INTRODUCTION TO AMOS CHAPTER 4
|The women of Samaria had led their husbands around and now he tells them that they will be led away to captivity with fishhooks in their nose. God had withholden the rain, smitten them with blasting and mildew, gardens had failed trees and crops were ravished by the locust, their young men had perished. Deuteronomy 28 was being fulfilled before their very eyes and yet they could not see. The prophet urges them to prepare to meet their God. He’s coming down hard on them with the devastations mentioned in the text. Yes, it will not be a god that they carry around with them or wear around their neck. It will be the God who is the mountain shaper and the wind maker─he’s the one who brings everything out of nothing. This visit won’t be friendly and they will have no one to help them.|
EXPOSITION TO AMOS CHAPTER 4
1 Hear this word, ye kine of Bashan, that are in the mountain of Samaria, which oppress the poor, which crush the needy, which say to their masters, Bring, and let us drink.
With ridicule Amos calls the women of Samaria cows of Bashan. He says that these women have no feelings for the poor or needy and all they want is another drink. Amos uses the epithet “fat cows of Bashan” to describe the court women. Cows that break down fences and grow fat because they are unrestrained describes the drunken women of Samaria. Amos likened these iniquitous, opulent, idle, lazy women as being fattened for the slaughter. Picture them as saying to their husbands “bring me another tall cool drink.”
2 The Lord GOD hath sworn by his holiness, that, lo, the days shall come upon you, that he will take you away with hooks, and your posterity with fishhooks.
Monuments discovered by archaeologist show pictures of relief on the monuments of people in long lines with fish hooks in their noses all chained together in a line being led to the destination of their captivity.
3 And ye shall go out at the breaches, every cow at that which is before her; and ye shall cast them into the palace, saith the LORD.
I have been in on the cattle round up riding a horse and yelling at the top of my lungs and when we got the cattle rounded up in pens we used a cattle prod to get them in the chute for vaccination or loading to haul them to market. The prophet Amos tells the cows (women) of Samaria that they are going to be roped and hooked in the nose with a fish hook and drove off to kingdom come.
4 Come to Bethel, and transgress; at Gilgal multiply transgression; and bring your sacrifices every morning, and your tithes after three years:
The prophet is pouring out his derision and contempt upon these fat cows by telling them to come to Bethel and sin and over at Gilgal they would make an offering to the Golden Calf. All of this was nothing more than a religious show.
5 And offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving with leaven, and proclaim and publish the free offerings: for this liketh you, O ye children of Israel, saith the Lord GOD.
They went thru a ritual of thanksgiving to the Idol –not only paying their tithes but publishing their free offerings. This was a religious sham.
6 And I also have given you cleanness of teeth in all your cities, and want of bread in all your places: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD.
God had punished them with poor harvest, famine, and want of bread, but they still did not get hungry for God.
7 And also I have withholden the rain from you, when there were yet three months to the harvest: and I caused it to rain upon one city, and caused it not to rain upon another city: one piece was rained upon, and the piece whereupon it rained not withered.
God had caused a drought—and just before harvest when the barley crop needed raid to ear properly he withheld the rain—some rain here but for the most part their crops were withering and still they did not thirst for God.
8 So two or three cities wandered unto one city, to drink water; but they were not satisfied: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD.
The famine became so severe that people wandered from city to city for drinking water and yet they never wandered back to God.
9 I have smitten you with blasting and mildew: when your gardens and your vineyards and your fig trees and your olive trees increased, the palmerworm devoured them: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD.
Blight began to spread from field to field. The insect infestation (palmerworm or locust) was wiping out their fig and olive harvest and “yet have ye not returned to me, saith the LORD.”
10 I have sent among you the pestilence after the manner of Egypt: your young men have I slain with the sword, and have taken away your horses; and I have made the stink of your camps to come up unto your nostrils: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD.
It’s getting worse! An old Egyptian plague has arrived. Their young men have begun to disappear (War) your prize horses suddenly dying. It stinks to high heaven from the rotting carcasses. They are still ignoring the signs and will not return to God.
11 I have overthrown some of you, as God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, and ye were as a firebrand plucked out of the burning: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD.
He probably hit them with an earthquake and fires like when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. Some had been rescued like a burning piece of firewood—they are still ignoring God.
12 Therefore thus will I do unto thee, O Israel: and because I will do this unto thee, prepare to meet thy God, O Israel.
This verse is the golden text of Amos, “prepare to meet thy God!” Amos has just told them about the disasters of famine, drought, blight, plagues, war and fires and they had not responded─time was running out─Amos tells them to get ready to meet God. They may have escaped famine, drought and flood but how are they going to escape the awful wrath of God?
13 For, lo, he that formeth the mountains, and createth the wind, and declareth unto man what is his thought, that maketh the morning darkness, and treadeth upon the high places of the earth, The LORD,The God of hosts, is his name.
The atom and angel maker—the mountain shaper and wind maker—the mind reader and light giver—the mountain stalker and God of Gods. Amos reminds them that He is the one whom they need to “prepare to meet.”
