uzziah’s [also called Azariah] record in 2 Kings 15.1-7 & 2 Chronicles 26. Jeroboam II’s reign is described in 2 Kings 14.23-29.
  5. His brief prophetic ministry makes him a contemporary of: Isaiah, Hosea, Jonah, and Micah / Isaiah 1.1; Hosea 1.1; 2 Kings 14.25; Micah 1.1.
  6. If you look at the dates of the reigns of these two kings, it will become apparent that this period of time is only 30 or so years immediately before the northern kingdom Israel was invaded by the Assyrians and carried off in exile to Assyria [722 BC]. Amos prophesied probably 760-750 BC.
  7. However, it will help you to understand the significances of his messages if you’ll keep in mind that in both of these kingdoms, they were experiencing one of the most prosperous periods they had enjoyed since the days of King Solomon. This was a ‘golden age’ for both kingdoms. Let’s just summarize that period of time as:
  • – a time of national disunity and rivalry [if you want to get a feel for the bad blood between these two kingdoms, read 2 Chronicles 25.14-28 … this event went down between the fathers of these two current kings … about 20 years before the ‘southerner’ Amos delivered his messages to the ‘northerners’ in Israel…]
  • – a time of military strength and superiority [leading to their pride & downfall / ch 2.14-16]
  • – a time of economic prosperity [though much of it was ill-gotten through greed, abuses of power, injustices toward the weak and the poor, and oppression of their neighbors and kinspeople – this is one of the MAJOR themes of Yahweh’s messages through Amos]
  • – a time of religious activity [though it was a mixed-gods kind of worship and practiced in hypocrisy and superficiality…as we shall see]

8. Amos also makes it a point to date his ministry and messages ‘two years before the earthquake.’ While the event of this earthquake is not described elsewhere, it is mentioned again in Zechariah 14.5. Both of these mentions are made to make it clear that Yahweh sent that earthquake as another strong sign to try to get their attention that His judgment was about to fall on them. But, they didn’t pay any mind to either His messages through Amos or the earthquake.

III / WHERE WE’RE GOING OVER THE NEXT FOUR LESSONS…

  1. I want to at least read all of Amos together with you over the next four lessons. I want us to read it like I hope you will continue to read it at home. If I just try to pick out four texts from sections of Amos, you won’t get the feel for the connection and flow of the whole book.
  2. So I’m going to divide up the nine chapters of Amos into four lessons and title each lesson after a common theme in each section:
    1. chapters 1 & 2: Yahweh roars! Listen to Him! From ch 1.2 [also ch 3.4, 8] Yahweh will ‘roar’ with eight specific judgments against eight kingdoms/nations.
    1. chapters 3-5: Yahweh calls! Return to Him! see the themes of ‘yet you did not return to Me’ in ch 4.6, 8, 9, 10, 11 and ‘Seek Me and live’ in ch 5.4, 6, 14.
    1. chapters 6 & 7: Yahweh shows! Plead with Him! From ‘This is what the Lord GOD showed me…’ in ch 7.1, 4, 7; 8.1 and also 9.1.
    1. chapters 8 & 9: Yahweh restores! Hope in Him! From 9.11-15.
  3. Obviously, we won’t be getting into a lot of details in these Lesson Notes or even in our class time together … but I do want to outline the lessons for you to have … and we’ll try to give as many explanatory comments as we can while we read Amos together to give you the gist of understanding Yahweh’s powerful messages through His prophet Amos.
  4. His over-arching themes throughout all his messages are:
    1. [1] Yahweh is sovereign LORD over all nations and their peoples and will call them all into account to Himself;
    1. [2] Yahweh commands and deserves our whole-hearted devotion and obedience to Him;
    1. [3] Our worship of God must be sincere, pure, spiritually authentic, and justly applied;
    1. [4] We must faithfully live out and consistently act out our faith in God through Scriptural social concerns, action, and justice: “But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” / ch 5.24 / see also ch 5.7, 15 & 6.12
  5. “Amos condemned Israel for an inability ‘to do right’ (3.10). The prophet affirmed the ‘internal’ aspects of covenant relationship with Yahweh, including loving God with a whole heart and obeying His statutes. He also clearly understood the ethical implications of covenant relationship with Yahweh for individual and corporate behavior. His impassioned pleas for the socially disadvantaged (i.e., the poor, needy, and afflicted; cf. 2.6-7; 4.1; 5.11-12; 8.4, 6) and his denouncement of their affluent oppressors (i.e., rich women, dishonest merchants, corrupt rulers, opportunistic lawyers and judges, and false priests; cf. 4.1; 6.1, 4; 7.8-9) have earned him a reputation as God’s spokesman for social justice (cf. 5.7, 15, 24; 6.12).” Andrew Hill/ John Walton, A Survey of the Old Testament
  6. By the way, about Amos’s grasp of literature, vocabulary, and literary style … yes, Amos was a rural farmer and sheep-breeder as his rural allusions reveal [ch 3.3-8, 12], but he is no uneducated bumpkin. Here’s what some scholars have said about Amos’s writing: “Amos makes use of a wide range of literary devices in presenting his oracles: metaphors, simile, epithets, proverbs, short narratives, sarcasm, direct vituperation, vision, taunt, dialogue, irony, satire, parody – a virtual anthology of prophetic forms” / Leland Ryken … and “He is the author of the purest and most classical Hebrew in the Old Testament” / George L. Robinson.

