EIGHTH CENTURY BC PROPHETS
A brief description of the political, religious, and social condition of Israel during 8th century BC.
This period is very significant for the people of Israel because of several reasons and it requires special consideration. The long ministry of Elisha (fifty years) had ended at the beginning of the 8th century BC. The prophets who ministered in the new period were very significant prophets; they are Amos, Hosea, Isaiah, and Micah. This period is the beginning of classical prophecy.
Quite a number of prominent Hebrew kings reigned in Israel (Northern Kingdom) and Judah (Southern Kingdom) during eight century BC. In Judah the prominent kings were, Uzziah, Ahaz and Hezekiah. And in Israel the prominent kings were Jehoash (Joash 809-793), and Jeroboam II (793-753). Elisha prophesied about the military victory of Israel over Syria (2Kings 13-19). Jonah also prophesied during this time about the victories of Israel and her future glorious days (2Kings 14:25).
There was constant war between Israel and Syria for the past one century. The king of Damascus had been able to control the internal affairs in the Northern Kingdom until now (2Kings 13:7). After the Assyrians made a campaign against Damascus in 797, Joash, king of Israel, had been able to recover the territory lost to the king of Damascus (2King 13:25) because in the following years the Assyrian power got weakened for some years. King Shalmanezer IV ruled from 782-773. But the Assyrians kept their pressure upon Damascus (Syria). This has actually helped the kings of Israel and Judah to regain the lost territories.
After Jehoash, when Syrian power further weakened, Jeroboam in God's good providence capitalized on it and regained all the lost territories and sovereignty of Israel and he extended his frontiers (2Kings 14:25-27). Thus Israel became politically secure during this time. Judah also experienced political stability under king Uzziah at this time. As a result of this both Judah and Israel were enjoying great prosperity and had reached new political and military heights (cf. 2Kings 14:23-15:7; 2Chro. 26).
During the second half of eighth century, a new era of Assyrian conquest began with the rise of Tiglath Pilesar III (745-727), which had an unprecedented effect upon the life of Israel as well as on the other nations in the Near Eastern world. This significant influence of Assyria upon the course of history during 8th century BC is quite evident from the extensive references to Assyria by the prophets of the 8th century.
Due to Assyrian pressure and various other reasons, the nation Israel began to decline in the second half of the eighth century. Six kings ruled in Israel after Jeroboam II for a short period of just 32 years, they were all weak kings and others who usurped power killed four of them.
Menahem (745-738) submitted to the Assyrian power in 743. His son Pekahiah (738-737) continued the same policy. But Pekah (737-733) rebelled against Assyrian power. So Tiglath-Pileser came against Israel in 733 and ravaged the country, deported much of the population and appropriated most of Israel’s territory, leaving only the capital city of Samaria and the hill country of Ephraim to the reduced kingdom.
In the second half of the century three great crisis confronted Israel and Judah, and in each Assyria is involved.
a. Syrio-Ephraimite War - 734 BC. It was a war between Judah and Israel. Judah faced military threat from the combined army of Israel and Syria in the year 734 BC. Judah sought the help of Assyria to withstand this threat. So Tiglath Pilesar III led his army against Israel and Syria and defeated them. They became vassals to Assyria. In effect Judah also became vassal to the Assyrian power (2Kings 16:5-9). The result of this war is that both Israel and Judah became vassals to Assyria.
b. The Fall of Samaria - 722 BC. Hoshea assassinated Pekah, king of Northern Kingdom, in 723 BC and he became king. The remnant was saved when Pekah was murdered by Hoshea who promptly surrendered, paid tribute, and assumed Israel’s throne as a vassal of Tiglath-Pileser (Hos. 5:13).
