1 – ” Thus says the Lord: “For three transgressions of Israel, and for four, I will not revoke the punishment, because they sell the righteous for silver, and the needy for a pair of sandals—” (Amos 2:6, ESV)
RAF: Israel is judged for: a. Perverting justice in favor of the rich; b. Ignoring the poor; c. Rampant sexual immorality; d. Idolatry; e. Profaning true worship.
2 – ““You only have I known of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.” (Amos 3:2, ESV)
RAF: If we could but hear the Lord’s voice well here. His anger is not that of a defied despot, or a robbed merchant, or a brutalized stranger. God’s anger is that of a betrayed husband. Israel’s sin was a personal betrayal. It was the casting off of the responsibilities of relationship. And He punishes accordingly. The reason why He goes to such pains is because of the nature of the relationship. A Father disciplines the child he loves, not the neighbor kids.
3 – ““Do two walk together, unless they have agreed to meet?” (Amos 3:3, ESV)
RAF: Note first the 5 rhetorical questions (3-5). These are to drive home the point that if Israel is suffering ill, God must be behind it. They need to inquire of Him for a remedy. Something is wrong.
On this first question: Can we think to walk with Christ except we agree with Him on some things? a. We must be going to the same destination. He was on His way to the Father. Are we consciously on our way to that destination? b. We must be walking the same route. The way of the Cross is ours too. Our wills must be sacrificed wherever they intersect His. It is the way – the “highway” of holiness. He does not walk any other path. c. We must be agreed as to the time to travel. He is urgent about it. His is not a slack pace, but a quick one. He is about the business of getting there. He is not sight-seeing. Nor can we be if we should travel safely, and with Him every step of the way.
4 – ” “I gave you cleanness of teeth in all your cities, and lack of bread in all your places, yet you did not return to me,” declares the Lord.” (Amos 4:6, ESV)
RAF: In verses 6-11, note how God ramps up His actions each time. Like one who is speaking but is not being heard, keeps speaking more and more loudly. So we need to look at calamity in our lives. Is He speaking here? Is He calling us back to Himself? Have we strayed somewhere? Is there an unresolved controversy with Him? This is not to say we do not face adversity at times apart from such a cause. But it is always a time to humble ourselves and ask if indeed there might be something which needs addressed. Calamity is always a time for self- examination, humility and repentance. If we know of nothing, and have sought His Spirit to reveal should anything be there of which we are unaware – it is well. Let us endure knowing He is on our side and designs our good in it, though we cannot see it. But perhaps we will uncover that which needs to be put back in order. We can be assured He will receive us, and heal us, and restore us when we repent. See: James 5:14-16
5 – ““I hate, I despise your feasts, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; and the peace offerings of your fattened animals, I will not look upon them. Take away from me the noise of your songs; to the melody of your harps I will not listen. But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” (Amos 5:21-24, ESV)
RAF: No amount of worship or any other religious service, is a replacement for repentance.
6 – ““Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord God, “when I will send a famine on the land— not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord. They shall wander from sea to sea, and from north to east; they shall run to and fro, to seek the word of the Lord, but they shall not find it.” (Amos 8:11-12, ESV)
RAF: Of all the signs of God’s judgment, this is the most severe. When God’s people have no means of hearing His voice. If we ignore the Word He has spoken, why should He speak at all? We can ask ourselves, are we hearing His Word for ourselves? Do we take the time away from everything else that His precious counsel from the pages of Scripture might soak into our souls, satisfy our hearts and minds, and feed us? Are we listening to Him? Then what makes us imagine we will know His leading any place else, or by some other means? Our souls are famished not because He hasn’t provided, but because we have left off gathering His manna fresh each day. We are bored with it. It always tastes the same. It isn’t spicy. We’ve cultivated tastes for other things. And then, when He removes it altogether, what will we do? What happens when we run from church to church, conference to conference, gathering to gathering, but His Word is not actually proclaimed anymore? What will we do? Father, forgive us! Feed us. Satisfy our souls upon your Words. Man does not live by bread alone – but by every word that proceeds out of Your mouth. We have neglected it. But please do not take it away. Restore our appetites. And satisfy us – with Yourself.