IV / chapters 1 & 2 / LET’S OUTLINE AMOS’S MESSAGES IN THIS FIRST SECTION OF HIS PROPHETIC WARNINGS TO ISRAEL: THE JUDGE & THE JUDGED

  1. “Yahweh roars! Listen to Him!” This theme is announced in ch 1.2 / And he [Amos] said: “Yahweh roars from Zion and utters His voice from Jerusalem…” Yahweh is compared to a lion – the indisputable king of beasts [see also 3.4, 8, 12; 5.19]. There are numerous references in the OT histories of lions being in their regions and were a constant threat to their populations, flocks, herds, and livestock. Since Amos was a breeder of flocks and herds, he would have had first-hand experience with their ravenous ways – especially the terrifying, paralyzing power of a lion’s roar.
  2. Yahweh is going to ‘roar’ against the sins of eight specific kingdoms/nations … we will take them in order as they come.
  3. Eight indictments / think of these next eight sets of charges as Yahweh’s righteous indictments against these kingdoms. Yahweh will preside as both the sovereign Judge and the Prosecutor.
  4. Each specific bill of indictment or set of charges will follow the same pattern: [1] Verdict: “I will not revoke the punishment”; [2] Evidences [nowadays, we say ‘I have the receipts’]: “because…”; [3] Sentence: “So I will…”  
  5. There is a common formula that Yahweh ‘roars’ to announce each kingdom’s sins: “for three transgressions…and for four, I will not revoke the punishment, because….” … and then Yahweh will proceed to enumerate the specific sins of each neighboring kingdom that He condemns – and for which He would judge them … and what He will do to judge them.
    1. the numbers of these transgressions are not specific – there were certainly more than three or even four … nor are they random – Yahweh is not just throwing out numbers
    1. but they do convey the message that Yahweh had recorded all their transgressions and would call them into account for every one
    1. also…if you add 3+4=7…and 7 is the number of completion or fullness. Yahweh is testifying that His ‘because’ of their judgments are both verifiable and more than sufficient evidences for His judgments / see, for example, “Is it not indeed so, O people of Israel? [2.11]
  6. Yahweh is also testifying to His patience and longsuffering toward every kingdom before He sends His judgments on them / compare Romans 2.5 & 11.22.
  7. All of these kingdoms were neighbors of Israel … and each kingdom had long histories of animosities, warfare, atrocities, and even oppressions against Israel … and also toward their own peoples. God cares how we treat our neighbors and each other and will call us into account for every transgression, not only against Him, but also toward others. Every kingdom, every nation is under God’s indisputable sovereignty, and He will judge every nation for their injustices and oppressive treatments of all other peoples.
  8. So what Yahweh will do with these pronouncements of judgments is throw out a web [or a noose, if you please] and begin to draw all the surrounding nations into His court of judgment and pass His sentence of ‘punishment’ on each one – until He calls in Judah in His 7th judgment – and then finally begins to pronounce judgment on Israel themselves in His 8th judgment.
  9. ALSO [and please note this very carefully], I know that often when we read the OT prophets, it is all so ‘foreign’ to us – all the names, places, events, histories, etc – we can’t make heads or tails or sense of it. It is all kinda like ‘prophetic gibberish’ to us … like some kind of cryptic, secret code or something. We don’t ‘get it.’ But, believe me, those who heard these words from Yahweh and His prophets understood them very well. They ‘got it.’
  10. If there was some way to transport Amos to our 2022 world [“Beam him in, Scotty”], and transpose and translate his messages into the events we are experiencing in our culture, society, nation, and international affairs, his messages would be just as crystal clear to us as they were to them.  

V / HERE ARE THE EIGHT JUDGMENTS: THE JUDGE & THE JUDGED…

[1] ch 1.3-5 / DAMASCUS [or Syria/Aram] / Treating people as if they have no worth…

  1. Damascus was the capitol of the bordering kingdom of Syria [or Aram]. They were situated to the NE of Israel.
  2. Their transgression was “because they have threshed Gilead with the threshing sledges of iron.” Gilead was the Israel territory east of the Jordan River just to Aram’s south where the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and half of Manasseh settled when they entered the Promised Land.
  3. Aram [or Syria] had been Israel’s oppressors for nearly 100 years at the time of Amos’s prophecy.
  4. These ‘threshing sledges of iron’ were instruments they would use during their grain harvests. Oxen would pull the wooden sledges [or sleds] over the grain to break the husks loose from the kernels and also to chop up the straw stalks with iron spikes that would drag across the grain.
  5. But Aram is said to have threshed Gilead with these sledges of iron, either by their constant warfare or maybe even by dragging these threshing sledges over the captives and prisoners of war they had taken. Either way, it was an act of atrocity with no regard for the worth or value of a human being.
  6. “War or no war, Hazael had no liberty to treat people as if they were things. It is the first absolute principle for which Amos campaigns: people are not things … ‘Threshing’ is what a man does to a thing, a grain crop, in order to extract profit from it. This is what Hazael did in Gilead. He treated people as things. But found no sympathy, allowance, or forgiveness in Heaven.” / J. A. Motyer
  7. Yahweh sentences them to be devoured by fire [just like you would burn the left-over chaff], and they will be taken off into captivity themselves.
    1. NOTE: in every one of these first seven of eight judgments Yahweh pronounces, “I will send a fire” is included in the destructions that will come upon them. Watch for it…
    1. Burning the city down was not only one of the most common and convenient ways to wreak destruction on those who were conquered – but it is surely a precursor to the final judgment all evildoers and unbelievers will suffer in Hell … the lake of fire / Revelation 19.20; 20.10, 14-15; 21.8. ‘Fire’ is mentioned nine times in Amos / also ch 5.6 & 7.4
  8. That’s why we emphasize in our treatments of all people that they are ‘image-bearers’ of God’s image. People have worth because of God’s image they bear–and God will judge every person or people who treat human ‘image-bearers’ as merely a thing–as if they have no worth. / see James 3.9   

[2] ch 1.6-8 / GAZA [or Philistia/Philistines] / Human trafficking … using people for profit…

  1. Gaza was one of the principal cities of Philistia or Philistines, along with Ashdod, Ashkelon, Ekron, [and Gath]. All are named in this indictment. They were situated to the SW of Israel.
  2. They were one of the longest-running and best-known oppressors of Israel.
  3. Their transgression was “because they carried into exile a whole people to deliver them up to Edom.”
  4. They were like the Syrians – they treated people as mere things – except that their transgression was compounded by their human trafficking of the people they took captive. They would take the captives and sell them as slaves to other nations – in this case, “to deliver them up to Edom.”
  5. Yahweh sentences them also to be burned up by fire and utter destruction, “and the remnant of the Philistines shall perish.”
  6. This same sin of human trafficking is a prevalent and pervasive perversion of human beings in our own world … whether it is for financial profit or sexual pleasure. / see Revelation 18.13