But Hoshea changed his policy when new king Shalmaneser V (727-722) took the reigns in 727 BC and rebelled against the Assyrian power. And Hoshea refused to pay tribute money to Assyria and sought the help of Egypt. Therefore, the new Assyrian king, Shalmaneser V, invaded Israel and laid a siege against Samaria for three years. Shalmaneser V died and Sargon II (721-705) continued the siege and Samaria fell into the hands of the Assyrians in 722 BC. Finally, the Northern Kingdom fell into the hands of the Assyrians in 722 BC.
c. The Sennacherib crisis in 701 BC. Sennacherib succeeded his father Sargon II in 705 BC. The people of Judah revolted against him. Therefore Sennacherib planned to lay siege against the city and plunder its resources. Hezekiah, the king, though was very powerful and god-fearing he did not have the full confidence in Yahweh at this time of crisis. So God sent Isaiah to Hezekiah and prophesied that God will protect the city. The Assyrians laid a siege around the city but the angel of the Lord killed one-lakh eighty five thousand men of the Assyrian army. And Sennacherib was compelled to return to Assyria (2King 19, Isa. 36, 37).
The military victories brought peace and prosperity in the land. King Jeroboam II built up a lucrative trade, which created a powerful merchant class in Samaria (Amos 3:10-15; 6:4). But it did not benefit the poor peasants. It only created an upper class and the gap between the poor and rich widened. There was no equality. The rich lived a luxurious life. The rich oppressed the poor (Amos 2:6ff; Isa. 7:13). Family relationships were broken. Son stood against the father and daughter stood against the mother. Men’s enemies were the members of his own house (Mic 7:5-6). Even the judges were corrupt, they took bribe. They turned down justice to the poor and needy (Amos 5:10-12). There was so much violence and bloodshed. The priests also became corrupt (Hos. 4:4-10, esp. v. 9).
Once they became politically secure, they began to gloat over their newfound power. They felt jealously complacent (a carnal self-confidence and a careless sense of security) about their favoured status with God (Amos 6:1) because they were relieved of foreign pressures. For them religion was a matter of form. They emphasized on the rituals of the religion. But their hearts were far away from the Lord. People were only interested in the external practice of religion. Idolatry and human sacrifice were widespread. They worshiped Baal. Drunkenness was very common (Amos 2:12). Rather than trusting upon Yahweh for their national affairs, they depended upon foreign alliances.
Now Israel focused her religion on expectations of the ‘day of the Lord’ (Amos 5:18-20). But the prophets said, the day of the Lord is not a day of salvation and blessing but a day of judgment.
THE MESSAGE OF THE PROPHETS MINISTERED DURING EIGHTH CENTURY BC
Into a kingdom outwardly prosperous, morally and spiritually low, to a people thus wealthy and proud, but degenerate and callous, came the prophets Amos, Hosea, Isaiah and Micah. The main message of the prophets during this period can be summarized in these following points.
1. Israel will be punished for rejecting Yahweh. The fundamental message of these prophets was that Israel had fallen away from Yahweh and he has rejected them and they would be punished. Amos says in God's name, “The end has come upon my people Israel; I will never again forgive the” (Amos 8:2). Hosea shows rejection of the people by the symbolic name given to his child ‘Lo ammi’ (not my people) who would be destroyed (Hos. 3:12; 4:9)
2. Israel has certain obligations as Chosen People. Since Israel was chosen people of God, Yahweh had certain claims on them. They were expected to live in accordance with their position as Yahweh’s people. They were to be holy people fulfilling Yahweh’s holy will, expressed in justice and righteousness. They were first to remain faithful to their God and secondly they should obey Yahweh’s moral commands expressed in law and traditions. People had failed in these obligations and the 8th century prophets were reminding them earnestly (Mic. 6:8). If the people return to Yahweh and do his will, they will live and Yahweh will be gracious to them (Amos. 5:4; 6:14). Election meant that Yahweh had greater expectation from them (Amos 3:2). Yahweh revealed to them his attributes, his holy nature, his justice, his righteousness etc. Even after knowing Yahweh’s will, they have lived a life of unjust and immoral life, so they would be judged.
