Amos 3:3
Can two walk together, except they be agreed?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(3) Two.—Who are the two here represented? Some commentators say, two prophets; Rosenmüller, “God and the prophet.” But Grotius, Lowth, Henderson, and Pusey refer it, with more reason, to God and Israel, the expression denoting, not merely God’s knowledge of a man, but man’s response to God. His practical obedience, his communion of heart and will, are described as “walking with” or “before God.” (Genesis 5:22; Genesis 6:9; Genesis 17:1; Psalm 56:13; Psalm 116:9.) Will, then, God walk with man, guiding, shielding, strengthening him, if man is not in harmony with Him? This is the first of a series of parabolic apothegms, all of which require a negative answer. (Leviticus 26:23-24.) Each states an event, closely and indissolubly related to another in the bond of cause and effect. All these symbolic utterances point on to the climax in Amos 3:7-8.

Amos

A PAIR OF FRIENDS

Amos 3:3
.

They do not need to be agreed about everything. They must, however, wish to keep each others company, and they must be going by the same road to the same place. The application of the parable is very plain, though there are differences of opinion as to the bearing of the whole context which need not concern us now. The ‘two,’ whom the Prophet would fain see walking together, are God and Israel, and his question suggests not only the companionship and communion with God which are the highest form of religion and the aim of all forms and ceremonies of worship, but also the inexorable condition on which alone that height of communion can be secured and sustained. Two may walk together, though the one be God in heaven and the other be I on earth. But they have to be agreed thus far, at any rate, that both shall wish to be together, and both be going the same road.

I. So I ask you to look, first, at that possible blessed companionship which may cheer a life.

There are three phrases in the Old Testament, very like each other, and yet presenting different facets or aspects of the same great truth. Sometimes we read about ‘walking before God’ as Abraham was bid to do. That means ordering the daily life under the continual sense that we are ‘ever in the great Taskmaster’s eye’ Then there is ‘walking after God,’ and that means conforming the will and active efforts to the rule that He has laid down, setting our steps firm on the paths that He has prepared that we should walk in them, and accepting His providences. But also, high above both these conceptions of a devout life is the one which is suggested by my text, and which, as you remember, was realised in the case of the patriarch Enoch-’walking with God.’ For to walk before Him may have with it some tremor, and may be undertaken in the spirit of the slave who would be glad to get away from the jealous eye that rebukes his slothfulness; and ‘walking after Him’ may be a painful and partial effort to keep His distant figure in sight; but to ‘walk with Him’ implies a constant, quiet sense of His Divine Presence which forbids that I should ever be lonely, which guides and defends, which floods my soul and fills my life, and in which, as the companions pace along side by side, words may be spoken by either, or blessed silence may be eloquent of perfect trust and rest.

But, dear brother, far above us as such experience seems to sound, such a life is a possibility for every one of us. We may be able to say, as truly as our Lord said it, ‘I am not alone, for the Father is with me.’ It is possible that the dreariest solitude of a soul, such as is not realised when the body is removed from men, but is felt most in the crowded city where there is none that loves or fathoms and sympathises, may be turned into blessed fellowship with Him. Yes, but that solitude will not be so turned unless it is first painfully felt. As Daniel said, ‘I was left alone, and I saw the great vision.’ We need to feel in our deepest hearts that loneliness on earth before we walk with God.

If we are so walking, it is no piece of fanaticism to say that there will be mutual communications. Do you not believe that God knows His way into the spirits that He has endowed with conscious life? Do you not believe that He speaks now to people as truly as He did to prophets and Apostles of old? as truly; though the results of His speech to us of to-day be not of the same authority for others as the words that He spoke to a Paul or a John. The belief in God’s communications as for ever sounding in the depths of the Christian spirit does not at all obliterate the distinction between the kind of inspiration which produced the New Testament and that which is realised by all believing and obedient souls. High above all our experience of hearing the words of God in our hearts stands that of those holy men of old who heard God’s message whispered in their ears, that they might proclaim it on the housetops to all the world through all generations. But though they and we are on a different level, and God spoke to them for a different purpose, He speaks in our spirits, if we will comply with the conditions, as truly as He did in theirs. As really as it was ever true that the Lord spoke to Abraham, or Isaiah, or Paul, it is true that He now speaks to the man who walks with Him. Frank speech on both sides beguiles many a weary mile, when lovers or friends foot it side by side; and this pair of friends of whom our text speaks have mutual intercourse. God speaks with His servant now, as of old, ‘as a man speaketh with his friend’; and we on our parts, if we are truly walking with Him, shall feel it natural to speak frankly to God. As two friends on the road will interchange remarks about trifles, and if they love each other, the remarks about the trifles will be weighted with love, so we can tell our smallest affairs to God; and if we have Him for our Pilgrim-Companion, we do not need to lock up any troubles or concerns of any sort, big or little, in our hearts, but may speak them all to our Friend who goes with us.

