God spoke to the nation of Moab as well as to His covenant children in both Judah and in Israel through the revelation given to the prophet in Amos 2. Beginning with idolatrous people group to the east, what objection did the Almighty have concerning the Moabites? Authorities in Moab “burned to lime the bones of the king of Edom.” The Edomite rulers were not particularly righteous. They were engaged in buying Israelite slaves and were charged by the Lord with great guilt. In Amos 1:12, we read about what the Lord would rightly do to Edom in His own holy vengeance: “I will send a fire upon” the strong cities of the Edomites. This was the prerogative of the great I-AM, not the right of any man,
Why would God make a point about the way one heathen dictator abused another? The Author of life insisted that His followers recognize what they already knew, that human beings were created by Him and were different from His other creatures. The Lord gave men and women innate dignity that was not to be ignored, even in the treatment of the bodies of enemies at their death. To burn the remains of a person out of disrespect was to act as if they were above them as their ultimate Judge.
Moving beyond the nations that surrounded the Promised Land, what then was the Lord’s indictment regarding the best of His own flock, the tribe of Judah? They had the Word of God in a way that Moab and Edom did not, but this made them even more guilty, for they did not obey God’s special revelation to them. They followed the lies of their fathers and went “astray” in ungodly paths. How would God discipline them? “I will send a fire upon Judah, and it shall devour the strongholds of Jerusalem.”
Moving on from Judah, Amos spoke God’s message to the northern tribes of Israel for the remainder of his book of prophecy. They also deserved the Lord’s correction, for they “trample the head of the poor into the dust of the earth.” Even Israel behaved as if men and women were objects for their own use. They combined the religion of their God with their immoral practices. Though they claimed to have God’s special affection, they turned against the oracles of the One who had brought them out of slavery. Instead of being merciful to the weak, “they sell the righteous for silver, and the needy for a pair of sandals.” The Lord had sent them ambassadors of His Word, the prophets, and living displays of His holiness, the Nazirites, but they had mistreated even these special servants of their God.
Would they escape the Lord’s discipline because they were His chosen ones? No, the Lord loves His elect too much to flatter them in their dangerous wandering. God knows about the sin of the world. He also knows well that the church cannot stand before Him without an atoning Substitute to turn away His wrath. But now a new way of life has appeared for us, “the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ.” (Romans 3:22) Our Redeemer is our only hope.
Prayer from A Book of Prayers
Lord God, there is a hatred of man against man that goes beyond the customary depravity of the sons of Adam. How long will You allow a nation to stand when it is so wickedly vicious, abusing the living and desecrating the remains of the dead? Surely Your people should be far from such a habit of evil. Yet we have so often ignored Your Word, and have become imitators of the world. Our lies have led us astray into sinful patterns of life. Will we sell the righteous for silver, engage in gross immorality, and participate in idolatrous worship? You have done so much for us, delivering us out of the slavery of sin, and allowing us to taste of the good things of the age to come. Will we return to the old way of bondage again? May it never be so! We should not presume to fight against You, for we will surely lose that battle. Have mercy on us, O God, and call us back home again.