3. The prophets spoke against Religious hypocrisy. People’s attitude of leaving aside Yahweh’s moral demand and giving importance to ritual religion has been bitterly criticized “I hate, I despise your feasts” (Amos 5:21ff; Isa. 1, Hos. 6:6, Mic. 6:8).
4. The prophets reminded Israel about the divine action in the past History. The past history was to the prophets the field of divine action. Amos, Hosea, Micah reminded people that Yahweh brought Israel up from Egypt, guided them through the desert and led them to a blessed land. Amos pointed out that like Israel, Yahweh has brought out other nations, Philistines from Caphtor, and Syrians from Kir (Amos 9:7).
5. Remnant. The prophets emphasized that their response to Yahweh will guide their future either for ‘good’ or ‘evil.’ So they exhorted people to repentance. “Seek Yahweh, seek the good that you may live (Amos 5:4). Even though Yahweh’s punishment might come upon the people still a remnant will survive (Amos 3:12; Isa. 6:13, 10:20ff).
SURVEY OF THE BOOKS OF HOSEA, MICAH AND ISAIAH
Personal History of the Prophet
The meaning of the word Hosea is ‘salvation.’ Hosea was the son of Beeri. The name of his wife was Gomer. She was a prostitute. We do not have any information about his family background other than the name of his father.
Hosea ministered to the people of Northern Israel during the time of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah the kings of Judah and during the time of Jeroboam II, the king of Northern Israel and the last six kings of Israel. So Hosea ministered in between 760-715 BC, the period of nearly 50 years. He witnessed the fall of Samaria in 7222-21 BC. He is known as the Jeremiah of Northern Israel. As Jeremiah saw the rapid decline of Judah and the final destruction of Jerusalem, Hosea also predicted and witnessed the fall of Samaria and the exile of the people of Israel.
According to 2Kings 14-17 Hosea ministered in a time filled with bloodshed violence and strife. Israel became very prosperous at the time of Jeroboam II. Political situation was very weak and the kings fought against each other and murdered each other. Each of them ruled only a very short period. Assyria under Tigleth-Pilesar III became very powerful and Northern Israel was made a puppet kingdom under Assyria and later Hoshea the last king of Israel plotted against Shalmanzer the king of Assyria and Samaria was captured in 722 BC.
But morally and spiritually the nation became very corrupt. Idolatry was common everywhere. Priests let the people to sin; drunkenness was very common. Baal worship was very prevalent and the kings were immoral. So the nation as a whole rejected Yahweh and trusted in foreign alliance. Moral and spiritual decay, political chaos, idolatrous worship, apostasy from Yahweh, all these characterized the nation when God called Hosea for the prophetic ministry.
Theme:The steadfast love of God for the people of Israel in spite of their unfaithfulness to Yahweh.
The message of the book of Hosea:
The purpose and the message should be understood against the background of the message and theology of Deuteronomy. Israel entered into a covenant relationship with the Lord. According to this covenant relationship Israel should be loyal to Yahweh (a husband – wife relationship) by worshiping him alone. And be obedient to his commandments. Obedience will bring blessing and disobedience will bring judgment and exile.
The major themes of the Hosea’s message can be summarized in three words. They are sin, judgment, and salvation or restoration.
Breach of the covenant. Hosea’s task was to tell the nation about the breach of the covenant and as a consequence of it Yahweh is going to judge the nation.
Idolatry. In exposing Israel’s sin prophet emphasized its idolatry (4:7; 8:4,6; 10:15; 11:2; 13:2). He compared Israel’s covenant relationship to the Lord with marriage (Yahweh as husband and Israel as wife) and accused Israel of spiritual adultery she had turned to Baal, the god of the Canaanites.
Unfaithfulness. To illustrate Israel’s infidelity (unfaithfulness) Hosea married a woman who became unfaithful to him. In spite of her unfaithfulness, the prophet still goes after her and redeems her. This is in order to show God’s ‘hesed’ toward the unfaithful Israel.
