God had judged the Gentile nations, but then he turned to Judah (southern kingdom) and Israel (northern kingdom) who were both under the Mosaic Covenant and without excuse for their behavior. Their sin was greater for this reason because the Gentile nations could claim ignorance. God's people could not.
Judah had turned to idols (2:4). The "fire" for Jerusalem in Judah would be the Babylonian Captivity, but God did not say they would be utterly destroyed like the Gentile nations. They would return in 70 years to their land to reestablish their nation and rebuild the temple. Stay tuned!
Then, God turned to Israel. They were enjoying great material blessing which in their theology meant God was blessing. He exposed their injustice (2:6-7), immorality (2:7), and idolatry (2:8). God reminded them of His faithfulness to them in the past (2:9-12), but He pronounced judgment for their future (2:13-16). This came with the invasion of Assyria in 720 B.C. Unlike Judah, Israel would be no more.
By the way, all of the judgments in Amos 1 and 2 say, "For three sins . . . even for four." According to The Daily Walk:
Add them up and you have seven -- the complete number. In this way Amos was signifying the full and complete multiplying of sin and corruption, thereby putting the nation in line for the fullness of God's wrath.
(September 8, 2008, p. 14)REFLECTION/APPLICATION
What everyday object is used in the Bible to describe the tongue, the Word of God, and angels? (Check James 3:6; Jeremiah 5:14; and Hebrews 1:7.)
Few things in life can rival the bittersweet properties of fire. With it you can warm yourself or burn yourself; cook a dinner or incinerate it; heat a house or reduce it to embers. The outcome depends on how you handle the heat.
Thirty-three of the 39 Old Testament books refer to fire. But none has a more "fiery" theme than Amos. The same God who gave fire to humankind as a blessing will one day use fire to purge rebellion from creation. Eight nations in Amos' day learned that God is serious when He declares, "I will send fire."
Tonight, build a fire in your fireplace or put candles on your dinner table. As you enjoy the warmth and light, read 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 and consider this question: "Where is there fire in the Christian's future, and what can we do today to prepare for it?"
(The Daily Walk, September 8, 2008)PRAYER
Prepare us for the future Lord. We are wholly Yours. Amen.