Amosby J.R. Hudberg
When we see a video, tweet, or meme that grabs our attention, we're likely to share it with our friends. They may then share it with their friends, and before you know it, it can ″go viral″. Some YouTube videos have been viewed more than 6 billion times!
While it's a stretch to call God's summoning of Ashdod and Egypt in Amos 3:9-12 ″going viral″, it is certainly an invitation to others to see something incredible. Unfortunately, in this instance, that incredible thing is the degeneration of Israelite society.
The surrounding pagan nations are called to witness the unrest and oppression that Israel is heaping on her own people. It gives us the impression that even the pagan nations can recognise that what is happening in Israel is wrong–while Israel herself remains blind to what transpires within her borders.
In Amos 2:6-7, the prophet accuses Israel of abusing the poor and the vulnerable. Now, he reinforces and clarifies this point, saying that they have plundered and looted (3:10). This taking of property from others and storing it up for themselves in their fortresses (v. 10) is different from taking spoils of war from an enemy. It is taking from their own people, divesting the poor of even the little they have.
So God announces their discipline with a ″therefore″ (v. 11), indicating that what will come is related to–or even caused by–what they did. This is a reminder of the principle of ″what goes around comes around″. Jesus echoed this principle when He gave His hearers a similar warning against judging others, because, ″with the measure you use, it will be measured to you″ (Matthew 7:2).
Ironically, Israel will be overrun by an enemy and the very thing they have done to their own people will happen to them. They, too, will be plundered, and the fortresses in which they stored the plunder taken from the Israelite poor will be demolished (Amos 3:11). Just as only pieces of a sheep are found after a lion has attacked it, only parts and shreds of people's homes will be left in the wake of this destruction (v. 12).
This picture has been interpreted as either the complete destruction of Israel or as the leaving of some portion of Israel. Both interpretations are possible and not mutually exclusive: there can be complete destruction, but God, in His grace and mercy, can preserve some. What is certain is that if Israel will not repent, punishment will come and it will be catastrophic.
Do you think God is still concerned about the exploitation of the poor today? How might the system in your country measure up?
One of Israel's sins was not loving their neighbour. Read the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). How might this understanding of who our neighbour is affect your interaction with the poor in your area?