Module 26: The Need for a Teacher - God's Attitudes
Module Guide: Amos - National Accountability; and Hosea - Spiritual Adultery
This pre-read guide is taken from the public domain source "The Analysed Bible in 3 Volumes" by G. Campbell Morgan.
Amos was practically contemporary with Hosea. In the reign of Jeroboam he came out of Tekoa to Bethel. In all probability his messages were delivered during the short period when Jeroboam was king of Israel and IJzziah king of Judah. The latter years of the reign of Jeroboam were characterized by great material prosperity on the one hand, and on the other by the prevalence of injustice, oppression, and vice. The poor were ground down under the heel of the rich. This material prosperity was construed by the people as evidence of Divine protection, while yet they were forgetful of the requirements of the law.
The burden of his message is that of national accountability, which he delivered in a series of declamations against the nations as such; in set addresses to the chosen people; in a series of visions which deal with the coming Judgment; and in a brief final word, prophetic of ultimate restoration.
The book falls naturally, therefore, into these divisions: Declamation (1-2); Proclamation (3-6) ; Revelation (7:1-9:10); Restoration (9:11-11:15).
The second verse of the first chapter gives us the key to the book. Jehovah declared Himself in judgment. Beginning at the point fur- thest from Israel, the prophet delivered his messages to the nations as such. Each in turn is seen to pass before Jehovah and receive sentence.
The sin of Syria had been that of cruelty. Jehovah's patience had been manifested. At last sentence was uttered ; the flame would devour; all defence would be useless, and the people would be driven into captivity. The sin of Philistia had been that of the slave trade. Here, as before, and as in each subsequent case, the form of the declaration reveals the patience of God. Philistia would be visited with the devouring flame, her inhabitants be cut off, and even the remnant perish. Phoenicia's special guilt had been that, in spite of the covenant made, she had acted as a slave agent. Edom was doomed for determined and revengeful unforgiveness. The children of Ammon were specially denounced for cruelty based upon cupidity. Moab's chief wickedness had been her shocking and vindictive hatred.
Having thus uttered the word of God concerning the surrounding nations, thereby revealing the fact of His government over all, the prophet turned to Judah, and declared that she also was to share the doom of the other nations, because she had despised the law of Jehovah, and had not kept His statutes. Finally, he spoke to Israel. All the foregoing had been in preparation for this. He described the sins of Israel in detail and with almost startling directness. He charged the people with injustice, avarice, oppression, immorality, profanity, blasphemy, and sacrilege. Moreover, he declared that their sin had been greatly aggravated by the privileges which they had enjoyed. They had seen the Amorites destroyed before them for the very sins which they themselves had subsequently committed. They had been brought up out of Egypt, and so knew the power of Jehovah. They had raised up sons for prophets, and young men for Nazarites. These sons they had corrupted, having given wine to the Nazarites, and silenced the prophets. The sentence against them was that of oppression and judgment, from which there should be no possibility of escape.
Having thus uttered the declamations of Jehovah's judgment upon all the nations, the prophet proceeded to deliver his special message to Israel. This was done in a series of three discourses. In each the introductory word is "Hear this word." The first discourse consists of a statement of Jehovah's verdict and sentence. It opens with a simple declaration that the privileged people were to be punished; their privileges were named, and their punishment announced. In view of the probability that the people would object to this message, the prophet, in an interpolation, defended himself. By a series of seven questions he illustrated a principle which may thus be stated - an effect proves a cause. The illustrations may thus be summarized: communion proves agreement; the lion roaring proves the prey; the cry of the young lion proves the prey possessed; the fall of a bird proves the bait; the springing of the snare proves the bird to be taken; the trumpet proves alarm; calamity in the city proves Jehovah. From this principle the prophet deduced an application: Jehovah hath roared, therefore fear; Jehovah hath spoken, therefore prophesy. Turning back to the main argument, Amos proclaimed the punishment of the privileged, and declared its reason. The reason was stated to the heathen, who were invited to witness the justice of the doom.
