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by Editor - Joseph S. Exell
The Preacher’s Complete Homiletic
ON THE BOOKS OF THE
By the REV. JAMES WOLFENDALE
Author of the Commentaries on Deuteronomy and Chronicles
FUNK & WAGNALLS COMPANY
LONDON AND TORONTO
ON THE BOOKS OF THE BIBLE
WITH CRITICAL AND EXPLANATORY NOTES, INDEXES, ETC., BY VARIOUS AUTHORS
The Prophet. Amos was a native of Tekoah, a village six miles south of Bethlehem, whose ruins are still preserved in the modern name of Tekua. He was a herdsman, not a wealthy sheep-owner; in rather indigent circumstances, but cultivated sycamores for his support (ch. Amos 1:1; Amos 7:14-30.7.15). He rejected the summons to Judah and eat bread there. He did not prophesy for bread. He was satisfied with his simple fare. He was neither a prophet, nor the pupil of a prophet. He was “a self-made man,” employed in humble life, among ordinary men.
The Time. Somewhat earlier than Hosea, yet contemporary with him. Younger than Joel, whose writings he read when composing his own, and from whom he quotes in exact words (ch. Amos 1:2; Amos 9:13). It is stated that he prophesied in the days of Uzziah, king of Judah, &c. (Amos 1:1). This earthquake appears to be the same as that mentioned in Zechariah 14:5, and Josephus (Ant. ix.
10. 4), as a token of Divine displeasure, in addition to leprosy, against Uzziah, for usurping the priest’s office. Jotham his son acted as regent during the latter part of his reign (2 Kings 15:33). As Uzziah and Jeroboam were contemporaries for about 27 years (B. C. 808–782), the latter part of this period will fix the date of Amos. This agrees with ch. Amos 7:10. This was a period of national splendour and prosperity. Under Jeroboam II. the kingdom of Israel was restored to its ancient limits, and stood at the zenith of its power. But this restoration was followed by the prevalence of luxury, licentiousness, and vice, which provoked the judgment of God. The poor were oppressed (Amos 8:4); the ordinances of religion felt burdensome (Amos 8:5); and idleness and extravagance were common (Amos 3:15). The idolatry of the golden calf was practised at Bethel and Gilgal, Dan and Beersheba; was offensively united with the true worship of Jehovah, and was the source of all their prevalent evils. In the midst of this vice and prosperity, the prophet was called from his seclusion to proclaim judgments, most unlikely and most terrible, the fall of the kingdom of Israel. Judgments upon individual nations, typical of hostile forms to God, and his Church in every age: judgments upon all kinds of corrupt religion in the Church, are given with special emphasis, and comprehensive fulness. In a time of moral corruption, and political security, he was sent to remind nations of a retributive law, and a God of justice.
The Book. We have nine chapters, taking up the words of Joel, and containing threatenings against the kingdom of Israel chiefly. Surrounding nations are briefly noticed, and a promise of deliverance and prosperity is given to Israel. Its Analysis is simple. First, a solemn prelude (ch. 1–2; 1–5) to the main subject. Nation after nation is summoned to judgment, with a striking idiomatic expression (“For three transgressions,” &c.), similar to Proverbs 30:15; Proverbs 30:18; Proverbs 30:21. After the introduction, we have two parts. In chaps. 3–6 we have special charges and threats. Chap. 3 sets forth the certainty of coming judgment; for the prophet of Jehovah cannot speak in vain. Chap. 4 declares that since previous visitations had been in vain God must punish. In chap. 5 we have the outcry of calamity with calls to seek the Lord and escape. Woe is pronounced upon those who desire the day to come, who are not yet prepared for it. Chap. 6 rouses those who fancy the day is far off, and who continue in folly until overtaken. Then chaps. 7–9 recount five visions. The first two threaten judgments (chap. Amos 7:1-30.7.6); the next two point out the ripeness of the people for them (ch. Amos 7:7-30.7.9; Amos 8:1-30.8.3). Between these a conversation between the prophet and the priest of Bethel is given (ch. Amos 7:10-30.7.17). The substance of the fourth vision ends in a simple prophetic address (ch. Amos 8:4-30.8.14). The fifth vision (ch. Amos 9:1), the overthrow and ruin of Israel, is expanded to an address (ver. 2–10), to which is appended the promise of restoration to the fallen kingdom, its extension in Gentile nations, and its eternal glorification. The close points to the beginning of the book, which seems “a grand panorama of God’s judicial majesty.”
Its Style indicates vigour of mind and great moral culture. Images are taken from country life in abundance and originality. The earth with its vineyards, the heavens with lights, and cities in their luxury, impart beauty to his conceptions. Historical events and national customs show that he was a student of the law as well as “a child of nature.” He read the relations of the physical to the moral, and wonderfully combined the justice and the mercy of God. Minute conceptions express the deep experience of the writer. He was a man of prayer and moral courage. He scorned mere forms of worship, and felt that repentance was spiritual work. He valued Divine revelation, and for the thunder of reproof or the gentle tones of mercy to be silent was to him the greatest of evils. We shall try to bring out the hidden beauties of his language, apply his lessons to events of the present day, and by God’s help, in a method in which no other writer has yet done, expound the prophecy to aid the mission of the pulpit.
the Second Week of Advent