[3] ch 1.9-10 / TYRE [or Phoenicia] / Breaking one’s word to a brother to use him for a profit…

  1. Tyre was a prominent city in Phoenicia and was situated on the Mediterranean coast to the NW of Israel because they were the professional sea-going peoples and merchants of that day.
  2. Their transgression was “because they delivered up a whole people to Edom, and did not remember the covenant of brotherhood.”
  3. Apparently, they had made an alliance [‘the covenant of brotherhood’] with another kingdom [which was well-known at the time], but when an opportunity arose, they betrayed that covenant for a profit. They not only broke their word, but they did so out of greed. They gained the trust of a neighboring kingdom, and then betrayed and sold them as slaves. “In addition, as appalling as that sin was [slave trading/human trafficking], their wickedness went deeper because the very people they sold were their friends. Their debauchery was compounded by their treachery.” / T. J. Betts
  4. Again, as with the Philistines, in this case also, “they delivered up a whole people to Edom…” This is now the second time Edom is said to be complicit in and benefactors of another kingdom’s transgression. “It is possible they [Phoenicia] were in collusion with Gaza and Edom’s slave trade.” [T. J. Betts]. Edom’s turn is coming…wait for it…
  5. What Yahweh is demonstrating here in all these indictments is, not just His displeasure with all these kingdoms’ transgressions … but He is also demonstrating His own character. In this case, Yahweh is a God truth and faithfulness, and He commands the same from all His ‘image-bearer’ creatures.
  6. Lying, breaking faith, reneging on your word of promise, and betrayal of trust is a transgression for which Yahweh says, “I will not revoke the punishment.” “…and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulphur, which is the second death.” / Revelation 21.8

[4] ch 1.11-12 / EDOM [or Edomites] / Unrestrained hatred and spite toward a brother…

  1. Edom was situated SW of Israel around the southern tip of the Dead Sea.
  2. The Edomites were actually blood brothers with the Israelites. They were the descendants of Esau, Jacob’s older brother and Isaac’s other son. Yahweh had forbidden the Israelites to despise the Edomites because of this blood relationship: “You shall not abhor an Edomite, for he is your brother.” / Deuteronomy 23.7
  3. Their transgression was “because he pursued his brother with the sword and cast off all pity, and his anger tore perpetually, and he kept his wrath forever.”
  4. There was a constant family feud and warfare going on between the Israelites and the Edomites. But there may have been a specific, more recent event at that time when the Edomites committed some kind of unrestrained atrocity against Israel – in spite of the history and legacy of their brotherhood. They abandoned any expression of human sympathy or pity and perpetuated their hatred and spite with violence when they had the opportunity.
  5. Because of this transgression … along with all the other transgressions with Philistia and Tyre in which they were complicit … Yahweh decrees “I will not revoke the punishment” they deserve.  

[5] ch 1.13-15 / AMMONITES [or Ammon] / Ambition and uncontrolled violence against the helpless…

  1. Ammon was situated due E of Israel and S of Aram [Syria].
  2. The Ammonites also were distant relatives of the Israelites. They were descendants of Lot, Abraham’s nephew, by a drunken, incestuous liaison between Lot and his younger daughter / Genesis 19.30-38. [The other one, by the way, was Moab…coming up next…]
  3. Their transgression was “because they have ripped open pregnant women in Gilead, that they might enlarge their border.”
  4. This was just another inhumane and violent atrocity [war-crime] often committed against conquered peoples, but Ammon committed it specifically against the Israelites who lived in Gilead, bordering them on the west solely “that they might enlarge their border” and expand their territory.
  5. Yahweh pronounces “I will not revoke the punishment.”

[6] ch 2.1-3 / MOAB [or Moabites] / Showing contempt for others…

  1. Moab also was situated SE of Israel, sandwiched in between Edom to the S and Ammon to the N.
  2. Moab was a brother to Ammon from another incestuous liaison between Lot and his older daughter.
  3. Their transgression was “because he burned to lime the bones of the king of Edom,” in other words, they didn’t just conquer and subjugate the Edomites, but they intentionally desecrated his corpse by burning it, and then used his ashes to make common whitewash – utter contempt.
  4. For this transgression, Yahweh says, “I will not revoke the punishment.”

[7] ch 2.4-5 / JUDAH / Unfaithfulness to God and His Word…

  1. Now, Amos introduces Judah into Yahweh’s denunciations. Judah is Israel’s estranged brother kingdom to the S.
  2. Their transgression is “because they have rejected the law of the LORD, and have not kept his statutes, but their lies have led them astray, those after which their fathers walked.”
  3. [Since we have just concluded an extensive study of Judah’s transgressions and eventual destruction, I will refer you to our lessons from 1 & 2 Kings…especially this one: https://daveparksblog.com/2022/08/27/the-fall-of-the-southern-kingdom-judah-aka-treacherous-sister-jeremiah-3-6-11/ ]

