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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Amos 4:11

"I overthrew you, as God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, And you were like a firebrand snatched from a blaze; Yet you have not returned to Me," declares the LORD.

Adam Clarke Commentary

I have overthrown some of you - In the destruction of your cities I have shown my judgments as signally as I did in the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah; and those of you that did escape were as "brands plucked out of the fire;" if not consumed, yet much scorched. And as the judgment was evidently from my hand, so was the deliverance; "and yet ye have not returned unto me, saith the Lord."

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Amos 4:11". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https: 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

I have overthrown some of you - The earthquake is probably reserved to the last, as being the rarest, and so the most special, visitation. Frequent as earthquakes have been on the borders of Palestine, the greater part of Palestine was not on the line, which was especially shaken by them. The line, chiefly visited by earthquakes, was along the coast of the Mediterranean or parallel to it, chiefly from Tyre to Antioch and Aleppo. Here were the great historical earthquakes, which were the scourges of Tyre, Sidon, Beirut, Botrys, Tripolis, Laodicea on the sea; which shattered Litho-prosopon, prostrated Baalbek and Hamath, and so often afflicted Antioch and Aleppo, while Damascus was mostly spared.

Eastward it may have reached to Safed, Tiberias, and the Hauran. Ar-Moab perished by an earthquake in the childhood of Jerome. But, at least, the evidence of earthquakes, except perhaps in the ruins of the Hauran, is slighter. Earthquakes there have been (although fewer) at Jerusalem. Yet on the whole, it seems truer to say that the skirts of Palestine were subject to destructive earthquakes, than to affirm this of central Palestine.

The earthquake must have been all the more terrible, because it was unprecedented. One or more terrible earthquakes, overthrowing cities, must have been sent, before that, on occasion of which Amos collected his prophecies. For his prophecies were uttered “two years before” that “earthquake;” and this earthquake had preceded his prophecy. “I overthrew,” God says, “among you, as God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah.” He uses the word, especially used by Moses and the prophets of that dread overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah, when they were turned, as it were, upside down. The earthquake is at all times the more mysterious, because unseen, unannounced, unlooked for, instantaneous, complete. The ground under a man‘s feet seems no longer secure: his shelter is his destruction; men‘s houses become their graves. Whole cities must have been utterly overthrown, for He compares the overthrow worked among them, to the overthrow of “the cities of the plain.” Other visitations have heralds sent before them. War, pestilence, famine, seldom break in at once. The earthquake at once, buries, it may be, thousands or tens of thousands, each stiffened (if it were so) in that his last deed of evil; each household with its own form of misery; each in its separate vault, dead, dying, crushed, imprisoned; the remnant indeed “surviving,” for most whom they loved were gone. So he says;

And ye, who escaped, were as a firebrand, plucked out of the burning - Once it had been green, fresh, fragrant, with leaf or flower; now scorched, charred, blackened, all but consumed. In itself, it was fit for nothing, but to be cast back into the fire from where it had been rescued. Man would so deal with it. A re-creation alone could restore it. Slight emblem of a soul, whose freshness sin had withered, then God‘s severe judgment had half-consumed; in itself, meet only for the everlasting fire, from which yet God withdraws it.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Amos 4:11". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https: 1870.

The Biblical Illustrator

Amos 4:11

Ye were as a firebrand plucked out of the burning.

The firebrand plucked out of the burning

A large portion of the sacred writings sets forth God’s exhibitions of kindness towards men as their Protector. Men in every age should study to preserve in their memory the Divine procedure, both in providence and in grace, as being adapted to secure their highest welfare. Here God magnified His mercy by interposing when justice appeared about to consummate its work in their destruction. “I have overthrown some of you, as God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, and ye were as a firebrand plucked out of the burning.” Those who are the subjects of God’s grace under the Gospel may properly be thus addressed.

