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From: Amos 3:1-8, 4:11-12
Election and punishment of Israel
The prophet, a messenger of the Lord
The Lords warnings have gone unheeded
 Therefore thus I will do to you, O Israel;
because I will do this to you,
prepare to meet your God, O Israel!
3:1-6:14. The second (and longest) part of the book contains denunciations of Israel and predictions about how her sins will be punished. It consists of three oracles, each beginning with Hear this word . . . (3:1; 4:1; 5:1), and three others containing the words O you . . . or Woe to you (5:7, 18; 6:1). In terms of content, all these oracles are a development of the oracle against Israel that closed the previous section (2:6-16).
This part begins with a new interpretation of the meaning of Gods choice of Israel. The oracles are about that election. The Israelites think that their pilgrimages to the popular shrines of Bethel and Gilgal (where they make voluntary offerings and give tithes, 4:4-5, and assemble for festivals, 5:21-25) mean that they have fulfilled their religious duties and are in a good standing before God. They are living in prosperous times: what better proof that God is pleased with them. Material prosperity was more marked in Israel than in Judah, but, still, life was reasonably good under Uzziah. However, this material well-being went hand in hand with social injustice — oppression of the poor and needy, and a contradiction between formal religious acts and personal morality.
This is the context in which Amos preaches and utters his prophetic denouncements: quite a lot of people are getting richer, but the ranks of the poor are being swelled all the time; the rich and powerful are exploiting the poor, and are refusing them justice; attendance at religious ceremonies in Bethel and Gilgal (schismatic sanctuaries, for the temple of Jerusalem was the only proper place of worship) did not affect peoples hearts; it did not provoke them to resolve to amend their lives; they were deceiving themselves, trusting in God without having grounds for doing so, and believed (wrongly) that they were absolved from their sins.
3:1-8. Gods choice of Israel is very vividly described here. Amos does not use the term covenant or steadfast love to describe Gods attitude towards Israel (those are terms often found in other prophetical texts); but he does make it clear that the Lords commitment to his people is a single-minded one: You only have I known of all the families of the earth (v. 2). This election means that Israel has special duties towards God — and that God takes special care of Israel (cf. v. 3). And so St Jerome comments on the verse as follows: You only I have known of all the people of the earth; therefore I will visit your iniquities upon you (cf. Amos 3:2): For the Lord disciplines him whom he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives (Heb 12:6). God says that I will visit, not I will punish, for the coming of the Lord is both punishment and cure; and, he says, I will visit all of their iniquities: all shall be chastised and none shall remain uncured (Commentarii in Amos, 3, 1-2).
A little further on, this teaching is rounded off with a sapiential consideration (vv. 3-8). The Lord addresses Israel by means of his prophets. All events have a cause that one cannot perceive, but they do point to their cause: when two people go walking together it is a sign that they have previously arranged to do so (v. 3); the roar of the lion shows that he has caught his prey or is about to do so (v. 4), etc. So, the conclusion to be drawn is clear (cf. v. 8): if Amos is prophesying, he is doing so because the Lord has spoken and man must take heed. In a way, this verse is a kind of parallel to what Amos says to the priest of Bethel (cf. 7:14-15): it is the Lord who has sent him to prophesy; God is the one who has taken the initiative: The literal meaning of these words is as follows: If all the animals of the earth are terrified and tremble at the sound of the lions roar, how can we not prophesy when the Lord bids us speak and tell the people of the torments that await them? (St Jerome, Commentarii in Amos, 3, 3-8).
4:6-12. This oracle has a regular rhythm to it — each of the Lords actions ends with the sort of refrain you find in a poem: ... yet you did not return to me, says the Lord (vv. 6, 8, 9, 10, 11). The actions taken by the Lord (withdrawing food, drought, blight, destruction of cities) are reminiscent of the plagues of Egypt; but, most of all, they demonstrate the Lords sovereignty over nature. This is the same message as is contained in the doxologies: God, the Lord of Israel, is the only one who has power over all creation: no Baal, no Canaanite god, has any such power. The point is also made that the punishment sent by God is aimed at
bringing about the peoples conversion. When they saw all these awful things happen, the Israelites should have had a change of heart. But they did not: Israels sin is that of pride and self-sufficiency; therefore, it is time to get ready for judgment and punishment (v. 12; cf. 3:1).