The prophet also speaks about many other sins such as social injustice, violence, hypocrisy, spiritual ingratitude and foreign allegiance.
Hosea is known as the prophet of ‘hesed.’ Hesed is the Hebrew word for ‘steadfast love’ or ‘mercy’. Through this book Hosea teaches God’s steadfast love for the people of Israel in spite of their unfaithfulness to Yahweh.
Hosea calls people to repentance but the prophet does not expect a positive response.
Judgment is inevitable and inescapable.
Hosea also emphasizes the justice of God because he is a just God. The unjust will not go unpunished.
He brings the message of hope, hope of restoration.
He emphasizes the promise of Israel’s ultimate restoration; it is a restoration of Israel to Yahweh.
The prophet says that the judgment is disciplinary in nature and its purpose is to bring them back to Yahweh. As Hosea restored his unfaithful wife, God also will restore Israel to himself.
Personal History of the Prophet Isaiah
The name Isaiah means ‘Yahweh saves’ or ‘Yahweh is salvation.’ Its long form is ‘Yeshayahu.’ Isaiah was son of Amoz, not the prophet Amos. Probably Amoz, the father of Isaiah was a brother of king Amaziah, father of Uzziah. Because of this he had intimate access to the royal court of the kings Ahaz and Hezekiah. Isaiah was married. His wife was called a prophetess (8:3). He had two sons.
Isaiah was bold and fearless man. He had an uncompromising spirit but a tender heart. He was a man of great spirituality and faith. He was a poet, a statesman and an orator. According to Hebrew tradition Isaiah was martyred during the time of the wicked king Manasseh. Isaiah has always been considered the greatest of all Hebrew prophets and he is known as the evangelist of the Old Testament.
Authorship and the Unity of the book of Isaiah
Traditionally it is believed that the man Isaiah who lived in 8th century BC in Jerusalem is the author of the book bearing his name. The conservative scholars or the evangelical scholars unanimously agree for the unity of the book of Isaiah i.e. all the 66 chapters are written by the prophet Isaiah of 8th century BC.
But the critical scholars from 19th century onwards raised questions on the unity of Isaiah. The modern scholars say another person who lived close to the time of exile in Babylonian captivity whose identity is unknown authors that chapter 40-55. He is called Second Isaiah (Deutro-Isaiah).
According to the modern critical scholars, Chapters 56 to 66 are written by still another person who lived in postexilic period in Judah whose identity also is unknown. The scholars call him Third Isaiah (Trito-Isaiah).
Date, Place and Background:
Isaiah was an 8th century prophet. He ministered during the reign of king Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah (Isa. 1:1). Prophet Isaiah began his ministry during the last period of Uzziah’s reign. He continued his ministry till the time of Hezekiah and even little beyond that. The approximate date is 739 to 700 BC, a period of 40 years.
His ministry was concerned primarily with Judah and Jerusalem (Ch. 1:1) and ministered at a very critical period of the nation’s history. His prophecies are not only limited to Judah but pronounces judgment upon Israel, Assyria, Babylon and Egypt as well as the surrounding nations.
(For more information about his background, refer the discussion on the political, religious and social background of 8th century BC prophets given earlier in this paper.)
Theme: Judgment and salvation
Message:Two major themes in the book are Judgment (Chs. 1-39) and redemption (40-66).
Isaiah condemns the sins of Judah and calls them for repentance. The opening chapter of the book graphically illustrates the moral and religious condition. The situation was very degenerating when Isaiah began his ministry. The nation, he warns, can avoid judgment if by genuine repentance turn to God (1:18-19).
The divine pardon, according to Isaiah is conditioned on sincere repentance, which manifest itself in the forsaking of sin and righteous conduct. Here the prophet admonishes the people “wash you, make you clean, put away the evil if your doings before my eyes, cease to do evil, learn to do well, seek justice, relieve the oppressed, care for the fatherless and plead for the widow” (1:16-17).