I. Here is indicated a fearful danger.

1. This danger in its nature. It arises under the moral government of God consequent upon the character of man as a sinner. Man in his original state is everywhere under the Divine displeasure, condemned and exposed to punishment. The punishment does not extend merely to the infliction of temporal calamity and sorrow, it extends also to the life which is to come. The punishment incurred through sin is illustrated in the text by the metaphor of fire; the figure being taken from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. The Bible representations of future punishment set forth the intensity of that punishment. They are not to be interpreted literally; they are intended to denote most powerful and supreme intensity of mental suffering; the recollections of the past, the consciousness of the present, and the anticipations of the future, being united in one unmitigated torment and agony.

2. Its imminence. It is represented as being on the eve of consummation. The firebrand is spoken of as being close upon the element that is to consume it, nay, as being already seized. There are few metaphorical expressions more adapted to set forth extreme imminence and exposure to danger. All men, without exception, are in imminent danger of the doom appointed as the consequence of sin, because of the fact that their state of sin constitutes a moral fitness and preparation for it; because of the fact that they are condemned in their sinful state already; and because of the fact that their lives--the season of their probation and trial--are evanescent, frail, and uncertain.

II. A delightful rescue. The source from which the rescue is derived. They are not saved by themselves, or by any finite agency whatever. The only Deliverer of the human soul from the burning is God. And the deliverance is wrought out by a sublime redemptive scheme, the agents being the Divine Son and the Holy Spirit.

III. The characteristics by which this deliverance is distinguished.

1. Observe the freeness of it.

2. The permanence of it.

3. The blessedness of it.

4. The powerful effect which the contemplation of the rescue from the danger should secure.

In this contemplation there will be involved astonishment, gratitude, and compassion for those who are still in the place of burning. (James Parsons.)

A fast sermon for the fire of London

I. The severity of the judgment. “I have overthrown some of you, as God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah.” Observe--

1. The nature and kind of it. The suddenness and unexpectedness of it; the force and violence of it; the sad train of circumstances which attend and follow it.

2. Consider it in the series and order of it. It comes in the last place, as a reserve, when nothing else would do any good upon them.

3. The causes moving God to so much severity in His judgment. These are the greatness of the sins committed against Him. But it is not enough in general to declaim against our sins, we must search out particularly those predominant vices which by their boldness and frequency have provoked God thus to punish us. Three sorts of sins are here spoken of. Luxury and intemperance; covetousness and oppression; contempt of God and His laws

4. The Author of the judgment. God challenges the execution of His justice to Himself, not only in the great day, but in His judgment here in the world. When God is pleased to punish men for their sins, the execution of His justice is agreeable to His nature now, as it will be at the end of the world.

II. The mixture of his mercy in it. “Ye were as a firebrand plucked out of the burning.” Note--

1. The nearness they were in to the danger. Like a brand, the greatest part of which is already consumed by fire. This shows the great difficulty of their escaping.

2. The unexpectedness of such a deliverance. They are not saved by their own skill and counsel, nor by their strength and industry, hut by Him who, by His mighty hand, did pluck them as firebrands out of the burning. Though we own the justice of God in the calamities of this day, let us not forget His mercy in what He hath unexpectedly rescued from the fury of the flames. Let us then not frustrate the design of so much severity mixed with so great mercy. Let it never be said that neither judgments nor kindness will work upon us. We have cause enough for mourning and lamentation. Let us meet God now by our repentance, and return to Him, by our serious humiliation for our former sins, and our steadfast resolution to return no more to the practice of them. (Bishop Stillingfleet.)

The fire of iniquity

Many figures are employed to represent the evil of sin. But even the most suggestive are inadequate. “Fire” is very suggestive.

I. Both fire and sin are involved in much mystery. No inspection, or speculation, can determine the weight, colour, consuming power, etc., of fire. Thus with the “fire of iniquity,” there is much that is unaccountable connected with its origin, constitution, and processes of ruin; but none can doubt the terrible fact of its existence.

II. Both find ready and abundant food for the flames. Matter universally possesses the property of heat in various degrees. Human nature is morally of an inflammable character, and universally so. It is only a question of time in the instance of every life, when the hidden properties of sin develop in active, visible form.

