God had a special relationship with Israel. He called them “the whole family that I brought up out of the land of Egypt.” No other people group had this covenantal connection with the Almighty. What would this fatherly care mean for them in the days of Amos? “You only have I known of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.”
The Lord’s indictment and His sanctions against them did not happen by chance. His fatherly love for His people led Him to take necessary steps, lest they wander away from Him forever. This should not have been a surprise to them. God had already revealed through decades of prophets what He would do if they continued in rebellion.
As the time for the fall of Samaria drew near, Jehovah called upon foreign lands like Ashdod and Egypt to observe the shame of His chosen flock. “They do not know how to do right.” Particularly the rich and powerful among them were inclined toward “violence and robbery.” Because they would not listen to their divine King, God promised to bring “an adversary” into their territory. In just a few years, the Assyrians would “bring down” their “defenses.”
Would this foreign aggression be a small inconvenience? No, the citizens of Samaria would lose almost everything. A suffering family might be able to save “the corner of a couch and part of a bed,” but their lives in the Promised Land would be over for many years. Most Israelites would never return. Even those who had multiple houses and great estates would not be able to defend themselves.
This corrective action of the Lord would have a very central religious component. “I will punish the altars of Bethel” that had been built so many years before in violation of Jehovah’s commandments. God would display before the world that He was perfectly serious when He had told Israel, “You shall have no other gods before Me.” (Exodus 20:3)
The people of God in every era must not think of sin too lightly. Transgression brought much trouble upon the Jews of old. In the fullness of time, the Author of Life displayed the penalty that our evil ways necessitated. The perfect Son of God had to die on the cross for us. Only Jesus could save us from our sin. Through His blood He not only wins for us the legal status of righteous sons and daughters, He also sanctifies our deepest trials and secures for us a life of eternal glory.
Prayer from A Book of Prayers
Father, because You have a special plan for Your children, You chastise us for our sins. Nonetheless, You still call us Your family. We thank You for Your discipline. Preserve our lives for Your service, first here, and then above with those who have already gone to be with Your Son. Surely You have reason to correct us, and we should listen carefully to You. Even if only a small remnant survives, not one of Your elect shall be lost. All of our pomp and wealth will perish, but Your people shall live forever.