[8] ch 2.6-16 / ISRAEL / NUMEROUS BREACHES OF COVENANT & SOCIAL INJUSTICES

  1. Now, keep in mind that Amos is delivering these denunciations and pronouncements of Yahweh’s judgments on Israel’s neighboring kingdoms in Bethel, one of the most prominent centers of Israel’s idolatrous religious activity [see ch 7.10-17]. As Amos throws out the web of Yahweh’s “I will not revoke the punishment” sentences to their neighboring kingdoms, they begin to listen with increasing interest, and they like it. Then Amos indicts even Judah, and the cheers of “Right on! Yes! Go get ‘em! Bring it on!” begin to erupt… [This is called “rhetoric of entrapment” or ‘gotcha’]
  2. They didn’t suspect that Israel would next up in the queue of Yahweh’s docket – but here it comes! “For three transgressions of Israel, and for four, I will not revoke the punishment, because….”
  3. Since these charges and indictments will be the subjects of Amos’s successive messages, and we will develop them in the following lessons, we will just summarize the charges here:
    1. vv 6-8 / They abused their power and perpetrated egregious injustices – financially, sexually, legally – to exploit the weak and helpless for their personal profit and pleasure … and in so doing, they actually chose to follow in the ways of those who formerly had oppressed them
    1. vv 9-11 / They failed to recognize their debts of gratitude they owed Yahweh for all of His past covenant mercies, deliverances, prosperity, and providences … He had made them all they were and given them all they had: “yet it was I…” / v 9; “Also it was I…” / v 10; “And I…” / v 11. They deliberately abandoned Yahweh and chose to worship other gods
    1. v 12 / They persecuted those who were committed to faithfully serve Yahweh [Nazirites] and oppressed those who faithfully delivered Yahweh’s Word and warnings against their transgressions [prophets]. Rebels against God will oppose [cancel] those who live for God.
  4. So Yahweh passes His righteous and just sentence on them:
    1. v 13 / Behold, I will press you down in your place, as a cart full of sheaves presses down… Just like a wagon or cart breaks down when it is overloaded beyond its capacity, so they are filling up and overloading the ‘cart’ of their guilt with their transgressions and injustices until it breaks down under the weight of Yahweh’s punishment.
    1. vv 14-16 / Flight shall perish from the swift, and the strong shall not retain his strength, nor shall the mighty save his life; 15 he who handles the bow shall not stand, and he who is swift of foot shall not save himself, nor shall he who rides the horse save his life; 16 and he who is stout of heart among the mighty shall flee away naked in that day,” declares the LORD. All of their superior military strength and prowess in which they trusted – all of it will fail in the day of Yahweh’s punishment. They are going down…

“LET JUSTICE ROLL DOWN LIKE WATERS, AND RIGHTEOUSNESS LIKE AN EVER-FLOWING STREAM” / ch 5.24

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The Fall of the Southern Kingdom Judah (aka ‘Treacherous Sister’ / Jeremiah 3.6-11)

1&2 Kings | Lesson 11 | Lesson Notes/Talking Points

Read 2 Kings 25.1-21

I / INTRODUCTION

I don’t know any better way to begin this lesson than by quoting the aphorism we’ve all heard many times: ‘Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.’ Winston Churchill did give this line in a 1948 speech before the House of Commons, but he was also paraphrasing an earlier statement by writer and philosopher George Santayana, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Regardless of who said it first or in what words, both warnings are true – and both warning apply to the Southern Kingdom Judah … as we will learn in this lesson.

II / MAKING THE CONNECTION

  1. So, let’s begin where we left off in our last lesson: the Northern Kingdom Israel had been invaded, captured, and its inhabitants taken off into exile and captivity in Assyria. Yahweh was both emphatic and specific that His judgment on them was because of their repeated and flagrant violations of His covenant He had made with them / 2 Kings 17.1-18.
  2. The Holy Spirit-inspired narrator of The Books of Kings then gives a brief retrospective summary of what eventually befell the Southern Kingdom Judah as well … 136 years later: Judah also did not keep the commandments of the LORD their God, but walked in the customs that Israel had introduced. 20 And the LORD rejected all the descendants of Israel and afflicted them and gave them into the hand of plunderers, until He had cast them out of his sight. / vv 19-20
  3. The lesson is clear: Judah should have seen what Yahweh had done in Israel and turned from their own evil ways – and certainly should not have ‘walked in the customs that Israel had introduced’ which brought the disastrous consequences upon Israel.
  4. But – as the narrator says, Judah also did not keep the commandments of the LORD their God…”
  5. NOTE: They followed the exact same steps and course that led to Israel’s fall: egregious sins … repeated warnings … stubborn refusals and rebellions … disastrous consequences / see Lesson 10
  6. That’s why the prophet Jeremiah would shame Judah after their own exile and captivity into Babylon by calling them “the treacherous sister” who should have learned from the history they had just witnessed – but refused to do so: The LORD said to me in the days of King Josiah: “Have you seen what she did, that faithless one, Israel, how she went up on every high hill and under every green tree, and there played the whore? And I thought, ‘After she has done all this she will return to me,’ but she did not return, and her treacherous sister Judah saw it. She saw that for all the adulteries of that faithless one, Israel, I had sent her away with a decree of divorce. Yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear, but she too went and played the whore. Because she took her whoredom lightly, she polluted the land, committing adultery with stone and tree. 10 Yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah did not return to me with her whole heart, but in pretense, declares the LORD.” 11 And the Lord said to me, “Faithless Israel has shown herself more righteous than treacherous Judah.” / Jeremiah 3.6-11
  7. That is the story we will unfold in this lesson – the path and course that ‘Judah also’ walked to follow their northern sister kingdom into exile and captivity.
  8. What we will do is pick up Judah’s story here in 2 Kings 17.19-20 when Israel went into Assyrian exile and follow them king by king. There were eight kings who reigned in Judah between Israel’s Assyrian exile [722 BC] and Judah’s fall to Babylon [586 BC]. as recorded in chapter 25.
  9. We will [1] name each king, [2] where his historical record is found in 2 Kings, [3] how Yahweh evaluated him and his reign, and [4] how his reign affected Judah’s final fall and demise.