The two may walk together. That is the end of all religion. What are creeds for? What are services and sacraments for? What is theology for? What is Christ’s redeeming act for? All culminate in this true, constant fellowship between men and God. And unless, in some measure, that result is arrived at in our cases, our religion, let it be as orthodox as you like, our faith in the redemption of Jesus Christ, let it be as real as you will, our attendances on services and sacraments, let them be as punctilious and regular as may be, are all ‘sounding brass and tinkling cymbal.’ Get side by side with God; that is the purpose of all these, and fellowship with Him is the climax of all religion.

It is also the secret of all blessedness, the only thing that will make a life absolutely sovereign over sorrow, and fixedly unperturbed by all tempests, and invulnerable to all ‘the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.’ Hold fast by God, and you have an amulet against every evil, and a shield against every foe, and a mighty power that will calm and satisfy your whole being. Nothing else, nothing else will do so. As Augustine said, ‘O God! Thou hast made us for Thyself, and in Thyself only are we at rest.’ If the Shepherd is with us we will fear no evil.

II. Now, a word, in the next place, as to the sadly incomplete reality, in much Christian experience, which contrasts with this possibility.

I am afraid that very, very few so-called Christian people habitually feel, as they might do, the depth and blessedness of this communion. And sure I am that only a very small percentage of us have anything like the continuity of companionship which my text suggests as possible. There may be, and therefore there should be, running unbroken through a Christian life one long, bright line of communion with God and happy inspiration from the sense of His presence with us. Is it a line in my life, or is there but a dot here, and a dot there, and long breaks between? The long, embarrassed pauses in a conversation between two who do not know much of, or care much for, each other are only too like what occurs in many professing Christians’ intercourse with God. Their communion is like those time-worn inscriptions that arch毬ogists dig up, with a word clearly cut and then a great gap, and then a letter or two, and then another gap, and then a little bit more legible, and then the stone broken, and all the rest gone. Did you ever read the meteorological reports in the newspapers and observe a record like this, ‘Twenty minutes’ sunshine out of a possible eight hours’? Do you not think that such a state of affairs is a little like the experience of a great many Christian people in regard to their communion with God? It is broken at the best, and imperfect at the completest, and shallow at the deepest. O, dear brethren! rise to the height of your possibilities, and live as close to God as He lets you live, and nothing will much trouble you.

III. And now, lastly, a word about the simple explanation of the failure to realise this continual presence.

‘Can two walk together except they be agreed?’ Certainly not. Our fathers, in a sterner and more religious age than ours, used to be greatly troubled how to account for a state of Christian experience which they supposed to be due to God’s withdrawing of the sense of His presence from His children. Whether there is any such withdrawal or not, I am quite certain that that is not the cause of the interrupted communion between God and the average Christian man.

I make all allowance for the ups and downs and changing moods which necessarily affect us in this present life, and I make all allowance, too, for the pressure of imperative duties and distracting cares which interfere with our communion, though, if we were as strong as we might be, they would not wile us away from, but drive us to, our Father in heaven. But when all such allowances have been made, I come back to my text as the explanation of interrupted communion. The two are not agreed; and that is why they are not walking together. The consciousness of God’s presence with us is a very delicate thing. It is like a very sensitive thermometer, which will drop when an iceberg is a league off over the sea, and scarcely visible. We do not wish His company, or we are not in harmony with His thoughts, or we are not going His road, and therefore, of course, we part. At bottom there is only one thing that separates a soul from God, and that is sin-sin of some sort, like tiny grains of dust that get between two polished plates in an engine that ought to move smoothly and closely against each other. The obstruction may be invisible, and yet be powerful enough to cause friction, which hinders the working of the engine and throws everything out of gear. A light cloud that we cannot see may come between us and a star, and we shall only know it is there, because the star is not visibly there. Similarly, many a Christian, quite unconsciously, has something or other in his habits, or in his conduct, or in his affections, which would reveal itself to him, if he would look, as being wrong, because it blots out God.

