Amos 3:8
The lion has roared, who will not fear? the Lord GOD has spoken, who can but prophesy?
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(8) Roared.—Comp. the imagery of Amos 1:2, and that of Amos 3:4. The voice of the Lord is so audible, so clearly portending the coming judgment, that universal terror inevitably follows. (Comp. “If these should hold their peace, the stones would cry out.”

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!The Lion hath roared: who will not fear? The Lord God hath spoken: who can but prophesy? - that is, there is cause for you to fear, when the Lord "roareth from Zion;" but if ye fear not, God's prophets dare not but fear. So Paul saith, "necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me if I preach not the Gospel! For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward; but if against my will, a dispensation" of the Gospel "is committed unto me" 1 Corinthians 9:16-17; and Peter and John, "whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye! For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard" Acts 4:19-20; Moses was not excused, though slow of speech; nor Isaiah, though of polluted lips; nor Jeremiah, because he was a child; but God said, "Say not, I am child, for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee, thou shalt speak" Jeremiah 1:7. And Ezekiel was bidden, "be not rebellious, like that rebellious house" Ezekiel 2:8. And when Jeremiah would keep silence, he saith, "His Word was in mine heart as a burning fire, shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing and I could not stay" Jeremiah 20:9. 8. As when "the lion roars" (compare Am 1:2; Am 3:4), none can help but "fear," so when Jehovah communicates His awful message, the prophet cannot but prophesy. Find not fault with me for prophesying; I must obey God. In a wider sense true of all believers (Ac 4:20; 5:29). The lion hath roared; God hath threatened; and, as a lion roareth when near his prey, so God hath terribly threatened what is near to be done. Amos lived and prophesied in Jeroboam’s time, about A.M. 3150, and these threatened judgments began to come upon Israel when the conspiracies and usurpations of Shallum, Menahem, &c. filled all with blood and confusions, about A.M. 3177.

Who will not fear? what wise man, who that is solicitous for his own good and safety, or that hath any affections for the good of others, will do less than reverence and fear, and prevent by a speedy repentance?

The Lord God hath spoken: this is plainly what was before figuratively set forth, God had spoken to his prophets but dreadful things against Israel. Who can but prophesy? they dare not conceal them, Amos cannot but speak what he had heard, Jeremiah 1:17 Acts 4:19 5:25. The lion hath roared, who will not fear?.... Amos said this from his own experience, who, having been a herdsman in the wilderness of Tekoa, had often heard a lion roar, which had put him into a panic, both for himself, and the cattle he kept; the figure is explained in the next clause:

the Lord God hath spoken, who can but prophesy? whether it be to foretell future events, which the Lord has made known shall come to pass; or to preach the word, which is to prophesy to edification, to exhortation, and comfort, 1 Corinthians 14:3; or to perform the more private exercises of religion, as singing of psalms, praying, &c. 1 Chronicles 25:1; these things who can forbear doing, to whom the Lord has spoken either in a dream or vision, or in his word, and by his Spirit; and to whom he has given a call and commissions, and gifts and graces, qualifying them for such service? who that has the fear of God in his heart, and his glory in view, and the good of others, that can refrain from it? nay, it is of dangerous consequence to refuse it; for if the roaring of a lion is so terrible, and if the wrath of an earthly king is as the roaring of a lion, much more the wrath and displeasure of the King of kings. Jonah declined prophesying when the Lord spoke to him, but what was the consequence of it? the prophet by this seems to justify himself in prophesying, and that he ought not to be blamed for it, seeing the Lord had given him the word, and therefore he ought to publish it. This may be particularly applied to the ministers of the word, who have a call, a charge and gifts from Christ, and on whom there is a necessity laid to preach the Gospel; and who should not shut, to declare it on any account; nor can they, who have it in their hearts, and as fire in their bones; who have seen and heard, and handled of the word of life, let what will be the consequence of it; see Psalm 68:11.

The lion hath roared, who will not fear? the Lord GOD hath spoken, who can but {i} prophesy?

(i) Because the people always murmured against the Prophets, he shows that God's Spirit moved them to speak as they did.

Verse 8. - As the lion's roar forces every one to fear, so the Divine call of the prophet forces him to speak (Jeremiah 20:9; Ezekiel 2:8; 1 Corinthians 9:16, etc.). St. Gregory, moralizing, takes the lion in a spiritual sense: "After the power of his Creator has been made known to him, the strength of his adversary ought not to be concealed from him, in order that he might submit himself the more humbly to his defender, the more accurately he had learned the wickedness of his enemy, and might more ardently seek his Creator, the more terrible he found the enemy to be whom he had to avoid. For it is certain that he who less understands the danger he has escaped, loves his deliverer has; and that he who considers the strength of his adversary to be feeble, regards the solace of his defender as worthless" ('Moral.,' 32:14). Of course, this exposition does not regard the context. (Heb. Bib. Hosea 12:1). "Ephraim has surrounded me with lying, and the house of Israel with deceit: and Judah is moreover unbridled against God, and against the faithful Holy One. Hosea 12:1 (Heb. Bib. 2). Ephraim grazeth wind, and hunteth after the east: all the day it multiplies lying and desolation, and they make a covenant with Asshur, and oil is carried to Egypt. Hosea 12:2. And Jehovah has a controversy with Judah, and to perform a visitation upon Jacob, according to his ways: according to his works will He repay him." In the name of Jehovah, the prophet raises a charge against Israel once more. Lying and deceit are the terms which he applies, not so much to the idolatry which they preferred to the worship of Jehovah (ψευδῆ καὶ λατρείαν, Theod.), as to the hypocrisy with which Israel, in spite of its idolatry, claimed to be still the people of Jehovah, pretended to worship Jehovah under the image of a calf, and turned right into wrong.