III / JUDAH’S DOWNWARD SPIRAL INTO APOSTACY AND EXILE

[1] HEZEKIAH / 2 Kings 18.1 – 20.21 / He reigned 29 years / ch 18.2

  1. And he did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, according to all that David his father had done. He removed the high places and broke the pillars and cut down the Asherah. And he broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made, for until those days the people of Israel had made offerings to it (it was called Nehushtan). He trusted in the LORD, the God of Israel, so that there was none like him among all the kings of Judah after him, nor among those who were before him. For he held fast to the LORD. He did not depart from following Him, but kept the commandments that the LORD commanded Moses. And the LORD was with him; wherever he went out, he prospered. He rebelled against the king of Assyria and would not serve him. / ch 18.3-8
  2. Keep in mind that Hezekiah assumed the Judah throne ‘in the third year of Hoshea…king of Israel,’ which means he would have witnessed the invasion and capture of Samaria to his north.
  3. In fact, one of the most notable accounts of Hezekiah’s reign was how the Assyrians then moved south against Jerusalem and laid siege to the city. There was a long standoff as the Assyrians demanded their surrender and mocked Yahweh and their faith in Him. Hezekiah prayed to Yahweh to intervene on their behalf. Yahweh sent Isaiah the prophet to Hezekiah with a prophecy of doom against Assyria. And that night the angel of the Lord went out and struck down 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians. And when people arose early in the morning, behold, these were all dead bodies. / ch 19.35
  4. You will find the full account of this momentous deliverance in chs 18 & 19 … and also in Isaiah 36-39

[2] MANASSEH / 2 Kings 21.1-18 / He reigned 55 years / ch 21.1

  1. And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, according to the despicable practices of the nations whom the LORD drove out before the people of Israel. / ch 21.2
  2. Read what all he re-introduced into the mainstream of Judah’s  religious, national, and social culture / ch 21.3-9
  3. We need to stop and focus on Manasseh before going on … because Yahweh specifically names Manasseh as being the ‘tipping point’ of Judah’s apostacy and destruction. Manasseh greased the skids that sent Judah careening down the course of their rebellion against Yahweh.  
  4. In fact, Yahweh places the weight of blame on Manasseh for tipping the scales of Yahweh’s holiness, justice, and wrath against Judah toward their inevitable destruction and exile. Read it in ch 21.10-16
  5. We will note it when we come to it, but Yahweh will ‘circle back’ again to Manasseh when He credits a couple future kings of Judah for their temporary reforms they instituted, trying to save Judah from His wrath. But as Yahweh will say, “the die has been cast” by Manasseh / see ch 23.26-27 & 24.1-4 

[3] AMON / 2 Kings 21.19-26 / He reigned 2 years / ch 21.19

And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, as Manasseh his father had done. 21 He walked in all the way in which his father walked and served the idols that his father served and worshiped them. 22 He abandoned the LORD, the God of his fathers, and did not walk in the way of the LORD.  / ch 21.20-22 / That’s all we need to know about Amon…

[4] JOSIAH / 2 Kings 22.1 – 23.30 / He reigned 31 years / ch 22.1

  1. And he did what was right in the eyes of the LORD and walked in all the way of David his father, and he did not turn aside to the right or to the left. / ch 22.2
  2. Before him there was no king like him, who turned to the LORD with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might, according to all the Law of Moses, nor did any like him arise after him. / ch 23.25
  3. ch 22.8-10 / Josiah is one of the brightest of the shining stars of Judah’s kings. Almost two whole chapters are given to chronicle how he repaired the Temple of Yahweh … and in the process, they discovered the long-neglected Torah, the Book of the Law in the house of the LORD.  
  4. ch 22.11-17 / When they read what Yahweh had pronounced against them if they violated His covenant and commandments as they had done for centuries, they were terrified at the prospects of the impending judgments that loomed over them.
  5. ch 22.18-20 / However, Yahweh assured Josiah that because his own heart was penitent toward Yahweh, and because he had made sweeping reforms and called Judah back to Yahweh, the judgment would not fall on Judah during his lifetime. It would come, but it would be later after he had died.
  6. Still, after all the good he did, he couldn’t re-tip the scales of Yahweh’s holiness, justice, and wrath back to pre-Manasseh / ch 23.26-27: Still the LORD did not turn from the burning of His great wrath, by which His anger was kindled against Judah, because of all the provocations with which Manasseh had provoked Him. 27 And the LORD said, “I will remove Judah also out of my sight, as I have removed Israel, and I will cast off this city that I have chosen, Jerusalem,  and the house of which I said, ‘My name shall be there.’”

[5] JEHOAHAZ / 2 Kings 23.31-33 / He reigned 3 months / ch 23.31

And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his fathers had done. / ch 23.32

[6] JEHOIAKIM / 2 Kings 23.34-37 / He reigned 11 years / ch 23.36

  1. His original name is Eliakim. But when Judah was subjected to be a subservient state to the Egyptians, the Pharaoh Neco appointed him to be king and changed his name to Jehoiachim. He was Jehoahaz’s brother and the son of Josiah.
  2. And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his fathers had done. / ch 23.37
  3.  ch 24.1-2 / The beginnings of the end began during Jehoiakim’s reign: In his days, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up, and Jehoiakim became his servant for three years. Then he turned and rebelled against him. And the LORD sent against him bands of the Chaldeans and bands of the Syrians and bands of the Moabites and bands of the Ammonites, and sent them against Judah to destroy it, according to the word of the LORD that he spoke by his servants the prophets.
  4. ch 24.3-4 / And yet again, Yahweh circles back to Manasseh, telling us again that Manasseh’s sins had cast this die that was now being filled with the inevitable wrath of Yahweh and the destruction of the kingdom: Surely this came upon Judah at the command of the LORD, to remove them out of His sight, for the sins of Manasseh, according to all that he had done, and also for the innocent blood that he had shed. For he filled Jerusalem with innocent blood, and the LORD would not pardon.

[7] JEHOIACHIN / 2 Kings 24.6-9 / He reigned 3 months / ch 24.8

  1. And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father had done. / ch 24.9
  2. v 10 / It was during his reign that the Babylonians began their final and fatal siege against Jerusalem.
  3. vv 11-12 / Jehoiachin surrendered himself to the king of Babylon along with many of his relatives, kingdom officials, and prominent leaders. They were carried off to Babylon / vv 15-16
  4. v 13 / The Babylonians began plundering and stripping the Temple of all its treasures and gold that Solomon had made.
  5. v 14 / They captured and carried away 10,000 of the ‘brightest and best’ of the inhabitants of Jerusalem. None remained, except the poorest people of the land.
  6. v 17 / And the king of Babylon made Mattaniah, Jehoiachin’s uncle, king in his place, and changed his name to Zedekiah.

