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Friday, February 24, 2017

Amos and the Judgment of Edom

(https://www.google.co.za/search?q=The+Book+of+Amos&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjBufabu6jSAhUrCcAKHXtWDe0Q_AUICCgB&biw=1366&bih=589#imgrc=2QnOCIBui3sdFM:)

Introduction

How are we today different from Tyre, Gaza, and Damascus or Israel? The four earlier Bible studies on Amos’ prophecies from God against Damascus, Gaza, and Tyre taught us they worshiped false gods. Israel worshiped false gods, too. Damascus, Gaza, and Tyre harassed, harmed, and betrayed their neighbor nation, the Israelites. Where was God when they did that to Israel? He was right there and allowed them to do it. God used those nations to punish the Israelites so they would seek Him, confess their sins, and return to their covenant with Him.

Damascus battled against Israel and stole Gilead (the eastern side of the Jordan River between the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea). They thought they were mighty enough to keep the territory. Gaza - the Philistines - raided Judah taking their possessions and people. The latter they sold into slavery. The Philistines were a mighty, menacing warrior nation. They thought they could stand against any enemy. Tyre had a covenant of brotherhood with the Israelites from the time of David and Solomon, yet they kidnapped and sold Israelites into slavery, too. The leaders of Tyre thought they were invincible with their 200 foot high wall. For these three nations, God prophesied their absolute annihilation. His might and power expressed as the “fire” sent from Him would devour their walls, their citadels and fortresses, and their people would perish. His wrath and vengeance against them for what they did to His children would reach and affect them. These nations were not invincible.

This week we will study Amos’ prophecy against the Edomites. We will learn the Edomites were blood relatives with the Israelites and will understand an even greater betrayal occurred by them against Israel than by the leaders of Tyre and all of Phoenicia. Remember, Phoenicia had a covenant of brotherhood with Israel. As we study Amos 1:11-12, we will understand God’s charge against the Edomites and their history with Israel. Amos will tell God’s judgment of them to the northern kingdom of Israel. We will study the Old Testament and other historical sources to understand how Amos’ prophecy of God’s judgment unfolded. Finally, we will understand why God told Amos to prophesy the judgment against Edom to Israel and how it affects us today.

(http://www.jesuswalk.com/isaiah/maps/edom-1073x1650x300.jpg)

Who was Edom?

Moses received a command from God in Deuteronomy 2:4-5 that taught the Israelites and teaches us about the Edomites. God said,

“You will pass through the territory of your brothers the sons of Esau who live in Seir, and they will be afraid of you. So be very careful; do not provoke them, for I will not give you any of their land, even as little as a footstep because I have given Mount Seir to Esau as a possession.” [NASB]

Seir was in the Mount Seir mountain range. These are located from the eastern side of the basin of the Dead Sea south to the head of the Red Sea. Seir was below the nations of Moab and Ammon, who were east of the Jordan River. The descendants of Esau lived in Edom. Edom means “I will praise Him.” Esau did not praise Yahweh, the God of his fathers, Abraham and Isaac. He lived in anger instead.

Esau was the twin brother of Jacob, the sons of Isaac. Through their mother’s deception, Jacob, the second twin, received the blessing and birthright to be given to the firstborn that Esau should have received. When the people of Esau and Jacob grew too big for Canaan to provide for both of them, Esau took his people and animals and went to the hill country of Seir (Deuteronomy 36:7-8). Esau married women from the Canaanite tribes and they bore him sons. Jacob acknowledged Esau’s claim over Edom in Deuteronomy 32:3. He sent messengers to Esau asking for his favor. Jacob feared Esau because of their history. Read Deuteronomy 32 to gain this understanding.

Though Esau was the firstborn son, he did not receive his father’s blessings as the firstborn or his birthright; Jacob did. Through Jacob, the promise of God to Abraham and Isaac would occur, the promise to make them as numerous as the stars and to give them a land of their own. Naturally, Esau experienced jealousy and anger over this favor given to Jacob. Even more so, Jacob’s fear was normal. His humility in approaching Esau and his territory is commendable and wise.

·         Are there people who’ve passed through your life who expressed jealousy about you?
·         Did you offend them in any way?
·         How did you treat that person? Did you stay away from him or her or did you approach him or her with humility and the wisdom of God?

(http://truediscipleship.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/anger-4.jpg)

The Charge against Edom

Amos pronounced God’s judgment of Edom to Israel. As he did with Damascus, Gaza, and Tyre, reference to the chief cities of the nation meant God pronounced His judgment on the whole nation. In God’s charge and judgment in Amos 1:11-12, He mentioned Teman and Bozrah, the chief cities of Edom. We will look at the charge, history, judgment by God, and the fulfillment of God’s judgment just as we did for the other three nations. After this, we should reflect, as God wanted Israel to reflect, and determine if we are guilty of similar sins for which we need to confess and repent, and return to a right relationship with God.

