Summary: God expects faithfullness from his people, so live a life worthy of the calling you have received.
When I was a kid I remember having a friend over and playing cricket in the back yard. We repeatedly hit the ball over the fence into the neighbour’s hard and trampled all over their flower beds retrieving it. We were caught mutilating the backyard flora and my mother proceeded to berate me sternly. As it happened, when we were caught it was my friend who had been clambering over the fence and not me, so when my mum was giving me grief about the whole thing, I felt it was a bit unfair. Why wasn’t he getting it, too? He was the one too stupid to wait until my mother was away from the window til he climbed the fence! But here we were, him standing quietly to one side and me copping the shalacking.
Despite my feelings of injustice, it really made sense, though. I was the one who lived in that house in the back corner of leafy Lugarno, the Promised Land. I was the one who knew that I wasn’t supposed to be squashing the daisies and camellias. I was the child and my mother my parent – my friend just happened to be there for the view. I had that privileged position – but with that privileged position also came responsibility.
The people of Israel are the children of God. He chose them not because they were numerous or powerful or righteous – he chose them because he loved them. And, as vs. 2 reminds us, all the families of the earth, it is only them he has chosen. They are in an incredibly privileged position. Look back to 2:10-11. God brought them out of Egypt and gave them the Promised Land, the land of the Ammorites. He saved them from slavery and oppression, led them through the desert and then fulfilled his promise to Abraham by delivering to them the land flowing with milk and honey. He has raised up prophets and Nazirites to minister to them, to speak his Word to his people. He has chosen them and loved them and blessed them.
So what now? -
AM 3:2 "You only have I chosen
of all the families of the earth;
therefore I will punish you
for all your sins."
The privileged position the Israelites held as God’s chosen people made them particularly responsible for their sin. Because God chose them, so he will punish them. This is a message Amos is speaking to all the people of Israel and Judah – “the whole family I brought up out of Egypt”. Amos is from Judah but he is a prophet to the Northern Kingdom of Israel – and his message is universal - you will be punished.
Last week we saw precisely what they are being punished for: rejecting the Law, following false gods, injustice, sexual immorality, ignoring the prophets and rejecting the very Word of God. And 3:10 sums up the situation nicely – “They do not know how to do right”. These special chosen people of God who have the Law who have the words of the prophets – they don’t even know how to do right.
The concept that those who are granted much knowledge and much privilege will be judged more strictly and punished more harshly occurs throughout Scripture. Turn with me briefly to Luke 12:47-48 LK 12:47 "That servant who knows his master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what his master wants will be beaten with many blows. 48 But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.