[8] ZEDEKIAH / 2 Kings 24.18-19 / He reigned 11 years / ch 24.18

And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that Jehoiakim had done. 20 For because of the anger of the LORD it came to the point in Jerusalem and Judah that He cast them out from His presence.

And Zedekiah rebelled against the king of Babylon. ch 24.19-20.

CHAPTER 25 / “AND NOW, THE END IS NEAR, AND SO I FACE THE FINAL CURTAIN…”

  1. That’s right – Zedekiah started in on his own rendition of “I did it my way!” … it didn’t end well
  2. v 1 / He submitted to his role as vassal king for nine of his eleven years … but in the ninth year of his reign, he decided he would rebel against the king of Babylon and take Judah back from him. He kinda declared Judah’s independence from Babylon.
  3. vv 2-3 / Once again, the king of Babylon moved against Jerusalem and laid a two-year siege against the city and its remaining inhabitants … they ran out of food … famine ensued.
  4. vv 4-5 / The walls of the city were breached, and the Babylonians surged into the city … all the remaining soldiers and men of war fled in their vain efforts to escape…
  5. vv 6-7 / Then they captured the king and brought him up to the king of Babylon at Riblah, and they passed sentence on him. They slaughtered the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes, and put out the eyes of Zedekiah and bound him in chains and took him to Babylon.
  6. vv 8-10 / In the fifth month, on the seventh day of the month—that was the nineteenth year of King Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon—Nebuzaradan, the captain of the bodyguard, a servant of the king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem. And he burned the house of the LORD and the king’s house and all the houses of Jerusalem; every great house he burned down.  10 And all the army of the Chaldeans, who were with the captain of the guard, broke down the walls around Jerusalem.
  7. vv 11-17 / More of the inhabitants of Jerusalem taken as prisoners and carried into exile … along with all the treasures, gold, silver, bronze and everything else of material value was stripped from the Temple before they burned it – and all of it was carted off to Babylon. [Some of these treasured vessels will re-surface in Babylon in Daniel 5.1-4 when Belshazzar brings them out to mock Yahweh … that didn’t end well, either].

So, let’s go back to where we began this lesson in 2 Kings 17.19-20 / Judah also did not keep the commandments of the LORD their God, but walked in the customs that Israel had introduced. 20 And the LORD rejected all the descendants of Israel and afflicted them and gave them into the hand of plunderers, until He had cast them out of His sight.

  • ch 17.23b: So Israel was exiled from their own land to Assyria until this day.
  • ch 25.21: So Judah was taken into exile out of its land.

2 Chronicles 36.15-16 / The LORD, the God of their fathers, sent persistently to them by His messengers, because He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling place. But they kept mocking the messengers of God, despising His words and scoffing at His prophets, until the wrath of the LORD rose against His people, until there was no remedy.  

BUT … YAHWEH HAS PROMISED ‘YOU SHALL NOT LACK A MAN ON THE THRONE OF ISRAEL.’ / 1 Kings 2.4; 8.25; 9.5; 2 Chronicles 6.16; 7.18; Jeremiah 33.17

WE WAIT AND LONG FOR HIM TO COME! / Luke 2.25, 38

“THE KING IS COMING!” / Luke 1.26-33

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The Fall of the Northern Kingdom Israel: when, how, & why

Read 2 Kings 17.1-41 | Lesson 10 | Lesson Notes/Talking Points

I / INTRODUCTION

  1. We are all surrounded in our daily lives by all kinds of warning alerts and alarms: tornado warning sirens, smoke and CO2 alarms, screeching alerts on our phones warning us of weather dangers, and, of course, in our automobiles. When Debbie and I first bought our new vehicle, both of us were paranoid and skittish about driving it because we had to get used to all the beeps and alerts that frequently gave us warning signals and messages. If we drive too close to the lines on either side of the driving lane, we get a bright orange icon that pops up on the console screen “LANE DEPARTURE,” and the steering wheel gently wobbles back and forth. If we ride the lines too long, the bright orange icon flashes “STEERING REQUIRED,” and the beeping starts. If we approach an object or another vehicle too closely, the bright orange warning icon flashes “BRAKE,” and if we don’t brake enough soon enough, the repeated warning beeping starts, and the vehicle will actually begin braking itself. Then, of course, when the fuel begins to run low, the bright orange warning icon flashes “LOW FUEL,” and the car will start ‘ding’ing.
  2. The purpose of all these warning signals is to alert us to DANGER, and if we ignore them, it will end in DISASTER.
  3. That is the story we will learn from in our lesson: how Yahweh repeatedly sent the Northern Kingdom Israel warning message after warning message; but Israel stubbornly rejected and rebelled against them all; until Yahweh finally brought disaster upon them by the invasion of the Assyrians – casting them out of their homeland and into bondage, captivity, and exile.
  4. In this lesson, we’ll examine The Fall of the Northern Kingdom Israel: when, how, and why.

II / MAKING THE CONNECTION

  1. After the death of King Solomon, the united kingdom of Israel was divided when the northern tribes rebelled and seceded / 1 Kings 12
  2. The northern tribes/kingdom were called Israel and the southern tribes/kingdom were called Judah.
  3. The northern kingdom’s first king was Jeroboam … by the way, the history of the kingdom Israel is summarized for us again here in 2 Kings 17.21-23
  4. They existed as a separate kingdom for 209 years until this time we are studying now [Jeroboam’s reign over Israel was circa 931 BC]
  5. 722 BC. This seminal date marks the Assyrian exile and captivity. This is one of those dates you need to know and remember. This event will set the course of history forever for the 10 northern tribes.

