Amos Chapter 1: Sins of the Arabs

Jan 21st, 2012 | By | Category: Amos, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)

Amos 1:1 The words of Amos, who was among the herdmen of Tekoa, which he saw concerning Israel in the days of Uzziah king of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash king of Israel, two years before the earthquake.

A common shepherd by occupation, Amos was “among” the herdsmen (plural), so others were associated with him. He was a leading spirit but not a priest, being more or less contemporary with Isaiah, Hosea, and Jonah. The ministry of Amos took place about 806 BC, or 200 years before the destruction of Jerusalem in 606 BC. It was a time of great plenty until near the end of the 40-year ministry of Amos.

Amos mentioned a literal earthquake that occurred during the reign of King Uzziah (Azariah) of Judah. Zechariah 14:5 refers back to this earthquake, so verse 1 is important for verifying that a future literal earthquake will take place at the end of the present age.

Verse 1 equates the ministry of Amos with both Judah and Israel. Tekoa was in Judah, about six miles southeast of Bethlehem.

Comment: According to Young’s Analytical Concordance, the name Amos means “burden bearer,” which fits chapter 1 and on into the book.


Arab Nations that Comprise the Confederacy of Psalm 83

Amos 1:2 And he said, The LORD will roar from Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the habitations of the shepherds shall mourn, and the top of Carmel shall wither.

This roaring will take place in the future when God delivers the Holy Remnant out of Jacob’s  Trouble. “The Lord will roar from Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the habitationsof the shepherds shall mourn, and the top of Carmel shall wither.” These events, which are all future, are related to the end time. Since Amos mentioned a literal earthquake in verse 1 and was now speaking about Carmel, there is an intended association; namely, the earthquake of the future, although primarily on Jerusalem, will also affect Mount Carmel. Zechariah associated the same future earthquake with Geba and Rimmon, an area that embraces Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives (Zech. 14:5,10).

The future earthquake is also mentioned in Ezekiel 38:19,20. “For in my jealousy and in the fire of my wrath have I spoken, Surely in that day there shall be a great shaking in the land of Israel; So that the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the heaven, and the beasts of the field, and all creeping things that creep upon the earth, and all the men that are upon the face of the earth, shall shake at my presence, and the mountains [plural] shall be thrown down and the steep places shall fall, and every wall shall fall to the ground.” This earthquake will be literal to emphasize that when the Kingdom is established, it will be known. One will not have to read a book to know that the Kingdom is here.

All three prophets mentioned the same miraculous earthquake at the time of the establishment of the Kingdom. Amos spoke of the earthquake at Carmel. Zechariah spoke of the earthquake from Geba to Rimmon in the Jerusalem area. Ezekiel spoke of a great shaking in all the land of Israel and the mountains (plural). The combination of Scriptures shows how widespread and dramatic the literal earthquake will be. Birds will fly and fish will be affected, as well as men and even some insects. The implication is that when the Lord “roars,” He will be heard. Thus “in that day,” it will be known that the Lord’s Kingdom is being established. Today Israel includes both the northern and the southern kingdoms, and it will be a combined kingdom at the time of the fulfillment of the prophecy of Amos.

Mount Carmel is in northern Israel on the Mediterranean coast, near the border of Lebanon today. Shepherds inhabited Carmel in the prophet’s day. Carmel was apparently the site of religious worship, since the contest between Elijah and the false prophets of Baal took place there.

Comment: Joel 3:16 states, “The LORD also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but the LORD will be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel.”

Reply: Like Zechariah, Joel zeroed in on Jerusalem.

Q: Will the same literal earthquake join the waters of the Mediterranean Sea and the Dead Sea?

A: First, water from the Temple Mount will go down to the Dead Sea. Then water from the Mediterranean will also go down to the Dead Sea. The northern part of the Dead Sea will be revived with fish from the Mediterranean Sea. Thus fishermen from En-gedi and En-eglaim will cast their nets into the Dead Sea (Ezek. 47:10). However, the southern part of the Dead Sea will remain briny and be used for chemical purposes. When fish approach the northern half of the Dead Sea today, they die immediately, for the salinity of even the backwater is too high.

