The center of the book of Amos is God’s judgment. And God has every right and complete authority to judge. 中心思想: 神的审判 (3:8)
- The announcement of the judgment – 对以色列和邻国的审判 (1:1-2:16).
- The trial of the Israel – 以色列的罪 (3:1-6:14) . Notice how God reasoned, argued against Israel, with presentation of the facts. Notice that for other nations, the announcement of the judgment was the end of it. God had no intention to present a detailed reasoning. Therefore even a trial of Israel shows the mercy of God seeing Israel as His peculiar people.
- Execution of the judgment, in visions – 以色列的灭绝 (7:1-9:10).
- The salvation, despite the judgment – 以色列的恢复 (9:11-9:15) .
A key point: God’s righteous position 值得注意的点: 神公义的位置
In Amos, God positioned Himself differently in relation to His people than that in other prophecies such as Isaiah and Hosea.
In other books, God reached out with deep affection, as if God has come down from the throne (which is His rightful position) with humility, descended and reached out to His people; God related to Israel either in the position of Jehovah as a compassionate father to his disobedient children, or in the position of Christ as a faithful husband to an unfaithful wife.
But in Amos, you see God remains in His divine position and judged people as a righteous God, giving a solemn reminder that every man and nation is held countable before its Maker.
God’s love is not an indicator of weakness or acquiescence of sin.
The sin charged against Judah is different from the other nations. 神的子民与邻国罪的不同 (1:3-2:5).
The other nations were considered for wrongs done to men, but Judah is considered for wrongs done to God. Amos 2:4. The charges against Judah are: (1) they have despised the law of the Lord, as if it were not worth taking notice of; and they despised the wisdom, justice, and goodness of the God; and (2) they honored their idols, which are called “lies” by God, and stumbled because of the idols. (Those that are led away into the error of idolatry are led into a multitude of other errors).
The sin charged upon Israel is also different from the other nations, but are not the same as Judah’s. The conditions of Israel was much worse than that of Judah, to an extent that God no longer focuses on their general unfaithfulness to God as a people of God, but instead focuses on their outrageous and blasphemous sins committed against God as if they were done by an enemy of God. It is as if Israel were no longer God’s people, and therefore He should charge them, not as an unfaithful subject of His own, but a blasphemous enemy of His.
This is a frightening tragedy. The sins charged against Israel include: perverting justice; oppressing the poor, and seeking to benefit themselves by doing that; abominable uncleanness, even incest itself, such as it not named among the Gentiles; and indulging themselves and yet pretending to honor God with what they had got by oppression and extortion.
While Judah represents the church that has become impure and unfaithful, Israel represents a false church, a church of apostasy.
But even so, God is God of Israel. In Chapter 3, God claims His rights over His people. They were his peculiar people above others after all, knew His name, and were called by the name. 以色列人哪，你们全家是我从埃及地领上来的，当听耶和华攻击你们的话： 在地上万族中，我只认识你们. Amos 3:1-2.
God’s church in the world is a family dignified above all the families of the earth. Those that know God are known of Him. God has known them, that is, He has chosen them, covenanted with them, and conversed with them.
“Therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities” 因此，我必追讨你们的一切罪孽。
Now, one would think, it should follow, “therefore I will spare you, will tolerate your faults, and excuse you.” But no. It says, therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities. The nearer is a people to God in profession, and the kinder notice He has taken of them, the more surely, more quickly, and more severely will He deal with them, if they, by willful sin, profane their character, disgrace their relation to Him, violate their engagements, and slight upon the favors and honors with which they have been distinguished.
Therefore they shall be punished, because their sins dishonor Him, openly insult Him, and grieve Him, more than the sins of others, and because it is necessary that God should vindicate His own honor by making it clear that He hates sin and hates it most in those that are nearest to Him. Judgment begins at the house of God.
Where there is not friendship there can be no fellowship. 二人若不同心，岂能同行呢？If two people are at odds, they must first reconcile the difference between them before there can be any interchanging of good. Israel has insulted God, had broken their covenant with Him, and ill-returned His favors to them; they took no care by repentance to reconcile with God and to turn away from His wrath; and yet they expected that He should continue to walk with them, take their part, act for them, and give them assurances of His presence with them. “But how can that be?” says God. “While you continue to walk contrary to God you can look for no other than that He should walk contrary to you,” Lev 26:23-24.
We cannot expect that God should be present with us, or act for us, unless we are reconciled to Him. God and man cannot walk together except they are agreed with each other.
The background of Amos the prophet 阿摩司的出身、蒙召和先知的执事 (7:14-17)
Amos was neither a trained prophet nor the son of a prophet. He had not inherited this function from man, nor from the desire of his own heart. Jehovah, in His sovereign will, had appointed him, and his word was the word of Jehovah. Amos is apparently of a very humble beginning belonging into a low class of working people. But God uses the lowly to humble the proud.
The affliction of Joseph 约瑟的苦难 (6:6)
The people of God, including both the kingdoms of Judah and Israel (which are called Joseph, Psalms 80:1), was in distress, invaded, insulted, and broken in upon. This is the suffering of God’s church. This is the desolate condition of today’s church of God. Who is concerned for the interests of God’s people that were sinking and decaying?
The glory of Jacob 雅各的荣耀 (6:8; 8:7)
“I abhor the excellence of Jacob.” What punishment did God have to load upon His people that He should abhor the glory of Jacob? The glory of Jacob is all that which the Israelites are proud of, value themselves upon, and for which they call and count themselves as being unique from all nations. Jacob represents the house of Israel, but the sins of Israelites profaned the house. God hates the palaces of sinners, for the sake of wickedness of those that dwell there. “The curse of the Lord is in the house of the wicked.” Pro 3:33. When people are corrupted in their sin, God will eventually give up on the whole house. This is a solemn warning against the visible “church” today cloaked under the past excellence of Christianity with its culture and traditions.
“Thus says the Lord” eight times 耶和华如此说 (前二章, 八次)
“Hear this word” three times 你们要听 (叁章至六章, 叁次)
“Prepare to meet thy God” 当预备迎见你们的神 (4:12b)
Note that “thus says the Lord” is announced eight times in association with not only Judah and Israel but also with other nations. In contrast, only Judah and Israel were asked to “listen”. God called them His own, and then asked them to listen, as a child should listen to the father. The charges and trials laid out in chapters 3-6 are thus given in this particular context, showing that even the rebuking and discipline are privileges that are reserved to God’s children only. The purpose of the rebuking and discipline is so that the son listens, not so that the perpetrator parishes.
Likewise, only the children of God are called to prepare to meet their God. The meeting with God may be a really intimidating calling with serious charges to be faced, but only in such a meeting is there eternal hope. Without the meeting, announcement of the judgment is the end of the story, which is eternal destruction, exactly what has been prepared for the other nations.
False worship is enmity to God 假敬拜，与神为敌的宗教
Israel still had a form of religion of worshiping God, but all is but an appearance. Their worship can be summarized in one verse: “for this pleases you,” Amos 4:5. Everything is based on what the man likes, not what pleases God. God hated that.
The center of the book of Amos is God’s judgment. And God has every right and complete authority to judge.