Amos began his prophecy against Edom in verse eleven. He said,

“Thus says the LORD, ‘For three transgressions of Edom and for four I will not revoke its punishment because he pursued his brother with the sword, while he stifled his compassion; his anger also tore continually, and he maintained his fury forever.’” [NASB]

Remember, the starting part of this verse, “for three transgressions and for four I will not revoke its punishment,” is the same for each of the eight charges Amos prophesied against the nations. In Biblical numerology, three plus four equals seven and seven is a number denoting completion. The nation had completed their allotted amount of sinning against God before He charged them; now His charge would come and He would not revoke His judgment. The nations, and here, Edom, multiplied sin upon sin and it was enough, God said.

What sins did God charge of the Edomites? We must understand the words Amos used to understand fully this charge by God. God said they “pursued” their brothers. “Pursued” comes from the Hebrew word radaph (raw-daf), which means to follow after to persecute and harass with an aim to secure who or what they followed. “Brother” is an often used Hebrew term that comes from the word ‘ach (awkh), meaning to be related, of the same kin, the same blood. “Stifled” by itself comes from the Hebrew word shachath (shaw-khath), which means destroyed, corrupted, dealt corruptly with, and perverted. Racham (rakh’-am) translates to English as “compassion” in this verse. It carries the further meaning of mercy and pity. Combined, these words “stifled his compassion” mean destroyed one’s compassion – mercy and pity – for someone in distress, and in this case with Edom, their own brothers. Edom kept compassion from entering their feelings for Israel. The word, “tore” that Amos used, can mean to rend or to tear like a wild animal with its captured prey. “Fury” we understand to be overflowing wrath combined with arrogance at one’s own rightness and justification. The word “maintained” is an important word. It is an active word meaning to keep, guard, and nurture something. In this usage, it means Edom stored up and kept their bitterness growing against Israel. They kept it at a low boil so it took no time to cause their anger to boil over against Israel. Using an idiom from today, Edom “fed the fire” of their anger so it was always ready to spill over onto Israel.

Considering these definitions, what did Amos say in the charge from God about Edom? Because of Edom’s multiplied sin upon sin against their brothers, the Israelites, their wrath they kept at a boil ready for any opportunity to betray their brethren - to capture them and feed upon them continually and forever allowing no feelings of compassion to abate their anger. When God charges a person or nation, it comes with justice and judgment, a punishment. First, before we continue to God’s judgment against Edom, we must consider the times Edom “stifled their compassion” against Israel. By this, we will understand God’s wrath against them and His lack of any further mercy on them.

·         Do you remember someone who kept a grudge so long, it infected their family for over one generation? Have you heard of a family like that?
·         What became of those people who stifled their compassion? Did they confess and repent to God? Did they allow God to soften their hearts?
·         How about you? Is there someone in your life whom you have not forgiven for a slight or injury to you? Are you allowing that anger and bitterness to affect your relationship with that person today and to affect your own family’s relationship with that person and his or her family?
·         God has a better way and wants us to come to Him about this before He must punish us, too.

(https://askgramps.org/files/2014/10/slaves-blblical-times.jpg)

The History of Edom

What is the “bad blood” between Esau and Jacob? How did it begin? Go back to Genesis 27. In this chapter you will read of Isaac blessing Jacob and giving him the birthright reserved for the firstborn son. Isaac was blind and had only his other four senses to lead him to assume he blessed his firstborn, Esau. Rebekah, his wife, tricked Isaac. Though Jacob doubted its integrity, he obeyed her. She told Jacob she wanted Isaac to bless him before he died, so Jacob did what she said. The story continues as we remember it. Jacob received the blessing and birthright and Esau was angry. The writer of Genesis 27:41 stated it clearly when he said,

“So Esau bore a grudge against Jacob because of the blessing with which his father blessed him, and Esau said to himself, ‘The days of mourning for my father are near, then I will kill my brother Jacob.’” [NASB]

Malice lodged in Esau’s heart from that day. Natural rivalry between the two boys occurred, normal activity between twins who seek the affections of their parents. Unfortunately, each parent, Isaac and Rebekah, had a favorite son, one for each of them. This fed the rivalry between Esau and Jacob.

From this point, history tells the story of the bitterness and anger Esau enacted upon Jacob and the animosity that grew and boiled over for generations. Esau bore a grudge for Jacob supplanting –usurping and displacing - him twice. Jacob’s receipt of Esau’s blessing and birthright was his and became Edom’s biggest grudge against Jacob and the Israelites. After Esau moved his people and took over the Seir region from the Horites (Genesis 36:20-29), almost 500 years later when the Israelites left Egypt, Moses sought permission from the king of Edom to allow the Israelites to enter Edom so they could get into the Promised Land. He explained to the king of Edom the people asking permission from him are his brothers, the tribe of Israel (Numbers 20:14). The king of Edom said in Numbers 20:18 & 20,

18You shall not pass through us, lest I come out with the sword against you.” 20 “You shall not pass through.” Then Edom came out against him with a heavy force and with a strong hand. [NASB]

Edom carried Esau’s angry grudge for over 500 years by that point. They continued in their intention to allow a grudge to fester and constantly “stifle their compassion” against Israel.