The water now going down to En-eglaim more or less traverses the path of the future stream that will come from the Temple down to the Dead Sea. In other words, the water will more or less follow the present water courses but be of such abundance that freshwater fish will be able to live in the Dead Sea.

Q: When the Mount of Olives is cleft and the path opens up down to the Dead Sea, will the water go through the Kidron Valley or through another wadi? If farther south, it will be closer to Tekoa, where Amos came from.

A: That could be, because in many instances when God uses human servants, there is a predisposition for the servant to view things from his own emotions and observations. God allows this personal aspect to color the wording, thinking, and illustrations as long as the message is not interfered with or distorted. An example is the Apostle John’s enthusiastic “Amen!” Hosea and Daniel entered into the message dramatically too. Yes, the suggestion could be true. With Amos being raised and born in that region, the message would take on an added significance that would be reflected in his commentary.

“The LORD will roar from Zion.” Here “Zion” refers to the spiritual phase of the Kingdom, which means that the “roaring” will be supernatural. Consider that God has a head, a voice, and a roar like a lion. Another visual representation is that the “feet” of His lower extremity will be seen. Jehovah’s “feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives” (Zech. 14:4); that is, there will be a visual demonstration of His entering earth’s affairs in the dramatic west-to-east cleavage of the Mount of Olives, with half of the mount going to the north and half to the south. At that time, it will be seen that the God of ISRAEL is the true God.

Zion is sometimes spelled “Sion,” and Sion is usually associated with Mount Hermon, so in one sense, Mount Hermon is considered the throne of the Lord. The name Lebanon means “white,” and Hermon is not only the white mountain but also the highest place in Israel. Zion  is usually associated with Jerusalem. The One who is above Jerusalem is God—or, in some cases, Jesus. From a broader regional aspect, Mount Hermon, which is the source of the Jordan River, also pictures where God is.

Comment: Deuteronomy 4:48 proves that Sion is Hermon: “From Aroer … even unto mount Sion, which is Hermon.”

Amos 1:3 Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of Damascus, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they have threshed Gilead with threshing instruments of iron:

Amos 1:4 But I will send a fire into the house of Hazael, which shall devour the palaces of Ben-hadad.

Amos 1:5 I will break also the bar of Damascus, and cut off the inhabitant from the plain of Aven, and him that holdeth the sceptre from the house of Eden: and the people of Syria shall go into captivity unto Kir, saith the LORD.

Starting with verses 3-5, the subject matter for the rest of chapter 1 will be in groupings of “for three transgressions … and for four.” The first grouping mentions Damascus, Gilead, Hazael, Ben-hadad, Aven, Eden (or Beth-eden), Syria, and Kir.

In review, Amos prophesied two years before the literal earthquake that occurred during the reign of Uzziah (Azariah), which is referred to in Zechariah 14:5 as a prophecy of a literal earthquake yet future. We should remember, too, that the name Amos means “burden bearer.” Amos prophesied slightly before the prophets Isaiah and Hosea, although all three began their ministries during the reign of Uzziah.

Verses 3-5 were a prophetic pronouncement of a judgment to be inflicted on Damascus, the capital of Syria. Gilead, a territory east of the Jordan River and north of the Dead Sea, embraced the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and one half of Manasseh. Syria caused a lot of damage when it captured Gilead.

Comment: The capture of Gilead is confirmed in 2 Kings 10:32,33. “In those days the LORD began to cut Israel short: and Hazael smote them in all the coasts of Israel; From Jordan eastward, all the land of Gilead, the Gadites, and the Reubenites, and the Manassites, from Aroer, which is by the river Arnon, even Gilead and Bashan.”

Reply: Because of the violence Syria committed against Gilead in trying to extend its borders, God would punish Syria.

After Elisha prophesied that Ben-hadad, the king of Syria, would recover from his illness, Hazael assassinated Ben-hadad. Hence Hazael reigned in Ben-hadad’s stead (2 Kings 8:7-15).

Q: Is chapter 1 a picture of the end of the age, yet future, because the peoples or nations who are mentioned are the same as those in Psalm 83?

