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3 posted on 06/29/2020 11:02:51 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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From: Amos 3:1-8, 4:11-12

Election and punishment of Israel

[1] Hear this word that the Lord has spoken against you, O people of Israel,
against the whole family which I brought up out of the land of Egypt:
[2] ”You only have I known
of all the families of the earth;
therefore I will punish you
for all your iniquities.

The prophet, a messenger of the Lord

[3] Do two walk together,
unless they have made an appointment?
[4] Does a lion roar in the forest,
when he has no prey?
Does a young lion cry out from his den,
if he has taken nothing?
[5] Does a bird fall in a snare on the earth,
when there is no trap for it?
Does a snare spring up from the ground.
when it has taken nothing?
[6] Is a trumpet blown in a city,
and the people are not afraid?
Does evil befall a city,
unless the Lord has done it’?
[7] Surely the Lord God does nothing,
without revealing his secret
to his servants the prophets.
[8] The lion has roared;
who will not fear?
The Lord God has spoken;
who can but prophesy?”

The Lord’s warnings have gone unheeded

[11] I overthrew some of you,
as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah,
and you were as a brand plucked out of the burning:
yet you did not return to me,” says the Lord.

[12] 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 God’s 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 people’s 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. God’s choice of Israel is very vividly described here. Amos does not use the term “covenant” or “steadfast love” to describe God’s attitude towards Israel (those are terms often found in other prophetical texts); but he does make it clear that the Lord’s 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 lion’s 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 Lord’s 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 Lord’s 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 people’s conversion. When they saw all these awful things happen, the Israelites should have had a change of heart. But they did not: Israel’s sin is that of pride and self-sufficiency; therefore, it is time to get ready for judgment and punishment (v. 12; cf. 3:1).

4 posted on 06/29/2020 11:06:15 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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