Consider this list of actions against Israel by Edom.
1.      Edom’s grandson, Amalek, had a tribe of hostile people, the Amalekites, who pestered the Israelites as they left Egypt and walked in the desert of the Sinai Peninsula. They attacked the weak and the young stragglers at the back of the parade of Israelites. [Exodus 17:8-18]
2.      King Hadad the Edomite battled Solomon for Edom around 950 BC and was an adversary of Israel throughout his life. [1 Kings 11:14-25]
3.      When the Assyrians attacked Jerusalem and their King Ahaz, the Edomites attacked Judah and carried away captives. [2 Chronicles 28:17, 2 Kings 16:5, and Obadiah 1:10 & 12]
4.      Psalm 137:7-8 tells of how Edom went against Jerusalem when King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon attacked Jerusalem. Edom helped Babylon overcome Judah.
5.      The Edomites killed King Joash of Judah. His son, King Amaziah, killed the people who killed his father, Joash. He killed 10,000 Edomites in the valley of Salt and took Sela by war. [2 Kings 14:7 and 2 Chronicles 25:11]
6.      Besides these sins, the Edomites were the intermediary for trading Israelites into slavery whom Philistia and Phoenicia captured as noted in the two earlier Bible studies.

Edom betrayed their blood relatives by selling them into slavery and joining in battle with Israelites' enemies to defeat Israel. They bore their grudge deep and long. These seven instances and others in history show Edom’s depth of hate and anger against Israel. Amos was not the only prophet to speak a prophecy against them. Joel 3:19, Isaiah 34:5-6 and 63:1-5, Obadiah 10-14, Psalm 137:7, Lamentations 4:21, Ezekiel 25:12-14, 32:29, and 35:1-15, Jeremiah 27:1-3 and 49:7-22, and Malachi 1:2-5 each prophesied against Edom.

·         Is there something you continue to do in your life of which you know God disapproves?
·         Why do you continue doing it? Is it caused by anger in you?

(https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/_QDOVssLrU9w/TZJJ3d7b4tI/AAAAAAAAAGQ/_LmRywETNI8/s512/Bozrah.jpg?w=240)

The Judgment of Edom

Amos pronounced God’s judgment against Edom in verse twelve. He stated,

“So I will send fire upon Teman and it will consume the citadels of Bozrah.” [NASB]

From the previous three studies of Amos’ prophecies against Damascus, Gaza, and Tyre, we remember the fire of which he spoke was the fire - the wrath - of God. God’s wrath came down on people in various ways – as actual fire from heaven and as wars by other nations against those upon whom He pronounced judgment. Unlike the prophecy against the Philistines, God’s judgment through Amos did not say the Edomites would perish. They were blood relatives to Israel and part of the promise to Abraham.

Teman was Edom’s largest southern city. The Edomite’s named it after Esau’s grandson, Teman (Genesis 36:11, 15). The people of Teman were well known for their wisdom. In Jeremiah 49:7-22, God asked if there was no wisdom anymore in Teman. God’s wrath that Amos prophesied would come down on Teman. Jeremiah’s prophecy about Edom in Jeremiah 49 meant God’s divine wrath would take away Edom’s wise people, the people of Teman. An army would come and consume Teman and take their people away so they could no longer lead and advise the people of Edom.

Just as in the other prophecies, God said He would consume the citadels. Remember, the citadels were the buildings upon which the people trusted to keep them safe from invaders. They were fortresses, watchtowers, and palaces set upon defensible land, usually high ground like hills and mountains. Bozrah was the chief city of Edom and its fortress stronghold in the north. God would consume the fortress of the biggest and chief city of this nation. What the greatest thinkers, engineers, and architects created to be their best defense against enemies would not be strong enough to withstand the fire of God’s wrath. Teman and Bozrah denoted the strength and glory of Edom, but would fall to the superior strength and absolute power of God. Like God could crush humans He made from earth, He would crush the Edomite defenses made of earth and stone made by human hands.

Notice in Amos’ prophecy about Edom, the people would go into exile. If you study the other prophets who prophesied against Edom, you will note God’s judgment escalates in intensity. By the time Jeremiah and Ezekiel pronounced their prophecies, the Edomites would no longer go into exile. Nations would slay them with the sword. The Edomites would not only not be a nation because of being dispersed in foreign countries, the people who called themselves Edomites would be dead. One must ask why God escalated His prophecy like this since He called the Edomites brothers of Israel. When reading throughout Old Testament history, we can see possibly why this occurred. Edom never repented, but continued to raid, kidnap, destroy, kill, and enslave the Israelites and their possessions. No change of heart ever occurred. Sometimes God’s punishment occurs in the future and sometimes immediately. God will eventually judge all unrepentant sinners on the Day of Judgment after Christ’s return to earth. A few sinners continue to commit heinous crimes with no remorse or abatement of the sin. They continue to flaunt their way of life and harm or kill people. During times like that, God’s judgment often occurs to the person early in life. He kills them as His judgment. God shortens the person’s life. It is possible this is similar to what happened to God’s judgment of Edom. The Edomites continued relentlessly and remorselessly to injure, imprison, and kill the Israelites. God’s judgment against them escalated.

