Amos 4
Pulpit Commentary Homiletics
The rhetorical fervour of the prophet leads him in this passage to address himself to the guilty nobles of Israel in terms of bitter irony. That descendants of Abraham should have forsaken Jehovah, should have set up altars to a golden calf, or to deities of their heathen neighbours, - this cuts the prophet to the heart. But that, even whilst acting thus, they should retain some of their ancient observances, should profess any reverence for the precepts of the Law of God, - this is the most cruel wound. Hence this language of irony, the severity of which is apparent to every reader.

I. IT IS HYPOCRISY OUTWARDLY TO REVERENCE THE ORDINANCES OF GOD WHILST REALLY SERVING GOD'S ENEMIES. Sacrifices, tithes, leaven, offerings - all of which are mentioned in this passage - were prescribed in the Mosaic Law. The sin of the Israelites lay here. All the time that they were attending to these observances, they were worshipping idols, and breaking the first and second commandments of the ten. Virtually, all men who profess Christianity, and yet love the sinful practices and pleasures of the world, are guilty of this sin. It is hypocrisy, which is worse than an open defiance of the Divine authority.

II. HYPOCRISY SEEMS TO MEET A NEED OF DEPRAVED AND SINFUL NATURES. "This liketh you;" "So ye love to have it;" - such is the reflection of Amos upon this evil conduct. Men do not "like" to break off the associations of the past; they do not "like" to turn their back upon the principles they have formerly professed; they do not "like" to forfeit the apparent advantages of conformity to the requirements of religion. Yet, at the same time, they are not willing to forsake the pleasures of sin, to deny self, to take up the cross.

III. HYPOCRISY MAY DECEIVE SOCIETY, AND MAY EVEN DECEIVE THE HYPOCRITE, BUT IT CANNOT DECEIVE GOD. The conscious aim of the hypocritical is often to impress their companions with the belief of their goodness. But in many cases men actually persuade themselves of their own piety, whilst their life is in flagrant contradiction to the assumption. Let it never be forgotten that God "searcheth the heart, and trieth the reins of the children of men;" that his scrutinizing gaze cannot be averted, nor his righteous judgment avoided. Those who multiply insincere observances really "multiply transgression." And multiplied transgressions surely involve multiplied penalties.

APPLICATION. Bethel and Gilgal are not the only spots on earth where hypocrisy has been practised. The question of all importance forevery professed worshipper to put to himself is this - Is there harmony between the language which I use in devotion and the thoughts and desires of my heart, the actions and habits of my life? - T.

Come to Bethel, and transgress; at Gilgal multiply transgression; and bring your sacrifices every morning, etc. " keenest irony. The "The language of these verses," says Henderson, "is that of the Israelites were addicted to the worship of the golden calf, and to that of idols, whereby they contracted guilt before Jehovah, and exposed themselves to his judgments; at the same time, they hypocritically professed to keep up the observance of certain feasts which had been appointed by Moses." The subject that the text teaches is - abounding worship with abounding sin. The sins of Israel, the frauds, violences, and nameless iniquities, are referred to in the preceding chapters. Crimes ran riot amongst them at this period; and yet how religious they seemed to be! "Amos has described how zealously the people of Israel went on pilgrimage to Bethel and Gilgal and Beersheba, those places of sacred associations; with what superabundant diligence they offered sacrifice and paid tithes; how they would rather do too much than too little, so that they even burnt upon the altar a portion of the leavened loaves of the praise offering, which were only intended for the sacrificial meals, although none but unleavened bread was allowed to be offered; and, lastly, how in their pure zeal for multiplying the works of piety, they so completely mistook their nature as to summon by a public proclamation to the presentation of free will offerings, the very peculiarity of which consisted in the fact that they had no other prompting than the will of the offerer" (Delitzsch). We offer two remarks on this subject.

I. Abounding worship often IMPLIES ABOUNDING SIN. This is the case when the worship is:

1. Selfish. More than half the worship of England is purely selfish. Men crowd churches, attend to religious ceremonies, and contribute to religious institutions purely with the idea of avoiding hell and getting to a happier world than this. They do not serve God for naught. Selfishness, which is bad everywhere, is never worse than when engaged in religion.

