March 7, 2011

Minor Prophets XXXII: ...And Then There Was One

In Amos 1 & 2 there are a list of the nations and the nature of the sin that God charges them with that are indicated by the precursory "because" statements.

What the beginning of Amos amounts to is a series of oracles against the nations encircling Israel. The nations in order are as follows. We see pattern in the mention of all these nations. The judgment for all of them is more or less being imposed because of the same thing: their sins and transgressions. Repetitive transgressions as noted in the repetitive phrase, “for three sins…even four”. Regardless of how many it is clear these transgressions have exceeded God’s allowable limit (grace and patience) as evidenced by His announced judgment.

The Seven Surrounding Israel

(1) Syria/Aram-Damascus (v. 1:3-5)

(1a) The Sin/Rebellion (pesha/ פֶּ֫שַׂע): First we see a comment, “For three sins of Damascus, even for four, I will not relent.” This is an indication of a succession or series of sin. The nations had clearly exceeded God’s patience. These verses continue, “she threshed Gilead with sledges having iron teeth.” This could’ve literally been a form of torture as Syria/Aram were cruel or it could’ve been figurative for harsh methods of conquest.

(2) Philistia-Gaza (v. 1:6-8)

(2a) The Sin/Rebellion (pesha/ פֶּ֫שַׂע): “She took captive whole communities and sold them to Edom” (i.e.: slavery)

(3) Tyre/Phoenicia (v. 1:9-10)

(3a) The Sin/Rebellion (pesha/ פֶּ֫שַׂע): “She sold whole communities of captives to Edom” in violation of a treaty of brotherhood which was suppose to be a protective covenant between two partners. We see a double infraction here. Slavery and covenant violation. A covenant that may have been made with the Lord as witness.

(4) Edom (v. 1:11-12)

(4a)  The Sin/Rebellion (pesha/ פֶּ֫שַׂע): “He pursued his brother with a sword and slaughtered the women of the land, because his anger raged continually and his fury flamed unchecked” Unnatural hostility.

(5) Ammon (v. 1:13-15)

(5a) The Sin/Rebellion (pesha/ פֶּ֫שַׂע): “He ripped open the pregnant women of Gilead in order to extend his borders” Seems to be a nearly rabid form of cruelty to terrorize and instill fear in an enemy. This cruelty is done to defenseless woman and children.

(6) Moab (v. 2:1-3)

(6a) The Sin/Rebellion (pesha/ פֶּ֫שַׂע): “Because he burned to ashes the bones of Edom’s king” They literally opened the grave of the kings and burnt the remains. This was a direct sin against God as they were destroying in effigy His own image. This showed contempt for not only the people but God also.

(7) Judah (v. 2:4-5)

(7a) The Sin/Rebellion (pesha/ פֶּ֫שַׂע): The violations of Israel were violation of the Mosaic covenant first and foremost. Judah’s sin (pesha) was all the more pronounced because there transgressions had violated the Mosaic covenant and more specific to only them. This made their sins of following false gods and idolatry exceptionally vile to God.

...and then comes Israel (v. 2:6-8) the bulls-eye in the center

As was mentioned by Valley Forge Christian College’s professor Malcolm Brubaker of Old Testament Survey: Until now God’s judgment had been circling the nation of Israel like a hungry lion zeroing in on His prey. One by one God picks them off like picking off the stragglers or weaklings that drift behind the herd because of their spiritual weakness and sickness. Now that God pounces on Israel. During this time Israel (and Judah) had the chance to repent or at least see the error of their ways…to no avail. Israel had:

The Sin/Rebellion of Israel:
Committed social injustices (pesha/ פֶּ֫שַׂע): Sold the innocent for silver, needy for a pair of sandals, trampled on the heads of the poor as on the dust of the ground and deny justice to the oppressed”

Committed sexual perversions: Father and son use the same girl. They lie down beside every altar on garments taken in pledge [temple prostitution].

Abused collateral: They drank wine taken as fines.

Above all: They had rejected God’s grace, “I brought you up out of Egypt and led you forty years in the wilderness…”But you made the Nazarites drink wine and commanded the prophets not to prophesy. There is no longer power in numbers. There is just a single solitary survivor about to be ravaged by and angry lion.

Myers, Jacob Martin. "Amos: Oracles of Judgment Against The Nations." The Book of Hosea ; The Book of Joel ; The Book of Amos ; The Book of Obadiah ; The Book of Jonah . Atlanta, GA: John Knox Press, 1978. 104-111. Print.

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