Amos 2:4
This is what the LORD says: "For three transgressions of Judah, even four, I will not revoke My judgment, because they reject the Law of the LORD and fail to keep His statutes; they are led astray by the lies in which their fathers walked.
The Privileged But FaithlessJ.R. Thomson Amos 2:4
Despising God's LawAmos 2:4-5
Lies in SocietyJames Mackay, B. D.Amos 2:4-5
Lies in the StateJames Mackay, B. D.Amos 2:4-5
National EvilsR. W. Forrest, M. A.Amos 2:4-5
National Sins and National PunishmentJames Mackay, B. D.Amos 2:4-5
The Pretence of Good IntentionAmos 2:4-5

The preceding denunciations refer to the idolatrous nations by whom the chosen people were surrounded. But the impartiality of the prophet is apparent from his condemnation of his own kindred. Amos came from Tekoah, a city of Judah, and, instructed by the righteous Ruler of all, he did not spare his own tribe.

I. THE TRANSGRESSION OF JUDAH WAS AGGRAVATED BY THEIR POSSESSION AND THEIR NEGLECT OF THE DIVINE LAW. From the days of the desert wanderings the Jewish people had enjoyed the unspeakable privilege of Possessing the laws of Moses, which were the laws of Jehovah. A treasure of incomparable value should have been highly esteemed and diligently used. That there were those to whom the Law was as "fine gold," as "honey and the honeycomb," cannot be questioned. But the people as a whole were insensible of their privileges, and neglected and abused them; indeed, they are charged with having despised them. The surrounding and heathen nations were not guilty of this heinous offence. Great is the sin of those who have the Word of God, but who treat it with neglect and disdain.

II. THE TRANSGRESSION OF JUDAH WAS AGGRAVATED BY THEIR FAILURE TO PROFIT BY THE LESSON OF WARNING OFFERED IN THE HISTORY OF THEIR FOREFATHERS. The chosen people were taught not only by words, but by facts; not only by the books of Moses, but by the history of their ancestors. How often had the Hebrew people forsaken their God! How grievously had they sinned! And how terribly had they been scourged for their folly! Yet the lesson, emphatic and impressive though it was, was overlooked and unlearnt.

III. THE TRANSGRESSION OF JUDAH WAS AGGRAVATED BY THEIR LAPSE INTO IDOLATRY. The "lies" spoken of by the prophet refer to the deceptive and hideous rites and practices of the heathen. Jehovah was the true God; the "gods of the nations" were but idols, the professions of whose worshippers and priests were delusive and vain. That those who had been trained to idolatry should persevere in it was intelligible; but that Judah should forsake the righteous, pure, and gracious God for the capricious and obscene and ridiculous divinities of the surrounding nations, was monstrous, and only to be accounted for by an awful abandonment to self and sin. The greater the height from which one falls, the deeper is his descent.

IV. THE AGGRAVATED TRANSGRESSION OF JUDAH MET WITH A SEVERE RETRIBUTION. Nebuzaradan and the army of the Chaldees fulfilled this prediction to the letter. - T.

Thus saith the Lord: For three transgressions of Judah, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof.
The British nation, like the kingdom of Judah, has received innumerable favours at the hand of God. In the purity of our creed, the outward prosperity of our churches, the influence of our literature, the excellence of our laws, the freedom of our institutions, the success of our commerce, and the glory of our arms, — we are not surpassed by any nation in the world. Yet our very prosperity has been in many respects a snare to us. The advancement of true religion in the inner life and outward practice of the people has been very far from keeping pace with the outward movement of society in matters that evidently interest, us more, though they really concern us less. Under three heads the transgressions of Judah are comprehended.

I. DESPISING THE LAW OF THE LORD. The law of the Lord includes the whole revelation of His will. No truth is more plainly enforced in the Bible than this, — that national chastisenients are the consequence of national sins. But is this generally believed? Has it any practical influence upon the character and conduct of a tithe of those who profess to believe it? It is too true that, as a nation, we despise the law of the Lord.

II. NOT KEEPING HIS COMMANDMENTS. This follows naturally the contempt of His law. Contempt of the law and disobedience are not the same thing. One may sincerely acknowledge the justice, and respect the value, of a law which his bad passions often tempt him to break. On the other hand, one may have an inward contempt for a law which he may still consider it expedient or proper to obey. But he who despises the law of God, or wilfully continues to disobey it, has no part or lot in "the righteousness which is of God by faith." In every case in which the law is despised, the obedience of the heart is impossible, and any other obedience than that which proceeds from love and reverence is utterly worthless in the sight of God.

III. WANDERING AFTER LIES, IN IMITATION OF THEIR FATHERS. Instead of "lies," some read "idols"; for the same Hebrew term stands for both. An idol is a lie. Wealth, pomp, luxury, literature, fame, power, — these are our idols, and they were the idols of our forefathers, taken collectively. In each succeeding age, the great majority have been heart idolaters — giving to various objects the place in their affections which of right belonged only to God. If there be admonition without effect, we may look for punishment without mercy.

(James Mackay, B. D.)

I. INTEMPERANCE. This weighs like a millstone round the neck of the Church in this country. We are not, as a rule, sensible of the awful magnitude of this evil — of the gigantic proportions to which it has attained.

II. INFIDELITY. That this evil exists and is active amongst us, requires no proof. It exists in our midst in every shape, form, and degree, from the avowed Atheism, which openly blasphemes the name of God, to the refined Rationalism, which, while professing belief in Divine revelation, explains away, and empties of all their real significance, its most vital and momentous truths.

III. SUPERSTITION. While many nations of Europe — such as Austria and Italy — are casting off the yoke of superstition, this country, which was wont to be regarded as the very centre of Gospel light, and the home of spiritual freedom, would seem as if about to relinquish the position she took up after a struggle which cost tears, agonies, and the blood of some of her best and noblest sons.

IV. INDIFFERENTISM. Beyond question the most prevalent evil of our time. For one who is tainted with Infidelity, or enslaved by Superstition, there are tens of thousands utterly indifferent to their highest interests. They may give a formal and periodical attention to religious duties, but practically they are " living without God in the world." To moot these special evils, special agencies must be used.

(R. W. Forrest, M. A.)

They have despised the law of the Lord, and have not kept His commandments
Here the prophet charges the people of Judah with apostasy; for they had cast aside the worship of God, and the pure doctrine of religion. This was a crime the most grievous. But it may be asked, why the prophet charges the Jews with a crime so atrocious, since religion still existed among them? To this there is a ready answer: the worship of God was become corrupt among them, though they had not so openly departed from it as the Israelites. There remained, indeed, circumcision among the Israelites; but their sacrifices were pollutions, their temples were as immoral houses; they thought that they worshipped God; but as a temple had been built at Bethel contrary to God's command, the whole worship was a profanation. The Jews were somewhat purer; but they had also degenerated from the genuine worship of God. Hence the prophet does not unjustly say here that they had despised the law of God. But notice the explanation which immediately follows, — that "they kept not His statutes." The way by which Amos proves that the Jews were covenant-breakers, and that having repudiated God's law, they had fallen into wicked superstitions, is by saying that they kept not the precepts of God. In these words no mere negligence is blamed; they are condemned for designedly, knowingly, and wilfully departing from the commandments of God, and devising for themselves various modes of worship. It is not then to keep the precepts of God, when men continue not under His law, but audaciously contrive for themselves new forms of worship: they regard not what God commands, but lay hold on anything pleasing that comes to their minds. This crime the prophet now condemns in the Jews. Men should confine themselves within God's commands.

( John Calvin.)

Their lies caused them to err
The Jews had ever a defence ready at hand, that they did with good intent what the prophet condemned in them. They sedulously worshipped God, though they mixed their own leaven, by which their sacrifice was corrupted. It was not their purpose to spend their substance in vain, to undergo great expenses in sacrifices, and to undertake much labour, had they not thought it was service acceptable to God! As then the pretence of good intention ever deceives the unbelieving, the prophet condemns this pretence, and shows it to be wholly fallacious, and of no avail. "It is nothing," he says. "that they pretend before God some good intention; their own lies deceive them." And Amos. no doubt, mentions here these lies, in opposition to the commands of God. As soon, then, as men swerve from God's Word, they involve themselves in many delusions, and "cannot but go astray; and this is deserving of special notice. We indeed see how much wisdom the world claims for itself: for as soon as we invent anything, we are greatly delighted with it; and the ape, according to the old proverb, is ever pleased with its own offspring. But this vice especially prevails, when by our devices we corrupt and adulterate the worship of God. Hence the prophet here declares that what ever is added to God's Word, and whatever men invent in their own brains, is a lie. "All this," he says, "is nothing but imposture." We now see of what avail is good intention: by this, indeed, men harden themselves; but they cannot make the Lord to retract what He has once declared by the mouth of His prophet. Let us then take heed to continue within the boundaries of God's Word, and never to leap over on this or on that side; for when we turn aside ever so little from the pure Word of God, we become immediately involved in many deceptions.

( John Calvin.)

National sins have ever the same general features; there are always the same general features. Our lies cause us to err; there are certain false principles which we, as a people, assume to be true. These we cherish, and on these we act. They are to be found in the State, in the Church, and in society. It is, of course, far easier to point out existing evils than to effect their remedy — far easier to prove the need of reformation than to bring it about. The first step to reformation is conviction of our errors. It is the most daring impiety, and most inexcusable folly, to imagine that, in political science, it is more judicious to act upon unrighteous precedents, after the example to others, than, by adhering to the Divine precepts of a heavenly jurisprudence, to trust in God and stand alone. The great question for our nation is, How shall we best promote the glory of God by extending the blessings of civil and religious liberty, and thereby the knowledge of the truth, to every Corner of the world? Missionary societies are invaluable, but they are not doing properly national work. Many a time the progress of truth and justice has been arrested by our political expediency. It is the polestar by which our statesmen too long have steered; and to God alone we owe it that our vessel is not a wreck. "Their lies cause them to err."

(James Mackay, B. D.)

In all civilised communities there are many usages of society with which it is convenient and proper to comply, so far as they involve no compromise of principle. The mainspring of all men's conduct is selfishness. Selfishness may develop itself in many forms which appear to be interesting and amiable: it is the foundation of some of our most beautiful natural instincts; and these instincts are not unfrequently mistaken for virtues. In society certain false principles are recognised — lies which cause men to err.

I. WEALTH IS THE CHIEF GOOD. This is a main article in the creed of society as a whole, in every country in the world. The advantages of wealth are, in a temporal point of view, very great. Wealth is power. It secures for its possessor every gratification that can minister to the appetites, the senses, and the taste.

II. IT IS POSSIBLE TO SERVE GOD AND MAMMON. Religion, instead of being the chief business of life, is used simply as a means of quieting the conscience and establishing a good name. The heart is set on the world exclusively; yet hopes are entertained of inheriting the kingdom of heaven.

III. A MAN'S POSSESSIONS ARE HIS OWN; HE MAY DO WITH THEM WHAT HE LIKES. They are not his own. They are only lent him as a steward for God. But the idea of acting as a steward for God would be denounced by people in general as fanatical.

IV. HUMAN NATURE IS NOT SO DEPRAVED AS THEOLOGIANS WOULD HAVE US BELIEVE. Instincts are taken for virtues, and are referred to as proofs that the language of Scripture has been overstrained.

V. ZEAL IN THE CAUSE OF CHRIST IS FANATICISM. Few would use these words, but multitudes entertain the idea which they express. Lukewarmness is commended as prudence, and while zeal is not tolerated, indifference is overlooked or excused.

VI. IF A MAN LIVES A GOOD LIFE, IT MATTERS NOT WHAT HIS OPINIONS MAY BE. But no human being lives a good life, unless the love of God is his governing motive.

VII. FORGIVENESS OF INJURIES IS WEAK AND UNMANLY. This is directly opposed to the teaching and example of Christ.

VII. THE FORBEARANCE OF GOD CAN NEVER BE EXHAUSTED. Men talk of God's mercy who forget that they are taught to believe in His holiness. By presuming upon God's mercy men may lose their souls.

