Amos lived in a tumultuous time right before the one of the darkest epochs in Jewish history, its regression from the Covenant to exile. The prophet Amos was a fierce critic of the injustices of his society’s social relations and the systemic corruption of its judicial and religious institutions. Amos starts off fairly quickly into the kind of section scholars refer to as an “edict against the nations.” He essentially lays out an indictment for the “crimes against humanity” of Israel’s neighbors.
One can imagine the Israelite people of his day nodding along in agreement of his assessment–like Jonah– waiting for fire and brimstone to fall, and totally unsuspecting of the sucker punch to come. They were not ignorant of these crimes, but neither were they without their own culpability. This indictment clearly lays out example after example of the actions of seven neighboring peoples living lives in stark contrast to the Sinai Covenant’s revelation of Deut. 30, one pointing toward the type of lives God intended His people to live before a watching world in a way that demonstrates God’s heart for justice, mercy, and mutuality. Amos’ refrain “for three transgressions… and for four” illuminate how God had had enough of these heartless and habitual actions. Indeed the Lord is mad to the point of roaring like a lion, for the only sane response to injustices of this scale is anger.
- Read Amos 1:1-2:3 on God’s judgment of the neighboring people’s transgressions
- Read Leviticus 19:13-18 revealing God’s heart for how neighbors are to live out justice before God as His people.
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