·         Has God moved your conscience about something you do of which He disapproves? The Edomites heard the prophecies God proclaimed against them, but continued to act out their anger toward the Israelites.
·         What did you do because of God’s striking your conscience? Will you be strong-willed like the Edomites or will you bow to God’s will.

(http://ucsdnews.ucsd.edu/archive/graphics/images/2004/ExcavationEdom_lg.jpg)

The Fulfillment of God’s Judgment against Edom

The Edomites were very strong-willed. Their disobedience and continued aggression against Israel spanned over 1000 years. God used other nations to exact His judgment, His fire, upon Damascus, Gaza, and Tyre. He would do the same with the Edomites.

God used the Israelites to start the execution of His judgment on Edom. David battled them in the Valley of Salt killing 18,000 of them as recorded in 2 Samuel 8:13-15, 1 Kings 11:14-17, and 1 Chronicles 18:12-13. Solomon took control of Ezion-Geber from Edom, one of their ports on the Red Sea, as noted in 1 Kings 9:26 and 2 Chronicles 8:17. King Amaziah battled Edom in 2 Chronicles 25:11-12 and 2 Kings 14:7. His people killed 10,000 sons of Seir and captured 10,000 other people. King Uzziah, called Azariah too, fulfilled part of Amos’ prophecy when he overtook Edomite territory on the Red Sea and built the city named Elath. King Hezekiah conquered Gaza and Edom in 2 Kings 18:8 and 1 Chronicles 4:41-43.

When the Assyrian army entered Canaan lands under Tiglath-Pileser III, they overwhelmed the nations who lived there. Assyria completely destroyed some of the nations and cities. They made others into vassal states with their leaders taken into captivity and exiled throughout the Assyrian Empire. Assyria subjugated Edom then. In King Sennacherib’s reign of Assyria, he punished Edom for rebelling with the other vassal states of Canaan.

After the fall of the Assyrian Empire, the Neo-Babylonians rose under the leadership of King Nebuchadnezzar. Jeremiah 27:2-3 and 49:7-22 and Ezekiel 32:11 & 29 record Edom’s fall to Babylon. Prior to their battle with Nebuchadnezzar, Edom participated with them in capturing Jerusalem and destroying the temple. For this Obadiah, Psalms 137, Lamentations 4, Ezekiel 25, 32, & 35, and Jeremiah 27:1-3 and 49:13 & 16 prophesied against them. These prophecies can be noted as having come to pass because Nebuchadnezzar left Edom a wasteland.

Edom never really recovered from this devastation. It became a land populated by animals and birds as Isaiah 34:11 & 13-15 prophesied. The people, the nation, and the language are not remembered. They are no longer a people group.

After their destruction, an Arabian tribe lived in the area for about 100 years. The Nabateans of Arabia cut the temples of Petra into the stone walls of the area. Finally, the Romans conquered the territory and made it part of its empire.

The angry people of Esau were no longer angry. They no longer existed. God’s judgments from the prophecies occurred. This should make us consider our actions and relationship with God.

·         Have you heard from God to stop doing something He dislikes?
·         If you heard from Him and you did not stop, do you feel God punished you for it?
·         If you heard from Him and stopped what God dislikes, have you felt a freedom and release because of obeying Him?

Recap

The people of Edom were an angry vengeful people. It resulted from one brother’s hate of another because of a slight, a preference by one parent of one child over another. Feelings of being overlooked or slighted can happen in other parts of life, too, like at work, at the club, in church, and in school. Edom thought they were mighty and could win any battle. They succeeded partially in this for hundreds of years. Ultimately, their anger defeated them.

God showed mercy continually to the Edomites. He chose not to destroy and utterly annihilate them in His earlier judgments against them. God loved them like He loved Jacob and his descendants. He wanted them to repent and return to a relationship with Him. Their anger and hate of “those people” – the Israelites - engulfed them and “stifled their compassion.” The Edomites decided to feed their anger every day and in every generation. It was a blood feud between tribes/families.

Eventually, their strong-willed attitude needed correction with stronger punishment. God pronounced a stronger, more far-reaching judgment on them. He pronounced their utter destruction. With the first prophecies, He used the Israelites to punish the Edomites. With the latter judgments, God used the strongest nations/empires of the time to overpower Edom. God’s greater mind and power fulfilled the prophecies of His servants, the prophets.

