Ok, so I know I’ve said this before, but the proclamation in chapter 9 is mega-super-fierce. It’s a vision, so we can’t take the imagery literally (it wouldn’t make sense with the end of the chapter if we did). However, that doesn’t mean it’s not intended to communicate something tangible and impactful to the people Amos is talking to.
The Lord is giving instructions here and will use two ends of a spectrum (top of the column and bottom of column, Sheol to heaven, mountain top to bottom of the sea) to communicate the complete judgment upon Israel and the warning that none shall be able to hide or flee from the coming wrath. Their efforts to escape are fruitless.
God says, “I will fix my eyes upon them for evil and not for good”. Hmm, does this impact your perception of God? It should be part of it. It’s not new, either. God says a very similar thing in Deuteronomy 28. It does bring into question, though, how we are to understand “evil” and “good” in these contexts, for the purpose of all this seems to be Israel’s restoration (as we will see yet still in this chapter and as was listed later on in the previous use in Deuteronomy 30). In general, his attention is upon his people and he will cause and allow evil to come upon them and persist in light of their rebellion as it seems to be the way to call them back to restoration. How many modern parenting books does that jack with? This is followed, again, by a reminder of who exactly they are dealing with.
He continues back with the Cushites, Philistines and Syrians to provide context that he is sovereign over those nations as well and that the very things His people may have been praying for against those nations will ironically fall upon Israel itself. Israel will be destroyed from the surface of the ground…except it won’t (again, it’s a vision, you have to let it breathe a little). Basically, there’s still hope it can be rebuilt.
In fact, the next part talks of God commanding that although Israel shall be tested and tried and put through the ringer for their rebellion, they will not be utterly destroyed. The distinction of those that will be destroyed seems to be those who believe they are immune from it.
And then the hope comes. There will be a day when the ruined, torn, fallen house of David shall be rebuilt once again. However, they will bear the responsibility for bringing light to Edom and to all the nations (this is how Acts interprets this section, see Acts 15:16-17.) And those days will be bountiful (the guy plowing will overtake the guy harvesting because the ground produces so well, similar to the wine-maker). All will be restored, made new and provide graciously for the people. The tricky part in all of this is the notion of Israel as a “land” vs. a kingdom (as this promise is understood to be fulfilled by Jesus).
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