Let us remember that very little divergence will, if the two paths are prolonged far enough, part their other ends by a world. Our way may go off from the ways of the Lord at a very acute angle. There may be scarcely any consciousness of parting company at the beginning. Let the man travel on upon it far enough, and the two will be so far apart that he cannot see God or hear Him speak. Take care of the little divergences which are habitual, for their accumulated results will be complete separation. There must be absolute surrender if there is to be uninterrupted fellowship.

Such, then, is the direction in which we are to look for the reasons for our low and broken experiences of communion with God. Oh, dear friends! when we do as we sometimes do, wake with a start, like a child that all at once starts from sleep and finds that its mother is gone-when we wake with a start to feel that we are alone, then do not let us be afraid to go straight back. Only be sure that we leave behind us the sin that parted us.

You remember how Peter signalised himself on the lake, on the occasion of the second miraculous draught of fishes, when he floundered through the water and clasped Christ’s feet. He did not say then, ‘Depart from Me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!’ He had said that before on a similar occasion, when he felt his sin less, but now he knew that the best place for the denier was with his head on Christ’s bosom. So, if we have parted from our Friend, there should be no time lost ere we go back. May it be true of us that we walk with God, so that at last the great promise may be fulfilled about us, ‘that we shall walk with Him in white,’ being by His love accounted ‘worthy,’ and so ‘follow’ and keep company with, ‘the Lamb whithersoever He goeth!’Amos 3:3. Can two walk together — Comfortably as friends; except they be agreed — Except they be in peace with each other? So neither can I conduct myself toward you as a friend or benefactor, nor can you have my presence with you, while you walk so contrary to me, and act in such perfect opposition to my nature and laws.3:1-8 The distinguishing favours of God to us, if they do not restrain from sin, shall not exempt from punishment. They could not expect communion with God, unless they first sought peace with him. Where there is not friendship, there can be no fellowship. God and man cannot walk together, except they are agreed. Unless we seek his glory, we cannot walk with him. Let us not presume on outward privileges, without special, sanctifying grace. The threatenings of the word and providence of God against the sin of man are certain, and certainly show that the judgments of God are at hand. Nor will God remove the affliction he has sent, till it has done its work. The evil of sin is from ourselves, it is our own doing; but the evil of trouble is from God, and is his doing, whoever are the instruments. This should engage us patiently to bear public troubles, and to study to answer God's meaning in them. The whole of the passage shows that natural evil, or troubles, and not moral evil, or sin, is here meant. The warning given to a careless world will increase its condemnation another day. Oh the amazing stupidity of an unbelieving world, that will not be wrought upon by the terrors of the Lord, and that despise his mercies!Sacred parables or enigmas must have many meanings. They are cast on the mind, to quicken it and rouse it by their very mystery. They are taken from objects which in different lights, represent different things, and so suggest them. This series of brief parables have, all of them, this in common, that each thing spoken of is alternately cause and effect, and where the one is found, 'there' must be the other. From the effect you can certainly infer the cause, without which it could not be, and from the cause you may be sure of the effect. Then, further, all the images are of terror and peril to the objects spoken of. The prophet impresses upon their minds both aspects of these things; "evil will not befall, unless it has been prepared;" "signs of evil will not shew themselves, unless the evil be at hand." "The bird will not fall without the snare; if the snare rises and so shews itself, the bird is as good as taken. As surely then (the prophet would say) as the roaring of the lion, the rising of the snare, the alarm of the trumpet, betokens imminent peril, so surely does the warning Voice of God. 'The lion hath roared; who will not fear?' Again, as surely as these are the effects of their causes, so surely is all infliction sent by Him who alone has power over all things, and is the cause of all. 'Shall there be evil in a city, and the Lord hath not done it? Again, as these tokens are given before the evil comes, and the God of nature and of grace has made it a law in nature, that what is fearful should give signs of coming evil, so has He made it a law of His own dealing, not to inflict evil, without having fore-announced it.

'Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but He reveleth His secret unto His servants the prophets.' As nothing else is by chance, nor happens without cause, much less the acts of God. The lion or young lion when they roar, the bird when it falls to the ground, the snare when it rises, the trumpet's sound, all have their cause and ground: shall not then much more the acts and works of God? Shall evil happen in the city, and have no ground in the Cause of all causes, God in His righteous judgments? As there is fear, whenever there are tokens and causes of fear, so fear ye now and watch, lest the fear overtake you and it be too late. The first words then,

Can (will) two walk together, except they be agreed? - are at once a general rule for all which follows, and have different bearings according to those its several aspects. And, before all these, it is an appeal at once to the conscience which feels itself parted from its God; "so neither will God be with thee, unless thou art agreed and of one mind with God. Think not to have God with thee, unless thou art with God;" as He saith, 'I will not go up in the midst of thee, for thou art a stiff-necked people, lest I consume thee in the way' Exodus 33:3; and, 'if ye walk contrary unto Me, then will I also walk contrary unto you, and will punish you yet seven times for your sins' Leviticus 26:23, Leviticus 26:4. And on the other hand, 'They shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy' Revelation 3:4. Lap.: "God cannot be agreed with the sinner who justifies himself. Rup.: "God who rebuketh, and Israel who is rebuked, are two. God saith, We are not agreed, in that Israel, when rebuked, heareth not Me, God, rebuking. Herein we are not agreed, that I rebuke, Israel justifieth himself. Lo, for so many years since Jeroboam made the golden calves, have I sent prophets, and none agreeth, for no one king departed from the sin of Jeroboam. So then I came Myself, God made man, rebuking and reproving: but 'ye are they which justify yourselves before men' Luke 16:15, and, being sick, ye say to the Physician, we need Thee not." Augustine in Psalm 75:1-10 Lap.: "So long as thou confessest not thy sins, thou art in a manner litigating with God. For what displeaseth Him, thou praisest. Be at one with God. Let what displeaseth Him, displease thee. Thy past evil life displeaseth Him. If it please thee, thou art disjoined from Him; if it displease thee, by confessing thy sins, thou art joined to Him." So He awakens and prepares the soul for the following words of awe.

In connection with what follows, the words are also the prophet's defense of his Mission. Israel "said to the prophets, prophesy not" (see the notes on Amos 2:12), or, "The Lord our God hath not sent thee" Jeremiah 43:2, because, while it disobeyed God, the prophets must "speak concernig it not good, but evil." Amos prepares the way for his answer; ye yourselves admit, that "two will" not "walk together, unless they be agreed." The seen and the unseen, the words of the prophets and the dealings of God, would not meet together, unless the prophets were of one mind with God, unless God had admitted them into His counsels, and "were agreed" with them, so that their words should precede His deeds, His deeds confirm His words by them.

3-6. Here follow several questions of a parable-like kind, to awaken conviction in the people.

Can two walk together, except they be agreed?—Can God's prophets be so unanimous in prophesying against you, if God's Spirit were not joined with them, or if their prophecies were false? The Israelites were "at ease," not believing that God was with the prophets in their denunciations of coming ruin to the nation (Am 6:1, 3; compare 1Ki 22:18, 24, 27; Jer 43:2). This accords with Am 3:7, 8. So "I will be with thy mouth" (Ex 4:12; Jer 1:8; Mt 10:20). If the prophets and God were not agreed, the former could not predict the future as they do. In Am 2:12 He had said, the Israelites forbade the prophets prophesying; therefore, in Am 3:3, 8, He asserts the agreement between the prophets and God who spake by them against Israel [Rosenmuller]. Rather, "I once walked with you" (Le 26:12) as a Father and Husband (Isa 54:5; Jer 3:14); but now your way and Mine are utterly diverse; there can therefore be no fellowship between us such as there was (Am 3:2); I will walk with you only to "punish you"; as a "lion" walks with his "prey" (Am 3:4), as a bird-catcher with a bird [Tarnovius]. The prophets, and all servants of God, can have no fellowship with the ungodly (Ps 119:63; 2Co 6:16, 17; Eph 5:11; Jas 4:4).