He rebuked Judah for her iniquities, oppression, injustice, foreign alliance and religious hypocrisy. He boldly denounced the sin of the people (ch.1) and rulers (7:1) alike and predicted the overthrow of both kingdoms by Assyria and Babylon.
The prophet condemns religious formalism divorced from right moral conduct (1:1-5). For him genuine religion and morality are inseparable. The nation had to come to believe that the rituals and ceremonies, which she practices, could atone for her sin. But the prophet denounces her as rebellious, sinful nation people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that deal corruptly whose whole head is sick and whole heart faint. But at the same time they are very punctual in offering and giving offering. It is from this outward formalism as well as sinful disobedience that prophet calls the nation to turn to God.
The book of Isaiah abounds with Messianic prophecies concerning the person of Messiah his work, his kingdom, especially the millennial kingdom. Isaiah predicts his birth (7:14), His deity and eternal kingdom (9:1-7), His humanity - ‘branch of the root of Jesse’ (11:1), His righteous reign (11:2-5) and his vicarious suffering and death (Chs. 52 and 53).
The Servant Passages in Isaiah: Who is this Servant?
1. The Servant is the nation Israel or the pious remnant.
H. H. Rowley says, “the servant is the suffering nation Israel when the Christian church believed that the suffering servant is the Messiah. The Jewish scholars emphasizes that it is the nation Israel is the servant (41:8, 43:8-13, 44:1,2, 49:3). Some of the critical scholars adopted the view of the Jewish scholars. According to them Isaiah 52:13 – 53:12 pictures the vicarious suffering of the nation especially their exile in Babylon. Their suffering was for the redemption of the world. Here Israel’s suffering motivated the nations to come to repentance and thus receive forgiveness form Yahweh. So their suffering was redemptive in its purpose.
But we cannot agree with this view because Israel suffered for her own sin. But the sufferer in Is. 53 suffers for the sins of others. His suffering was vicarious. According to Jeremiah 5:1 there could not be find a righteous person in Israel on whose behalf God would spare others (There was none in Israel who was holy and righteous, who could suffer for the sins of others)
2. The Servant is an individual
Some say it is Isaiah himself or Jeremiah or Zerubbabel or Hezekiah etc.
3. The Servant is the Messiah
This is the most acceptable view. The picture of the suffering servant in Isaiah 52:13-53:12, the prophet speaks about the vicarious suffering of Christ. It is not any other human being. Because: -
i. His sinlessness (53:9)
ii. His resurrection (53:10)
iii. The nature and the magnitude of his work (53:4-6, 11)
The statement refers to none other than Jesus Christ to whom the term is applied by the Holy Spirit in Mat. 8:17, Mk. 15:28, Luke 22:37, John 12:37, 38, Acts 8:32-33.
Some say that the term servant stands for both the nation Israel and its head the Messiah. From the nation it moves to the righteous remnant within Israel and ultimately it point to an individual the Messiah (49:5, 53:11).
Personal History of the Prophet:
The name ‘Micah’ means ‘who is like Yahweh.’ He is from Moresheth, southwest of Palestine. He was a younger contemporary of Isaiah and Hosea. Nothing more can be learned about him. Jeremiah refers to his prophecy. (Jer. 26:18).
He was from Judah and ministered in Judah especially in Jerusalem. He was direct, plainspoken, possessed a strong conviction, courage and uncompromising faith in God.
Call: The source of his dynamic preaching is found in 3:8. “As for me, I am full of power by the spirit of Yahweh and with judgment and might, to declare unto Jacob, his transgression and Israel his sin.
Micah ministered between 750 and 686 BC. He ministered during the time of Jotham (739-735 BC), Ahaz (735-715 BC) and Hezekiah (715-686 BC). He prophesied before the religious reform of Hezekiah (Jer. 26:18). He prophesied about the fall of Samaria and witnessed its fall in 722 BC.