III. The most disastrous fires are often from smallest beginnings. A sweeping conflagration that in two hours transformed an American town into a waste of smoking ruins, had its beginning in an unseen flame in a small upper storey. It is in the apparently harmless beginnings of impure thoughts, and unholy desires, and little sins that the desolating fires of iniquity have their rise.

IV. Superior worth of objects does not exempt from attack and ruin. Everything succumbs to fire. This is as sadly true of the fires of sin. It would seem that the brightest genius, the noblest heart, and the most promising talent were the especial victims of the arch-fiend. Satan is no respecter of persons, for the rich and poor, high and low, ignorant and intelligent, useless and useful are drawn upon as fuel to feed his merciless flames.

V. Means of defence are provided against the ravages of this monster. Fire-engines, fire-escapes, etc. Neither has God left humanity destitute of means for the defence of the soul exposed to Satan’s flames. A fountain has been opened, the waters of salvation, the means of grace, the Church, and the Holy Spirit, all these are given us in liberal provision, that the fires of sin may be quenched. Have we been rescued? There are many others yet enveloped in the flames of sin. “Pulling them out of the fire” is the work of next importance. God demands this at our hands. (W. G. Thrall.)

The strange parallel between fire and sin

All nature has its lessons. Fire is a most expressive emblem. What is there in the moral world to which it answers? It is a terrible agent; it is all activity. It tends to consume and to ruin whatever it touches. All life perishes when involved in it. But before that end comes it inflicts the keenest torture. And its inherent tendency is to spread. Let it alone, and with a field before it, its ravages will be terrible and complete. It must be resisted, fought with, mastered, and over come. One thing in the moral world answers to it. Sin against God, sin in a man’s life.

I. The analogy between fire and sin.

1. You cannot weigh fire in the scales. You cannot grasp it. Yet you would call the man absurd or a fool who should deny its existence. So it is with sin. You cannot take hold of it, but you can see the desolation and the ravages it makes. It is a fact which no man can dispute.

2. Fire sometimes becomes almost invisible. At noonday its flame grows indistinct, but the pillar of cloud rises over it and marks the spot. So it is with sin. Some, in the glare and noonday of their busy life, fail to see it. The dimness of religious truth to their minds is a terrible monitor of what sin is doing in their hearts.

3. Sin is like fire in its attractions. A little child loves to play with fire, careless or unconscious of the danger. So it is that men toy with sin. They see its brilliant forms, its beautiful but deadly blaze, and fall in love with it. The moth loves the flame. Men are drawn to sin by its pleasing, winning aspect. It has indulgence for appetite; mirth, wit, and humour, to amuse and gratify; feasts for gluttons; splendour for pride; revelry for the reckless.

4. Sin is like fire in its consuming power. In a short time the flames will turn the grandest and most imposing fabric of human hands into a heap of smouldering rubbish. Sin will do the same thing, only it burns down men. The soul cannot be burned. But what no furnace seven times heated can do, sin will. It can burn the soul down to an eternal ruin. It has done it. It can set it all ablaze with unholy desires; with lust, envy, pride, selfishness, avarice, malice, and all manner of iniquity. It can burn out of it all the elements of reflection, sensibility, principle, and reverence for God. And it is not gross passions alone that will burn down the soul. You can kindle with shavings as well as with pitch and tar. You can desecrate the soul by vain and selfish thoughts as well as by criminal deeds.

5. Sin is like flame, because it spreads, and tends to spread. One spark is enough to kindle a fire that would burn down all London. And so one wicked thought, or evil suggestion or temptation, has been the spark that has kindled the fires of sin in the soul till it glowed like a furnace, or has set the whole community in a blaze of passion. A bad man is always going on from bad to worse.

6. Sin is like fire in the pain it inflicts. What bodily smart or anguish is like that of fire? It is the most perfect of all kinds of torture. Lay a wicked deed on a man’s conscience, and how it blisters it! It burns, and stings, and agonises its victim. It overwhelms him with anguish and remorse. Nothing can make a man so unhappy as his sin.