The second discourse consists of Jehovah's summons to the people. It commences with a severe and terrible indictment of the women. He addressed them as "Ye kine of Bashan," which description reveals the fact of the degradation of womanhood to mere animalism. The prophet described their doings, declaring that they oppressed the poor and crushed the needy, and said unto their lords, "Bring and let us drink." Their doom would be that they would be taken away with hooks, that is, in shame and helplessness, and in the presence of judgment would take refuge in wild flight. He then uttered the final summons to the people. In this call there was a piece of stinging satire. They were to come to Bethel to transgress; to Gilgal to multiply transgression. Their sacrifices they were to offer every morning instead of once a year; their tithe every third day instead of every third year; their sacrifice was leavened; they made freewill offerings and published them. He then described God's patience and their perversity. He had spoken to them by famine, by drought, by blasting and mildew, by pestilence and sword, by earthquake. After each description the prophet declared, "Yet have ye not returned to Me." All this culminated in a great call, "Prepare to meet thy God."
The third discourse was a description of Jehovah's judgment. This opened with a lamentation for the virgin of Israel, "She shall no more rise, she is cast down upon her land; there is none to raise her up." Following this the prophet uttered a sequence of explanations, each commencing with the words, "Thus saith the Lord." Finally he pronounced the double woe. Two classes of the sinning people were addressed. First those who desired "the day of the Lord," that is most evidently, according to the description, the hypocrites. They were religionists who kept feasts, observed solemn assemblies, brought burnt meal and peace offerings, sang songs and made melody with viols; but who, nevertheless, were living the life of sin. With tremendous force the prophet described God's attitude toward such: "I hate, I despise. ... I will take no delight. ... I will not accept ... neither will I regard. ... I will not hear." Jehovah's call was for righteousness and judgment. The "day of the Lord" for the hypocrites would be one of darkness and destruction. The second class were the indifferent, those "that are at ease in Zion." The prophet described them as living in luxury and abandoned to animalism, declaring that against them Jehovah would proceed in swift and terrible judgment.
In this division the prophet gave a fivefold vision of judgment, introduced in the first four cases by the words, "The Lord God shewed me." The last vision was that of Jehovah Himself. The vision of the locusts declared judgment to be threatened and restrained in answer to intercession. The prophet saw the locusts eating up the grass, and made intercession on behalf of the people. In answer to this Jehovah repented, and judgment was arrested. The vision of the fire had the same significance. The prophet saw the devouring fire, and interceded. His intercession was answered by Jehovah's repentance, and the judgment was restrained. The vision of the plumbline is different. Jehovah was seen standing by a wall testing it with a plumbline. Having done so, He appealed to the prophet. No charge was made; but it is evident that as Amos beheld, he realized all the irregularities the plumbline revealed. There was no intercession. Doom was determined.
So long as prophecy was mingled with messages of mercy it was tolerated by the people. Directly that element was missing, hostility broke forth, and we have an interpolation upon the revelation, giving the story of the opposition of Amaziah and the answer of Amos. This Amaziah was an impostor, and yet held the position of priest of Bethel. He reported to Jeroboam what Amos was saying, advising his exile. He, moreover, attempted to appeal to the fear of Amos, and advised him to flee to Judah. The answer of Amos was full of dignity born of the consciousness of the Divine authority of his commission. He declared that he was no prophet, but that Jehovah had taken him and spoken to him, thus he had become a prophet in very deed. Then, answering Amaziah, he declared that God's judgment would overtake him.
The next vision, that of the basket of summer fruit, indicated the imminence of the judgment. Jehovah declared that the end was come, that He would not pass by them any more. This announcement was followed on the part of the prophet by an impassioned address to the moneymakers, in which he first declared the effect of their lust for gain. They swallowed the needy, and caused the poor to fail. He described the intensity of that lust; the new moon and sabbath were irksome. Then there is a figurative description of judgment which declared Jehovah's perpetual consciousness of these things, and His consequent retribution. The final issue of judgment the prophet declared to be a famine of the words of the Lord, as a result of which there would come eager and fruitless search, followed by the fainting of the youth for lack.
