Dr. John Hartmann

Proclaiming the Whole Counsel of God

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Judgment Speeches in Amos 1:3-2:16

May 30th, 2010 · No Comments

In this study we look at the 8 judgment speeches that appear in Amos 1:3-2:16.

Dr. Hartmann opens by elaborating on the idea that a nation’s sin over time “piles up” and becomes ripe for judgment. Amos in each judgment speech follows a four-part pattern:

1) The opening messenger formula: “thus says the Lord”

2) A general indictment of sin and general announcement of judgment. The general indictment of sin appears in the repeated formula “for three transgressions of … X … and for four”, the general announcement of punishment in the words “I will not revoke it” (My wrath, the punishment due to this given nation). This “3-4 pattern” is God’s way of saying “you are guilty of many crimes, and have now filled up the measure of your sins; this is “the last straw”.

3) A specific indictment of sin, introduced by the word “because”, followed by the specific crime that had tipped the scales of Divine justice in the direction of judgment decree that would not be revoked

4) A specific announcement of punishment, introduces by the phrase “I will send fire upon …” followed by the naming of capital cities, kings, and the palaces of that given nation.

The first 6 judgment speeches indict various neighboring Gentile nations (Syria, Philistia, Phoenicia, Edom, Ammon, Moab) for various transgressions that had piled up over time, with the one listed being that which finally tipped the scales and brings God’s judgment. The transgressions listed include things like war crimes, slave trade, and general human indecency.

The 7th judgment speech is directed against Judah, which had forsaken the Law of the Lord and broken the covenant through idolatry and various other transgressions against God’s commandments.

The 8th judgment speech is directed against Israel (the Northern Kingdom), which was found guilty of idolatry, immorality, and institutionalized injustice.

With this in view, Dr. Hartmann invites us to look at what can be done when a nation has gone so awry that it has brought God’s judgment on itself. Scripture uses the metaphor of ancient siege warfare to suggest that the only hope lies in certain persons “standing in the breach” before God, asking to turn from His wrath and to have mercy on such an undeserving people. We here look especially at Psalm 106:19-23, which is a Biblical commentary on the events of Exodus 32, when unfaithful Israel brought God’s wrath on itself through idolatry and Moses turned back at least some of the judgment through his faithful intercession on their behalf.

This study challenges all who hear to think deeply about at least two things:

1) How Amos’ preaching applies to our contemporary situation

2) What “standing in the breach” would actually entail in this time and place

Tags: Sermons

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