(Note: Calvin explains סבבני correctly thus: "that He (i.e., God) had experienced the manifold faithlessness of the Israelites in all kinds of ways." He interprets the whole sentence as follows: "The Israelites had acted unfaithfully towards God, and resorted to deceits, and that not in one way only, or of only one kind; but just as a man might surround his enemy with a great army, so had they gathered together innumerable frauds, with which they attacked God on every side.")

Bēth Yisrâ'ēl (the house of Israel) is the nation of the ten tribes, and is synonymous with Ephraim. The statement concerning Judah has been interpreted in different ways, because the meaning of רד is open to dispute. Luther's rendering, "but Judah still holds fast to its God," is based upon the rabbinical interpretation of רוּד, in the sense of רדה, to rule, which is decidedly false. According to the Arabic râd, the meaning of rūd is to ramble about (used of cattle that have broken loose, or have not yet been fastened up, as in Jeremiah 2:31); hiphil, to cause to ramble about (Genesis 27:40; Psalm 55:3). Construed as it is here with עם, it means to ramble about in relation to God, i.e., to be unbridled or unruly towards God. עם, as in many other cases where reciprocal actions are referred to, standing towards or with a person: see Ewald, 217, h. קדושׁים נאמן, the faithful, holy God. Qedōshı̄m is used of God, as in Proverbs 9:10 (cf. Joshua 24:19), as an intensive pluralis majestatis, construed with a singular adjective (cf. Isaiah 19:4; 2 Kings 19:4). נאמן, firm, faithful, trustworthy; the opposite of râd. Judah is unbridled towards the powerful God ('El), towards the Holy One, who, as the Faithful One, also proves Himself to be holy in relation to His people, both by the sanctification of those who embrace His salvation, and also by the judgment and destruction of those who obstinately resist the leadings of His grace. In Proverbs 9:1 the lying and deceit of Israel are more fully described. רעה רוּח is not to entertain one's self on wind, i.e., to take delight in vain things; but רעה means to eat or graze spiritually; and rūăch, the wind, is equivalent to emptiness. The meaning therefore is, to strive eagerly after what is empty or vain; synonymous with râdaph, to pursue. קדים, the east wind, in Palestine a fierce tempestuous wind, which comes with burning heat from the desert of Arabia, and is very destructive to seeds and plants (compare Job 27:21, and Wetzstein's Appendix to Delitzsch's Commentary on Job). It is used, therefore, as a figurative representation, not of vain hopes and ideals, that cannot possibly be reached, but of that destruction which Israel is bringing upon itself. "All the day," i.e., continually, it multiplies lying and violence, through the sins enumerated in Hosea 4:2, by which the kingdom is being internally broken up. Added to this, there is the seeking for alliances with the powers of the world, viz., Assyria and Egypt, by which it hopes to secure their help (Hosea 5:13), but only brings about its own destruction. Oil is taken to Egypt from the land abounding in olives (Deuteronomy 8:8), not as tribute, but as a present, for the purpose of securing an ally in Egypt. This actually took place during the reign of Hoshea, who endeavoured to liberate himself from the oppression of Assyria by means of a treaty with Egypt (2 Kings 17:4).

(Note: Manger has given the meaning correctly thus: "He is looking back to the ambassadors sent by king Hoshea with splendid presents to the king of Egypt, to bring him over to his side, and induce him to send him assistance against the king of Assyria, although he had bound himself by a sacred treaty to submit to the sovereignty of the latter." Compare also Hengstenberg's Christology, vol. i. p. 164 transl., where he refutes the current opinion, that the words refer to two different parties in the nation, viz., an Assyrian and an Egyptian party, and correctly describes the circumstances thus: "The people being severely oppressed by Asshur, sometimes apply to Egypt for help against Asshur, and at other times endeavour to awaken friendly feelings in the latter.")

The Lord will repay both kingdoms for such conduct as this. But just as the attitude of Judah towards God is described more mildly than the guilt of Israel in Hosea 11:12, so the punishment of the two is differently described in Hosea 12:2. Jehovah has a trial with Judah, i.e., He has to reprove and punish its sins and transgressions (Hosea 4:1). Upon Jacob, or Israel of the ten tribes (as in Hosea 10:11), He has to perform a visitation, i.e., to punish it according to its ways and its deeds (cf. Hosea 4:9). לפקד, it is to be visited, i.e., He must visit.

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