(http://desertmeanderings.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Mercy.png)

Conclusion

Perhaps you think you are not like Edom. You may have killed no one. You might have hurt no one in anger. Possibly you think you are not a person who gets angry or seeks revenge. Each of us, though, is a sinner. We feel emotions and often act on them. Sometimes we feel someone has received preferential treatment at work. Maybe you have encountered racism and wanted to hurt someone as a way to get rid of your anger. There may have been times when a teacher in school seemed to have a “pet” and you could do nothing to get a better grade.

Each of these things can cause us to be angry. What we do with our anger determines if we are like Edom. These situations cause us tension and test our patience and understanding. They are difficult to get through, just as we read about with Edom, David, Saul, and other people of the Bible. We know other people who struggled to get through bad situations without losing their cool. The term “going postal” came about because of an angry postal worker. He took a gun to work and killed many of his coworkers. Being angry is not a sin; letting it simmer, boil, and fester, and then acting upon that anger is the sin.

I know anger is easier to vent than to “stuff.” God does not say to “stuff” your anger. He said to give it to Him. God said vengeance is His. In Deuteronomy 32:35, God said,

“Vengeance is Mine, and retribution. In due time, their foot will slip, for the day of their calamity is near, and the impending things are hastening upon them.” [NASB]

Anger is a heavy burden to carry. Not acting on anger is difficult. Jesus offered a better way. He taught in Matthew 11:28-30,

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” [NASB]

Jesus reminded His followers what God taught through Jeremiah in Jeremiah 6:16 that walking in the good way brings rest for our souls.

Esau either never learned God will carry his burden and will avenge him, or he disregarded it. He let anger get the better of him. Instead of shining the beacon of light that the LORD was for the people of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Esau’s own light shown. He and his descendants praised themselves and their cunning.

God told the Israelites not to despise their brother, Esau, in Deuteronomy 23:7. Jesus taught us to love one another because love is of God. John said in 1 John 3:15, “Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer and you know that any murderer does not have eternal life abiding in him.”

Acting upon one’s anger is sin, but it comes from judging another person. We cannot judge anyone because we are imperfect ourselves and are not impartial. Only One exists who is righteous and qualified to judge impartially. That One is God. Paul said this in Romans 14:10. He said, “But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we will each stand before the judgment seat of God.”

What then can we do, we who are unrighteous and partial, who cannot control anger? We must live in the power of God. We must make a stand stating aloud to ourselves we are God’s children and not Satan’s pawn. The power of the Holy Spirit exists in each believer and we can claim it and live with the power of the Spirit. By doing that, the Spirit enables us to fulfill the two greatest commandments Jesus taught. He said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” [Luke 10:27, NASB]

Living in the power of the Holy Spirit requires claiming it and taking your stand, actively doing what Jesus taught. Love God with all you have – your heart, mind, soul, and strength. Love your neighbor as you love yourself – as you want to be loved. This is the antithesis of anger and hate, which tempt people to sin. Give God your yoke of anger and let Him bear it and you receive His rest letting Him take control of you and what is happening in your life.
We do not deserve God’s love, but He gives His mercy and grace to us.
Your brother or sister may not deserve your love, but your Lord commands it.
Give God your anger; let Him turn it into His light.

Be God’s beacon of love to the world.
(https://4ever21christina.files.wordpress.com/2014/03/4530078429.jpg)

Friday, February 17, 2017

Amos and the Judgment of Tyre

Introduction

What makes us today any different from the people of Tyre, Gaza, Damascus, or Israel? In the three previous Bible studies from the book of Amos, we learned Damascus, Gaza, and Israel worshiped false gods - idols. Damascus battled against Israel and stole their land, and thought no one was strong enough to seek revenge against them. They could do as they pleased. Damascus, as the capital city, represented the whole nation of Aram and God spoke judgment against them for threshing Gilead, His people, with implements of iron. We today do similar things when we hurt people with our words or take something of theirs that does not belong to us.

The city of Gaza was part of Philistia. Throughout the Bible we read they often caused battles with the whole nation of Israelites because of wanting more land or taking the possessions and people of the region. Gaza, as one of the chief cities, represented the entire nation of Philistia in Amos’ prophecy. God pronounced judgment against them for taking the Promised Land from His children. More than that, He pronounced judgment on Philistia for kidnapping and selling the Israelites as slaves to other nations, often using Edom as the intermediary. Today we either know or have heard of people who were kidnapped and sold as slaves (human trafficking) or we pay and treat people so poorly that we in essence treat them as slaves. We might denigrate them, make them do the worst jobs, call them names or speak unkindly about them, and/or pay them a wage with which they cannot live.

This week in our study of Tyre, we will read of a nation who was like a brother to the Israelites, but who stabbed them in the back. A common way of saying this is that Tyre was two-faced, seeming to be on Israel's side, but taking opportunity to betray them.

·         Do you recall a time when someone you thought was a friend betrayed your trust, or you found out they spoke badly about you to someone else?
·         Do you remember ever treating a person this way?

(http://www.katapi.org.uk/images/Maps/DivKingdom785HR.jpg)


Who was Tyre?