2. Formal. When religion is attended to as a matter of form, when sentiments are expressed without conviction, services rendered without self-sacrifice, the insincerity is an insult to Omniscience. "God is a Spirit, and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth." Abounding worship is no proof of abounding virtue and abounding godliness. Often, alas! the more worship in a community, the more corruption.

II. Abounding worship often SPRINGS FROM ABOUNDING SIN. It may spring from:

1. A desire to conceal sin. Sin is an ugly thing; it is hideous to the eye of conscience. Hence efforts on all hands to conceal. Nations endeavour to conceal the terrible abominations of infernal wars by employing the ministers of religion in connection with their fiendish work. The greatest villains have often sought to conceal their villanies by worship.

2. A desire to compensate for evils. Great brewers build churches and endow religious institutions in order to compensate in some measure for the enormous evil connected with their damning trade.

3. A desire to appear good. The more corrupt a man is, the stronger his desire to appear otherwise; the more devil in a man, the more anxious he is to look like an angel.

CONCLUSION. Do not judge the character of a nation by the number of its churches, the multitude of its worshippers, or the amount of its contributions, or efforts to proselytize men to its faith. - D.T.

Graphic and morally impressive is the catalogue of Divine judgments which the inspired prophet here draws up and puts upon record for the admonition of future ages.

I. OF WHAT THESE CALAMITIES CONSIST. They are thus enumerated in the several verses.

1. Famine.

2. Drought.

3. Blight.

4. Pestilence.

5. War.

6. Destruction.

Alas! from the beginnings of human history such have been the sad and weary experiences of the nations. Some of these ills appear to be beyond human control; others of them are more or less attributable to human ignorance, to human neglect, to unbridled lust and passion. The peculiarity of their treatment in the books of Scripture is not in their description, but in the connection shown to exist between them and the moral life and probation of man, and the righteous government of God.

II. FOR WHAT INTENT THESE CALAMITIES WERE INFLICTED. They are not here regarded simply as events; even the philosophical historian does not regard them thus.

1. They convince the observant and pious mind of the concern of God in human affairs, and of God's indignation with human sin. Certain philosophers imagined the great rulers of the universe to be indifferent to all the affairs of men. The Scriptures teach us that nothing escapes Divine observation, that nothing eludes Divine justice, God's censure, or approval.

2. They induce, in the case of the right minded, repentance and reformation. When God's judgments are abroad, the inhabitants of the earth will learn righteousness. If events teach men that "the way of transgressors is hard," they may also teach them that "whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every child whom he receiveth." "Before I was afflicted," said the psalmist, "I went astray; but now have I kept thy Word."


1. There can be no question that, in many instances, they are the occasion of hardening of the heart. As in the case of Pharaoh King of Egypt, afflictions may increase insensibility and rebelliousness.

2. There are cases in which chastisements of the kind here described produce national humiliation and repentance. Such was the case with Nineveh, even when Jonah preached and foretold the city's doom; the people repented even before the calamity came, and so averted it. And there were instances in the history of stiff-necked Israel where chastisement led to general abasement and repentance.

3. There are cases in which calamity fails to produce a general reformation, but is nevertheless the means of effecting in individuals a genuine repentance and a sincere conversion unto God. - T.

There is a mingling of severity and pathos in this language of Jehovah addressed to Israel. The repetition of the reproach adds to its effectiveness and solemnity. As one calamity after another is described, and as all are represented as chastisements inflicted by Divine righteousness, the touching words are added, "Yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the Lord."

I. THE WANDERINGS IMPLIED. In order that there may be a return to God, there must first have been a departure from God. Such had certainly been the case with Israel. The people and their rulers had alike done wickedly in departing from their covenant God. They had mingled with the worship of Jehovah practices superstitious and idolatrous. They had broken the Divine laws of morality, and that in a flagrant and shameful manner.

