This Week's Focus Passage

Amos 3:2 ‘You only have I known of all the families of the earth.’

Amos 3:2 ‘You only have I known of all the families of the earth.’

What does the prophet Amos have to say unto the people of God today? The words of Amos, who Hearwas among the herdsmen of Tekoa, which he saw concerning Israel in the days of Uzziah king of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash king of Israel, two years before the earthquake. Keep in mind that when he has said ‘concerning Israel’ he has said ‘concerning the people of God.’ When he has included the kings, both of Judah and Israel, he is including the people of God in those days. This is, then, a word from God to His people and, perhaps, especially those that have professed allegiance to Him through the rites of passage in those days such as circumcision and every concomitant form of worship instituted by God through Moses; every single activity prescribed by God in order to separate them from the nations and peoples around them, even as the people of God today are distinguished from others by their profession of faith in God through our Lord Jesus Christ. So that these words of God uttered by this prophet from among the herdsmen of Tekoa are words that the people of God today should hearken unto and to which they should also strive to give every attention.

Writing upon this third chapter of the book of Amos, the eighteenth century pastor and commentator, John Gill, offers a brief scenario of the circumstances and culture of Israel in the times of Amos, namely the times of Uzziah and Jeroboam:

“In this chapter the prophet goes on with his prophecy against Israel, whom God had highly favored, and yet sinned against Him, and therefore may expect to be punished by Him, and the rather, since He and they were not agreed (see verse two); and therefore there could be no communion between them, and by various similes ae set forth the cause of divine judgments, the certain design of them, and their continuance till the end is answered; which should be attended to, since every thing of this kind is of God, who giving His prophets notice of it, they are under absolute necessity of declaring it.”—John Gill (1697-1771).

According to Gill—and according to Amos—Jehovah had a controversy with His covenant people Israel. He sent Amos to them, we might say, to wake them up to their sinful idolatry—their failure to worship Him in accord with the directives that He had given through Moses—as well as other sins; to warn them that He was displeased with them and would punish them accordingly. This, it would be perfectly fair to say, agrees with the Newer Testament pronouncement from the very lips of God Himself, in the Person of Jesus Christ, when He told His people ‘that dwell in Jerusalem,’ I tell you; Nay: but except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.—Luke 13:3, 5. This was the mission and the Word given to Amos to deliver to Judah and Israel.

Is this not the Word that many of us, by the grace of God, have received in the hearing of the Gospel of Jesus Christ? It is by the grace of God that we have received it for, it is acknowledged that, many have heard this Gospel and have not received it whatever. There were many in the days of Amos that might well be called ‘nominal believers.’ They were Israelites in name only, and not in spirit. There were such in the days of Jesus Christ on earth also who were sons of Abraham according to the flesh, but not sons of Abraham according to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. And it must be confessed, in our own day, that there are many in the multitude of churches in our land that are no more than ‘nominal believers,’ nominal Christians; Christians in name only; having taken the name of Christ unto themselves without warrant. What must happen to amend this sorry condition? a certain prominent display of God’s wrath from heaven? What shall He do? Indeed, what will He do? And what ought His true people be doing about the downgrade of love for a sovereign God; also the downgrade of trust in the Holy Bible as the very true Word of the Living God, that when we read the Scriptures, with the precious gift of faith, gifted to us through the blood of the Lamb of God slain from before the foundation of the world.

Is this not the very same thing that Isaiah was startled with? The sixth chapter of Isaiah records for us that astounding vision that the prophet had of Christ. John, in his gospel account confirms that Isaiah indeed saw the Christ high and lifted up in that very vision. The voice from the throne called out, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Isaiah responded quickly, Here am I, send me. But the prophet was not likely prepared to hear the words that followed his volunteering. The voice said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and turn again, and be healed. The Voice which Isaiah heard told him, to put it simply, Go, preach the word of God to this people; but I tell you that they will not give you a hearing because I am not going to open their eyes, I am not going to open their ears; I am not going to give them hearts to understand. How many preachers today would be able to continue preaching after hearing such a declaration? ‘Preach to them, preacher, but they will give you no heed.’

This, it appears, was a fulfillment of that word from the Throne given unto Isaiah as we find God through Amos speaking to them of the judgment to come upon them while at the same time advising them that even though He had known them in a singular manner in which He had not known other peoples, they still were not agreed and could not walk together. Hearing, they couldn’t hear; seeing they couldn’t see. Thus it was even when the true Prince of Preachers—the Prince of Peace— called sinners to repentance. Thus it is in our day; yet we must cry out unto them to lay down the weapons of their warfare against God, and flee unto Christ to be saved. Christ called every church of the seven in Asia Minor to Hear what the Spirit saith to the churches. Let us pray for many to be made willing in the day of God’s power.

David Farmer, elder

Fellowship Bible Church


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