Tyre was a port city of the Phoenicians. The Greeks gave the Phoenicians their name because of what they made and supplied. Phoenicians were famous for their dyes, especially purple, which came from mollusk shells. The Greek name Phoinikes means “purple people.” The cloth the Tyrians dyed made them very prosperous.

“Tyre” comes from the Hebrew word tsor meaning “rock.” It was a Phoenician port city on the Mediterranean Sea west of Dan, which was on the northern border of Israel. Tyre was mostly an island city though it consisted of two parts. The island was its main trade center. Mainland Tyre, called Old Tyre, was about a half mile from the island. Tyre, the island, had walls reaching as high as 200 feet above the sea on the east. The placement of the trade center and the high walls around it made it very difficult to win a battle and gain entry into it. Today the city of Tyre is part of Lebanon.
Amos used Tyre, the main city of Phoenicia, to represent the whole nation of Phoenicia in his prophecy against them. Just as God judged the entire nations of Aram and Philistia, He judged against the whole nation of Phoenicia. Besides Amos, Isaiah 23:1-18, Jeremiah 25:22, Ezekiel 26:2-4, Joel 3:4-8, and Zechariah 9:1-4 record God’s judgments against Phoenicia.

(http://the405media.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/betrayal1.jpg)

The Charge against Tyre

Amos prophesied against Tyre, and by reference, the entire nation of Phoenicia in Amos 1:9-10. As we read and study these verses, we should examine the charge, history, judgment by God, and the fulfillment of God’s judgment against Tyre and Phoenicia. Besides this, we should reflect upon ourselves to determine if we, too, are guilty of similar sins for which we need to confess and earnestly repent and return to a right relationship with God.

In verse nine, Amos spoke God’s charge against Tyre. He said,

“Thus says the LORD, ‘For three transgressions of Tyre and for four I will not revoke its punishment because they delivered up an entire population to Edom and did not remember the covenant of brotherhood.’”
We must first remember the starting portion of verse nine is part of the prophetic form of which we learned in our second study called Amos and the Judgment of Damascus. “For three transgressions and for four” points out two main things. In biblical numerology three plus four is seven and seven represent completeness. The Phoenicians carried a complete measure of their guilt. They betrayed their covenant with Israel several times without questioning it. The second meaning of this prophetic form brings the implication they have sin multiplied upon sin and God will surely execute His punishment on them. God had looked away before, but now He pronounced His judgment on them and it would occur.

·         God is merciful and wants each of us to return to a right relationship with Him; that’s why He waits before His judgment/punishment occurs.
·         Have you repeatedly done something the Lord does not like or told you not to do and not gone to Him asking forgiveness and renewing your relationship with Him?

When we look at the words Amos used to convey God’s charge against Phoenicia, we learn better what Amos spoke. Our word “revoke” comes from the Hebrew word shuwb meaning to withdraw or turn back. God would not withdraw His judgment against Tyre/Phoenicia. Amos used the word cagar that we translate as “delivered up” to mean the Tyrians imprisoned and delivered to someone else something of value. Later in this verse we learn what that thing of value was. Amos said they delivered up an entire population to Edom. They sent people into captivity as slaves. The Tyrians did like the Philistines; they kidnapped and sold people into slavery. They, too, used Edom as the middleman for selling slaves like the Philistines. We will understand this better in the next section when we read about the history of the Phoenicians’ interactions with the Israelites.

One thing is different in the charge against the Phoenicians when compared to the charge against the Philistines. Amos said the Phoenicians did not remember their “covenant of brotherhood.” The Phoenicians did not recall or consider their covenant. Amos used a word common to the Israelites. Remember, he spoke these prophecies to Israel about the other nations so they could hear God’s judgment against the nations and recognize their own sinfulness while considering that of the neighboring nations. Amos used the word beriyth meaning “covenant.” Covenants were a pledge, alliance, or treaty between two people or nations. The Israelites covenanted with Jehovah, too, and were repeatedly unfaithful to Him. The covenant between the Israelites and Phoenicia was so close they considered themselves brothers. This covenant of brotherhood made the charge against the Phoenicians worse than the one against the Philistines. The Phoenicians were almost “blood kin” to the Israelites, and they betrayed them; worse, they sold them into slavery. The betrayal between brothers hurts more than between acquaintances; it cuts deeper because the trust was absolute. Examples of this type of betrayal occur in the records of Joseph’s brothers selling him to slave traders, and Jacob receiving Esau’s birthright through trickery.

·         Have you ever experienced this level of betrayal?
·         Have you ever betrayed a family member or someone who was as close as a brother?