7. Sin is like fire, because it defaces whatever it touches. Everything fair and beautiful withers before fire. So sin blights the fairest landscapes.

8. Sin is like fire, because it must be resisted. Sin is an evil to be contended with in heart and in life. It must be resisted, or it will consume the soul.

9. Sin is like fire, because if you wait too long before you attempt to bring it under, the attempt is useless. The time comes when fire gets the upper hand. So the soul may be left till sin has got the mastery.

II. It is the sinner that is the fuel

1. A firebrand is a combustible material. It could be burned. So it is with the sinner’s heart. It can burn with unhallowed passions.

2. A firebrand has been already exposed to the fire. So is the sinner’s heart. Unruly desires and unhallowed aims have burned into it, and you can find no one who has not sinned.

3. A firebrand has offered no effectual resistance to the flames. And the sinner has not resisted the fires of sin as he should have done.

4. A firebrand is ready to be kindled anew, even after it has been once quenched. And a spark of temptation may set the sinner ablaze again. It needs to be kept and guarded well.

5. A firebrand is already in the process of being consumed, and a little longer time will finish it. So with the sinful heart; the progress of the fire has been rapid, and its work will soon be done.

6. A firebrand needs only to be let alone, and it will burn to ashes. Leave the soul in its sin--leave it to the ruinous, consuming power of its own lusts, and its ruin will be complete.

7. A firebrand is a dangerous thing if its sparks and coals come in contact with anything else; and so Scripture declares that one sinner destroyeth much good.

III. But even firebrands may be saved. Desperate as their condition is, they are sometimes plucked from the burning, and their flames are quenched. So it is with sinners. How were they delivered? Did they save themselves? As well might the firebrand put out its own fires. The work is God’s. The converted soul is a miracle of grace. He interposes. It is by His Word enlightening the mind, His Spirit convincing of sin, and His grace renewing the soul that the work is accomplished. (E. A. Gillett.)

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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Amos 4:11". The Biblical Illustrator. https: 1905-1909. New York.

Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible

"I have overthrown cities among you, as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, and ye were as a brand plucked out of the burning: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith Jehovah."

In a sense, Sodom and Gomorrah were surely "cities among" the Israelites; and yet, despite the fact that Israel was actually "more corrupt than they (Sodom and Gomorrah)" (Ezekiel 16:47f), God had nevertheless spared them. This truth, that Israel was worse than Sodom and Gomorrah is seldom stressed, but it is profoundly evident in the Bible; and the only reason that God spared Israel, as far as we are able to discern, was that the promise of the Messiah to come through Israel had not yet been realized; and, in a sense, God was "stuck" with the chosen people until that promise should become a reality. Instead of being humbled by the judgment of other nations around them, Israel only presumed upon God's unlimited tolerance of their wickedness, a presumption that nerved them to the murder of the Son of God Himself when he finally arrived.

"I have overthrown cities among you ..." "This is generally taken to refer to an earthquake of extreme severity,"[28] an opinion followed by Barnes,[29] Smith,[30] and many others; but it appears to us that a specific reference to the judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah is made. Of course, that event was accompanied by a great earthquake also.

McFadden's quotation from Lecky is:

"The theological habit of interpreting the catastrophes of nature as Divine warnings or punishments or discipline, is a baseless and pernicious superstition."[31]

This is a fair representation of so-called "scientific" or "modern man"; and, while true enough, that each individual disaster might not be attributed to the immediate sin of the victim (John 9:1-10), there is nevertheless a direct and pertinent connection between the disasters of earth and the rebellion of Adam's race.

"To the sensitive heart, every disaster speaks an urgent message. We have no right to interpret it as the punishment of others, but we have every right to regard it as a call to ourselves, a call to reflection and repentance."[32]

Amos 4:6-11 have recounted the seven great disasters through which Israel had passed, ending in the same plaintive cry every time. "Yet have ye not returned unto me, saith Jehovah."