II. THE SUMMONS AND INVITATION TO RETURN WHICH HAD BEEN ADDRESSED BY GOD TO ISRAEL. Dealing with sinful men, a benevolent God has not been content simply to reveal truth and to inculcate holiness. He has ever addressed the children of men as those who have disregarded the truth and disobeyed the Law. Revelation is full of declarations of Divine mercy and promises of Divine forgiveness.

III. THE CHASTISEMENTS WHICH WERE INTENDED TO PRODUCE REPENTANCE AND REFORMATION. Words proving insufficient, they were followed by acts. It is dangerous for us confidently to interpret the plans of Divine providence. Yet God most high is the supreme Ruler of the nations, and in his own Word his "dealings" with the nations are interpreted with unerring justice and truth. The several disasters recounted in this passage as having befallen Israel are declared to have been of the nature of chastisements designed to awaken refection and to call to penitence and to newness of life. "The voice of the rod" is a voice sometimes effectual, and always morally authoritative.

IV. THE INATTENTION OF ISRAEL TO THE SUMMONS AND TO THE CHASTISEMENTS. It is amazing to learn that not only the messages of prophets and authorized heralds, but even the "judgments" of the righteous Ruler, failed to produce the intended effect. Yet so it was, and those who had been often reproved hardened their neck. In this Israel was an example of that obduracy which may be discovered in all ages and in all communities. The power of man to resist the appeals and the entreaties, the commands and the chastisements, of a righteous God, is one of the most surprising and awful facts of the moral universe.

V. THE PATHETIC REPROACH. He whose power could smite and destroy the rebellious speaks as if himself wounded and distressed by the perseverance in rebellion of those he governs. It seems as if Omniscience were astonished and appalled at human obstinacy and obduracy. Hence the expostulation, the reproach addressed to the impenitent and rebellious, "Yet have ye not returned unto me." - T.

And I also have given you cleanness of teeth in all your cities, and want of bread in all your places etc. In these verses the Almighty describes the various corrective measures which he had employed for effecting a moral reformation in the character of the Israelites. At the end of each chastising measure which he describes, he marks their obstinate impenitence with the expression, "Yet have ye not returned unto me." As if he had said, "The grand end of all my dealings is to bring you in sympathy, heart, and life back to me." The subject of the verses is this - God's government of the world is a chasing government; and three remarks are here suggested.

I. The chastisements employed are often OVERWHELMINGLY TERRIFIC.

1. He sometimes employs blind nature. Here is famine. "I also have given you cleanness of teeth in all your cities, and want of bread in all your places." The transgressors under the Law God had threatened with famine (Deuteronomy 28:48). The Divine government has often employed famine as a ruthless and resistless messenger to chasten mankind. In the days of Elisha the demon wielded his black sceptre for seven long years (2 Kings 8:1). The second is drought. "I have withholden the rain from you, when there were yet three months to the harvest: and I caused it to rain upon one city, and caused it not to rain upon another city: one piece was rained upon, and the piece whereupon it rained not withered. So two or three cities wandered unto one city, to drink water; but they were not satisfied." Rain - indispensable to the life of the world - comes not by accident or Mind necessity, but by the Divine will. "He watereth the hills from his chambers." To show that the rain is entirely at the disposal of the Almighty, it came upon one field and one city, and not upon another. Hence the inhabitants of the places where it rained not had to go great distances for water, and yet "were not satisfied." This is a terrible chastisement. The third is blight. "I have smitten you with blasting and mildew: when your gardens, and your vineyards, and your fig trees, and your olive tress increased, the palmerworm devoured them." A malignant atmosphere combined with devouring reptiles to destroy the produce of the land. The fourth is pestilence and the sword. "I have sent among you the pestilence after the manner of Egypt: your young men have I slain with the sword, and have taken away your horses; and I have made the stink of your camps to come up unto your nostrils." The allusion, perhaps, is to the pestilence with which God visited Egypt (Exodus 9.). The pestilence is God's destroying angel. Thus by blind nature God has often chastised mankind. He makes the stars in their courses fight against Sisera. Nature is a rod in his chastening hand; and what a rod it is! At his pleasure, by a touch, he can wake tempests that shall shake the globe, earthquakes that shall engulf cities, etc. Yes, whatever materialistic scientists may say, nature is nothing more than a rod in the hand of its Maker. The fifth is fire. "I have overthrown some of you, as God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, and ye were as a firebrand plucked out of the burning."