Here the prophet threatens this people that God would begin his visitations and their punishments in his forsaking them, and doth by this interrogatory endeavour to convince them that they could not with any reason expect better from him; it could not be they should long have God’s presence with them, or that he should walk among them and bless them, while they walk so contrary to him; they could not in reason hope that there should be any friendly commerce where was so little agreement and friendship; a retaliation they must expect from the Lord; he will forsake them who have forsaken him. Can two walk together except they be agreed? Unless they meet together, and appoint time and place, when and where they shall set out, what road they will take, and whither they will go; without such consultation and agreement, it cannot be thought they should walk together; and not amicably, unless united in friendship, and are of the same affection to each other, and of the same sentiments one with another; or it is much if they do not fall out by the way. The design of these words is to show, that without friendship there is no fellowship, and without concord no communion; as this is the case between man and man, so between God and man; and that Israel could not expect that God should walk with them, and show himself friendly to them, and continue his favours with them, when they walked contrary to him; when they were so disagreeable to him in their sentiments of religion, in their worship, and the rites of it, and in the whole of their conduct and behaviour. And to a spiritual walk with God, and communion with him, agreement is requisite. God and man were originally chief friends, but sin set them at variance; a reconciliation became necessary to their walking together again; which was set on foot, not by man, who had no inclination to it, nor knew how to go about it if he had, and much less able to effect it; but by the Lord, the offended party: it began in his thoughts, which were thoughts of peace; it was set on foot by him in the council of peace, and concluded in the covenant of peace; and his Son was sent to bring it about; and through his obedience, sufferings, and death, through his sacrifice and satisfaction, the agreement is made on the part of God, his justice is satisfied; but still it is necessary man should be agreed too; this is brought out by the Spirit of God, who shows the sinner the enmity of his mind, the sin and danger of it, slays this enmity, and puts in new principles of light, life, and love; when the soul is reconciled to God's way of salvation, and loves the Lord, and delights in him; and both being thus agreed, the one by the satisfaction of Christ, and the other by the Spirit of Christ, see Romans 5:10; they walk comfortably together: the saint walks with God, not only as in his sight and presence, but by faith, and in his fear, in the ways and ordinances of the Lord; and particularly is frequent in prayer and meditation, in which much of his walk with God lies: and God walks with him; he grants his gracious presence; manifests his love and favour to him; talks with him by the way; discloses the secrets of his heart; and indulges him with nearness and communion with him; but all is founded on mutual agreement. And so it must be between men and men, that walk in a religious way; regenerate and unregenerate persons cannot walk together, there being no concord, 2 Corinthians 6:14; nor can all sorts of professors; they must agree in the way Christ, and in the fundamental principles of religion; and in worship, and the manner of it; and in all the ordinances of the Gospel, and the manner of administering them. Can two walk together, except they be {b} agreed?

(b) By this the Prophet signifies that he speaks not of himself, but as God guides and moves him, which is called the agreement between God and his Prophets.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
3. Can] better Will? or Do? if one sees two persons walking together, it may be inferred that, either at the time or previously, they have come to some agreement to do so. The example may have been suggested by Amos’s experience of the wild moorlands of Tekoa, or of the desert regions of Judah, in which “men meet and take the same road by chance as seldom as ships at sea” (G. A. Smith, p. 82).

be agreed] lit. have appointed themselves (or each other), i.e. have met by agreement (Job 2:11; Joshua 11:5), or have agreed to be together.

