There is a continuation in this chapter of the general thought and movement of the last, consisting of denunciations and exhortations of Israel. First, there is a powerful blast against the idle, sinful and oppressive rich “in the mountain of Samaria” (Amos 4:1-3), then, a sarcastic and ironical “call to worship” at Bethel and Gilgal (Amos 4:4,5), and next, a dramatic reminder by the prophet of the seven disasters God had sent upon Israel with the benign purpose of leading them to repentance (Amos 4:6-12). Some have considered these disasters as progressive in intensity and severity.
Coffman’s thought on verse 1 in Amos 4 is spot on. In a very real way, it could fit 2020 during and post Covid pandemic. We have the media, both broadcast and social, denunciations of people, races, countries, leaders, rights to gather in public settings including church, and political rallies. All of this is based upon something for which we have little or no control…C-19.
“Powerful blast against the idle.” In 2020 it is the idle who are taking away the goods, prosperity, and control of the general law and order of society. Amos is talking about the rich doing this to the poor but verse 2 that those of prosperity will be taken away against their choice. Yes, Amos is specifically speaking to the wealthy of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, but we are seeing a replay of this around the world today.
“Sarcastic ‘call to worship’.” This is almost chilling in today’s society. The church is being identified as something that is not essential and people by the millions willingly if not eagerly fall in line with the whims of governors and local authorities to stay home FROM WORSHIP. After all, they say, to gather together is a danger. Yes it is a danger but actually a targeted danger to spiritual prosperity. Break the routines of society, reshape it into someone else image of *society, and we have a reflection of the ten Tribes of Israel to whom Amos is preaching.
*Defund police, shut down large gatherings and free-speech, access to education, travel bans, isolation mandates, with so much more. All of it is due to a flu that is no respecter of mankind. Perhaps a flu lab-designed to do just what it is doing; put the world into the hands of a “peace-maker”. We end up with those who can afford their own “fences” of defense and the rest remain susceptible to the elements. This can make one wonder if Amos 4 is speaking to us today. The Northern Kingdom of Israel was within two years of being thrown into total disarray.
James L. Mays wrote this about Amos 4:
“There is no perceptible development…, no heightening of the disasters’ intensity. Each is terrible in its own right, no worse than the previous one. The sequence gains its effect from repetition, the recollection of one disaster after another as though the narrative meant to exhaust the catalogue of human misery.”
“The purpose of these disasters (upon Israel) is to bring them back to God for repentance and worship.” Once again, this is possible if not a probable parallel to the 2020 global C-19 pandemic. There is no end in sight. The idle and fake ‘call to worship’ in Israel was not a call to worship God but manmade mandates. The parallels they be accurate or assumed are uncanny.
JIV NOTE: We MUST keep in mind that Amos is not just talking to his initial calling, that being the Northern Kingdom of Israel, but he condemns multiple nations. His calling is, at that time, global.
The hooks and fishhooks mentioned in verse 2 are obvious. This is not voluntary. It is forced. One will be pulled into the direction they are required by others to go. Choice has been removed. It is amazing how willingly people of the denominational religions and church settings have fallen in line…stay at home; form a new habit of not attending worship services, follow the guidance of mandates or pay a dear price. Who is doing the “taking away with hooks”? Verse two says…”The Lord God.” Think back if one will to the plagues upon Egypt. They were consequential; not happenstance.
Verses 2-5 are conditional for relief from consequences. God wants his people (believers) to worship him, not, if one might say, vaccines. Are we suggesting vaccines are evil? NO! It is the symbolism of man’s help versus God’s help.
Amos 4:6 reminds these Israelis of the northern kingdom of their past. God provided their needs but now they have transgressed. They had become very prosperous. No need for God as the “did it their way” and were exceedingly prosperous. Hmmmm? Is this another coincidental parallel to that time and this time up to the C-19 plague? David Guzik (commentary) identifies or relates the “clean teeth” [v6] to not having food to dirty them. This is a curse, not a blessing.
Amos 4:7 is significant if not a message of salvation in an earthly sense. God withheld rain (prosperity) from some locations and gave rain (prosperity) to others. This is a sign that God blesses when we as individuals and as a people draw closer to him; his choice. The have nots will seek the wealth and abundance of others. Just as in verse 9, Amos explains the curse of God is a call to return to him. It is not a message exclusive to the poor or welathy, but to all (kole; meaning no exceptions). Return to God. The New Testament puts it well in James 4:8. Draw close to God and he will draw close to us.