God’s Judgement on Cruelty and Violence
We are studying the book of Amos, and looked at God's perfect justice against cruelty and violence.
This section of Amos begins similar messages of judgment on 8 different nations. The 1st seven are Israel’s neighbors including some of their traditional enemies. This is what would be expected in normal nationalistic literature extolling tribal gods that only work for their own tribe; but in Amos, as in the rest of the Old Testament, Yahweh (The God of Israel) holds His own people to the same standard, so the 8th judgment (Which is a longer portion) is in regard to the nation of Israel. God’s people were doing evil that was worse than some of the other nations God was judging.
This area in question here ironically (Considering the strife in the Middle East) is in modern Syria, and Damascus was, and still is, the capital of Syria. Damascus was a beautiful city. So much so that legend has it that Muhammad would not enter the city because he “only wanted to enter into paradise once.” It is the oldest continued inhabited city in the world. In the time of this writing it also held prominence in the area, and was a major cultural center in Syria.
The Prophet starts off with a common Hebrew motif, “For three sins…and for four,” which is most often used in wisdom literature but is used here by Amos and also in another Minor Prophet, Micah (Micah 5:5-6). It most likely is not a literal term, but one that denotes many offenses over time. Their offense was “They have threshed Gilead with threshing sledges of iron.” They have acted cruelly to the nations. They have conquered them with crushing, cruel ways for their own gain. Acting in self-serving cruel ways is the antithesis of godly justice.
- What kind of cruelty was used in our passage?
- Why was it a concern?
- Do you see any kind of cruelty in our day today?
- What do governments do about that?
- Do all governments act with cruelty? How so?
- What does this mean for us as followers of Jesus?