Additional Note on Chap. Amos 3:13 (Jehovah of hosts)

The title “Jehovah of hosts” is one which occurs with great frequency in the prophets (except Obadiah, Joel, Jonah, Daniel, and, somewhat remarkably, Ezekiel: Hosea, Micah, Nahum, and Habakkuk, however use it each once only), and fifteen times in eight Psalms (Psalms 24, 46, 48, 59, 69, 80, 84, 89): in the historical books it is found only in 1 Samuel 1:3; 1 Samuel 1:11; 1 Samuel 4:4; 1 Samuel 15:2; 1 Samuel 17:45, 2 Samuel 5:10 (= 1 Chronicles 11:9), 2 Samuel 6:2; 2 Samuel 6:18, 2 Samuel 7:8; 2 Samuel 7:26 (= 1 Chronicles 17:7; 1 Chronicles 17:24), 2 Samuel 7:27, 1 Kings 18:15; 1 Kings 19:10; 1 Kings 19:14, 2 Kings 3:14; 2 Kings 19:31, several of these occurrences being in the mouth of prophets: it is thus preeminently the prophetical title of Jehovah. The origin of the expression is not certainly known. Host is used in Hebrew in the sense of an army of men (as in the common phrase, “captain of the host,” 1 Kings 1:19 &c.); in addition to this, however, the Hebrews pictured the angels (1 Kings 22:19; cf. Psalm 68:17; Psalm 103:21; Psalm 148:2), and also the stars (Deuteronomy 4:19; Jeremiah 8:2; Isaiah 34:4; Isaiah 40:26; Isaiah 45:12), as forming a ‘host.’ Accordingly it is supposed by some (as Kautzsch, art. Zebaoth, in Herzog’s Realencyclopädie; G. A. Smith, pp. 57 f.: cf. Schultz, O.T. Theol. I. 139–141) that the expression originally denoted Jehovah as a warrior, the leader of Israel’s forces (cf. Exodus 14:14; Exodus 15:3; Numbers 21:14 [the “Book of Jehovah’s Wars”], 1 Samuel 17:45; 1 Samuel 18:17; 1 Samuel 25:28; Psalm 24:8; Psalm 60:10); but (as it occurs in many passages where an exclusively martial sense would be inappropriate) that it was afterwards gradually enlarged so as to denote Him also as the God who had other “hosts” at His command, and could employ, for instance, the armies of heaven (cf. Jdg 5:20; 2 Kings 6:17) on His people’s behalf: according to others (as Smend, Alttest. Religionsgeschichte, pp. 185–188) it had this wider sense from the beginning. Ewald (History of Israel, iii. 62; Lehre der Bibel von Gott, II. i. 339 f.; comp. Oehler, O.T. Theol. §§ 195–198) made the clever and original suggestion that the expression may have first arisen on occasion of some victory under the Judges, when it seemed as if Jehovah descended with His celestial hosts to the help of the armies of Israel (cf. Jdg 5:13): “born” thus “in the shout of victory,” it fixed itself in the memory of the people, and larger ideas gradually attached themselves to it, until in the prophets it became “the loftiest and most majestic title” of Israel’s God. Thus, whatever uncertainty may rest upon the origin of the expression, all agree that as used by the prophets it is Jehovah’s most significant and sublimest title: it designates Him, namely, as One who has at His disposal untold ‘hosts’ of spiritual and material agencies, and is Lord of the forces of nature, in a word, as the Omnipotent (comp. Cheyne, Origin of the Psalter, p. 323). It is accordingly in the LXX. often (2 Sam. and Minor Prophets (usually), Jer. (frequently): elsewhere Κύριος Σαβαὼθ is generally used[220]) very appropriately represented by κύριος παντοκράτωρ[221] ‘Lord Omnipotent’ (more exactly ‘Lord all-sovereign’: Westcott, Historic Faith, p. 215). The prophets often employ the title with much effectiveness and force; and it is necessary to bear in mind the ideas suggested by it, if their use of it is to be properly understood (comp., for instance, its use in Amos 3:13, Amos 4:13, Amos 5:14; Amos 5:27, Amos 6:8; Amos 6:14).

[220] In the Psalms, and occasionally in other books, κύριος τῶν δυνάμεων (i.e. of forces, hosts: see Numbers 2, 10 in the LXX. passim).

[221] Comp. in the N.T. 2 Corinthians 6:18, and nine times in the Revelation, viz. Revelation 1:8, Revelation 4:8, Revelation 11:17, Revelation 15:3, Revelation 16:7; Revelation 16:14, Revelation 19:6; Revelation 19:15, Revelation 21:22 (ὁ θεὸς ὁ παντοκράτωρ; comp. in Amos Κύριος ὁ θεὸς ὁ παντοκράτωρ. The rend. “Almighty” in Rev. connects the word wrongly with Shaddai [see p. 81], for which παντοκράτωρ stands only in Job, and never there with ὁ θεὸς preceding).

