Study of the Prophets #8 Amos (Cont.)
We are at the end of the book of Amos starting at Chapter 9. I believe it no coincidence that part of the discussion in this chapter includes HaShem telling the people that they might run, but they cannot hide from the Creator of the universe. This has profound import in today’s society’ many believing they can stash months or even years’ worth of supplies in bunkers, caves, and other places and remain safe when “all hell” breaks loose. Let’s get started.
In verse 1 we see that HaShem is now standing at the Altar, located in the Southern Kingdom of Judah. We see, that no one is righteous; that all have sinned, just as Sha’ul states in the B’rit Chadashah. Is it not amazing how the past is repeated when we do not submit to G-d and repent? (Ecc. 7:20; Rom. 3:9-10) This was one of the phases of G-d’s withdrawal of His presence from the Temple in Jerusalem. The following prophecy is prefaced with the Amos’ vision to indicate HaShem’s displeasure with the Kohanim, who performed their services at the Altar.
Striking the lintel and the subsequent quaking of the side –posts alludes to the slaying of Josiah (king of Judah) and bringing down the destruction of the Temple throne. The king of Egypt removed him from office and imposed punishment on the land (II Kings 23). The people were no longer in a position to appoint a king under their own authority (Metzudos). “Shattering the head of them all…” refers to the Kohanim who are the leaders of the nation, for they have rebelled against G-d, thus setting a poor example for the people who followed like sheep gone astray. Abarbanel interprets this as meaning the split was at the head; the splitting of the Northern and Southern kingdoms that took place at the time of Jeroboam who was at the source of the entire tragedy. A house divided cannot stand. In this case, when Israel split from Judah, G-d withdrew Himself from the Temple and their presence. So it is happening today in our global community. When the Rapture occurs, G-d will again have withdrawn Himself from the presence of men save those who are sealed to serve Him through the Tribulation. “and the rest of them I will slay by the sword…” refers to the fact that the remainder of the nation will die by the sword save those who G-d chooses to preserve in the exile unwillingly.
Now we learn that there was no place to hide from G-d then, just as there is no place to hide from Him now. It is futile to think we can hide from the impending doom that will befall this nation and the world by hoarding and hiding. Let’s read on “ no fugitive among them will flee and no refugee among them will escape. If they dig down into the grave, from there My hand will take them; and if they ascend to the heavens, from there I will bring them down. If they hide on top of Carmel, from thee I will [seek] them out and take them, and if they conceal themselves from my eyes on the floor of the sea, from there I will command the serpent and it will bite them. If they go into captivity before their enemies, from there I will command the sword and it will slay them; and I will fix My eye upon them for evil and not for good.” Wow. Let’s break these verses down into details.
First of all, not all the people will be killed as some of them have been decreed to be exiled. However, none of those whom G-d has decreed will die will escape His judgment. We must keep in mind that HaShem did not and will not damn people without them having any choice in the matter. Just as HaShem allowed Pharaoh to harden his own heart, He knows who rebel against His ways and will not repent no matter how much warning or time they are given. It was and is this type of person who was killed and will be killed in the future. There will be no place to hide from Me…” There simply is no place we can hide from G-d. He can and will search us out from the depths or the heights either to save us or to destroy us. “If they conceal themselves from My eyes on the floor of the sea, from there I will command the serpent and it will bite them.” This comment is used as a metaphor in order to bring fear to those who deny the might of G-d and His control over everything in the universe. Other commentators interpret this statement to mean that G-d will send a nation as mighty as a serpent to kill them no matter where they try to hide (Targum; Rashi; Abarbanel). “if they go into captivity…” We need to clarify this statement. There were people who went into captivity willingly in order to gain the favor of their captors and hopefully escape destruction. A contemporary example of this was the Army sergeant who was first thought to have been captured by the enemy, taken from his unit against his will. Only later did an investigation reveal he was actually part of the enemy faction and went willingly: WASHINGTON — The Army announced that Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who disappeared from his unit in Afghanistan in 2009, has been charged with desertion and misbehavior before the enemy, offenses which could send him to prison for life. Bergdahl is charged with one count of Article 85 and one count of Article 99 under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, U.S. Army Forces Command Col. Daniel King said in a statement delivered at Fort Bragg, N.C.