2. He sometimes employs human wickedness. The sword is mentioned here. "Your young men have I slain with the sword." War, unlike famine, drought, pestilence, and fire, is human, devilish. It is the work of free agents, under the influence of infernal evil. But God employs it; he does not originate it, he does not sanction it, he does not inspire it; but he permits it and controls it for purposes of chastisement. Thus all things are at the use of his chastising government - matter and mind, angels and fiends, heaven and hell.

II. The chastisements employed are ever DESIGNED FOR MORAL RESTORATION. After each judgment described we have the words, "Yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the Lord." "Yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the Lord." "Yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the Lord." This is the burden and design of the whole. Note:

1. Men are alienated from the lord. They are estranged in thought, sympathy, and purpose. Like the prodigal, they are in a far country, away from their Father.

2. Their alienation is the cause of all their misery. Estrangement from God means distance, not only from virtue, but from freedom, light, progress, dignity, blessedness. Hence the benevolence of all these chastisements. They are to restore souls. "Lo all these things worketh God oftentimes with man, to bring him back from the pit, that he may be enlightened with the light of the living" (Job 33:29, 30). To every unconverted man God can say, "I have chastised you in this way and in that way, on this occasion and on that, but 'yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the Lord.'"

III. The chastisements employed often FAIL IN THEIR GRAND DESIGN. "Yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the Lord." This shows

(1) the force of human depravity, and

(2) the force of human freedom.

Almighty goodness does not force us into goodness. Almighty love does not dragoon us into goodness. He treats us as free agents and responsible beings. - D.T.

Amongst the methods employed by the Divine Ruler to bring Israel to repentance was some calamity, some "judgment," which overtook certain of the cities of the land. It may be doubtful whether we are to understand that those cities were, like Sodom, struck by lightning and partially consumed by fire from heaven; or were attacked and given to the flames by an invading, hostile force; or were overtaken by some disaster figuratively described in this pictorial language. In any case, the circumstances are naturally suggestive of reflections upon the methods and purposes of God's treatment of sinful men.

I. A STRIKING PICTURE OF PUNISHMENT FOR SIN. Like a city given to the flames, like a brand flung upon the blazing fire, is the man, the community, that, on account of disobedience and rebelliousness, is abandoned for a time and for a purpose to the ravages of affliction and calamity. How often has a sinful, proud, luxurious, oppressive nation been consigned to this baptism of fire! How often has the wilful and obdurate nature been made to endure the keen and purifying flames! The connection between sin and suffering does indeed abound in mysteries; yet it is a reality not to be denied.

II. A STRIKING PICTURE OF THE DANGER OF DESTRUCTION TO WHICH THE IMPENITENT AND SINFUL ARE EXPOSED. Fire may purify the gold from dross, but it may consume and utterly destroy the chaff. Some nations exposed to the flames of war and calamity have perished and disappeared. Some individual lives seem, at all events, to have vanished in the flames of Divine judgment. The peril is imminent and undeniable.

III. A STRIKING PICTURE OF DIVINE DELIVERANCE. As the brand is plucked, snatched from the burning, so that, although bearing the traces of fire upon it, it is not consumed, even so did it happen to Israel that Divine mercy saved, if not the community, yet many individuals, from destruction. Where, indeed, is the soul, saved from spiritual death, of which it may not be said, "Here is a brand plucked from the burning"? And there are instances of salvation in which the similitude is peculiarly appropriate. There are those whose sins have, by reason of enormity and repetition, deserved and received no ordinary punishment in this life. And amongst such there are not a few whom the pity, the wisdom, and the power of our Saviour-God have preserved from destruction, and who abide living witnesses to his delivering might and grace.

APPLICATION. Here is encouragement for those who labour for the conversion and salvation of the degraded and debased. Even such, though nigh unto burning, may be plucked by Divine mercy from the flames of judgment. - T.