The final vision was that of judgment executed. In this there was no symbol, no sign. We hear the manifesto of Jehovah Himself. It is one of the most awe-inspiring visions of the whole Bible. The message proceeded in two phases. First an announcement of judgment, irrevocable and irresistible; secondly, a declaration of the procedure as reasonable and discriminative. Jehovah is seen standing by the altar, declaring the stroke of destruction to be inevitable, and all attempts at escape futile, because He has proceeded to action. While the judgment is to be reasonable and discriminative, the claims in which Israel had trusted were nothing. They became as children of Ethiopians. Philistines and Syrians had also been led by God. The eyes of Jehovah were on the sinful kingdom. The sifting process must go forward, but no grain of wheat should perish.
The phrase "In that day" indicates the closing message of restoration and all that is to precede it. It is now declared that the reason of the Divine judgment is not revenge, but that it is the only way in which it is possible to usher in the restored order upon which the heart of God is set. The process of restoration is described as threefold. First, preliminary, "I will raise up ... that they may possess." Then as to progress, "I will bring again the captivity ... they shall build the waste cities ... plant vineyards ... make gardens." Finally, the permanent, "I will plant them ... they shall no more be plucked up."
PART A: DECLAMATIONS - Amos 1:1-2:16
Title Page - 1:1-1:2
A.1. Damascus - Amos 1:3-1:5
A.2. Gaza - Amos 1:6-1:8
A.3. Tyre - Amos 1:9-1:10
A.4. Edom - Amos 1:11-1:12
A.5. Children of Ammon - Amos 1:13-1:15
A.6. Moab - Amos 2:1-2:3
A.7. Judah - Amos 2:4-2:5
A.8. Israel - Amos 2:6-2:16
Part B: PROCLAMATIONS - Amos 3:1-6:14
B.1. Jehovah's Verdict and Sentence - Amos 3:1-3:15
- Priveleged People to be Punished - 3:1-3:2
- The Prophet's Vindication of himself - 3:3-3:8
- Reason of Punishment - 3:9-3:15
B.2. Jehovah's Summons - Amos 4:1-4:13
- Indictment of the Women - 4:1-4:3
- Final Summons to the People - 4:4-4:13
B.3. Lamentation and its Causes - Amos 5:1-6:14
- The Lamentation - 5:1-5:2
- The Sequence of Explanations - 5:3-5:17
- The Double Woe - 5:18-6:14
Part C: REVELATIONS - Amos 7:1-9:10
C.1. The Locusts - Amos 7:1-7:3
- Judgement Threatened and Restrained
C.2. The Fire - Amos 7:4-7:6
- Judgement Threatened and Restrained
C.3. The Plumbline - Amos 7:7-7:9
- Judgement Determined
Historical Interpolation - Amos 7:10-7:17
C.4. The Basket of Summer Fruit - Amos 8:1-8:14
- Judgement at Hand
C.5. Jehovah - Amos 9:1-9:10
- Judgement Executed
Part D: RESTORATIONS - Amos 9:11-9:15
D.1. Restoration. Preliminary - Amos 9:11-9:13
- "I will"
- "That they may"
D.2. Restoration. Progressive - Amos 9:14
- "I will"
- "They shall"
D.3. Restoration. Permanent - Amos 9:15
- "I will"
- "They shall"
Hosea dated his prophesying by giving the names of four kings of Judah and one of Israel. This reveals a remarkable length of prophetic utterance. His voice was heard in reigns which covered no less a period than one hundred and twenty-eight years. The probability is that he exercised his ministry between sixty and seventy years. The period covered was undoubtedly the darkest in the whole history of the kingdom of Israel. Political life was characterized by anarchy and misrule. The throne was occupied by men who obtained possession by the murder of their predecessors, and the people were governed by military despotism. Foreign alliances involved the nation in inextricable confusion. These alliances, moreover, resulted in the introduction of the corrupting influences of Syrian and Phcenician idolatry. The conditions were terrible in the extreme; luxurious living, robbery, oppression, falsehood, adultery, murder, accompanied by the most violent intolerance of any form of rebuke.
