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The subject is continued through this Chapter, which formed a part in the conclusion of the former. Israel is still before the judgment seat, and the Lord is expostulating with his people.
I beg the Reader to notice what I before remarked in the preceding Chapter, though Judah and Israel were separately there arraigned, yet here the whole family arc considered as one, consequently Judah is included. And I do as earnestly beg the Reader to remark with me, that the family name and relationship between God and. his people is still the same. Though Israel and Judah are rebellious, yet still children, though rebellious children. Though outcasts, yet still God's outcasts; this feature is never lost sight of in the word of God. Isaiah 16:3 . And I still beg once more the Reader to observe, that in the punishment of Israel, it is as God's Israel; yea, the Lord declares that the correction of them is on this account; because them only the Lord knew of all the families of the earth; that is, knew them in covenant relationship; and therefore the Lord would correct them for their iniquities. Reader! pause over the whole, and stand amazed at the goodness of God! Behold! how even in chastisements the Lord manifests his love to Israel. Read some of the many scriptures to this amount, and form your own conclusions accordingly. If we see at any time a man correcting a child, we may be sure from the act itself, it is the child's own father. Hebrews 12:5-10 .
The Lord is going on in his expostulations. He first shews, that by Israel's revolt that sweet communion between the Lord and his people was interrupted. Ca n two walk together except they be agreed? While therefore Israel thus rebelled, how could the Lord walk with Israel? And when the Lord called to them in a loud voice of judgments, as the roaring of a lion, if Israel turned a deaf ear to the voice, and became hardened instead of humbled by the correction; if Israel ascribed to second causes what evidently came from the first, here were still stronger evidences of a deplorably wicked mind. The Lord next appeals to common sense and reason. Is there evil in the city and the Lord hath not done it? The sword, the pestilence, and the famine; the strife of tongues, and the malice of enemies; these may, and these will be the apparent cause; but everyone that thinks at all must know that these are but instruments; the hand and direction is the Lord's. Never should we have known that the malice of Egypt against poor Israel was of the Lord's doing. had not his blessed scripture said so; but as the scripture hath said so, we have not only authority to mark it down as an undeniable truth, but from such an insight into the Lord's government, to form the same conclusions upon numberless occasions in life. See Psalms 105:25 . When the Lord corrects his people in this manner, with the sword or tongue of his and their foes, it is all in mercy to them, and destruction in due season to their enemies. What a beautiful and godly sentiment did David express on this occasion concerning Shimei's cursing: let him alone, (said he,) and let him curse, for the Lord hath bidden him 2 Samuel 16:11-12 .
There is somewhat very striking in the Lord's appeal to the nations of the earth for the justification of his conduct concerning his people. It not only is intended to this purpose, for perhaps this is the smallest reason why the Lord publisheth his proceedings; but it is a yet stronger appeal than before to the Lord's degenerate people. We have a striking example, Isaiah 5:3-4 . But in the midst of all the judgments that are to fall upon the people, the covenant relationship is still preserved, see Isaiah 5:13-17 .
READER! while you and I pause over a subject of so truly humbling a nature as this Chapter affords, in the contemplation of the Church's backsliding and rebellion against God; and while from a conscious sense of the part we all bear in the great aggregate of human transgression, we take to ourselves, as we justly ought to do, shame and confusion of face; let us learn to form a proper distinction between the fatherly corrections of the Lord over his children, and the tremendous judgments manifested to his enemies. What the Lord himself hath here said, is enough to lead our hearts to form a right estimate of all his corrections. You only have I known of all the families of the earth, therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities. The very scripture, in the moment of threatened correction, carries with it in its bosom a full testimony that that correction is not to destroy but to reform. Hence Reader! let us learn, that the Lord's design is to bring the heart home, not to harden, but to soften; to purge from sin, not to leave the soul in sin; to bring to Jesus, not to lead from Jesus. A gracious and a blessed end is in every dispensation. And most blessed it is when the poor sinner, led by grace, is brought back with the awakened cry of the soul; Lord! take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously, so will we render the calves of our lips. Blessed Jesus! how unceasing our need of thee; and how precious thy salvation! Oh! for grace, to have our souls kept from sin, and our souls washed from sin, in thy blood!
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Amos 3". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany