Audio: Yahweh Roars
At the beginning of the book of Amos we find frightening imagery. Verse 2 begins, “The LORD roars from Zion”, meaning that God is about announce judgment. While this judgment is primarily in reference to Israel, the prophet first speaks about the foreign nations surrounding God’s people. In verse 3 it continues, “Thus says the Lord: For three transgressions of Damascus, and for four, I will not revoke the punishment; because they have threshed Gilead with threshing sledges of iron.” The words, “for three transgressions… and for four” is repeated throughout chapters one and two of Amos. This literary device means that each nation is being judged for immeasurable sins, not just one or two. John Macarthur explains, “With three, the cup of iniquity was full; with four it overflowed.” So we must begin to ask ourselves what is going on here. Why is God so intent on judging the nations? There really is no doubt, because the prophet explains why. Although the sins are many, the judgment against Damascus (Syria) comes for the worst of their offenses. The text tells us that they, “threshed Gilead with threshing sledges of iron”. Gilead was a region east of the Jordan River and known for its richness. You might have guessed that threshing is an agricultural term describing the process of separating the seed from the stalk. T.J. Betts describes the process, “an animal walking back and forth over the harvested grain pulling a heavy sledge that was curved upward at the front along with knifelike iron prongs driven through it.” Ladies and gentlemen, this was for grain! What Amos is describing is what Syria did to the people of Israel. They treated them like cow manure! Let me explain further, in the Septuagint, the text states, “because they sawed with iron saws the women with child”. And before you discount this translation, let me remind you of II Kings 8:12 when Elisha anoints Hazael king of Syria. “Hazael asked, “Why does my lord weep?” He answered, “Because I know the evil that you will do to the people of Israel; you will set their fortresses on fire, you will kill their young men with the sword, dash in pieces their little ones, and rip up their pregnant women.”
We are talking about very heinous acts of violence against people, devaluing them as if they are nothing more than dirt. Remember God is judging a pagan nation, so we are talking about God’s justice for all people. He expects the people of the earth to be treated with value and honor, not like cattle or dirt. Do not ever think that God does not value all people. He is incredibly serious about how we treat people, and does not blink to execute divine justice on behalf of the oppressed. When we see vicious acts of violence against people, we are disheartened and sad. But always remember, God sees all and knows all. Nothing escapes his grand vision. Yahweh roars at the despicable treatment of people. And his acts of justice will fall on all those who defy his counsel.