Hezekiah, the king, though was very powerful and God-fearing he did not have the full confidence in Yahweh When Zennacherib came against Judah. But through supernatural intervention Judah was saved.
(For more information about his background, refer the discussion on the political, religious and social background of 8th century BC prophets given earlier in this paper.)
Message and content:
The book consists of three prophetic addresses, which can be distinguished from one another by the introducing word ‘hear’ (1:2, 3:1, and 6:1).
The three prophetical addresses are differentiated from each other by their content and point of view. Each division contains a description of the present corruption, announcement of the imminent judgment and promises of glorious future.
v Chapters 1 and 2 announce a general judgment upon Judah and Israel.
v Chapters 3 to 5 (second address) pronouncing judgment upon the leaders of the nation wicked princes and prophets. And also announces the future hope of the Messianic kingdom.
v Chapters 6-7 (Third address) consist of an admonition to repentance and hope of future deliverance and salvation.
Micah in his book opposes the formalism of the religion of his day. According to him the essential requirement of true religion and acceptable worship are to do justice, to love kindness and to walk humbly with thy God (6:8). True religion was not mere outward conformity to a prescribed ritual or the mere bringing of sacrifices or payment of tithes but a life lived in accordance with the divine principle of righteousness (6:6-8). He demanded justice among men and sympathized with the poor and the oppressed as Amos did.
Micah, just as his contemporaries, Hosea, Amos and Isaiah tried to impress Israel with the truth that certain principles of righteous conduct were required of men and not mere exercise of external ritual. Three moral principles given are:
To do justice
To love kindness
To walk humbly with thy God
The first two speak a man’s moral and ethical responsibilities toward his neighbor and the third speaks about the relationship with God.
He condemned the leaders. He spoke against the oppression of the poor.
No prophet of the OT exceeds Micah in predicting about the future advent of the Messiah and his kingdom.
Both Isaiah and Micah predict about the birth of the Messiah. Isaiah predicts about the virgin birth and Micah predicts about the location of the birth of the Messiah (Mic. 5:2). He also speaks about the second advent of Messiah.
He predicts about the fall of Samaria (1:6), the invasion of Judah by Sennacherib, the destruction of Jerusalem (3:12), the exile to Babylon (4:10), and the return of the exiles. He talked about the defeat of Assyria (3:12).
(A) Charges against Israel
v.1-5 – Charge against Israel. God’s lawsuit
In this charge the lord is asking them what wrong god has done to them. They the prophet describes the good things God has done to them. Their deliverance from Egypt, Reversing the curse of Balak (Num. 23, 24) and he brought them to the Promised Land.
v.6-8 – Israel’s reply.
The reply is that we are coming to you with offering and sacrifices for our sins. But God’s reply is that he is not interested in offering and sacrifices. But he requires form them to do justice to love kindness and to walk humbly with God.
v:9-16 – The second charge. And the sentence of desolation
The charge against the corruption of the people of Israel. Ill-gotten wealth, false scale, violence against the poor.
v. 7:1-10 – Israel’s second reply.
It is prophet’s Lament over the decadent society
Here the prophet is mourning for the people of Israel because there is not even single righteous man found among the people.
(B) 7:11-20 – The Future Blessing for Israel. (Prophetic liturgy)
This includes her restoration, her exaltation over other nation and her forgiveness. All this happened because of the covenant that God made with Abraham (v.20).
Micah’s describes the unique feature of God (v. 18). He pardons iniquity; he does not remember the rebellious act of his people. He does not retain his anger forever. He delights in unchanging love.
Personal History of the Prophet:
Amos is from Tekoa. It is five miles southwest of Bethlehem. The word Amos means ‘a burden’ or ‘load.’ Amos was a burden bearer. He is neither from a priestly family nor from a prophet’s family. He was a simple ordinary villager. His occupation was a herding the sheep and as the dresser of sycamore tree (1:1, 7:14).