Forbearance has its limits, and probation is not forever. Discipline itself is temporary, and, when the purposes of God concerning men are fulfilled, will come to an end. There is a time for preparation, and then after that comes the time for reckoning and for recompense.


1. Especially the disobedient, the threatened, the chastened. The previous verses make it evident that it was to these that the admonition was particularly addressed. The people of Israel, as a whole, had departed from God, and had been censured and chastened by God. It seems to have been in consequence of their impenitence and obduracy that they were addressed in the solemn language of the text.

2. Yet the appeal has surely reference to such as were learning the lessons so powerfully though so painfully inculcated by Divine providence. There were individuals disposed to profit by the awful dispensations that were befalling the nation, and by the faithful admonitions addressed by inspired prophets.


1. It is not to be supposed that there is ever a time when God is not in immediate contact with his creatures. We meet him at every turn, we meet him at every moment. His eye is ever upon us, his hand is ever over us. "Whither shall we flee from his presence?" To the pious soul this thought is grateful, congenial, welcome. To the irreligious soul this thought should be productive of sincere humiliation and penitence.

2. There are, however, occasions appointed by the providence of God upon which the sons of men are constrained, manifestly and unmistakably, to meet their God. Nations meet God in national crises, in solemn conjunctures of incident, of probation, of destiny. Individuals meet God in critical events in human life, in remarkable experiences of the inevitable incidence of the moral law of God.

3. All Scripture declares that there is a future judgment, when all the intelligent and accountable shall be summoned into the Divine presence and before the Divine tribunal. "After death the judgment;" "Then shall every man give account of himself to God." We are directed to keep this day of account before our view, and to live in prospect of it.


1. In character it must be thorough and sincere. Nothing hypocritical or superficial can suffice. For the meeting anticipated is with him who is the Searcher of all hearts.

2. In nature it must consist of true repentance and true faith. A turning of the heart from evil, and a turning unto God, - these are essential. Unfeigned repentance and cordial faith are indispensable.

3. In manifestation it must be in conformity with Divine requirements. If thou wouldst meet God with holy confidence, then must thou "do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with thy God." - T.

The threats which precede this summons are very indefinite. Designedly so; for the prophet wished to arouse a genera/foreboding of retribution amongst the careless people, which would have its fulfilment in national disasters, but its final consummation in another world. Such indefiniteness also makes it possible to apply his words to men of every age and country. All responsible beings must at last meet their God, and may wisely be urged to "prepare." From the time of man's fall the all-merciful Father has been calling men to return from their evil ways. Adam was encouraged to hope in his mercy. The antediluvians were faithfully warned through Noah, the preacher of righteousness. Israel was constantly being exhorted by the inspired prophets. John the Baptist had as the burden of his preaching this same word "prepare;" and it has come ringing down the centuries to make itself heard among us also.

I. THE JUDGMENT FORETOLD. It is clear that the reference is to a summons to the tribunal of God, the Judge of quick and dead. There is a sense in which we may meet God in the study of his wonderful works in nature; in the strange and sometimes startling events of his providence; in the pages of his Word; in earnest supplication at his footstool. But another special and more solemn occasion is alluded to in our text - even that day when the great white throne will be set, and every man will have to give an account of all the deeds done in the body, whether good or bad.

1. That judgment is certain to come. Even nature seems to point onward to some crisis in the future of our race. Conscience warns us that sin cannot always go unpunished, for the world is governed by a God of righteousness. Scripture constantly affirms that he has appointed a day in the which he will judge the world by that Man whom he has ordained.

2. It is quite uncertain when it will, come. "Of that day and of that hour knoweth no man." It will come suddenly and unexpectedly, as a thief in the night. Death will end our time of probation, and no one knows where and when it may meet him. Therefore "prepare to meet thy God."

3. When it comes the trial will be thorough and final. All actions, together with their motives, are under the Divine cognizance. None will escape his notice. No false excuses will avail; and, on the other hand, no mere errors will be condemned as if they were wilful sins. The good will be severed from the evil, as our Lord teaches us in the parables of the dragnet and the tares of the field.