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The History of Tyre

Old Testament writers recorded the brotherhood interactions between the Israelites and Tyre. In 2 Samuel 5:11, we read of King Hiram of Tyre supplying cedar logs, carpenters, and stonemasons for David to build his house. First Kings 5:1 teaches us King Hiram sent servants to Solomon at his anointing reminding him of his friendship with the house of David. In 1 Kings 5:2-11 the chronicler recorded Hiram sent cedar and juniper logs along with servants and Solomon thanked him by sending food and olive oil. Later in their relationship, the writer of 1 Kings 9:11-14 & 27 recorded Hiram sent cedars, cypress, and gold to build Solomon’s palace and temple. Solomon thanked him by giving him possession of twenty Galilean cities. When Hiram saw the cities, though, he scoffed. He was not pleased. Most importantly, we must note King Hiram called Solomon his brother in verse thirteen. Hiram admitted to a relationship with the Israelites that was as close as blood brothers. The interactions between King Hiram and the kings of the Israelites received further notation in 1 Kings 10:22, 1 Chronicles 14:1, 2 Chronicles 8:18, and 2 Chronicles 9:10. Phoenicia and Israel had a close brotherly relationship.

If that is so why do we later read Tyre of Phoenicia and Philistia worked together? Writers in the Old Testament mentioned them together as sinning against God so they might have worked together and sold slaves to Edom as Phoenicia had done. The Psalmist recorded Philistia, Edom, and Tyre worked together against God and made a covenant with each other in Psalm 83:5-7. Jeremiah 47:4 says Gaza worked with Tyre and Sidon, the two chief cities of Phoenicia. Ezekiel 27:13 says the grandsons of Noah - Javan, Tubal, and Meshech - who were the forefathers of the people of the north (Phoenicia) sold men. Joel 3:4-8 records Phoenicia and Philistia sold the sons of Judah and Jerusalem to the Greeks. Tyre and the nation of Phoenicia broke the covenant of brotherhood they had with Israel as we note in each of these accounts. Many times they sold the captured Israelites as slaves to the Edomites who were distant blood relatives of the Israelites through Esau, Jacob’s brother.

How does this affect Israel’s sin? Why did Amos prophesy God’s judgment against Phoenicia to Israel? While Solomon was king and the Israelites were a united kingdom, Solomon enslaved his own kindred, the Israelites, with hard work to build his palace and God’s temple. He mistreated them and created a yoke too heavy for them to bear. Because of this, the Israelites of the north and east rebelled and refused to anoint Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, as king over the twelve tribes of Israel. Ten tribes chose Jeroboam I, Solomon’s servant. This caused the division of the nation of Israel into two kingdoms. Solomon’s treatment of his relatives caused a division in his nation. The Israelites were guilty of enslaving people by extraordinarily heavy work burdens. Solomon drove the people to build his palace and the temple. He did not have mercy for his people during that time.

Their neighboring nations, even one that was as close as a brother, and people within their own nation enslaved the Israelites. These people enslaved them because of the person or nation’s power and authority and because of their greed. Being enslaved or driven hard by a nation or unknown person is bad enough, but being pushed too hard or enslaved by a close person or relative is a betrayal. A covenant or bond between friends and family should encourage and strengthen us; it should give us heart to stand strong and firm with hope.

·         Do we push people unnecessarily to do things because we want something? Are we being unmerciful and unkind?
·         Does our desire to rise to the top or need for recognition in the community as a worthy leader cause us to step on and mistreat people?

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The Judgment of Tyre

With verse ten, Amos pronounced God’s judgment against Tyre. He quoted the LORD saying,

“So I will send fire upon the wall of Tyre and it will consume her citadels.”

Just as Amos pronounced God’s judgment on Damascus and Gaza, he relayed a similar judgment on Tyre and the nation of Phoenicia.  Two parts make up this judgment. Let’s consider them through a study of the Hebrew words.

Just as before, God said His fire-the supernatural flame that comes from Him, His anger and wrath-would blast upon Tyre. God would send it-let it loose-upon their wall. The wall the Phoenicians counted as their greatest weapon against enemies, God would destroy as if it were just dust. He is greater than their greatest thinkers, architects, and engineers. God is greater than the Phoenicians or their false gods. Numbers 21:28 and Isaiah 26:11 record God’s wrath as fire, too. God’s fire consumes and destroys completely those against whom He focuses it. His fire would completely destroy the people of Phoenicia. They would no longer be a people called Phoenicia because there would be no Phoenicia. The subjugating nations would disperse the people who used to call themselves Phoenicians. Those captives would acclimate to their new homes so they would not call themselves Phoenicians any longer. That is utter annihilation of a nation.

The second part of God’s judgment said the fire/wrath of God would “consume her [Tyre’s and Phoencia’s] citadels.” The 200 foot high wall surrounding the island of Tyre would crumble. God’s fire would completely consume their citadels-the fortresses and palace-upon the high rocky island and the mainland town of Old Tyre. His power, might, and omniscience would destroy them.

·         Do we do things we think God won’t see and with which we can get away? Do you know when you do those things that they are wrong?
·         God sees everything you do. He knows when you have walked away from the right and moral path. As the loving Father and Creator of each person, His punishment/discipline will come against the one who sins against Him and His laws-the right and moral path.