III / vv 1-5 / THE FALL OF THE NORTHERN KINGDOM ISRAEL … WHEN

  1. v 1 / Hoshea was the reigning king of Israel. He reigned for nine years.
  2. v 3 / Early on in his reign, Shalmaneser, the king of Assyria [the superpower at that time] began marching toward Samaria, conquering all the other kingdoms as he came / see ch 16.9
  3. He forced Hoshea to submit to him as a vassal kingdom and pay an annual tribute. Hoshea acquiesced, conceded, and complied with his demands.
  4. v 4 / However, Hoshea began feeling his oats, and didn’t want his annual tribute to the Assyrians any longer. He resented being subject and subservient to the Assyrian king.
  5. So instead he took the annual tribute money and sent it to So, king of Egypt, and made an alliance with the Egyptians, thinking they could fend off the Assyrians. Of course, the Assyrian king took that as an act of insubordination, betrayal, and treason and decided to move in to take Samaria by force.
  6. v 5 / The king of Assyria captured Hoshea and imprisoned him … then they laid siege to Samaria – barricaded and blockaded the city – for three years. They shut the city in on themselves – no one could come in or go out for those three years while they lived off of what food and water they had in the city.

IV / v 6 / THE FALL OF THE NORTHERN KINGDOM ISRAEL … HOW

  1. Then, in the 9th year of King Hoshea’s reign – THIS IS THE 722 BC DATE – the Assyrians broke into the city and captured it.
  2. They carried off the inhabitants of Samaria to Assyria and re-settled them in cities they had designated for that purpose.
  3. Assyrian historical records of this event record that they carried off and re-settled 27,290 captive Israelites.

V / vv 7-18 / THE FALL OF THE NORTHERN KINGDOM ISRAEL … WHY

  1. Now we get to the crux of the lesson: the WHY. NOTE the opening phrase in v 7: And this occurred because the people of Israel had sinned against the LORD their God…”
  2. KEEP IN MIND: the Holy Spirit-inspired author, writer, historian, narrator is not writing like a field reporter – describing the events as they happened – but rather many years later as a commentator [see “to this day” in vv 23, 34, 41]. He is evaluating the events in retrospectfrom Yahweh’s perspective … as Yahweh saw, evaluated, and judged them!
  3. As a reminder, I’m including this statement from Lesson 1: However, these records are not just royal or national chronicles [they recorded and kept meticulous records of their national affairs – especially their royal reigns]. They are specifically Yahweh’s holy critiques and evaluations of their relationships with Him. Here is an excellent Purpose Statement for these books from Yahweh’s holy perspective: “The books of Kings continue the story of kingship begun in Samuel, and their primary purpose is to record the ‘covenant failure’ of the Hebrew united and divided monarchies. The Biblical narrative implicitly balances the notion of God’s sovereignty and the reality of human freedom and declares that God was justified in exiling His people for the failure of the kings of Israel and Judah to uphold the ideals of the Davidic covenant.” [A Survey of the Old Testament / Andrew E. Hill & Jonathan H. Walton]. This theme also serves to show us the ultimate failure of all human kings and our need for King Jesus to come with His Gospel and salvation!
  4. vv 7-8 / YAHWEH’S CHARGES & INDICTMENTS: Here is a summary of what will follow. The narrator will give numerous details in the succeeding verses. What we will do in the following verses is note several specific kinds of statements that are all woven together to build the case for cause and effectcharges, indictments, evidences, witnesses against them, and consequences.
  5. I will denote them by these categories:
    • Egregious Sins that the people of Israel committed against Yahweh
    • Repeated Warnings that Yahweh had given them over and over again – pointing out what they were doing against Him and His covenant, calling them to repent and return to Him, and warning them of the disastrous consequences of their continued disobedience and rebellion against Him
    • Stubborn Refusals/Rebellions that Israel threw back at Yahweh. These were not just ‘slip-ups’ that they committed – they flouted and flaunted their contempt and disdain for Yahweh with every act of rebellion
    • Disastrous Consequences that Yahweh brought upon them as He had warned them and said He would / Yahweh had even warned them of eventual captivity in Deuteronomy 28 & 29!

vv 7-18

  • Egregious Sins: And this occurred because the people of Israel had sinned against the LORD their God, who had brought them up out of the land of Egypt from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and had feared other gods and walked in the customs of the nations whom the LORD drove out before the people of Israel, and in the customs that the kings of Israel had practiced.  / What would have made Israel think that if Yahweh had cast the Caananite nations out of the land so He could give that Promised Land to His people as their covenant homeland … that He would not cast Israel out also for importing, adopting, and practicing the same sins?
  • Egregious Sins: And the people of Israel did secretly against the LORD their God things that were not right.  / These were the sins they practiced in secrecy because they refused to love Yahweh with all their hearts and keep His covenant commandments – then there were all these other egregious sins they committed openly in their national and civil and ‘religious’ life…
  • Egregious Sins: They built for themselves high places in all their towns, from watchtower to fortified city.  / in other words, everywhere they lived in Israel … from the smallest village and hamlet to the major fortified cities.
  • Egregious Sins: They set up for themselves pillars and Asherim on every high hill and under every green tree, 11 and there they made offerings on all the high places, as the nations did whom the LORD carried away before them. / These were vile, obscene, and idolatrous images to the false gods of the heathen nations … which they adopted and practiced.
  • Egregious Sins: And they did wicked things, provoking the LORD to anger, 12 and they served idols,  / and they did all this openly, brazenly, throwing it back in Yahweh’s holy face, as if to say, “NO! We will not love You only – take this!”
  • Repeated Warnings: …of which the LORD had said to them, “You shall not do this.” / as He did repeatedly from the first giving of the Law at Sinai / see Exodus 20.1-4, et. al. 
  • Repeated Warnings: 13 Yet the LORD warned Israel and Judah by every prophet and every seer, saying, “Turn from your evil ways and keep my commandments and my statutes, in accordance with all the Law that I commanded your fathers, and that I sent to you by my servants the prophets.”  / Yahweh had repeatedly sent them prophet after prophet with their stern warnings from Yahweh – warning after warning… [NOTE: a similar testimony from Yahweh will be given to Judah 136 years later when they, too, fell to the Babylonians / 2 Chronicles 36.15]
  • Stubborn Refusals/Rebellions: 14 But they would not listen, but were stubborn, as their fathers had been, who did not believe in the LORD their God.  / We have to remember here the solemn warnings for stubborn refusal to receive and obey God’s corrections in Proverbs 28.14 & 29.1 … read them]
  • Stubborn Refusals/Rebellions: 15 They despised His statutes and His covenant that He made with their fathers
  • Repeated Warnings: …and the warnings that He gave them.
  • Egregious Sins: They went after false idols and became false,
  • Egregious Sins: …and they followed the nations that were around them,
  • Repeated Warnings: …concerning whom the LORD had commanded them that they should not do like them. 
  • Stubborn Refusals/Rebellions: 16 And they abandoned all the commandments of the LORD their God,
  • Egregious Sins: …and made for themselves metal images of two calves;  / these are the two golden calves that Jeroboam initially erected as their central and primary objects of worship / see 1 Kings 12.25-33
  • Egregious Sins: …and they made an Asherah and worshiped all the host of heaven and served Baal.  / even continued after Elijah’s showdown at Mount Carmel / 1 Kings 18 
  • Egregious Sins: 17 And they burned their sons and their daughters as offerings and used divination and omens and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the LORD, provoking him to anger.  / Yes, this was child sacrifice which was prominently practiced.
  • Disastrous Consequences: 18 Therefore the LORD was very angry with Israel and removed them out of His sight. None was left but the tribe of Judah only.