According to G-d’s justice, people such as this individual will be killed. Jeremiah 42:15-17 gives us another example. Johanan ben Kareah fled to Egypt in defiance of Jeremiah’s orders and was subsequently killed (Jer. 42:15-17). “And I will fix My eye upon them…” HaShem will not simply take His presence from the Temple, leaving them to a natural fate. No, He will be intimately involved just as He is in times of prosperity. However, this time, it will be to punish them and not assist them (Malbim). This too sounds familiar. When times are good, seldom do people call upon the L-rd in praise and thanksgiving. But when things do not go our way, there are suddenly multitudes who suddenly acknowledge at least the existence of “someone” higher than themselves. Unfortunately, today as back then, the “someone” is not the G-d of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Verse 5-6 points to the fact that G-d is the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe and everything in it. Now that the people have been forewarned, the people would recognize then just as they will in the future that when the great earthquake came and comes, no one will be able to deny that it is G-d who made it; not El Nino, La Nina, global warming, or ancient aliens. The waters, mountains, islands, and all other natural phenomenon will respond to His command. “His group” refers to those who follow His ways; all true believers according to the seven-fold witness in the book of Revelation; Jews as Yahshua defines a true Jew in Romans 2-3.
In verse 7 HaShem likens the rebellious people to the Cushites. We must go back and review who the Cushites were and there descendent are to understand this verse. Keep in mind these are the words of G-d, the One who is just and true which does not necessarily fit into our current ideas on political correctness. Cush was one of the sons of Ham, the son of Noach who disgraced his father. Kush fathered Nimrod who was evil from birth and who was responsible for the kingdom of Bavel. The Cushites were dark-skinned as the descendants who are Ethiopian. Mirium, Moshe’s wife, was a Cushite; an Ethiopian. In this verse, HaShem is comparing His People to the Cushites who were sold into perpetual slavery to their masters. HaShem compares His Peoples sin and their continued rebellious nature as permanent as the dark skin of a Cushite (Rashi; Also see Jer. 13:22). Another interpretation is that just as the Cushites are recognizable everywhere for their dark skin, “so too do you stand out as My chosen nation wherever you are exiled.”(Malbim).
Did I not bring up Israel from the land of Egypt, as well as the Philistines from Caphtor (Deut. 2:23) and Aram from Kir?”Abarbanel and Metzudos interpret this as “You became my Nation when I took you out from slavery in the land of Egypt, but because you have not kept my treaty you are no more worthy in My eyes than the other nations whom I have saved (Mahari Kara). When the ancient Philistines were conquered by Caphtor and eventually returned to their land, they retained their identity, unmixed with the people to whom they had been captive. Will Aram go out from Kir as a separate nation? Not only has Judah maintained the oracles of G-d throughout the centuries, but true believers have managed to maintain their faith and trust in the G-d of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; following G-d’s Torah no matter where they find themselves. There is a remnant who maintain their separateness as G-d commands of His people; who know they are to be a light unto the nations and set the example of how to relate to G-d, man, and the environment according to G-d’s Law.
In verse 8 G-d makes it clear that He is going to destroy the Northern Kingdom of Ephraim and that the 10 Tribes will be exiled. Although they will lose their sovereignty, they will not be destroyed as a nation. Rather, the House of Jacob will remain a separate people among the nations of the world (Malbim). It will remain extant until the end of time and will be eventually redeemed and restored to glory (Abarbanel; Alshich). Other commentators maintain that HaShem is explaining through Amos that although He brought the Philistines and Aram to victory at one point, that they will eventually be totally destroyed because of their continued sin against G-d. Yet, imminent destruction is not G-d’s plan for the House of Jacob, although the Norther Kingdom will be destroyed.
Verses 9-10 describe the afflictions that will come upon the Jewish nation. “For behold, I decree that I will shake out the House of Israel among all the nations, as [grain] is shaken I a sieve, and not a pebble falls to the ground.” This is reminiscent of the verses founds in Isaiah 65:8-10; Here is what Adonai says:
“As when juice is found in a cluster of grapes, and people say, ‘Don’t destroy it, there is still some good in it,’ so I will do likewise for the sake of my servants, and not destroy them all. I will bring forth descendants from Ya’akov, heirs of my mountains from Y’hudah; my chosen ones will possess them, and my servants will live there. The Sharon will be a pasture for their flocks, the Akhor Valley is a place for cattle to rest, for my people who have sought me.”