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The Fulfillment of God’s Judgment against Tyre

As we learned in the judgments against Damascus and Gaza, three main empires ruled and overtook the nations of the near and middle-east during Old Testament times between 930 BC and 140 BC. These empires were the Assyrian Empire, the Neo-Babylonian Empire, and the Macedonian Empire. The first was a ruthless, killing, war machine who took few hostages, but either sold or dispersed throughout their kingdom the people they allowed to live. The second empire, the Neo-Babylonians, also known as the Chaldean Empire, took select people of the defeated nations into captivity and dispersed them throughout their empire. Alexander the Great led the Macedonian Empire to expand its borders after the Neo-Babylonian Empire declined in power. God’s judgment on Tyre and the nation of Phoenicia occurred through the Neo-Babylonian and Macedonian Empires.

In Jeremiah 27:1-11, God told the people of Tyre and Sidon that Nebuchadnezzar, king of the Neo-Babylonians, would attack them and take them into captivity. From 585-572 BC, Nebuchadnezzar besieged the mainland settlement of Old Tyre and Sidon. Most of the people of the mainland city of Old Tyre abandoned it for the safety of the island trade center. After that, the remaining people of Old Tyre and Sidon surrendered to Nebuchadnezzar. Because Nebuchadnezzar had no way to make a half mile long ramp from the mainland to Tyre’s island trade center, he could not besiege it or enter its gates. The Neo-Babylonian empire reigned 626-539 BC.

In 332 BC, historical annals record Alexander the Great of Macedon determined to gain entry to the island city of Tyre with its 200 foot high walls that were about twenty feet thick. Alexander’s army used the rubble from the decimation of the mainland town of Old Tyre to fill the waterway between the mainland and the island of Tyre. This made a ramp by which Alexander’s troops could cross and besiege the walls of Tyre’s trading center. Alexander breached the city wall, and either killed or enslaved its inhabitants. Ezekiel 26:7 prophesied this. Ezekiel 27 and 28 told of its occurrence and that it would cause Tyre’s worldwide trade to cease. Ezekiel 29 told of Sidon’s destruction, too. The last occurred through the Persian ruler, Artaxerxes, who caused them to submit to him. The people known as Phoenicians were no more after these empires warred against them.

·         What wars are you battling? Are they in your life to get your attention and encourage you to return to God?
·         What do you need to do to return to a right relationship with God?
o   Are you willing to forgo using other people to get ahead or make more money?
o   Will you covenant with God to follow in His ways and seek His guidance?

Relevance

The people of Tyre relied upon its trade, wealth, and wall to protect them. Though they had a covenant of brotherhood with the Israelites, they traded it away to get ahead thinking nothing could stop them. They thought themselves unbreachable and untouchable. They relied on their wits, their walls, and their false gods to keep them safe.

God showed the Phoenicians and the Israelites He is greater than each of these things. He will exact His wrath on people who go against His children. God requires justice and so judges and punishes those who go against Him or His people, even if His children need the punishment. He is a loving Father and does not let His children stray too far or too long without corrective measures.

Tyre and Phoenicia carried the guilt of enslaving and selling the Israelites. They broke their covenant with Israel. Phoenicia worshiped false gods, too. The Israelites understood this and may have rejoiced that God would avenge them. Still, upon hearing Amos’ prophecies, Israel should have reflected upon their own actions, words, and attitudes and recognized their own sin. They caused their brethren to carry heavy burdens. They enslaved people to enrich themselves and so disobeyed God’s commandments, their covenant with Him. They broke covenant with God and with their brothers and sisters.

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Conclusion

Amos’ prophecies do not just affect Israel and the other seven nations. They should affect us still today. God created us as He did them. We sin just as they did. As we strive to get ahead and be the best, we need to consider how we should do that. Do we think the ends justify the means?

Life is not about getting to an end goal, but about the journey. The journey comprises relationships with people around us and with the One True God, the God of creation. If we ignore or abuse the relationships we have with other people, we break covenant with our brothers and sisters, doubly so if those brothers and sisters are fellow believers.

Israel was to be a shining light that taught the surrounding nations about the One True God, Jehovah. Their sinfulness dimmed that light. Their sin was greater because they knew God’s laws and were in a covenant relationship with Him, yet they broke that covenant. As fellow believers in Jesus Christ, when we cause the light of the Gospel to dim because of our sin, we become like Israel in the Old Testament. Our lives should reflect and show the light of Jesus to the world. Our sins keep that from happening. We know God’s laws, love, mercy, and grace, but still concern ourselves more with the end goal than the journey. When doing that we dim the light of the Gospel and keep people from seeing God as He truly is. Amos spoke the prophecies of God to Israel for these reasons. We still hear God’s voice speaking to us for these same reasons.

·         Can the people and nations around you see the glory, love, grace, and mercy of God shining through you?
·         Do you need to turn back toward God and confess and repent earnestly?

We each must look into ourselves and make decisions about these.

Will you come or return to a covenant relationship with God through Jesus Christ?
Will you become a shining light of the Gospel

to the people and nations around you?
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