A: Yes, it has a future implication just like the earthquake. Zechariah, who prophesied much later than Amos, referred back to King Uzziah in describing the flight of the Holy Remnant between the split Mount of Olives. Thus, while many of the verses in chapters 1 and 2 of the Book of Amos were historically fulfilled, there is actually a double significance, a prophetic aspect. Back there the destruction of the various places occurred at the hands of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon in 606 BC, after the death of Amos, but that fulfillment furnishes a basis for a future fulfillment at the end of the age.

The expression “for three transgressions … and for four” is a Hebraism similar to the way we say, “Three strikes and you’re out.” The expression regarding “three and four” was also used in classical Greek. Here it implies emphasis—that the Lord was fed up with the transgressions, and judgment must now come. The peoples named went beyond the point of no return as regards judgment.

Comment: If chapter 1 is a picture of a judgment yet future, then the indication is that the surrounding nations will be very iniquitous in their concerted, confederate effort to come against Israel.

Reply: Yes, the feelings of hatred that we see now will intensify in the near future. The more liberty and opportunity the Arabs get, the more they abuse them. The hatred of the Arabs will be so great that Israel will retaliate in strong measure, but it is really the Lord’s retaliation.

Comment: The Lord will use the judgment to purify Israel, for that nation needs purifying too.

Reply: In 606 BC, Israel also received a judgment, but at the end of the age, God will forgive and save Israel (the Holy Remnant).

Comment: In the groupings of people who would receive judgment for three and four transgressions, Judah and Israel were also singled out (Amos 2:4-8). There will be a selective punishment on them in the near future.

Reply: The Holy Remnant will survive, for they will be representative of the nation.

Q: Since the Arab situation will be settled prior to the Gog invasion, will there be just a general selective process at that point? Will some other than the Holy Remnant also be spared in this particular judgment?

A: Yes. Only in Jacob’s Trouble will individual purging occur to reveal the Holy Remnant.

Aven, in this context, is related to Syria. The “plain,” or valley, of Aven is between Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon, two mountain ranges that run north to south. Mount Hermon is the summit of one range. “Anti” in Anti-Lebanon means “over against” or “parallel.” The two mountain ranges go north from Israel into Lebanon. Today the Valley of Aven is known as Baalbek or the Baca Valley, and Syria has allowed terrorists to occupy this region. Since the famous ancient Baalbek ruins are there, Israel and the Western powers will not directly bomb the valley, for if they destroyed these ruins, it would be equivalent to bombing the Vatican, as it were, to these Arab nations. Terrorists, with their munitions, hide in the valley behind hospitals, schools, etc. The Allies have the power to destroy the terrorists, but they refrain lest they incur the wrath of all other nations in also destroying schools and hospitals. This tactic is cowardice and sneakiness on the part of the terrorists. Incidentally, the king of Syria today has his headquarters in Damascus.

Comment: It is interesting that one of the Hebrew meanings for Aven is “wickedness,” hence the Valley of Wickedness.

The people of Syria will go into captivity “unto Kir,” which was formerly a part of Assyria and is up in Turkey today. The modern name for Kir is Kars. The Kurds are near that vicinity.

Q: Since the Arabs will have to flee into exile, is the account saying that Israel’s territory will be enlarged at this point?

A: Israel will extend to the northern section of Lebanon and on up to the Euphrates River.

Tripoli, the largest city on the eastern Mediterranean coast, is near the ancient border allotted to Solomon. Tyre and Sidon are farther south than Tripoli. Israel will inherit all of Lebanon, going up to the bottom belly of Turkey.

Psalm 83 and chapters 1 and 2 of Amos identify the peoples who will be affected in the future judgment against the confederate Arabs.

Q: Eden means “delight,” so Beth-eden (Revised Standard Version) means “house of delight.” Would this “delight” be in an evil sense? Is it a form of sarcasm?

A: Yes. The Garden of Eden is thought of as a good paradise. However, Beth-eden is a pagan paradise. We do not know where Beth-eden is, but Aden is considered by some to be the site of the Garden of Eden. Aden is a province near the lower end of the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers, whereas the true Garden of Eden is way north, up near the headwaters of the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers. With just a vowel change, Eden becomes Aden. At the Tower of Babel, a changing of vowels caused the confusion of tongues.

