Why Did Amos Predict The Captivity? -- By: Edward E. Braithwaite

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 059:233 (Jan 1902)
Article: Why Did Amos Predict The Captivity?
Author: Edward E. Braithwaite

Why Did Amos Predict The Captivity?

Edward E. Braithwaite

Oberlin, Ohio

The conception of God which it was the special mission of Amos to emphasize was his justice. The reign of Jeroboam II., during which this prophet lived, was characterized by great prosperity in Israel. It was no less conspicuous for its immorality. The evils that frequently accompany circumstances of wealth—luxury, injustice, oppression, etc.,—were particularly prevalent. A sense of security and ease prevailed in the nation, however, for were they not Jehovah’s own people, and would not he protect them from any evil that might threaten them? With this thought uppermost, the people did not consider it anything inconsistent to keep sinning and at the same time observing their religious ceremonies. Indeed, they seemed to be unusually diligent in their attention to these ceremonies, apparently with the idea that this would offset any displeasure to Jehovah that might be occasioned by their sins. Amos sees the hollowness of all this. Jehovah is a God of justice, and can be pleased only with righteous conduct. Hence, as the people refuse to abandon their sins, Jehovah’s wrath must be visited upon them. In what form shall this come? Famine, drought, pestilence—but all these are insufficient to bring about any such reformation as is needed. Hence, as a final resort, as the climax of the disasters which he predicts, the mind of Amos turns once and again to one remedy which, he recognizes in view of all the circumstances, will alone be sufficient. It is a very bitter medicine, but the conditions demand nothing less. It is no other than the captivity of the whole nation.

But what was there in this particular form of visitation constituting an appropriate application to the case in hand? How was Amos led to make his declaration in this particular direction? The reply to this question which has been largely accepted by recent writers is in the direction of that given by Professor George Adam Smith. Professor Smith, in his “Book of the Twelve Prophets,” after strongly emphasizing the importance of the eighth century b. c. in Israel, and laying great stress on the influence of Assyria upon prophecy, applies these thoughts to Amos, especially in connection with his exposition of chapter 3:3–8. He says: —

“The prophet then is made sure of his message by the agreement between the inward convictions of his soul and the outward events of the day. When these walk together, it proves that they have come of a

common purpose. He who causes the events—it is Jehovah himself, for shall there be evil in a city and Jehovah not have done it?...

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