In the first part of the book we have an account of the preparation of Hosea for the delivery of his messages, and in the second part a condensed epitome of his prophetic utterances. The prophecy falls into two divisions - The training of the Prophet (1-3); the Teaching of the Prophet (4-14).
The Training of the Prophet
In the account of the training of the prophet for his work there are three distinctly marked movements - his domestic life and national conscience; his home tragedy, a revelation; and his dealing with Gomer, a command and a revelation.
The statement, "When the Lord spake at the first," is a declaration made by Hosea long after the event. Looking back, he understood that the impulse which resulted in heart agony was also part of the Divine method of teaching him. There is no reason to believe that Gomer was outwardly impure in the days when Hosea married her. In the picture of the domestic life which follows, the supreme matter is its revelation of Hosea's national conscience. There were born to him three children, and in the naming of them he revealed his conviction concerning the condition of his people. While this was a dark outlook indeed, yet the section ends with words which show that the prophet's faith was unshaken in the final fulfilment of the first Divine purposes, in spite of all contradictory appearances.
No details of the unfaithfulness of Gomer are given; but in the second movement the prophet is seen nursing his own agony, and by that process learning the true nature of the sin of his people as God knew and felt it. All that Hosea said concerning Gomer was also the language of Jehovah concerning Israel. As she had violated her covenant with him, so had Israel with Jehovah. In the latter part of the section the prophet speaks for Jehovah only, the tragedy in his own life being the background of illustration. The Divine attitude was that of the severity of love, which determined upon stern measures in order ultimately to win again the sinning and wandering people.
Hosea was taught the truth of the tenderness of the Divine heart by the command of Jehovah to love, and find, and restore his sinful and wandering bride. Through his obedience he entered into fellowship with the amazing tenderness of God, and was thereby prepared for the delivery of the messages which followed.
The method of his training for work may thus be summarized. Out of his communion with God in the days of prosperity he was able to see the true condition of his people. He was conscious that on account of their sin, the judgment of Jehovah threatened them; that on account of their obstinacy, mercy was not obtained; and that the issue of all could only be that they should be a people cast out from their place, power, and privilege.
Out of his own heart agony he learned the true nature of the sin of his people. They were playing the harlot, spending God's gifts in lewd traffic with other lovers.
Out of that personal suffering he came to an understanding of how God suffered over the sin of His people, because of His undying love.
Out of God's love, Hosea's new care for Gomer was born; and in the method God ordained for him with her, he discovered God's method with Israel.
Out of these processes of pain there came a full confidence in the ultimate victory of love.
Thus equipped he delivered his messages, and through them all there sounded these deepest notes of sin, of love, of judgment.
The Teachings op the Prophet
In any attempt to analyze anJ tabulate the teaching contained in this second division of the book, it must be remembered that the prophetic utterances cannot be treated as verbatim reports. As they here appear, they are rather the gathering up of the notes or leading ideas of a long period of preaching. In our analysis the method is that of indicating, not the periods at which the messages were delivered, but rather their subject-matter.
They fall into three distinct cycles, dealing with pollution and its cause; pollution and its punishment; and the love of Jehovah.
In dealing with pollution and its cause the prophet first preferred a general charge against the nation. Israel was summoned to attend and hear the word of the Lord because He had a controversy with the inhabitants of the land. The charge made was that of the absence of truth and mercy and knowledge of God, and the consequent widespread existence of all kinds of evil. The result was to be seen in the mourning land, the languishing people, and the fact that man's dominion over nature was lost.
