“I gave you empty stomachs in every city and lack of bread in every town, yet you have not returned to me,” declares the Lord (4:6 NIV).
In the previous section (3:7-15), Amos presented three motives for him to speak boldly for God. We ought to remember 1 Corinthians 10:11: These things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our instruction, on whom the ends of the ages have come (CSB). Although the old covenant laws and rituals in the Old Testament Scriptures have been fulfilled in Christ’s person, word, and work, the Old Testament Scriptures as a whole continue to function as wisdom-instruction for us. So then, we need to listen to what Amos wrote.
We are now in the second section of the book; it is Amos’ second prophetic proclamation. The first has declared the failings of God’s old covenant people. Next, is a long appeal for repentance.
We need to interpret Scripture by Scripture, using one part to understand another. Here we need to know the foundational revelation (the Torah) to understand Amos’ message.
Amos started his appeal by presenting the varied situations in which Israel continued in sin (4:1-11). In this post we observe that they sinned in a time of prosperity (4:1-3).
Amos pointed out the sin of the women. God does not worry about being politically correct. In a sexist or racist society, like America, people worry about speaking against the sins of any group. But God is not sexist or racist. He does not play favorites (Acts 10:34-35), and he feels free to address all people in their sins (Titus 1:12f), regardless of the possibility of offending cultural sensitivities. Evil people like to hide their corruption and perversities under the cloak of blaming others for “hate speech”. As we shall see later in Amos, God commands us to hate evil.
The true and living God is not anti-female. The Lord created the man and the woman in his own image (Genesis 1:27). To be a woman is not to be a second class human. Women should be treated with respect and honor, as men also should. God wants women to enjoy their femininity and to maximize its potential. However, he has also made women responsible and accountable to him, just as men are. With that in mind, look at the language Amos used to stir the women of Israel to repentance.
- Amos compared them to fattened cows. (Bashan was a lush, green area.) We should be careful not to turn God’s gifts into a means to satisfy our sinful lusts. This is too easily done!
- Amos exposed their oppression of the poor. Contrast 1 Timothy 5:10. God gives us wealth so that we can help others.
- Amos pointed out the danger of being enslaved by strong drink. The book of Proverbs contains warnings about drunkenness and alcohol abuse (cf. 20:1; 23:20-21; 23:29-35). This is a great danger to women (and men) in our troubled times. You cannot cure isolation, domestic abuse, and economic loss by drinking your way out of it. Alcohol is not a solution, and it can greatly complicate the serious situation that many find themselves in at this hour. I plead with you, knowing the evil it has brought in my own family’s history. If you are getting caught in the trap of “seeking to drown your sorrows”, get help today!
To strengthen his exposure of the spiritual condition of the women of Israel, Amos presented a contrast with the Holy God (4:2). If you want to know what you really are like, compare yourself to God (Isaiah 6:1-7). Exposure to God’s holy character will bring your glaring deficiencies to light.
A concluding thought about possible interpretations of “with hooks… with fishhooks” (4:2a).Perhaps it was an illustration—people being caught like fish. But the Assyrians really used “hooks” in their campaigns of terror. We have examples from archaeology. They were evil people. Israel experienced their wrath, instead of turning back to the living God. May we listen and return to the Lord!
Grace and peace,