For three transgressions of Damascus… of Gaza… of Tyre… ofEdom… of the Ammonites… of Moab… Amos’ hearers must have been with him by this point, as he denounced all of their neighbours and enemies, for each calling to mind particular offences against God and humanity. It would probably be like a populist speaker railing in turn against Russia, Syria, North Korea, Brussels or Washington (depending on personal politics) and getting the crowd fired up with the declaration of anger and impending disaster.
Then the speaker turns to home – For three transgressions of Judah…of Israel…
It’s as if the speaker who’s just yelled about the wrongs of Moscow and Damascus suddenly turned to Birmingham and Wolverhampton.
This was not how the prophecy was supposed to go. Though of course anyone who’d read the other prophets might have seen it coming. God’s choice of Israel and Judah didn’t let them off his judgement, it set a higher standard for their national life, as they were called to bear witness to the LORD’s ways and promises.
Here the LORD charges Israel and Judah with their failure to listen when, time and again, he has given warning – first through Nazirites and prophets, then through the coming of the disasters that they have foretold. Now there is an even graver warning – but God has no confidence that they will listen.
What warnings and signs of God’s will have I missed? How can I be more alert to them today? I want to be open not only to his warnings but also to his leadings and encouragements!