1 Hear this word, you cows of Bashan who are on the mountain of Samaria, Who oppress the poor, who crush the needy, Who say to your husbands, “Bring now, that we may drink!” 2 The Lord GOD has sworn by His holiness, “Behold, the days are coming upon you When they will take you away with meat hooks, And the last of you with fish hooks. 3 “You will go out through breaches in the walls, Each one straight before her, And you will be cast to Harmon,” declares the LORD. 4 “Enter Bethel and transgress; In Gilgal multiply transgression! Bring your sacrifices every morning, Your tithes every three days. 5 “Offer a thank offering also from that which is leavened, And proclaim freewill offerings, make them known. For so you love to do, you sons of Israel,” Declares the Lord GOD. 6 “But I gave you also cleanness of teeth in all your cities And lack of bread in all your places, Yet you have not returned to Me,” declares the LORD. 7 “Furthermore, I withheld the rain from you While there were still three months until harvest. Then I would send rain on one city And on another city I would not send rain; One part would be rained on, While the part not rained on would dry up. 8 “So two or three cities would stagger to another city to drink water, But would not be satisfied; Yet you have not returned to Me,” declares the LORD. 9 “I smote you with scorching wind and mildew; And the caterpillar was devouring Your many gardens and vineyards, fig trees and olive trees; Yet you have not returned to Me,” declares the LORD. 10 “I sent a plague among you after the manner of Egypt; I slew your young men by the sword along with your captured horses, And I made the stench of your camp rise up in your nostrils ; Yet you have not returned to Me,” declares the LORD. 11 “I overthrew you, as God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, And you were like a firebrand snatched from a blaze; Yet you have not returned to Me,” declares the LORD. 12 “Therefore thus I will do to you, O Israel; Because I will do this to you, Prepare to meet your God, O Israel.” 13 For behold, He who forms mountains and creates the wind And declares to man what are His thoughts, He who makes dawn into darkness And treads on the high places of the earth, The LORD God of hosts is His name.
It seemed foolish to break this passage up. God is angry and disappointed in the disobedience of Israel but also the ignorance they displayed. He starts out by revealing the gluttony of the people and reveals that they will be treated as cows, drug out of their city for slaughter. In verse 4 and 5, He talks more about their disobedience to the Law and how they have created their own religious practices instead of following what God commanded them. God sent them many signs regarding their disobedience: famine, drought, plagues of insects to devour their crops, and even unsuccessful war, but God’s disappointment in His people remain: yet you have not returned to Me.
Repentance is a word we don’t like to hear for some reason (maybe it’s just me). But, we tend to think this is a bad word, even though it was Jesus’ first recorded words of His ministry (see Matthew 3:2). Repentance is how we accept Christ’s forgiveness and return to the presence of the Lord. In the physical realm, repentance simply means to turn around, but in God’s Kingdom, it represents our turn away from whatever it is we are doing and towards God. He calls us to a lifestyle of repentance, a constant turning away from worldliness and towards Him.
How much has our nation fallen into the same rut as Israel was back when Amos wrote this letter? What else must God do and how many chances must He give us to repent before we do it? I heard an analogy once that God throws stones at us to get our attention. He starts with tiny pebbles and then rocks. The size and velocity of the stones increase until we finally stop ignoring them and turn around. What we are reading here is God’s warning that the boulders are going to start rolling and they will certainly have no doubt of their sinfulness and disobedience. They have completely forgotten their God but they will have no problem remembering Him soon.
Is God throwing rocks at you? What else more must He do to get your attention?