According to the first verse, Amos prophesied during the reigns of Uzziah over Judah (792-740 B.C.) and Jeroboam II over the Israel (793-753). After the reign of Solomon the Kingdom of Israel was split into two kingdoms. The Northern 10 tribes were called Israel (nick-named Ephraim) and the Southern two tribes were called Judah. In the North the religious shrines had become centers of vice and by Amos’s day the people had become pagan at heart. The Dan and Bethel shrines were about calf worship and Idolatry. Into this situation God chose as his spokesman a simple shepherd and itinerant orchard worker who was an enthusiastic Jehovah worshiper. He was from the working class of people but he understood human nature. This Tekoan shepherd launches out in his prophecy like a boiling pot he takes on such issues as social injustice and economic issues. His messages touched people, politics and purses. This commentary will explore the messages of Amos about the various Nations.
HIGHLIGHTS OF AMOS
Amos was like a roaring lion. This true man of God takes on the establishment. Ritualism had supplanted religion. They sneered at the thought of a rugged country man pouring out his messages like muriatic acid on a concrete floor. His messages were plain and simple he likens their escape to a shepherd yanking back a leg or an ear from a lion’s mouth, or to a person escaping with only a table leg or a corner of a blanket. His messages were bad news. He portrays God as being sick and fed up with their brand of religion.
This inhuman act was prompted by the spirit of vengeance. The most outstanding men shall be removed. Centuries have looked down on Moab and not a descendant living and fifty or more of her cities lie in total ruins. The scene passes from Moab to Judah and Amos predicts the burning of her palaces and then turns to Judah’s unthankfulness.
Israel and Judah are urged to hear the word of the Lord. God tells them that he is not threatening them without a cause. That lions don’t roar without a prey. Trumpets don’t sound with a cause. That two cannot walk together unless they are in agreement. The prophet tells them that God does not do anything without revealing his intentions beforehand. He tells the prophet to publish in the palaces from Ashdod to Egypt what he had planned to do about their violence. He lets them know that in the day he pays them a visit that they will be lucky to escape with a table leg or a blanket. God says “I shall visit the transgressions of Israel upon him I will also visit the altars of Bethel;…I will smite the winter house and the summer house…” This visit will not be pleasant. Read the exposition for further details.
The women of Samaria had led their husbands around and now he tells them that they will be led away to captivity with fishhooks in their nose. God had withholden the rain, smitten them with blasting and mildew, gardens had failed trees and crops were ravished by the locust, their young men had perished. Deuteronomy 28 was being fulfilled before their very eyes and yet they could not see. The prophet urges them to prepare to meet their God. He’s coming down hard on them with the devastations mentioned in the text. Yes, it will not be a god that they carry around with them or wear around their neck. It will be the God who is the mountain shaper and the wind maker─he’s the one who brings everything out of nothing. This visit won’t be friendly and they will have no one to help them.
The prophet does not rejoice over the fact that God is going to destroy the nations around Israel and punish Israel with an exile into slavery. The nation will be greatly reduced by ninety percent because they had turned judgment into wormwood. They are urged to seek the maker of the Atoms and the Angels and not the golden calves of Bethel. Amos has a word for the rulers who are bribed and the fraudulent dealers. Again, he speaks of a remnant and of wailing and lamentations when he passes thru with his judgment. He hates their sacrificial feasts where there is no piety. He wants an ocean of justice and a river of fairness. But, because of their stubbornness he will cause them to go beyond Damascus to a real hell hole to spend their days and none of that generation will return.
They were still living in denial and laying on beds of ivory and living it up with excessive drinking and made no connection with the people. They “just hadn’t gotten it.” It’s getting worse─ten men in one house and all are dead and a relative comes for the burial. The last verse of the chapter says it all and here it is summarized: I will rise up a nation against you (Syria) and they will make hash of you from the extreme north to the extreme south.
The seventh chapter consists of two parts. First A vision of grasshoppers or young locusts, which devour the grass, but are removed at Amos’ entreaty; second by Fire drying up creeks and springs, and withering part of the land, but removed at Amos’ entreaty; and third by a plumb-line to mark the buildings for destruction. Secondly by Amaziah demanding that Amos go back to Judah with his preaching. In Consequence of the foregoing prophecies, Amos tells the priest Amaziah that his wife will become the town whore and that his children will all be killed and that he will face deportation and receives a life sentence in a heathen prison.
A bowl of summer fruit─the season is over─the end has come upon my people Israel. The dancing and singing will be silenced. The land is going to tremble─worse than after a flood. Their pot-lucks are turned into funerals and their country music into sob songs. They are pictured living in a foreign land with the pagans ruling over them and a few can remember the old time prophets and they long to hear the word “just one more time.” “I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread or water, but of hearing the words of the LORD.”
Too little─too late. God is pictured as standing on the altar in the courtyard of the idol temple and he is going to bring it down with a crash. People will try and hide but he who has the keys of Hell and Death will find them and justice is on the way. It is as sure as the rising of a mighty flood. The prophet declares that the “eyes of the LORD is upon the sinful kingdom, and I will destroy it from off the face of the earth;” The house of David will again rule—the Messiah Jesus has fulfilled this prophecy.