Probably Amos was a in a business of sheep breeding. Probably he was not a poor man but rich. He was a dresser of Sycamore fig tree. The sycamore trees did not grow in Tekoa because it was about 1000 ft above from sea level. Probably he grew these trees in the Judean hill slopes.
But some other scholars think that he was not a rich man but a poor ordinary man.
The call came to him for the prophetic ministry when he was engaged in his humble profession (7:14,15). He was prophet from South and was commissioned to go to North and he ministered in Bethel where calf worship was very prevalent.
Though his ministry was primarily concerned with Northern Israel he prophesied also against Judah as well as the surrounding nations. Such as Damascus, Gaza, Tyre, Edom, Ammon and Moab. So primarily his ministry was at Bethel.
Date of the ministry of Amos: He preached probably between 765 BC and 755 BC.
When Amos was ministering Jeroboam II was the king in Northern Israel (793-753 BC). Uzziah was ruling over Judah. Jeroboam II was the most powerful king in Northern Israel. During his time the country enjoyed peace and rest because there was no external threat. He was very successful in all his military campaigns. He restored the border of Israel from Hamath to the sea of Arabah (2Kings 14:25). Economically also the nation was very prosperous. Judah also experienced peace and prosperity at this time.
As a result of the economic prosperity people became proud, selfish, greedy and luxurious. The rich became richer and the poor became poorer. Oppression was very common along with moral and spiritual decay. It was during this time God commissioned Amos to go to Bethel to preach against the transgressions and iniquities of the people and warn them about coming judgment. But people were sunk in the bottom of corruption and they were complacent. Therefore the words of the simple prophet from Tekoa did not bring any fruit. They ignored him. But later the nation experienced the terrible judgment of God. Northern Israel fell into the hands of Assyrians.
His fearless preaching against Israel in Bethel had aroused Amaziah the apostate high priest to denounce (to speak against) him to king Jeroboam II. The nation was going through a spiritual decay. There was idolatry luxurious living, immorality etc.
Theme:Justice and righteousness of God (5:24)
Amos has been called the prophet of righteousness and social justice because of his bold preaching against moral and religious decay as well as the social injustice. Amos sees justice and right ethical conduct between people as the foundation of the society and maintains that worship by a people whose lives are characterized by selfishness, greed, immorality and oppression is an abomination to God.
The prophet insists that religion and morality are inseparable. There can be no absolute separation between worship and conduct, religion and life. In chapter 5:25-29 God through the prophet declares that worship divorced from right conduct is an abomination to God.
The principle which Amos insists (emphasize) is that the external practice of religion divorced from right ethical conduct is unacceptable to God. Believing that as long as they practice religious performance they will be safe and secure and it does not matter the kind of life they lead deceives the people.
In chapter 6 the prophet denounces the self-security and life of wantonness and revelry (merrymaking/festivities). Prophet says, “woe unto them that are at ease in Zion and to them that are secure in the Mount of Samaria (6:1). Here the prophet condemns the carnal security of the people. They thought that the city of Samaria cannot be destroyed and in their pride they ignored the warning of the prophet about the coming evil day. Both Israel and Judah lived in their false sense of security and sins were being multiplied one after another.
The nations material prosperity and luxury together with their sinful indulgences (practice) complacency and idleness, all indicate moral depravity and spiritual decay.
Israel was as God’s chosen nation a privileged people but along with their great privilege they had responsibilities too. They enjoyed the privilege but ignored the responsibility. Therefore, God through the prophet warned them that he would punish them because God chose her. Election gave her special privileges but did not give the right to live the kind of life that she wants.
Therefore, the prophet boldly declares “Prepare to meet thy God, O Israel (4:12).” It is a call to meet God who comes with his judgment.
Election does not exclude judgment (3:2). I will punish you and I will visit you. dq1p! – Paqad- which means is to be view obligation is the compliment. Amos does not mention God of Israel but God say to my people.