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Bible Commentaries
Amos 3

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

Verses 1-15

Chapter 3

Hear this word [Amos said] that the LORD hath spoken against you, O children of Israel, and against the whole family ( Amos 3:1 )

So that would include Judah also.

which I brought up from the land of Egypt, saying ( Amos 3:1 ),

God now is talking to His people, and it's almost a lamentation. For God said,

You only have I known of all of the families of the earth: therefore I will punish you for your iniquities ( Amos 3:2 ).

A nation that had special privileges is also a nation that has great responsibilities. "To whom much is given, much is required" ( Luke 12:48 ). Israel had been given so much by God. "What advantage then," Paul said, "hath the Jew?" His answer to his own question is, "Much and in every way, for unto them are committed the oracles of God" ( Romans 3:1-2 ). Unto them were the fathers, unto them were the statutes and the judgments given. He speaks of the tremendous advantages that they had because God had dealt with them as a nation, as a people. But that only increases their responsibility to God.

We look at the United States, again, a nation that was nurtured by God, blessed by God. "America, America, God shed His grace on thee." But the fact that we have been so blessed by God only gives us a greater moral obligation to commit ourselves to God, and to represent God before the earth. But even as Israel failed, so are we failing. And when God's people fail in their responsibility, then God punishes them. God said, "I will punish you for your iniquity."

And now some rhetorical type of questions that the Lord asked the people. Number one being:

Can two walk together, except they be agreed? ( Amos 3:3 )

Can you walk in harmony? Can you walk in unity unless there's an agreement? Of course the answer is, no. Now how can you walk with God if you're not in agreement with God? How can you walk with God and continue in iniquity, and in unrighteousness, and in sin? The answer is, you can't. You cannot walk with a holy God in a state of iniquity. "Can two walk together, except they be agreed?"

Will a lion roar in the forest, when he has no prey? ( Amos 3:4 )

No, he roars when he has conquered the prey, when he has destroyed it, when he stands above it.

will the young lions cry out of his den, if he has taken nothing? Can a bird fall in a snare upon the earth, where there's been no trap set for him? ( Amos 3:4-5 )

No, a bird doesn't fall except there is a trap.

shall one take up a snare from the earth, and have taken nothing at all? Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid? ( Amos 3:5-6 )

Putting it more into modern terminology, "Can the air raid sirens go off and people not be afraid?" I will never forget when we were in Bat Yam outside of Tel Aviv during the 1967 war. As we were there in the hotel just twenty minutes from Egypt by jet, and the Egyptians, of course, were across the Suez Canal and fighting in the Sinai. In the middle of the night about one, two o'clock in the morning, the old air raid sirens began to wail. Now we were the first major building along the Mediterranean from Egypt, and all of our group... Of course, it was a blackout and we all made our way to the basement where there was the air raid shelter. We had some unique experiences getting there in the dark, rousted out of the sleep. Some ladies were wanting their husbands to wait for them while they put on their makeup. Crazy things that you'll do. But I'll tell you, there is something that is quite terrifying in the darkness of the night, hearing those sirens wail. And knowing that it's quite possible that bombs will be falling in that very area.

Now, in ancient Israel the sound of the trumpet was the sound of the alarm, "The enemy is coming!" When the trumpets would begin to sound, the fear would grip the hearts of the people. So the question, "Shall a trumpet be blown in the city and the people not be afraid?"

shall there be an evil in the city and the LORD hath not done it? ( Amos 3:6 )

That is, the evil, and in this sense, as it is so often in the Old Testament, the evil of judgment. People are confused because in Isaiah God said, "Have not I created evil?" They say, "Ooh! How is it that a holy God created evil?" The word evil is used in the sense of having brought judgment which affect is always evil upon the people for whom the judgment came. So, "Can there be the evil of judgment and God has not brought it?"

Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he reveals his secret unto his servants the prophets ( Amos 3:7 ).