II. THE PREPARATION NEEDED. We should not be urged to "prepare" unless by nature we were unprepared. It is merciful of our Judge to give us warning, counsel, and opportunity. He willeth not the death of a sinner, but would rather that he should repent end live. Had it not been possible for us to make ready, had he wished us only to hurry onward to a certain doom, we should not have heard this exhortation. But he gives us forewarning in many ways, and at certain seasons with peculiar force; e.g. when death enters our family, or some accident befalls ourselves.

1. We need self-examination. "Know thyself" was the advice of a heathen philosopher; but it is worth heeding by us all. We want the illumination of God's Spirit and the instruction of God's Word to aid us. "The candle of the Lord" must throw its rays into the recesses of our hearts.

2. We need confession and repentance. "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

3. We need faith in the atonement of Jesus. It is said of all sinners who safely pass the great tribunal and enter into the heavenly world, "They have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb."

III. THE REASONS URGED. These appear in the next verse.

1. God is omnipotent. "He formeth the mountains." The mightiest cannot resist him; the most subtle will not escape him.

2. God is omniscient. "He declareth unto man what is his thought." He is the Searcher of hearts (Psalm 139:2; Jeremiah 17:10). Nothing eludes his notice. There is warning in this thought for the wicked; and there is comfort for the righteous, because these may reflect that their unspoken prayers, and their secret self-denials, and their unfulfilled purposes, are all recognized by him. They are represented by our Lord (Matthew 25:37-40) as being surprised at reward coming for acts which they thought little of or had quite forgotten. "God is not unfaithful to forget your work of faith and labour of love." Apply the words of the exhortation to the careless. - A.R.

Therefore thus will I do unto thee, O Israel: and because I will do this unto thee, prepare to meet thy God, O Israel, etc. "All the means that had been employed to reform the Israelites having proved ineffectual, they are here summoned to prepare for the final judgment, which was to put an end to their national existence. To this judgment reference is emphatically made in the terms כח, 'thus;' and זאח, 'this.' There is a brief resumption of the sentence delivered in vers. 2 and 3." We raise three observations from these words.

I. MAN MUST HAVE A CONSCIOUS MEETING WITH GOD. "Prepare to meet thy God." I shall see God," says Job: "whom I shall see for myself, and not another." Yes, we shall all see God. All men ought ever and everywhere to see him, for he is the great Object in the horizon, nearer to them infinitely than aught besides. But they do not. Their spiritual eye is so closed that they see him not; they are utterly unconscious of his presence. But see him they must one day. All must be Brought into conscious contact with him, and in his presence they will feel the greatest things in the universe melt into nothing- The atheist who denies his existence shall see God; the worldling who ignores his existence shall see God; the theologian who misrepresents his existence shall see God. We must all see God.


1. To meet him; reconciliation is needed. Practically we are at enmity with him. How shall an enemy stand in his presence? Who does not feel uneasy and even distressed when he confronts a man he hates, although the man may have no disposition and no power whatever to injure him? How will the soul with enmity in its heart then confront him? "I beseech you then in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God."

2. To meet him, moral purity is necessary. How will a consciously corrupt soul feel in the presence of absolute holiness? How are the flames of hell kindled? By the rays of Divine holiness falling on corrupt spirits.

"Eternal Light, eternal Light,
How pure the soul must be,
When, placed within thy searching sight,
It shrinks not, but with calm delight
Can live and look on thee!"


1. His procedure is terribly judicial "Therefore thus will I do unto thee, O Israel: and because I will do this unto thee, prepare to meet thy God, O Israel." He was approaching the sinner in judgment, moving towards him judicially. He was coming towards the Israelites as an Avenger. And so he is ever coming towards wicked men. Prepare, therefore, to meet him. He is coming as a Judge - slowly it may be, but surely and terribly.

2. His procedure is overwhelming grand. "Lo, he that formeth the mountains, and createth the wind, and declareth unto man what is his thought, that maketh the morning darkness, and treadeth upon the high places of the earth, The Lord, The God of hosts, is his Name." This magnificent description of Jehovah is given in order to urge the call to preparation.

CONCLUSION. The one mighty, loud, unceasing voice of God to man through all nature, history, and special revelation is, "Prepare to meet thy God." - D.T.

