Amos 9


O, sinner man, where you gonna run to

O, sinner man, where you gonna run to

O, sinner man, where you gonna run to

All on that day?

I nearly neglected to run this concluding chapter, if you read the Sunday post – which I won’t fix now.  The vision of God standing beside the altar refers to Bethel in context, and in the original object of the warnings to Israel, the northern kingdom, after Amos has been denied a voice there, and sent south.

The message is not limited to that time and place as a prediction of the Assyrian conquest.  Sure enough, Israel will be overrun in the mid 700’s BCE, and final exiles scattered about the Assyrian empire about 721 BCE.  But Amos was repeated in Judah during Josiah’s time, warning of the Babylonian exile ahead, and it anticipates the loss of the Second Temple in 70BCE: our monuments too.

Perhaps every nation wants to claim ‘exceptionalism’, as I heard Barack Obama ruefully admit in Michael Moore’s recent movie ‘Fahrenheit 11-9’.  But we are all as the Ethiopians, before God’s ultimate justice to all nations.  Even chosen peoples may be brought low for infidelity.  But Israel, and in turn Judah, are promised survival as a scattered remnant.  Might we hope as much?  Beyond that hope, may we even dream of restoration in cities, vineyards and fields?

 So Amos sets the tone for ‘The Twelve’.  Tomorrow we continue with Hosea, usually set first in the collection, addressing the more religious rather than economic sins, of Judah rather than Israel.  You could, I suppose, say all 12 books follow the same shape – but let’s inform that assumption, to test it!

Amos Chapter 9


1 I saw the Lord standing beside* the altar, and he said: Strike the capitals until the thresholds  shake, and shatter them on the heads of all the people;* and those who are left I will kill with  the sword; not one of them shall flee away, not one of them shall escape. 

2 Though they dig into Sheol, from there shall my hand take them; though they climb up to heaven, from there I will bring them down. 

3 Though they hide themselves on the top of Carmel, from there I will search out and take them; and though they hide from my sight at the bottom of the sea, there I will command the sea-serpent, and it shall bite them. 

4 And though they go into captivity in front of their enemies, there I will command the sword, and it shall kill them; and I will fix my eyes on them for harm and not for good. 

5 The Lord, God of hosts, he who touches the earth and it melts, and all who live in it mourn, and all of it rises like the Nile, and sinks again, like the Nile of Egypt; 

6 who builds his upper chambers in the heavens, and founds his vault upon the earth; who calls for the waters of the sea, and pours them out upon the surface of the earth— the Lord is his name. 

7 Are you not like the Ethiopians* to me, O people of Israel? says the Lord. Did I not bring Israel up from the land of Egypt, and the Philistines from Caphtor and the Arameans from Kir? 

8 The eyes of the Lord God are upon the sinful kingdom, and I will destroy it from the face of the earth —except that I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob, says the Lord. 

9 For lo, I will command, and shake the house of Israel among all the nations as one shakes with a sieve, but no pebble shall fall to the ground. 

10 All the sinners of my people shall die by the sword, who say, ‘Evil shall not overtake or meet us.’ 

11 On that day I will raise up the booth of David that is fallen, and repair its* breaches, and raise up its* ruins, and rebuild it as in the days of old; 

12 in order that they may possess the remnant of Edom and all the nations who are called by my name, says the Lord who does this. 

13 The time is surely coming, says the Lord, when the one who ploughs shall overtake the one who reaps, and the treader of grapes the one who sows the seed; the mountains shall drip sweet wine, and all the hills shall flow with it. 

14 I will restore the fortunes of my people Israel, and they shall rebuild the ruined cities and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and drink their wine, and they shall make gardens and eat their fruit. 

15 I will plant them upon their land, and they shall never again be plucked up out of the land that I have given them, says the Lord your God.