The second motive to speak boldly for the Lord is the theme of God’s message.
The Lord pointed out through Amos two ways that his people were engaging in evil. First, the sin of materialism (3:10, 15). It had so captivated them that they did not understand anything else. This is an example of being hardened by sin’s deceitfulness (Hebrews 3:13). We must guard our hearts. Since we have a material aspect to our being and live in a culture that is openly and overly materialistic, we can be tempted to seek satisfaction in material things.
Second, the sin of false religion (3:14). Notice the reference to Bethel. We should immediately think of how Jeroboam I led the northern kingdom into deep sin there (cf. 1 Kings 12:25-13:6). God calls his people Israel to account for their religious error. It was their glaring sin because it was against their covenant relationship with God. This was a root sin of many other sins in Israel.
We must find “root sins”; for example, For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and by craving it, some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs (1 Timothy 6:10 CSB) and strike at these root sins. (Another root sin is old unbelief.) This also requires us to make sure that we have correct beliefs from the Scriptures and seek to practice them. Notice God’s complete seriousness at this point. Amos uses the longest form for God’s name (3:13) in any place in the Scriptures!
We must learn from Israel’s errors. Time goes on, but the human heart remains in the same swamp of evil. “Progress” in humanity is merely “further declines” in the way we sin, either in the manner of our sinning or in the objects of our lusts. Hardness of heart is shown in the refusal to hear God’s warning.
The third motive is the judgment in God’s message.
Other nations are summoned to see Israel’s punishment (3:9). We should learn from the sins of others and not repeat them. But those elders who are sinning you are to reprove before everyone, so that the others may take warning (1 Timothy 5:20 NIV). Notice how low the people had sunk. Others are called to witness their oppression of their own people. All knowledge of how to please the Lord had left them.
The judgment would come through the agency of a conquering power (3:11). Amos didn’t name this power, but it was Assyria. It was fulfilled within fifty years from the time of Amos’ ministry. God may use one group of godless people to punish another group (Isaiah 10:10-19). We must “get into” the Bible as a life situation. How would you react if God suddenly announced that our country was to be destroyed?
There was mixed news: Only a remnant would escape, but thank God for the remnant, not only for mercy for those people, but for the whole world (3:12; cf. Rm 9:27; 11:1-6). For from that remnant came the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. God works mercifully even in the most difficult times. Put your hope in God today!
Grace and peace,