Some critics make a big thing out of God being referred to in this verse (Amos 4:11) in the third person, whereas, the first person is otherwise prominent throughout; but this is not due to any interpolation, and only signifies that Amos unconsciously reverted to quotations from the Pentateuch in mentioning Sodom and Gomorrah, as any one familiar with the Bible would have done.

It should be noted, as Smith pointed out, that:

"The oracles in Amos 1 and Amos 2 were addressed to seven nations before reaching Israel. Here seven calamities strike before the final act of judgment is experienced."[33]

That final judgment upon the Northern Kingdom will be uttered in the very next verse.

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James Burton Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.

Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Amos 4:11". "Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament". https: Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

I have overthrown some of you, as God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah,.... Either their houses were burnt, or their bodies consumed by fire from heaven, with lightning; not whole cities, but the habitations of some particular persons, or they themselves:

and ye were as a firebrand plucked out of the burning; some escaped such an awful calamity, their houses were not consumed, while others were; and their persons were safe, while others, just by them, were struck dead at once:

yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the Lord; neither the judgments of God on themselves and others had any effect upon them to humble and reclaim them: such dispensations, without the grace of God is exerted, rather harden than soften; and, instead of bringing men to repentance, cause them to blaspheme; see Revelation 16:8; nor will the mercy and goodness of God, which should lead persons to repentance, attain that end, unless accompanied with the Spirit and grace of God; who, notwithstanding such mercies and deliverances, will remain senseless, stupid obdurate, and impenitent; see Revelation 9:20.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rightes Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855

Gill, John. "Commentary on Amos 4:11". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https: 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

I have overthrown [some] of you, as God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, and ye were as a m firebrand plucked out of the burning: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD.

(m) You were almost all consumed, and a few of you were wonderfully preserved; (2 Kings 14:26).

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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Amos 4:11". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https: 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

some of you — some parts of your territory.

as God overthrew Sodom — (Deuteronomy 29:23; Isaiah 13:19; Jeremiah 49:18; Jeremiah 50:40; 2 Peter 2:6; Judges 1:7). “God” is often repeated in Hebrew instead of “I.” The earthquake here apparently alluded to is not that in the reign of Uzziah, which occurred “two years” later (Amos 1:1). Traces of earthquakes and volcanic agency abound in Palestine. The allusion here is to some of the effects of these in previous times. Compare the prophecy, Deuteronomy 28:15-68, with Amos 4:6-11 here.

as a firebrand plucked out of … burning — (Compare Isaiah 7:4; Zechariah 3:2). The phrase is proverbial for a narrow escape from utter extinction. Though Israel revived as a nation under Jeroboam II, it was but for a time, and that after an almost utter destruction previously (2 Kings 14:26).

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This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.

Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Amos 4:11". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https: 1871-8.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

I have overthrown some of you, as God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, and ye were as a firebrand plucked out of the burning: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD.

Overthrew — By grievous and desolating judgments.

As a fire-brand — Such of you as escaped were yet as fire-brands in the midst of the fire, 'till infinite mercy saved a remnant.

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Wesley, John. "Commentary on Amos 4:11". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https: 1765.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

Amos proceeds further, and says, that God had used a severity towards his chosen people similar to that which formerly he showed towards Sodom and Gomorrah. That, we know, was a memorable evidence of God’s wrath, which ought to have filled all ages with dread, as it ought also at this day: and Scripture, whenever it graphically paints the wrath of God, sets Sodom and Gomorrah before our eyes. It was indeed a dreadful judgment, when God destroyed those cities with fire from heaven, when they were consumed, and when the earth, cleaving asunder, swallowed up the five cities. But he says that nearly the same ruin had taken place among the people of Israel, only that a few escaped, as when any one snatches a brand from the burning; for the second clause of the verse ought no doubt to be taken as a modification; for had Amos only said, that they had been overthrown as Sodom and Gomorrah, he would have said too much. The Prophet then corrects or modifies his expression by saying, that a few had remained, as when one snatches a brand from the burning. But in the meantime, they ought to have been at least moved by punishments so grievous and dreadful, since God had manifested his displeasure to them, as he did formerly to Sodom and Gomorrah.

