God’s Word of Justice
Amos 3:1-15: The people of Israel were chosen to have a special relationship with the LORD, and they were chosen for a purpose – to be living examples of the LORD’s justice and goodness. But many in Israel refused to live according to this purpose. Today’s reading includes a continuation of the judgments directed against Israel. Samaria, Israel’s capital city, is targeted for punishment. The northern kingdom of Israel was also known as Samaria.
1People of Israel, listen to this message which the Lord has spoken about you, the entire nation that he brought out of Egypt: 2“Of all the nations on earth, you are the only one I have known and cared for. That is what makes your sins so terrible, and that is why I must punish you for them.”
The Prophet’s Task
3Do two people start traveling together without arranging to meet?
4Does a lion roar in the forest unless he has found a victim?
Does a young lion growl in his den unless he has caught something?
5Does a bird get caught in a trap if the trap has not been baited?
Does a trap spring unless something sets it off?
6Does the war trumpet sound in a city without making the people afraid?
Does disaster strike a city unless the Lord sends it?
7The Sovereign Lord never does anything without revealing his plan to his servants, the prophets.
8When a lion roars, who can keep from being afraid?
When the Sovereign Lord speaks, who can keep from proclaiming his message?
The Doom of Samaria
9Announce to those who live in the palaces of Egypt and Ashdod: “Gather together in the hills around Samaria and see the great disorder and the crimes being committed there.”
10The Lord says, “These people fill their mansions with things taken by crime and violence. They don’t even know how to be honest. 11And so an enemy will surround their land, destroy their defenses, and plunder their mansions.”
12The Lord says, “As a shepherd recovers only two legs or an ear of a sheep that a lion has eaten, so only a few will survive of Samaria’s people, who now recline on luxurious couches. 13Listen now, and warn the descendants of Jacob,” says the Sovereign Lord Almighty. 14 “On the day when I punish the people of Israel for their sins, I will destroy the altars of Bethel. The corners of every altar will be broken off and will fall to the ground. 15I will destroy winter houses and summer houses. The houses decorated with ivory will fall in ruins; every large house will be destroyed.”
Today’s Key Verse: Amos 3:8b
When the Sovereign LORD speaks, who can keep from proclaiming his message?
Reread verses 3-8. Amos asks a series of questions about events that don’t happen simply by chance. These lead to the final key point of the argument—that the LORD can do whatever the LORD wants to do, including bringing disaster on a city. The prophet Amos, who was a shepherd, was empowered to proclaim the LORD’s message (see Amos 1:1-2). According to today’s reading, what message was he to proclaim? What message will your words and actions proclaim today?
Sovereign God, teach me to listen for your voice and to proclaim your message of justice, peace, and love. Amen.
Amos 4:1-13: The prophet Amos points to Israel’s failure to learn and to return to God.