In the days of King Uzziah of Judah and King Jeroboam II of Israel, God called Amos, a shepherd from a small village near Bethlehem of Judah, to speak His Word to the nations surrounding Israel. “The Lord roars from Zion.” Yahweh asserted His authority to judge those who had been cruel to His people.
The Syrians had treated the Lord’s beloved children like a field that they were free to break up in order to plant whatever they wanted. “They have threshed Gilead with threshing sledges of iron.” The Lord would use the Assyrians from the east to bring great trouble upon Damascus and the other Syrian cities that had exalted themselves over that part of Israel to the east of the Jordan River. The Syrians would be taken into exile.
The Philistines living in Gaza would also face the wrath of the Almighty. They had carried off people from Israel to sell them to the Edomites. The merchants of Tyre had also been engaged in this immoral commerce in violation of the “covenant of brotherhood” that had once existed between Tyre and Israel. The people of Edom were also guilty in this matter. As descendants of Esau, they did not have a brotherly regard for the heritage of Esau’s brother Jacob. Now some of the cities of Edom would be destroyed by foreign powers.
The Ammonites had also shown little regard for the human worth of the Lord’s family. Like other ancient powers who wanted their victory over an enemy to be complete, “they have ripped open pregnant women,” killing both mother and child. Their aim was that “they might enlarge their border,” but they too would be taken off into exile.
The entrance of sin into the world recorded in Genesis 3 has brought depravity not only to individuals, but also to nations. A naive view of the reasonableness of all the people groups of the world will only lead to danger and disappointment. Despite all of the trials that the elect face in this world of trouble, the Lord’s love for His children is real. Those who persecute Israel and the church will find God to be a very dangerous adversary. One day, the Lion of the tribe of Judah will return. He will establish a kingdom beyond evil nations and individual sinners. Even now, Jesus is the Lord of international relations. We must not be deceived by utopian plans of statesmen that are built on false ideas of the goodness of men and nations. Only our King can accomplish His perfect eternal purposes.
Prayer from A Book of Prayers
Lord of Hosts, in the midst of this world of trial and woe, You roar through Your prophets. You had a word for the nations of old like Syria and the Philistines. You hated their oppression and anger. Men have always looked for opportunities to have some selfish benefit at the cost of the weak. Ancient peoples like the Edomites and the Ammonites have been soundly condemned for their brutality and greed. Will we be imitators of them, rather than followers of Your Son? Rescue us from base impulses that would harm us and others, for we are Your people. We have been set apart from the world for a better purpose than the abuse of the helpless.