History seems, at the same time, to militate against this narrative of Amos; for he prophesied under Jeroboam the second, the son of Joash; and the state of the people was then prosperous, as sacred history records. How then could it be, that the Israelites had been destroyed like Sodom and Gomorrah? This difficulty may be easily solved, if we attend to what sacred history relates; for it says that God had pity on the Israelites, because all had been before consumed, the free man as well as the captive, (2 Kings 14:25) When, therefore, there was so deplorable a devastation among the people, it was God’s purpose to give them some relief for a time. Hence he made king Jeroboam successful, so that he recovered many cities; and the people flourished again: but it was a short prosperity. Now Amos reminds them of what they had suffered, and of the various means by which God had stimulated them to repentance though they proved wholly untamable.

Then these two things are in no way inconsistent, — that the Israelites had been consumed before God spared them under Jeroboam, — and that they had yet been for a time relieved from those calamities, which proved ruinous both to the captive and to the free, as it is expressly declared. We must, at the same time, remember, that there was some residue among the people; for it was God’s design to show mercy on account of his covenant. The people were indeed worthy of complete destruction; but it was God’s will that some remnant should continue, lest any one should think that he had forgotten his covenant. We hence see why God had preserved some; it was, that he might contend with the wickedness of the people, and show that his covenant was not wholly void. So the Lord observed a middle course, that he might not spare hypocrites, and that he might not abolish his covenant; for it was necessary for that to stand perpetually, however ungodly and perfidious the Israelites may have been. The Prophet then shows, that God had been faithful even in this case, and constantly kept his covenant, though all the Israelites had fallen away from him. He at length concludes —

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Calvin, John. "Commentary on Amos 4:11". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https: 1840-57.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Amos 4:11 I have overthrown [some] of you, as God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, and ye were as a firebrand plucked out of the burning: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD.

Ver. 11. I have overthrown some of you] Some and not all: thus, in the midst of judgment he remembered mercy, he did not stir up all his wrath, Psalms 78:38, he let fall some drops, but would not shed the whole shower of it; for he remembered that they were but flesh. Some he hanged up in gibbets, as it were, for example to the rest: as St Jude saith he dealt by Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them, thrown forth for an instance of Divine vengeance to all succeeding ages, 1:7 ( προκεινται); and as Herodotus telleth us, that the sparks and ashes of burnt Troy served for a lasting monument of God’s great displeaure against great sinners. See the like threatened to Babylon, Isaiah 13:19-20.

As God overthrew Sodem] As Jehovah from Jehovah rained hell out of heaven upon them, Genesis 19:24, that is, God the Son from God the Father: and so Eusebius observeth that the Father here saith of the Son, that he overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah (De Praepar. Evang. 1. 5, c. 23. Vide Socrat. Hist. Eccles. l. 2. c. 30.): "he condemned them with an overthrow," 2 Peter 2:6, he overthrew them and repented not, Jeremiah 20:16, he overthrew them in a moment, and no hand stayed on them, Lamentations 4:6. And yet worse shall be the condition of those that despise the grace of the gospel, which is the great sin of these last times, Matthew 11:24; yea, the devils will keep holy-day, as it were, in hell, in respect of such sinners against their own souls.

And ye were as a firebrand] Ambustus et fumigans titio, smutchy and smoky, and scarcely escaping with the skin of your teeth, Job 19:20, as Lot out of Sodom, as the man of Benjamin out of the army, 1 Samuel 2:12, as the young man that fled naked away at Christ’s attachment, Mark 14:52, or as Hunniades narrowly escaping with his life from the battle of Varna; where he had like to have fallen with that perjured Popish king, as good Jehoshaphat had for joining with Ahab. It is as if God should say: There are not many of you that are left, and have your lives for a prey; howbeit they are ill bestowed upon you, for any good use you have made of my forbearance. "Let favour be shown to the wicked, yet will he not learn righteousness," Isaiah 26:10; and if thou deliver him once, yet thou must do it again, and when all is done that can be done. "A man of great wrath shall suffer punishment," Proverbs 19:19; and so (to be sure of it) shall a man of great stomach and stubbornness, that refuseth to return, as these of whom the fifth time it is here complained.

