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Exegetical Paper: Amos 9:5-10
-I will be examining Amos 9:5-10
The message that the author is trying to convey in Amos 9:5-10 is that YHWH has proven himself to the people to be a trustworthy and loyal God. He helped resurrect Israel, the Philistines and the Arameans. In turn these people, particularly the Israelites, have betrayed his trust by acting sinfully toward the kingdom of Israel. The Lord YHWH will judge those people of Israel who are called to do right but who choose to do wrong. The wrongdoers being those that have acted sinfully.
Amos, in vision, saw the Lord standing upon the altar at Bethel. God has come for one thing and one thing alone, judgment. There is no escaping the Lord now, for wherever he stands, one can be seen. YHWH has an inescapable presence. Those whom he opposes can find no shelter; wherever they go, his eyes will follow. Wherever sinners flee from YHWH's justice, it will overtake them. Not only does God have an inescapable presence, he also has the power to do virtually anything imaginable with the Earth. As mentioned in Amos 9:5-6: "The Lord, the LORD Almighty, he who touches the earth and it melts, and all who live in it mourn--the whole land rises like the Nile, then sinks like the river of Egypt--he who builds his lofty palace in the heavens and sets its foundation on the Earth, who calls for the waters of the sea and pours them out over the face of the land--the LORD is his name." Those whom sin or rebel against God will seek an unwanted response. Whether that unwanted resonse be an earthquake, volcano or any other natural disaster. If one is respectful of YHWH they will be respected back in turn and will someday be brought to heaven. Those whom God brings to heaven by his grace, shall never be cast down; but those who seek to climb up by vain confidence in themselves, will be cast down and filled with shame and embarrassment. That which makes escape impossible. YHWH will set his eyes upon them for evil, not for good. If one is honestly sin-free they will someday find heaven but as for those whom have sinned and then turn around and to try and make it up to the Lord, they will never seek his approval therefore not resorting to heaven.
In Amos 9:7, the Lord says: "Are not you Israelites the same to me as the Cushites?" declares the Lord. "Did I not bring Israel up from Egypt, the Philistines from Caphtor and the Armeans from Kir?" YHWH is expressing all that he has done for the people. He has resurrected these towns, and for what? Evidently he is not pleased with what he has received in return. The people have not responded respectfully the way that he wanted them to and he believes that they should be punished as a result, particularly the sinners. As mentioned in the book Amos, YHWH and Israel have a historical past and in the past YHWH has helped rescue Israel and bring the town back to the way it once used to be, but now they are back in the same sticky situation, aspiring to become the beautiful town they have always dreamed of acceding to (Mays, 157).
Israel seems to believe that they have a special relationship with YHWH since he has helped the Israelite people out of Egypt, God however does not feel that he should give preferential treatment to anybody that has escaped and humiliated his own trust. I believe that God has every right to act stubborn and make his own righteous decision. In the book Amos and Micah, John Marsh states:
"God is more bound by the justice and righteousness of his own immutable nature than by a bond which a fickle Israel has sinfully broken again and again. So God is perfectly free to destroy the sinful kingdom of Israel, and announces his intention to do so" (Marsh, 71).
Israel can't expect God to be there for them whenever they need a helping hand. It's a lot like the story The Boy who Cried Wolf, after a couple of rescue attempts it was evident that the boy was trying to fool the rescuer and the rescuer recognized this, so when the boy was really in trouble with a wolf, the rescuer thought that he was joking again and it suddenly wasn't so funny. "Israel is not the only people on earth that God cares for. Thus, Israel's status should not lead to complacency" (Barre, 215). This is a solid point that Michael L. Barre has professed. Israel should not expect God to be there for them whenever they need to be rescued, it would not be fair to anybody else in this world. In order for Israel to gain back God's respect, the town must relinquish themselves of all sinners and then the Israelites can start from square one.
Amos 9:8 effectively explores what YHWH will due to the unfaithful town of Israel. "Surely the eyes of the Sovereign LORD are on the sinful kingdom. I will destroy it from the face of the earth--yet I will not totally destroy the house of Jacob, declares the Lord." YHWH is looking for a new approach in resurrecting Israel back to independence. He will destroy Israel to rid all of the sin and start over with a new city with new people and allow the non-sinners back to help the city grow and become amalgamated. As Henry McKeating pointed out, when God helped Israel in 722 B.C. the results were not positive and the town never even regained its "national identity." The past relationship between the Lord and Israel has not been a good one through the eyes of the Lord so he is in no way shape or form ready to redirect Israel toward sovereignty just to see it spit back at him. YHWH is ready to punish them and give them what they deserve.
While God talks of his plan of destroying Israel, he mentions how he will sift between the sinners