This and several other passages in this book of prophecy prove to us that Amos was a man who lived much in communion with nature and nature's God. A herdsman and a gatherer of figs, he passed his earlier years, not in towns, in palaces, in libraries, in schools, in the temple, but beneath the open sky, and in the presence of the solemnity, the grandeur, the sublimity, of the works of the Eternal. He had climbed the mountains of Judaea, had gazed upon the rugged ranges that closed in the Dead Sea, had scanned the desert of the south, and had delighted himself in the blue waters of the Mediterranean. He had out watched the stars and greeted the glorious dawn; he had bowed his head before the tempest, and heard the voice of the Almighty in the thunder's crash. He had read the scroll which unfolds itself to every observant eye; he had listened to the language best heard in solitude and seclusion. His meditations concerning God as known, not by the book of the law, but by the book of nature, relate to -

I. GOD'S CREATIVE POWER. This he doubtless recognized wherever he turned, by day and by night, in the peaceful plain and upon the awful hills. He here refers to two instances of the Maker's might, two proofs of his incomparable majesty. "He formeth the mountains. The stability and the immensity of the mountains have ever possessed a charm and an inspiration for the sensitive and thoughtful student of nature. Little as Amos could have known of those processes by which the enduring hills have been fashioned, he was capable of appreciating their testimony to the Creator, and probably of recognizing their symbolism of Divine attributes. The wind is a phenomenon which has always impressed the observer of God's works. Its immense power and its inscrutable mystery, its tenderness as it breathes through the forests at eventide, its awfulness when it roars upon the mountains, when it lashes into fury the mighty waves of the sea, are suggestive of the manifold operations of the all-comprehending Deity. And our Lord himself has reminded us of its symbolical significance as setting forth the wonderful, varied, and inexplicable manifestations of the presence and the working of the Divine Spirit.

II. GOD'S SPIRITUAL INSIGHT. When the prophet describes God as declaring unto man what is his thought," the language has sometimes been taken to refer to the Divine thought revealed to man; but it probably is to be interpreted of that omniscient energy by virtue of which the Eternal penetrates the spiritual nature of men and reads their thoughts afar off. That the creating Spirit is thus in perpetual and intimate contact with those created spirits into which he has breathed the breath of life, and which he has fashioned in his own likeness: this is reasonable enough. Yet the enunciation of this unquestionable truth should have two effects upon us. It should enhance our conception of God's majesty, and so call forth our adoration and our praise; and it should make us concerned as to the moral quality of the thoughts of our minds, which the omniscient and holy God must surely estimate with justice, and by a standard infinitely lofty and pure.

III. GOD'S PROVIDENTIAL RULE. If we take literally the language, "That maketh the morning darkness, and treadeth upon the high places of the earth," then these clauses are additional acknowledgments of the Creator's power and wisdom as displayed in nature. But coming after the preceding clause, which refers to men's thoughts, they seem to invite another interpretation. God's presence is to be recognized in the order of the world, in the tokens of moral government, in the workings of retributive law - in a word, in the facts which are justly deemed providential.

IV. GOD'S GLORIOUS NAME. To the Hebrew mind there was a very close connection between the nature and attributes and the Name of the Divine Ruler and Lord. He was Jehovah, i.e. the Self-existing and Eternal, whose Being accounts for all being beside. He was the Lord of hosts, i.e. supreme over all powers, possessed of all might, ordering all natures and all processes according to his own wisdom. The angelic hosts of unseen ministers and warriors, the armies of Israel and of the nations, the innumerable forces that obey the Divine behests and bring to pass the Divine purposes, - all these are beneath the cognizance and the sway of the Eternal, all these are ever executing his authoritative commandments and establishing his universal and everlasting kingdom. In the presence of a Being so glorious, so mighty, so holy, what power attaches to the monition of Scripture, "Stand in awe, and sin not"! - T.

The Pulpit Commentary, Electronic Database.
Copyright © 2001, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2010 by Biblesoft, Inc.
All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Bible Hub
Amos 3
Top of Page
Top of Page