And yet ye have not returned, &c.] O prorsus obstinati! saith Tarnovius here: Prorsus indurati et contumaces, saith Mercer. "Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, do ye thus always resist the Holy Ghost?" Acts 7:51 : will ye needs be like horse and mule, uncounsellable, untractable? will ye, after conviction, needs run away with the bit in your mouths and take your swing in sin. If so resolved, yet stay, saith the Psalmist, and take this along with you, "Many sorrows shall be to the wicked," Psalms 32:10; your preservation from one evil shall be but a reservation to seven worse, Leviticus 26:21, as it fared with Pharaoh, Sennacherib, and others; God will surely subdue or subvert you.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Amos 4:11". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https: 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Amos 4:11. Ye were as a fire-brand, &c.— A proverbial expression, used both by sacred and prophane writers to signify a narrow escape out of imminent danger. The comparison expresses perfectly well the state to which the Syrians reduced the Israelites in the war here referred to. "They shall see one part of their kingdom seized upon by the Syrians, their cities taken, their fields plundered, their troops defeated. That which shall be saved, shall escape with difficulty, and as it were half burned: a fire-brand "plucked out of the burning." See Isaiah 7:4. Zechariah 3:2. 1 Corinthians 3:15 and Calmet.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Amos 4:11". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https: 1801-1803.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Overthrown; utterly consumed and destroyed your houses and goods.

Some of you; though it was a total consumption to those it fell on, yet it was but on some, who might be wantings to others, and by which others might see how easy it was for God to destroy them all.

As God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah: we no where else read of such fire from heaven, yet it is possible some such judgment might fall on some of their cities, and not be recorded; but I do rather understand it proverbially spoken, denoting most grievous and desolating fires, or judgments.

Ye were as a firebrand plucked out of the burning; such of you as escaped were yet in very great danger, and as firebrands in midst of the fire, where you were with others burning till infinite mercy saved a remnant, and plucked you out.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Amos 4:11". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https: 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

11. Earthquake. Some consider Amos 4:11 a summary of all preceding judgments, not a description of a new calamity; others, a figure of devastating wars (2 Kings 13:4; 2 Kings 13:7); but it is more natural to interpret it as a description of an earthquake causing serious havoc in Israel. Palestine has suffered frequently from earthquakes, especially in the border districts. During the past ten years four earthquakes are said to have visited the country. The most disastrous of which more or less complete accounts have been preserved were those of 31 B.C., in which, according to Josephus, some thirty thousand persons perished, and of January 1, 1837. A vivid account of the horrors of the latter is given in Robinson, Biblical Researches in Palestine, 2:529-531, note 41. The only earthquake mentioned in the Old Testament is that mentioned in the days of Uzziah (Amos 1:1; compare Zechariah 14:5), unless we class in the same category the destruction of the cities of the Plain (compare G.A. Smith, Historical Geography, p. 508f.). The allusion cannot be to the one mentioned in Amos 1:1, unless we suppose that Amos retouched his prophecies when he collected them subsequent to the earthquake (see p. 195). He may have in mind any similar catastrophe.

Some of you — R.V., “cities among you”; literally, among you. Not the whole country suffered; nevertheless, all should heed the warning.

God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah — The point of comparison is the completeness of the ruin. As an illustration of this the destruction of these cities (Genesis 19) is mentioned several times in the Old Testament (Deuteronomy 29:23; Jeremiah 49:18; Isaiah 1:7, etc.).

Ye — Those that escaped.