7 – “The vision of Obadiah. Thus says the Lord God concerning Edom: We have heard a report from the Lord, and a messenger has been sent among the nations: “Rise up! Let us rise against her for battle!”” (Obadiah 1, ESV)
RAF: The one-word theme of Obadiah is: Edom. The Edomites were the descendants of Esau, Jacob’s brother. When Babylon came to conquer Jerusalem, the Edomites helped the Babylonians, betrayed their brothers, and took advantage by moving into the devastated areas after the Jews were carried into exile. They were opportunists capitalizing on God’s discipline against the Jews. They had no loyalty toward their brothers. These are very great sins. We do well to flee from them ourselves.
8 – ” Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying,” (Jonah 1:1, ESV)
RAF: The one-word theme of Jonah is: OUTREACH. Though Israel never fulfilled its call to make God’s Temple a house of prayer for all nations; and though God had chosen them out of all the nations of the earth to be peculiarly His – nevertheless, God shows His compassion on the lost outside of Israel. And Jonah is the unwilling servant in reaching them. Nineveh was the capital of the Assyrian empire, who was to destroy the northern kingdom of Israel for its sin. Jonah would have nothing but hatred and disdain for these people. His dilemma however, was rooted in just how merciful God could be. He didn’t want them to have God’s mercy.
9 – ” And they said to one another, “Come, let us cast lots, that we may know on whose account this evil has come upon us.” So they cast lots, and the lot fell on Jonah. Then they said to him, “Tell us on whose account this evil has come upon us. What is your occupation? And where do you come from? What is your country? And of what people are you?” And he said to them, “I am a Hebrew, and I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.” Then the men were exceedingly afraid and said to him, “What is this that you have done!” For the men knew that he was fleeing from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them.” (Jonah 1:7-10, ESV)
RAF: Christians running from God bring trouble to all of those around them.
10 – “And the Lord spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah out upon the dry land.” (Jonah 2:10, ESV)
RAF: Nineveh was hundreds of miles from the shore of the Mediterranean. No one there would have witnessed this spectacle. His preaching alone would have to suffice.
11 – “And he prayed to the Lord and said, “O Lord, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster.” (Jonah 4:2, ESV)
RAF: O how we want God to be this way for us, but not for those who are our enemies. This then is why the love of Christ is superior to all mankind’s. For while we were His enemies, in due time, He died for us.
12 – “And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?”” (Jonah 4:11, ESV)
RAF: Father of mercy and grace- Grant me your heart at all times. Make me to pity those who know you not. Who still live in the darkness and bondage of their sins. Who are so ignorant of you, that they could be said to not know their right hand from their left. Give my YOUR compassion for them. That they might live.
13 –“The word of the Lord that came to Micah of Moresheth in the days of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, which he saw concerning Samaria and Jerusalem.” (Micah 1:1, ESV)
RAF: The one-word theme of Micah is: Wickedness. At a time of high prosperity in Judah, he exposes their wickedness.
14 – “If a man should go about and utter wind and lies, saying, “I will preach to you of wine and strong drink,” he would be the preacher for this people!” (Micah 2:11, ESV)
RAF: Never are God’s people in a sadder state than when they would rather have lies and mere substance-less “wind” preached to them, than the Word of God with its judgments and its blessings. We choose for ourselves preachers who will preach pleasant things, rather than the whole truth.
15 – “Its heads give judgment for a bribe; its priests teach for a price; its prophets practice divination for money; yet they lean on the Lord and say, “Is not the Lord in the midst of us? No disaster shall come upon us.”” (Micah 3:11, ESV)
RAF: Here is the central matter of God’s complaint uncovered. Leadership that perverts judgment based upon bribes. Teachers of God’s Word who will only teach if they are paid. Those who claim to speak for God, giving God’s Word for cash. And then we have the gall to say: “Isn’t God among us? And won’t He continue to bless us?” No.
16 – ” Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love. He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea. You will show faithfulness to Jacob and steadfast love to Abraham, as you have sworn to our fathers from the days of old.” (Micah 7:18-20, ESV)
RAF: Who indeed is a God like you Father? Great is your faithfulness!
17 – “An oracle concerning Nineveh. The book of the vision of Nahum of Elkosh.” (Nahum 1:1, ESV)
RAF: The one-word theme of Nahum is: Nineveh. Around 100 years after Jonah, Nahum confronts Nineveh’s sin again. This time they do not repent. God ultimately destroys them.