Amos 2 continues the judgment against the nations that was first introduced in the previous chapter. First, God speaks through Amos and issues a judgment on Moab because the “Moabites burned the bones of the King of Edom” (Amos 2:1, NRSV). The cries of the trumpet and divine fire and wrath from God will pour onto Moab, thus signaling their defeat (Amos 2:2-3). Second, Amos prophesies the destruction of Judah, and Judah’s primary offense is “rejecting the decrees and commandments of God” and “following in the ways of their ancestors (Amos 2:4-5). Judah will also be consumed by divine fire. This is scary news for those against whom Amos prophesied against, and that is nerve-wracking today as we wrestle with God’s judgment on the nations. Lastly, Amos prophesies the destruction of Israel. Chapter 2, while it mentions the other nations, is focused primarily on the nation of Israel. The ten tribes of Israel separated themselves from the tribes of Judah and Benjamin. Israel’s sins against God are tricky to name, but their sins boil down to the abuse of the neighbor and the worship of idols.
The Lord recounts how the Israelites were delivered from the Amorites, inhabitants of the Promised Land before the Israelite Conquest (Amos 2:9), and the Egyptians, who enslaved the nation of Israel before God delivered them from slavery (Amos 2:10). God even recounts how certain prophets and Nazirites were raised from up within the community, but the Nazirites were corrupted with wine. Nazirites were holy men who were set apart from the community, who maintained a level of spiritual and physical purity. (Samson was a Nazirite). To maintain this purity, the Nazirites avoided alcohol and defiling dead corpses. They also let their hair grow. As the Nazirites were corrupted, the prophets were told not to prophesy (Amos 2:11-12). God tells Israel: you aren’t escaping this one.
But there is a catch within this judgment call: God still extends God’s mercy, which sets the stage for the rest of the book. God has a preferential option for the poor and marginalized, but God is slow to anger, and mercy and love abound in abundance. God is disappointed that Israel has forsaken its covenant with God, but the hope here is that God’s love doesn’t end. God promises to restore Israel and Judah following their destruction, and that even when we mess up, God still loves us.
Thomas Johnston finished his first year of seminary at Trinity Lutheran Seminary at Capital University. He enjoys reading, writing, and playing music. Thomas is also the Field Education student at Jacob’s Porch, a Lutheran Campus Ministry at The Ohio State University.
1. Has there been a time in your life where you felt that you didn’t do as God commanded and you felt as if God would punish you?
2. How does this passage make you feel in today’s context?
Gracious and Merciful God, You are slow to anger, boundless in mercy and love. Grant us mercy even as we make mistakes; mistakes that are against our neighbors. Guide us to a life that also considers the needs of our neighbor, that we are freed to serve our neighbor. We ask this through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.