By Rev. Jeremiah Cheung
From Amos 3:1-8
3:1 Hear this word, people of Israel, the word the Lord has spoken against you—against the whole family I brought up out of Egypt: 3:2 “You only have I chosen (known) of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your sins.” 3:3 Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so? 3:4 Does a lion roar in the thicket when it has no prey? Does it growl in its den when it has caught nothing? 3:5 Does a bird swoop down to a trap on the ground when no bait is there? Does a trap spring up from the ground if it has not caught anything? 3:6 When a trumpet sounds in a city, do not the people tremble? When disaster comes to a city, has not the Lord caused it? 3:7 Surely the Sovereign Lord does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets. 3:8 The lion has roared—who will not fear? The Sovereign Lord has spoken—who can but prophesy?
Through the prophet Amos, the Lord says of the Israelites, “you only have I known among all the nations of the earth.” God is the Lord of the whole earth, how can He say that He knows only Israel? The Hebrew word “know” carries a deep meaning; not only does it mean ‘I know you,’ but it also means ‘I have a close relationship with you.’ In fact, the word is used to refer to the sexual relations between a husband and a wife, where ‘the two become one.’ Thus, the term is used to refer to the most intimate relationship in the world.
Why, then, did the Lord say to the Israelites, “You only have I known”? In Amos 3:1, we read, “Hear this word that the Lord has spoken against you, O people of Israel, against the whole family that I brought up out of the land of Egypt.” The Lord repeatedly recalled the events that culminated in Israel’s exodus from Egypt for this was how their relationship with the Lord began. Without the exodus, they would not have entered Canaan, and without their entry into Canaan, there would have been no nation of Israel. Everything began with their exodus. Our relationship with the Lord began in a similar way — with our salvation. We must never forget our salvation through the Cross, for without salvation, we would still be enslaved by sin.
Why, then, does the nation of Israel face a disaster in Amos? Everything happens for a reason, and in the case of Israel, disaster was upon them because they forgot their history – the story of the exodus. In verses 3-6, the prophet presented six scenarios:
- Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so?
- Does a lion roar in the forest when it has no prey? Does a young lion cry out from his den if he has taken nothing?
- Does a bird swoop down to a trap on the ground when no bait is there?
- Does a trap spring up from the ground if it has not caught anything?
- When a trumpet sounds in a city, do not the people tremble?
- When disaster comes to a city, has not the Lord caused it?
These six phenomena tell us that nothing happens without a cause. This is the principle of cause and effect. The prophet Amos had been delivering his warning for two years before the big earthquake struck (see Amos 1:1). From this perspective, we know that the big earthquake is the effect. What was the cause?
What can we learn from Israel’s experience? We must look carefully into everything we encounter. What we do today will have an effect in the future. Today, we are facing a global disaster – the new coronavirus disease. This is a situation we have never seen before. If this is an effect, what is the cause? I am not God and I cannot speak for God, but we must examine our behavior carefully. More and more, the world today does not regard God as God; truly, humanity as a whole is hastening God’s judgment on this world.
The prophet says in Amos 3:8, “The lion has roared; who will not fear? The Lord God has spoken; who can but prophesy?” The word of the Lord is more daunting than the roar of the lion, who will not fear? Let our fear of the Lord help us choose the right path!
我只認識你們 | 阿摩司書
3:1 以色列人哪, 你們全家是我從埃及地領上來的, 當聽耶和華攻擊你們的話。3:2 在地上萬族中, 我只認識你們; 因此, 我必追討你們的一切罪孽。3:3 二人若不同心, 豈能同行呢? 3:4 獅子若非抓食, 豈能在林中咆哮呢? 少壯獅子若無所得, 豈能從洞中發聲呢? 3:5 若沒有機檻, 雀鳥豈能陷在網羅裡呢? 網羅若無所得, 豈能從地上翻起呢? 3:6 城中若吹角, 百姓豈不驚恐呢? 災禍若臨到一城, 豈非耶和華所降的麼? 3:7 主耶和華若不將奧秘指示他的僕人眾先知, 就一無所行。3:8 獅子吼叫, 誰不懼怕呢? 主耶和華發命, 誰能不說預言呢?
神藉著先知阿摩司先知向以色列人說, 在地上萬族中, 我只認識你們。神是全地的主, 為什麼祂只認識以色列呢? 「認識」這個希伯來文有一個很深的意思, 不單是指我認識你, 更是指我與你有親密的關係, 這個字甚至可以用在夫妻在性的關係上, 二人成為一體, 這是全世界最親密的關係。
神對以色列人說, 我只認識你們, 為什麼呢？3:1 以色列人哪, 你們全家是我從埃及地領上來的, 當聽耶和華攻擊你們的話。神再一次對他們帶回出埃及的事情上, 這是神與他們關係的開結, 沒有出埃及就沒有入迦南, 沒有入迦南就沒有以色列國的出現, 一必都是從出埃及開始, 我們與神的關係也是從救恩開始的。永遠不要忘記十字架的救恩, 沒有救恩我們仍是罪的奴僕。
以色列面對全國家性的災難是什麼原因呢? 事出必有因, 就是因為他們忘記了出埃及的故事; 先知從第三節開始到第六節提出了六種的情況
- 獅子若非抓食豈能在林中咆哮; 少壯獅子若無所得豈能從洞中發聲;
這六個現象都在告訴我們, 事出必有因, 這是因與果的關係。先知阿摩司的信息是在大地震前二年發出的(1:1), 這樣看來, 大地震是果, 那因又是什麼呢？
我們真是好好省察我們所面對的一切, 我們今天所作的就是將來的果; 我們正面對全球性的災難, 新冠肺炎的病毒, 這是我們從來沒有看見的情況, 如果這是果, 那因又是什麼呢？我不是神, 我不能代替神說話, 但我們都要好好省察我們的行為, 現今這個世界真是越來越不以神為神, 我們正在加速神審判全地。
先知最後說: 3:8 獅子吼叫, 誰不懼怕呢? 主耶和華發命, 誰能不說預言呢? 主的話比獅子的吼叫更威嚴, 誰不懼怕呢? 敬畏神是我們當行的路啊!