The open verses of Amos 9 are anything but comforting. It would seem that God is actively and minutely seeking the destruction of Israel. And it’s true, from a certain point of view. However, prophecy is a fickle thing, and the visions that Amos saw were the best that he could understand.
The reality is that the Israelites did bring this upon themselves by their actions and attitudes. Instead of being blessed and protected (especially the protected part), God removed the “hedge” of protection from them, and the world came in. If it helps, you can think of Israel as Ebey Island in the between the Snohomish River and Puget Sound. During the rainy season, much of the land is more swamp. In addition, there are dikes protecting much of it too. God removing the hand of protection is like removing the dikes during the rainy season. A land already sodden in misery becomes overwhelmed by the natural (or in this case, human) forces of the world.
The rest of the imagery is to put a point on it that there is no escape. No matter what they do, they will not be able to escape the consequences of their generations of behavior. The desire was not destruction, it was repentance and restoration. Earlier in Amos, God and Amos went back and forth about destruction, and God would quickly back-off of total destruction. It was as if God’s heart just wasn’t in it.
Ultimately, Israel’s pride was its downfall. Verses 7–10 show that Israel’s pride was still an issue. God ties Israel to the Cushites (Ethiopians), the Philistines (long-time enemy) and the Arameans. They, the Israelites, are on the same level. From an Israelite perspective, that would have likely been insulting. Israel was far above any of them, so they thought. God was not treating them right! God was letting them know that while they were chosen, that did not make them more important.
1) Do you recall when your pride got you in trouble? What was it? What part of your pride was the issue? How did you resolve it?
2) Do you know your areas of pride? If you think you don’t have one, then think about your accomplishments or hard work or projects. How about now?
3) It is important to understand our areas of pride, for that is often where we are weakest. How does understanding our pride keep us from falling into the traps of the enemy?