Prepare to meet your God – Tuesday, 13th Week in ordinary time – Amos 3:1-8, 4:11-12
In chapters 1 & 2, the prophet Amos, after having listed the transgressions of the nations, settled on the transgressions of his own people, Israel. The prophet Amos is prophesying in the Bethel, the royal sanctuary and none of it is good news; for this time God has spoken against his very people.
In the eyes of God, Israel was in a position of great privilege; God himself declares in Amos 3:2 “only you I have known.” The people of Israel had taken this privileged position as a right and did not respond in love and service. That declaration is now followed swiftly by a devastating blow; “Therefore I will punish you for all your crimes.”
God now asks Israel seven rhetorical questions. The answer to each is obvious and the verdict is that no one should doubt that when Israel falls, not if it falls, it will be the Lords doing. Ironically when things happen, the people demand a cause. There can be no effect without a cause, nor any cause without an effect.
God wants to make clear that Israel’s protector, the one who led them out of slavery from Egypt will be its deliverer into slavery in Assyria. The people of Israel were put on notice several times and such has been their degeneration that now they “do not even know how to do right.” (3:10). So, sentence must be passed and “the lion has roared”. This is a phrase used in Amos in 1:2, 3:4 and 3:8 indicating that God is angry and Israel should be afraid of its impending destruction. Israel’s sin is now made manifest to the nations and as Israel is being picked apart and destroyed the nations are given a front row seat to view, so that they could understand why God brought judgement upon Israel.
All this was fulfilled when the Assyrians invaded Israel in 723 BC, less than 30 years after Amos made this prophecy. Chapter 4:2 tells us that when Israel was depopulated and exiled as a conquered community, they were led by their captives naked and attached together with a system of strings and fishhooks pierced through their lower lip. This would thoroughly humble the fat cows that Israel had become (4:1). For ten years, Israel was to be a subjugated state in the Assyrian Empire.