IX. RELIGION IS NOT A PROPER SUBJECT FOR ORDINARY CONVERSATION. Satan closes our lips on the greatest of all topics, and thus isolates us from one another, lest social intercourse should promote the success of the Gospel.

X. WE OUGHT TO PRAY, BUT WE NEED NOT WAIT ON GOD FOR AN ANSWER. This betokens the absence of a real belief in the efficacy of prayer. He encourages us to expect an answer, as often as we offer our petitions. These are ten of the most prevalent errors about religion which are countenanced and cherished by society. Let us take care that it is not true of us — "Their lies cause them to err, after the which their fathers have walked."

(James Mackay, B. D.)

Amorites, Amos, Nazarites, Nazirites
Edom, Egypt, Jerusalem, Kerioth, Moab
FALSE, Astray, Cause, Caused, Changed, Commandments, Crimes, Decrees, Despised, Err, Fate, Fathers, Followed, Gods, Judah, Kept, Law, Led, Lies, Loathing, Punishment, Rejected, Reserve, Reverse, Revoke, Rules, Says, Sentence, Sins, Statutes, Thereof, Thus, Transgressions, Turn, Walk, Walked, Wrath, Yea, Yes
1. God's judgments upon Moab,
4. upon Judah,
6. and upon Israel.
9. God complains of their ingratitude.

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Amos 2:4

     1656   numbers, combinations
     5651   ancestors
     6231   rejection of God
     8126   guidance, need for
     8747   false gods
     8771   idolatry, objections

Amos 2:4-5

     6232   rejection of God, results
     8703   antinomianism

Amos 2:4-6

     8707   apostasy, personal

Amos 2:4-8

     8739   evil, examples of

Ripe for Gathering
'Thus hath the Lord God shewed unto me: and behold a basket of summer fruit. 2. And He said, Amos, what seest thou? And I said, A basket of summer fruit. Then said the Lord unto me, The end is come upon My people of Israel; I will not again pass by them any more. 3. And the songs of the temple shall be howlings in that day, saith the Lord God: there shall be many dead bodies in every place; they shall cast them forth with silence. 4. Hear this, O ye that swallow up the needy, even to make the poor
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

Third Circuit of Galilee. The Twelve Instructed and Sent Forth.
^A Matt. IX. 35-38; X. 1, 5-42; XI. 1; ^B Mark VI. 6-13; ^C Luke IX. 1-6. ^b 6 And he ^a Jesus ^b went about ^a all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner sickness and all manner of sickness. [In the first circuit of Galilee some of the twelve accompanied Jesus as disciples (see [3]Section XXXIII.); in the second the twelve were with him as apostles; in the third they, too, are sent forth as evangelists to supplement
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel

The Kingdom of God Conceived as the Inheritance of the Poor.
These maxims, good for a country where life is nourished by the air and the light, and this delicate communism of a band of children of God reposing in confidence on the bosom of their Father, might suit a simple sect constantly persuaded that its Utopia was about to be realized. But it is clear that they could not satisfy the whole of society. Jesus understood very soon, in fact, that the official world of his time would by no means adopt his kingdom. He took his resolution with extreme boldness.
Ernest Renan—The Life of Jesus

To his Praise!
"They shall abundantly utter the memory of thy great goodness." THIS chapter is written more than seven years later than the foregoing, in further testimony and praise. Returning to Canada at the time of the Great War, we came face to face with a serious financial crisis. Only two ways seemed open to us. One was to lay our affairs frankly before the Board, showing that our salary was quite insufficient, with war conditions and prices, to meet our requirements. The other course was to just go forward,
Rosalind Goforth—How I Know God Answers Prayer

The Tests of Love to God
LET us test ourselves impartially whether we are in the number of those that love God. For the deciding of this, as our love will be best seen by the fruits of it, I shall lay down fourteen signs, or fruits, of love to God, and it concerns us to search carefully whether any of these fruits grow in our garden. 1. The first fruit of love is the musing of the mind upon God. He who is in love, his thoughts are ever upon the object. He who loves God is ravished and transported with the contemplation of
Thomas Watson—A Divine Cordial

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