Interesting that he is saying that, "God is not gonna work, God is not gonna move, God is not gonna judge, except He reveals it to His prophets." So before the judgment came, the prophets were warning the people that God was going to judge.

The lion hath roared, and who will not fear? the Lord GOD hath spoken, and who can but prophesy? ( Amos 3:8 )

I mean, as Jeremiah, when he was prophesying, they told him to shut up. He wouldn't do it so they threw him in the dungeon. There he got a case of the "poor me's" and he began to complain to God about the treatment that God gave to His servant the prophet. He said, "I was determined. I wasn't gonna speak anymore in the name of the Lord. I've had it! You know, this is it. They're gonna treat me like this, I'm just not gonna tell them God's word again. I'm not gonna speak anymore in the name of the Lord." He said, "But His word was like fire in my bones, and I became weary trying to keep quiet." I mean, it's just something, I... You know, as Peter said when he was commanded not to speak anymore in the name of Jesus, he said, "We cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard. We're not gonna obey your commands. We can't help it. We cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard." Paul speaks of the constraining love of Christ. The Lord has spoken, how can you be silent?

who can but prophesy? So publish in the palaces of Ashdod [the Philistine city on the coast], the palaces in the land of Egypt, and say, Assemble yourselves upon the mountains of Samaria, and behold the great tumults in the midst thereof, and the oppressed in the midst thereof. For they know not to do right, saith the LORD, who store up violence and robbery in their palaces. Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; An adversary there shall be even round about the land; and he shall bring down thy strength from thee, and thy palaces shall be spoiled. Thus saith the LORD; As the shepherd taketh out of the mouth of the lion two legs, or a piece of an ear; so shall the children of Israel be taken out that dwell in Samaria in the corner of a bed, and in Damascus in a couch. Hear ye, and testify in the house of Jacob, saith the Lord GOD, the God of hosts ( Amos 3:8-13 ),

Now remember this guy is a shepherd, a herdsman, and in those days there were lions in the land of Israel. You remember that David when he was telling king Saul his qualifications to go out against the giant, he said, "One day I was watching my dad's sheep and a lion came out and grabbed one of the sheep and started dragging it away. I took and I killed the lion. Then a bear grabbed one of the sheep and I killed the bear. The God who delivered the lion and the bear into my hand is able to deliver this uncircumcised Philistine. I'm ready to go." You remember with Sampson on the road down to Timnah the lion came out and jumped him.

So the shepherds, one of the problems that the shepherds had to deal with were the lions who would take the sheep. So as a shepherd he had had the experience of catching a lion, but it had already devoured the sheep until there were just a couple of legs left, or just a piece of an ear. And you have that disappointing experience of getting there too late to rescue the sheep.

So it is interesting how that being a shepherd, he is weaving in talk of the nature. The shepherds living out as they did, conscious of the heavens, conscious of the nature, and things of nature. So he speaks to the people in allegories with very natural references.

"Hear ye and testify in the house of Jacob, saith the Lord God, the God of hosts."

That, in the day that I shall visit the transgressions of Israel upon him, I will also visit the altars of Bethel ( Amos 3:14 ):

Now Bethel is where they had established the worship of the cow, the calf worship in Israel. As Jeroboam had set up the calf in Bethel, and in Dan, and the places for false gods in Gilgal and all, and the people were idolatrous and worshiping these other gods, so now God is speaking out against the altars they had built at Bethel. "In the day that I visit the transgressions of Israel upon him I will also visit the altars of Bethel."

and the horns of the altar shall be cut off, and fall to the ground. And I will smite the winter house with the summer house; and the houses of ivory shall perish ( Amos 3:14-15 ),

Actually, there in Samaria king Ahab had built a beautiful palace, furnished it with ivory, and it was one of the great wonders, really, of glory and splendor and wealth, the house of ivory. But the prophet speaks out against the house of ivory.

and the great houses shall have an end, saith the LORD ( Amos 3:15 ). "

Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Amos 3". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/amos-3.html. 2014.
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