Summary: Amos sends Israel a clear message from God: you are not meeting my standards, and I am about to cut you off.
Good morning. I am special correspondent Shinon Byorus for the Mesopotamian News Network, coming to you live from Bethel in Israel, where controversy has been stirring for months around the inflammatory rhetoric from the prophet Amos, who appeared some time ago from Judea with a very harsh message of divine condemnation. King Jeroboam of Israel has commanded that the prophet Amos be labeled persona non grata and deported back to Judah. Azariah, the priest of the temple in Bethel, has been handed the unenviable task of informing Amos of the king’s decree and of managing the uproar that is sure to ensue.
Let me give you some background.
When he first showed up Amos was the best street theater in town. From Samaria to Jezreel, from Shechem to Bethel, people flocked to hear him harangue the crowds. First he took on Aram. They had been Israel’s worst enemy for generations. So when they heard that the king of Aram would be killed and their capital Damascus destroyed, the Israelites were simply delighted.
And then Amos took on the Philistines, whom as you know had been fighting the Hebrews since Saul’s time and before, and even after David killed Goliath they continued raiding across the borders. So of course the Israelites loved hearing about the death and destruction God was going to rain upon them. The Sidonians came next. Why they were third rather than 2nd I don’t know, since they were a bigger threat than the Philistines, but it was still good news. And so was his prophecy against the Ammonites, who were Israelites’ nearest neighbor to the east. If all their neighbors were going to be destroyed, then Israel was going to be top dog in the whole region! Amos got onto Edom and Moab next, but they were a bigger threat to the southern kingdom of Judah than to Israel, and besides, it was kind of convenient having them keep the Judeans to busy to bother Israel.
But Amos didn’t stop there. it turned out that God was mad at Judah, too. The things God was mad about, according to Amos, were military atrocities. Israel’s neighbors and enemies - actually, they were pretty much the same thing - had destroyed towns and villages, sold people into slavery, and slaughtered women and children. Judah hadn’t done that, but they had neglected their religious duties.
So Israel felt pretty virtuous and secure. Of course they hadn’t committed
atrocities! Except of course once in a while in self-defense. And religion had never been more popular! The fact that God was pleased with them was confirmed by the fact that King Jeroboam had reconquered all the territories Israel had lost under previous kings, the merchants were prospering as never before in their history, the tax revenues flowed into the kings coffers like water and the temples in Dan and Bethel were simply overflowing with the peoples’ offerings.
Well, that’s how it all began. Even the king and his courtiers would come out to listen and applaud and generally enjoy the show.
Why did things change? What happened to make the Israelites turn against this once popular and influential man?