VI / vv 19-20 / NOW IT’S JUDAH’S TURN: THE SUBSEQUENT APOSTACY AND FALL OF THE SOUTHERN KINGDOM JUDAH

  1. The events in this brief account did not happen for another 136 years after the Fall of the Northern Kingdom Israel. That was in the year 586 BC. That’s another important seminal date you need to know and remember:
    • 722 BC: The Fall of the Northern Kingdom Israel and their captivity and their exile to Assyrian – from whence they never returned en masse.
    • 586 BC: The Fall of the Southern Kingdom Judah, the destruction of Jerusalem and The Temple, and their captivity and exile into Babylon – from whence they would return 70 years later according to Yahweh’s promise / Jeremiah 25.1-14 [especially vv 11-12] & 29.10-14
  2. This account is written more fully in 2 Kings 24-25 & 2 Chronicles 36
  3. But the narrator, again writing in retrospect years after the events, brings this statement into this account to show that “And Yahweh rejected ALL the descendants of Israel [both Israel and Judah] and afflicted them and gave them into the hand of plunderers, until He had cast them out of His sight.” [NOTE: from 1 Kings 5-8 to here is the beginning and end of The Temple]
  4. You would have thought that the Southern Kingdom Judah would have taken serious note of Yahweh’s disastrous consequences that He brought upon the Northern Kingdom Israel … would have seen Yahweh’s judgment and Israel’s fall as yet another serious warning and ultimatum to turn from their own idolatries and covenant-breaking against Yahweh. But they didn’t – and the same disastrous consequences befell them 136 years later.
  5. Jeremiah laments their obstinate refusal to repent of their same sins and return to fear Yahweh and serve Him only … even after this serious warning and ultimatum Yahweh gave them by casting Israel out of the land / Jeremiah 3.6-11

VII / vv 21-23 / IN SUMMARY: A THREE-VERSE REVIEW AND SUMMARY OF THE NORTHERN KINGDOM ISRAEL FROM JEROBOAM TO EXILE IN ASSYRIA

  1. These verses briefly and succinctly summarize and encapsulate their 209-year history as a separate, divided kingdom – from the time of their secession from Judah under Jeroboam, their first king [1 Kings 12], to the Assyrian captivity and exile.
  2. And as the narrator says when he writes years later, “So Israel was exiled from their own land to Assyria until this day.”

VIII / vv 24-41 / THE IDOLATROUS RE-POPULATION OF SAMARIA … AND HOW THE SAMARITANS BECAME ‘THE SAMARITANS’

  1. We don’t have the time to draw out this section of 2 Kings 17 – so let me summarize it briefly…
  2. When the Jewish Samaritans were taken into exile to Assyria, the Assyrian king transplanted them with numerous other nationalities from other peoples he had conquered. When they moved into the land, they brought their own provincial gods and idolatries with them and began to practice them.
  3. Yahweh plagued them with ravaging lions … so they petitioned the Assyrian king to send them a former Samaritan priest to “teach them the law of the god of the land” …which he did…
  4. However, what they did was to mix, syncretize, and assimilate their own pagan practices with some of the formalities of the worship of Yahweh they had learned from the Samaritan priest.
  5. From that day on, ‘the Samaritans’ would be known as a mixed-breed inferior ethnic/religious class.
  6. So that, even in Jesus’ day, it would be the prevailing rule: “For the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans” / John 4.9

BUT JESUS CHRIST, THE MESSIAH, WOULD COME & SAVE THEM, TOO! / JOHN 4.42

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“Your love is like (no, better than) fine wine”

Today is Debbie’s birthday.

Although she has been the delight of my eyes from the very first time ever I saw her face, she has become the delight of my heart the more I came to know her … and the delight of my life as she has given me hers, and we have lived and served the Lord together for the past 46 of her years.

Her delight to me and my delight in her has aged well – kinda like fine wine. She just keeps getting better and better!

“And no one after drinking old wine desires the new, for he says, ‘The old is better’” [Luke 5.39].

So, thank you, Debbie, for all the ways you keep saving, giving, and bringing out the best of yourself for me to love more and more:

“Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now” [John 2.10].

“You have captivated my heart, my Sister, my Bride; you have captivated my heart with one glance of your eyes, with one jewel of your necklace. How beautiful is your love, my Sister, my Bride! How much better is your love than wine, and the fragrance of your oils than any spice! Your lips drip nectar, my Bride; honey and milk are under your tongue; the fragrance of your garments is like the fragrance of Lebanon” / Song of Solomon 4.9-11.

Sometimes I think I couldn’t love you more than I have and do – but you keep giving me reason to sing,

“Oh, I love you more today than yesterday

But not as much as tomorrow

I love you more today than yesterday

But, Darling, not as much as tomorrow” ~Spiral Staircase

I’m already looking forward to tomorrow … and then “forever and a day!”

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