Q: As we go through the other groups of people, the account states that God will send a “fire” upon most of them. Does this terminology indicate that Israel will use nuclear weapons?

A: That might very well be. We think nuclear weapons will be used with regard to Psalm 83, but figuratively speaking, “fire” signifies destruction. And there is “fire” with nuclear weapons.

Amos 1:6 Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of Gaza, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they carried away captive the whole captivity, to deliver them up to Edom:

Amos 1:7 But I will send a fire on the wall of Gaza, which shall devour the palaces thereof:

Amos 1:8 And I will cut off the inhabitant from Ashdod, and him that holdeth the scepter from Ashkelon, and I will turn mine hand against Ekron: and the remnant of the Philistines shall perish, saith the Lord GOD.

All of these places are identified with the land of Philistia. The Gaza Strip is the territory, and in the large sense, Gaza incorporates these towns. King Nebuchadnezzar inflicted the original judgment on Gaza, but these verses are obviously prophetic. Incidentally, Samson was active in this area.

Comment: This judgment in the near future will be very severe: “till the last of the Philistines is dead” (NIV).

Reply: Yes, and much of the trouble with the Arabs is in that area today.

Comment: That is the area where the Israelis are trying to compromise for peace, so there is even greater culpability.

Reply: Arafat is chairman of the PLO, but he holds the chief position over the radical elements because he has the purse strings. Money is the key, for the radicals do not think much of him. He doles out the money from Saudi Arabia to those who are supportive (even though they do not like him). They need the money, for they do not plant crops but carry around guns all day. Their manner of life is to sponge off other people, using their guns and getting a salary from Arafat.

Amos 1:9 Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of Tyrus, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they delivered up the whole captivity to Edom, and remembered not the brotherly covenant:

Amos 1:10 But I will send a fire on the wall of Tyrus, which shall devour the palaces thereof.

Tyrus is Tyre, which exists today. Tyre’s delivering up the captivity to Edom would be called slave traffic today.

Q: Was Tyre more responsible because Israel was related to Edom through Jacob and Esau?

A: Yes. Edom is Esau. Through many tears, Esau realized he had lost the birthright. Esau and Jacob fought over the spiritual inheritance, and as a result, Jacob fled to Laban. Years later, when Jacob returned, they eventually came to an agreement. Jacob gave Esau many presents, but in the intervening years, Esau had been blessed temporally and did not need all the gifts.

Although the details are not given, they evidently made a covenant of peace between themselves at that time.

Hiram of Tyre and Solomon of Israel had a covenant centuries later. David had started the relationship, and it continued through to Solomon.

Amos 1:11 Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of Edom, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because he did pursue his brother with the sword, and did cast off all pity, and his anger did tear perpetually, and he kept his wrath for ever:

Amos 1:12 But I will send a fire upon Teman, which shall devour the palaces of Bozrah.

Bozrah was the capital of Edom (Idumea).

Esau figuratively pursued his brother Jacob with the sword when Nebuchadnezzar attacked Israel. The Edomites watched and not only gloated but also told the king where the Israelites were fleeing. And while Israel was trying to defend itself against Babylon, the Edomites plundered Israel as scavengers.

Esau’s “anger did tear perpetually.” Esau himself became pacified but not his subsequent lineage. There was a perpetual hatred.

Amos 1:13 Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of the children of Ammon, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they have ripped up the women with child of Gilead, that they might enlarge their border:

Amos 1:14 But I will kindle a fire in the wall of Rabbah, and it shall devour the palaces thereof, with shouting in the day of battle, with a tempest in the day of the whirlwind:

Amos 1:15 And their king shall go into captivity, he and his princes together, saith the LORD.

This prophecy is against Ammon. Of course Edom, Ammon, Gaza, and even Tyrus were all considered territories.

These verses show that Ammon invaded the territory of Gilead. Unlike the other territories, Ammon bordered Gilead and wanted to enlarge its borders. Rabbah was the capital city of Ammon. Incidentally, Amman is the capital of Jordan today.

“Fire” is involved with all of the “three and four” transgressions so far.

(1994 Study Frank Shallieu)

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