A fire brand plucked out of the burning — A picture of narrow escape. They were almost consumed, only the divine mercy saved them (Isaiah 1:9; compare Zechariah 3:2). But even in the face of ruin and with this overwhelming evidence of the divine love the people hardened their hearts. The divine love and mercy (Amos 2:9 ff.), as well as the divine judgments (Amos 4:6 ff.) failed to accomplish the divine purpose. Nothing more can be done. Destruction is inevitable.

On the philosophy underlying Amos 4:6-11, see in part comment on Amos 3:6. To it may be added that in the ancient world it was customary to ascribe all calamities to the wrath of the deity, manifesting itself either arbitrarily or on account of sins committed by the devotees. The Hebrew prophets believed that Jehovah’s wrath was aroused by sin, that his righteousness demanded the punishment of sin, and that the punishment would take the form of some calamity to be experienced in this present life. They believed also that these calamities had a corrective purpose. These two beliefs underlie the prophetic explanation of calamities. Since secondary causes and the working of natural laws were entirely disregarded, it never occurred to the prophets that any calamity could come without Jehovah’s direct interference, and without a punitive or corrective purpose. With a clearer conception of the character of God we may hesitate to believe that every time a famine or drought or earthquake occurs, God is especially angry with those who have to suffer, and yet there can be no doubt that “the instinct is sound which in all ages has led religious people to feel that such things are inflicted for moral purposes.”

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Amos 4:11". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https: 1874-1909.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

Even the overthrow of some Israelite cities did not move the Israelites to repent (cf. Deuteronomy 28:62). Comparing these overthrown cities to Sodom and Gomorrah indicates their proverbial complete destruction (cf. Isaiah 1:9; Isaiah 13:19; Jeremiah 50:40; Zephaniah 2:9), not necessarily the method of their destruction. God had rescued His people like burning sticks from a conflagration, as He had formerly extracted Lot and his daughters from Sodom ( Genesis 19). The Assyrian kings customarily sowed the ground of a conquered area with salt so nothing would grow there. [Note: Niehaus, p402.]

In all, Amos mentioned seven disciplinary judgments that God had brought on the Israelites: famine ( Amos 4:6), drought, ( Amos 4:7-8), plant diseases ( Amos 4:9), insects ( Amos 4:9), plague ( Amos 4:10), warfare ( Amos 4:10), and military defeat ( Amos 4:11). God sometimes permits His people to suffer so they will turn back to Him (cf. Hebrews 12:6), but the Israelites had not done that.

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Amos 4:11". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https: 2012.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Burning. This comparison shews the condition of Israel. Hardly any escaped, Zacharias iii. 2., and 1 Corinthians iii. 15. (Calmet)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Amos 4:11". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https: 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

as God overthrew, &c. Reference to Pentateuch (Genesis 19:24, Genesis 19:25. Deuteronomy 29:23). App-92. Compare Isaiah 13:19. Jeremiah 49:18. God. Hebrew Elobim. App-4.

ye were as a firebrand, &c. Compare Zechariah 3:2. Jude 1:23.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Amos 4:11". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https: 1909-1922.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(11) Overthrown.—Another awful calamity, an earthquake, is referred to, and perhaps a volcanic eruption. Dr. Pusey enumerates a long series of earthquakes, which distressed Palestine, though not the central parts of the country, from the time of Julian to the twelfth century. The allusion to Sodom and Gomorrah gives a hint of the fierce licence and vice which had prevailed in some parts of the Northern kingdom, and called for chastisement.

Some of you.—More accurately among you.

Brand plucked . . .—Men would cast such a brand back into the fire. “Behold the goodness and severity of God.”

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Amos 4:11". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https: 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

I have overthrown some of you, as God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, and ye were as a firebrand plucked out of the burning: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD.
as God
Genesis 19:24,25; Isaiah 13:19; Jeremiah 49:18; Hosea 11:8; 2 Peter 2:6; Jude 1:7
as a
Zechariah 3:2; 1 Corinthians 3:15; Jude 1:23
6; Jeremiah 6:28-30; Ezekiel 22:17-22; 24:13; Revelation 9:20

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Amos 4:11". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https:

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, October 27th, 2020
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30
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