The prophet next declared the cause of the sin and more carefully described the results. The cause was that of the pollution of the priests. Priest and prophet stumbled, and the people were destroyed for lack of knowledge. As the priests multiplied they sinned, and their glory was changed to shame. The result was the pollution of the people. Following the example of the priests, had issued in lack of understanding. The prophet declared that God would not punish for the smaller offence of physical harlotry, but for the more terrible outrage of spiritual adultery which lay behind it. In this connection he counselled Judah to take warning by the terrible example of Israel. Having thus declared the cause of pollution, the prophet's next message was specially addressed to priest, people, and king. First to the priests and the king as leaders and responsible, though the people were included as having followed the false lead. The message affirmed the Divine knowledge of the condition of affairs, and announced the inevitable judgment which must follow. A threefold method of judgment was indicated. First that of the moth and rottenness, which is slow destruction; secondly, that of the young lion, which is strong devouring judgment; and finally, that of withdrawal, which is the most terrible of all. The section closes with the plaintive plea of the prophet which constituted his appeal in consequence of the judgment threatened. In its local application it was a call to return to Jehovah, based upon the certainty of the Divine pity, and a declaration of the equal certainty of prosperity if there were such a return to Him. The appeal is full of beauty, and has in it Messianic values, for all that the prophet declared only finds its fulfilment in the Christ, by way of His first and second advents.
Passing to pollution and its punishment, the prophetic word first stated the case as it existed between Jehovah and His people. The Divine attitude toward the people was affirmed to be that of perplexity. In the presence of the shallowness of their goodness, Jehovah had adopted different methods in His desire for their welfare. The human response had been that of persistent transgression and treachery, the proofs of which were to be found in Gilead and Shechem. The true state of affairs was that of the Divine desire to heal, frustrated by the discovery of pollution, and by their persistent ignoring of God. The pollution of the nation was manifest in the king, the princes, and the judges. The prophet described Ephraim as mixing among the people, with reference to the widespread influence of that tribe; as a cake not turned, indicating utter failure, being undeveloped on one side, and on the other destroyed by burning; as a silly dove, indicating fear and cowardice. The statement of the case was concluded by a declaration of the utter folly of the people whom God was scourging toward redemption. They responded by howling, assembling, and rebelling.
From this statement of the case the prophet turned to the pronouncement of judgment. This he did first by the figure of the trumpet lifted to the mouth, uttering five blasts, in each of which the sin of the people was set forth as revealing the reason of judgment. The first blast declared the coming of judgment under the figure of an eagle, because of transgression and trespass. The second emphasized Israel's sin of rebellion, in that they had set up kings and princes without the authority of Jehovah. The third dealt with Israel's idolatry, announcing that Jehovah had cast off the calf of Samaria. The fourth denounced Israel's alliances, and declared that her hire among the nations had issued in her diminishing. The fifth drew attention to the altars of sin, and announced the coming judgment.
The judgment is then described in detail. Its first note was that of the death of joy; Israel could not find her joy like other peoples; having known Jehovah, all to which she turned in turning from Him, failed to satisfy. The second note was that of the actual exile to which she must pass ; back to the slavery of Egypt and Assyria, away from the offerings and feasts of the Lord. The third was that of the cessation of prophecy ; the means of testing themselves would be corrupted. The fourth declared the nemesis of fornication; the prophet traced the growth of this pollution from its beginnings at Baal-peor, and clearly set forth the inevitable deterioration of the impure people. The fifth and last was that of the final casting out of the people by God, so that they should become wanderers among the nations. This section closes with the prophet's recapitulation and appeal. The whole case is stated under the figure of the vine. Israel was a vine of God's planting which had turned its fruitfulness to evil account, and was therefore doomed to His judgment. The result of this judgment would be the lament of the people that they had no king who was able to save them, and chastisement would inevitably follow. The last word was that of earnest and passionate appeal to return to loyalty.
The third cycle of the prophecy sets forth the love which Jehovah had for His people, notwithstanding their sin. This section contains a declaration of this attitude of Jehovah towards His sinning people, and is for the most part the speech of Jehovah Himself. He sums up, and in so doing declares His sense of the awfulness of the sin, pronouncing His righteous judgment thereupon. Yet throughout the movement the dominant notes are those of His love, and the ultimate victory of that love over sin, and consequently over judgment. Thrice in the course of this great message of Jehovah to the people, the prophet interpolates words of his own. In studying the section it is necessary to take the words of Jehovah in sequence, and then the interpolations of the prophet in sequence also. This division will easily be made by examination of the text.