3–5. Examples of sights, or sounds, from which the action of some proper or sufficient cause may, in each case, be inferred.

3–8. Such a severe rebuke might provoke contradiction among the prophet’s hearers: he therefore proceeds to indicate the authority upon which it rests, arguing by means of a series of illustrations drawn from the facts of common life, that every event or occurrence in nature implies the operation of some cause adequate to produce it: if, therefore, he has spoken such a word, it is because there has been a sufficient cause impelling him to do so. The questions, it is obvious, require in each case a negative answer.Verses 3-8. - Before announcing more particularly the coming judgment, Amos, by a series of little parables or comparisons, establishes his right to prophesy, and intimates the necessity laid upon him to deliver his message. He illustrates the truths that all effects have causes, and that from the cause you can infer the effect. Verse 3. - Can two walk together except they be agreed? or, except they have agreed? The "two" are God's judgment and the prophet's word. These do, not coincide by mere chance, no more than two persons pursue in company the same end without previous agreement. The prophet announces God's judgment because God has commissioned him; the prophet is of one mind with God, therefore the Lord is with him, and confirms his words. The application of the parables is seen in vers. 7, 8. The Septuagint, reading differently, has, "except they know one another." They deserved to be utterly destroyed for this, and would have been if the compassion of God had not prevented it. With this turn a transition is made in Hosea 11:8 from threatening to promise. Hosea 11:8. "How could I give thee up, O Ephraim! surrender thee, O Israel! how could I give thee up like Admah, make thee like Zeboim! My heart has changed within me, my compassion is excited all at once. Hosea 11:9. I will not execute the burning heat of my wrath, I will not destroy Ephraim again: for I am God, and not man, the Holy One in the midst of thee: and come not into burning wrath." "How thoroughly could I give thee up!" sc. if I were to punish thy rebellion as it deserved. Nâthan, to surrender to the power of the enemy, like miggēn in Genesis 14:20. And not that alone, but I could utterly destroy thee, like Admah and Zeboim, the two cities of the valley of Siddim, which were destroyed by fire from heaven along with Sodom and Gomorrha. Compare Deuteronomy 29:22, where Admah and Zeboim are expressly mentioned along with the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha, which stand alone in Genesis 19:24. With evident reference to this passage, in which Moses threatens idolatrous Israel with the same punishment, Hosea simply mentions the last two as quite sufficient for his purpose, whereas Sodom and Gomorrha are generally mentioned in other passages (Jeremiah 49:18; cf. Matthew 10:15; Luke 10:12). The promise that God will show compassion is appended here, without any adversative particle. My heart has turned, changed in me (על, lit., upon or with me, as in the similar phrases in 1 Samuel 25:36; Jeremiah 8:18). יחד נכמרוּ, in a body have my feelings of compassion gathered themselves together, i.e., my whole compassion is excited. Compare Genesis 43:30 and 1 Kings 3:26, where, instead of the abstract nichūmı̄m, we find the more definite rachămı̄m, the bowels as the seat of the emotions. עשׂה חרון אף, to carry out wrath, to execute it as judgment (as in 1 Samuel 28:18). In the expression לא אשׁוּב לשׁחת, I will not return to destroy, שׁוּב may be explained from the previous נהפּך לבּי. After the heart of God has changed, it will not return to wrath, to destroy Ephraim; for Jehovah is God, who does not alter His purposes like a man (cf. 1 Samuel 15:29; Numbers 23:19; Malachi 3:6), and He shows Himself in Israel as the Holy One, i.e., the absolutely pure and perfect one, in whom there is no alternation of light and darkness, and therefore no variableness in His decrees (see at Exodus 19:6; Isaiah 6:3). The difficult expression בּעיר cannot mean "into a city," although it is so rendered by the ancient versions, the Rabbins, and many Christian expositors; for we cannot attach any meaning to the words "I do not come into a city" at all in harmony with the context. עיר signifies here aestus irae, the heat of wrath, from עוּר, effervescere, just as in Jeremiah 15:8 it signifies the heat of alarm and anxiety, aestus animi.
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