Amos Chapter 8 – Fear
From our perspective, Amos chapter eight is a heartbreaking historical record of God’s judgment upon the nation of Israel. However, to the original biblical audience, it was a proclamation of future events. This proclamation of pending doom starts, interestingly enough with what will happen in the temple. The temple should have been filled with songs of praise and worship for a Holy God. The temple will instead resound with mournful deep crying the author calls “wailing”. Instead of people full of life living free before a Holy God the temple will be filled with the dead who will be thrown out in silence.
In Amos 8:4-6 we find the message to be specifically directed to those who abuse the poor. The temple has been defiled and the poor shamefully treated by the inhabitants of the Northern Kingdom. This is a picture of a nation overcome by a wicked departure from Yahweh. They have immersed themselves in a lifestyle of offending God and abusing the less fortunate.
Israel was the only Old Testament nation to enter into covenant with the living God, Yahweh. It could be argued that at the very center of the covenant relationship between God and Israel was the ten commandments. Interestingly, six of the ten commandments is God’s imperative of how man is to relate to man, the other four is God’s telling man how to relate to God. This wicked nation had violated every one of the commandments. In Amos 8:3 their punishment begins in the temple because they violated God’s law about relating to Him. In subsequent verses, they are being punished for violating God’s law about relating to man.
Look at Amos 8:5-6.
“When will the New Moon be past,
That we may sell grain?
And the Sabbath,
That we may trade wheat?
Making the ephah small and the shekel large,
Falsifying the scales by deceit,
6 That we may buy the poor for silver,
And the needy for a pair of sandals—
Even sell the bad wheat?”
Israel had reduced their relationship with Yahweh down to a perverted observance of the feasts and the Sabbath. These wicked people didn’t just break the commandments, they couldn’t wait to express their wicked rebellion against God and His law. They had learned how to appear religious all the while living in total offense to the God of their covenant.
Though they seemed to be prosperous, they got away with nothing.
7 The Lord has sworn by the pride of Jacob:
“Surely I will never forget any of their works.
8 Shall the land not tremble for this,
And everyone mourn who dwells in it?
All of it shall swell like the River,
Heave and subside
Like the River of Egypt.
At this point, I would like to remind you that I am no Bible scholar. I am a simple man, making observations of scriptural passages, and sharing those observations with my readers. My persistent goal as I write is to share the joy of discovering Biblical truth with my readers, hoping to excite a hunger in each one of them that they may adopt a lifelong habit of studying the scriptures.
I make this disclaimer with knees knocking as we wade into the deep waters of Amos chapters 8 and 9. Why do I say “deep waters” and why are my knees knocking? It’s because I believe the remainder of the book includes Bible prophecy yet unfulfilled.
7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,
But fools despise wisdom and instruction.
How many of us fear the Lord? How many of us justify not fearing the Lord by claiming something like, “we are New Testament believers! God is a God of love and doesn’t give us the spirit of fear”.
Do you know that the Northern kingdom in Amos’ day didn’t fear the Lord either?
Look at Proverbs 1:28-30.
28 “Then they will call on me, but I will not answer;
They will seek me diligently, but they will not find me.
29 Because they hated knowledge
And did not choose the fear of the Lord,
30 They would have none of my counsel
And despised my every rebuke.
God’s Word is eternal, what was true in Proverbs 1:28-30 is true today. I see so many parallels between Amos and our country (and church) today.
Is the modern day church filled with people sporting religious form with wicked hearts far from the Living God?
Unless my fear gets the best of me, we will plunge into the depths of the remainder of the book of Amos beginning in Amos 8:9 next time.
All Scripture Quotations from The New King James Version. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982. Print.