The message of Jehovah falls into three clearly marked movements which deal respectively with the present in the light of past love; the present in the light of present love; the present in the light of future love.
In the first, Jehovah reminded the people of all His past love for them in words full of tenderness, setting their present condition in its light, and crying, "How shall I give thee up?" His own inquiry was answered by the determined declaration of the ultimate triumph of love, and the restoration of the people.
In the second, Jehovah set the present sin in the light of His present love. The sin of Ephraim and its pride and impertinence were distinctly stated, and yet over all, love would triumph. Jehovah declared Himself to be the God Who had delivered from Egypt, and Who would be true to the messages of prophets, to the visions of seers, to the similitudes of the ministry of the prophets.
Finally he set the present condition of Israel in the light of His future love. Sin abounded, and therefore judgment was absolutely unavoidable. Nevertheless, the almighty strength of love must overcome at last.
Turning from this main line of the Divine message, we must examine the prophet's interpolations. These set forth the history of Israel indicating their relation to Jehovah, and pronounce judgment. They form a remarkable obligato accompaniment in a minor key to the majestic love song of Jehovah, and constitute a contrasting introduction to the final message of the prophet.
The first of them reveals the prophet's sense of Jehovah's controversy with Judah, and His just dealings with Jacob. The second was reminiscent of Jacob's history, and made a deduction and an appeal. The third traced the progress of Israel to death, beginning with the flight to the field of Aram, through the exodus from Egypt and preservation to the present, in which Ephraim was exalted in Israel, offended in Baal, and died, The last declared the doom. It was indeed the last word of man, the pronouncement of awful judgment, and constituted the plea of "guilty," to which the answer of Jehovah, as revealed in His message, was that of the victory of love.
The cycle closes with a final call of the prophet, with the promise of Jehovah. The call was to the people to return, because they had fallen by iniquity. It suggested the method as being that of bringing the words of penitence, and forsaking all false gods. To this Jehovah answered in a message full of hope for the people, declaring that He would restore, renew, and ultimately reinstate.
PART A: THE TRAINING OF THE PROPHET - Hosea 1:1-3:5
A.1. His domestic Life and National Conscience - Hos. 1:1-2:1
- Title Page - 1:1
- The Word of the Lord at first - 1:2
- The Marriage - 1:3
- The domestic Life and the National Conscience - 1:4-1:9
- The Vision of Hope - 1:10-2:1
A.2. His Home Tragedy a Revelation - Hos. 2:2-2:23
- The Charge. Hosea and Jehovah - 2:2-2:5
- The Severity of Love. Jehovah only - 2:6-2:13
- The Tenderness of Love. Jehovah only - 2:14-2:23
A.2. His Dealing with Gomer, A Command and a Revelation - Hos. 3:1-3:5
- The Instruction of Jehovah - 3:1
- Hosea's Obedience - 3:2-3:3
- The National Interpretation - 3:4-3:5
Part B: THE TEACHING OF THE PROPHET - Hosea 4:1-14:9
B.1. Pollution and its Cause - Hos. 4:1-6:3
- The General Charge - 4:1-4:3
- The Cause declared and Results described - 4:4-4:19
- Special Message to Priests, People and King - 5:1-5:15
- The Plaintive Plea of the Prophets - 6:1-6:3
B.2. Pollution and its Punishment - Hos. 6:4-10:15
- The Case Stated - 6:4-7:16
- The Judgement Pronounced - 8:1-9:17
- Recapitulation and Appeal - 10:1-10:15
B.3. The Love of Jehovah - Hos. 11:1-14:9
- The Message of Jehovah with Prophetic Interpolations - 11:1-13:16
- The final Call of the Prophet, with the Promise of Jehovah - 14:1-14:8
B.4. Epilogue - Hos. 14:9
Note: To the best of our knowledge we are of the understanding that the above material, being published in 1907 and freely available elsewhere on the internet in various formats, is in the public domain.