Nevertheless, just as the holes of the sieve allow only the small chaff to fall out, but the full grains that are larger remain inside despite all the shaking, so too shall the righteous of the Jewish nation and those who repent their misdeeds survive the turbulent experience of exile. Only the wicked will be assimilated and destroyed. At the time of redemption, the righteous among them will be joined by the righteous who will be revivified (Ibn Ezra; Radak; Metzudis; cf. Abarbanel; Malbim). Rashi interprets this verse as describing the intensity of the exile. One who uses a sieve shakes it as hard as they can to remove even the coarsest pieces of refuse. So too will the Jewish nation undergo sever affliction when they are scattered throughout the nations. I agree with each of these interpretations because they are substantiated by other scripture.
Verse 10 describes the attitude and perspective of antinomians of that time and of the present. These are people who believe that everything happens in the course of natural events; that nothing they do is the cause of any calamity such as famine, plagues, or other disasters. There will be people in the future who live with this belief system just as those today who attribute the ever-increasing calamites to specific weather phenomenon alone; not considering that G-d is behind it all. T
There is no doubt that verse 11 has significant application to the future. “On that day I will raise up the fallen booth of David; I will repair their breaches and raise up its ruins, and I will build it up as in days of old, wo that they upon whom My Name is called may inherit the remnant of Edom and all the nations- the word of HaShem, Who shall do this.
After Israel (all true believers) shall undergo all of these trials, there shall finally come the day that is destined as their redemption. At that time, the kingdom of David over Israel shall be reestablished with Messiah ben David in charge; Yahshua. The kingdom of David is also called a booth because it (He) is their covering. Understanding that Yahshua is the Sukkah of David is a Messianic revelation not known to those in Amos time and not to most of our Orthodox brethren. But Yahshua is G-d’s Provision. According to Ibn Ezra, this verse describes the monarchy of Hezekiah, the descendant of David, who was saved from Sennacherib by Divine intervention. This may be true, but I submit that by default, these prophecies are not limited to what was about to happen just at the time they were given. They serve as a warning and as consolation throughout all generations.
Verses 13-15 provide a wonderful sense of comfort for those who love G-d (See John Chapter 14 for Yahshua’s definition of one who loves G-d).
Behold, days are coming- the word of HaShem- when the plowman will meet the reaper; and the treader of grapes [will meet] the one who carries the seed; the mountains will drip juice and all the hills will melt. I will return the captivity of My people Israel, and they will rebuild desolate cities and settle them; they will plant vineyards and drink their wine; they will cultivate gardens and eat their fruits. I will plant them upon their land and they will never again be uprooted from their land that I have given them, said HaShem, your G-d.”
This prophecy have yet to be fulfilled, substantiating many other of Amos’ prophecies that have applicability to more than one time in history. So plentiful will be the produce of the land that barely will the crops be gathered before the land is ready to be tilled and replanted. Similarly, before the grapes are completely trodden before the seeds will need to be planted for the next crop. This parallels the promise in the Torah (Lev. 26:5): “And your threshing shall overtake the vintage and the vintage shall overtake the plowing- and even exceeds the promise in that verse (Radak;cf. Rashi). “The mountains will drip juice, and all the hills will melt.” So much blessing will be bestowed on G-d’s people that it will seem as if the mountains are dripping with juice from fruits and wine from the grapes (Radak). HaShem makes it clear in verse 14 that He will be set free from their captivity. I submit this also applies to the captivity we currently experience in our physicality; always fighting the yetzer hara and satan’s temptations. G-d’s people will plant, reap, and enjoy the fruits of their labors without fear of alien nations attempting to destroy us and the constant conflict we endure because of our love for G-d and His Torah. We will never be uprooted or exiled. We will serve G-d and fulfill His will forever under His perpetual protection (Radak).
There is an interesting use of the word “your G-d” in verse 15. The word in Hebrew is Elohecha אֱלֹהֶֽיךָ ; is the singular form indicating that in the future the Jewish nation will be unified as one. Indeed, this is supported in Ezekiel 37 in the narrative of the 2 sticks (Ephraim Israel and Judah Israel) being joined into one. This has not occurred to the present day but the day is coming; “said HaShem, your G-d.”
I hope you have enjoyed the detailed study on the book of Amos. I believe it no accident that you asked for a study on the Prophets at just this time. There is so much to learn and so little time. Rather than hoarding supplies, guns, and ammunition, we need to covet G-d’s Torah; the wisdom and knowledge that will come if we seek Him with all our hearts, souls, and might. This is the ammunition and provision that will get us through this life successfully. “This is the word of the L-RD to Zerubbabel saying, ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the L-RD of hosts.
Next week we will begin Obadiah
Rabbi Tamah Davis