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In some ways Amos 4 follows on very naturally from Amos 3. God has said that the warnings of the prophets are linked with real dangers (Amos 3:7–8). Now he highlights some of the sins that have evoked his warnings (Amos 4:1–5) and explains some of the warnings themselves and what they mean for the future if they are not taken to heart (Amos 4:6–13).
(1) The first warning is to the wealthy women of Israel (Amos 4:1–3), derogatorily described as “cows of Bashan”—proverbial for being well-fed, fat, and lazy, rather than lean and tough. These women have used their wealth and position to “oppress the poor and crush the needy” (Amos 4:1). The one-line vignette is devastating: they say to their husbands, “Bring us some drinks!” (Amos 4:1). This conjures up a picture of spoiled matrons, peremptory, decadent, interested only in being served and never in serving, lording it over their husbands, swilling down their boredoms in booze. So the Sovereign Lord swears “by his holiness” (Amos 4:2), which is akin to saying that he swears by himself, and thus by that which is immutable and than which there is nothing and no one greater. He swears that he will drag them away with hooks and chains into captivity, humiliated and degraded, in pain amid the rubble of their city (Amos 4:2–3).
(2) In the last half of the preceding chapter (Amos 3:9–15), God hammered away at three disgusting features of national life: social oppression, self-indulgence, and corrupt religion. The first two are enlarged upon in the first three verses of chapter 4, as we have just seen. The third, corrupt religion, is now treated with fine prophetic scorn (Amos 4:4–5). “Go to Bethel and sin; go to Gilgal and sin yet more”—the equivalent of saying, “Go to Canterbury and sin; go to Baptist headquarters and sin yet more.” (Fill in your own denominational mecca!) The place where, historically, Israel faithfully offered stipulated sacrifices (before the temple took precedence) are still places of sacrifice, but are now characterized by fine aesthetics, religious enthusiasm, and lots of bragging. Where are contrition and the broken spirit (cf. Ps. 51:17)?
(3) In the following verses (Amos 4:6–13) God reviews some of the temporal judgments he has imposed on the people at various times as warnings of much greater judgment to come. These warnings proved ineffective: witness the dreadful refrain, “ ‘[Y]et you have not returned to me,’ declares the LORD” (Amos 4:8, 9, 10, 11). Therefore the God of Israel will meet them (Amos 4:12)—he will meet them, all right, not in the glory of theophany but in the terror of judgment.
Hebrews 10 brings together many of the earlier arguments of this book, while advancing some new ones. It also marks a transition: from Hebrews 10:19 on, the balance of explanation and exhortation changes. Now there is more of the latter and less of the former.
The summary of the antecedent instruction is found at the beginning of the chapter: “The law [by which the author means the entire law-covenant, not least its tabernacle, priestly system, and sacrifices] is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who would draw near to worship” (Heb. 10:1).
By contrast, “we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place [not the Most Holy Place of the old tabernacle or temple, but the very presence of the living God] by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain” (Heb. 10:19–20). That generates a sequence of five “let us” statements.
(1) Let us draw near to God (Heb. 10:22). Because so full and final a sacrifice has been offered for us, let us make use of it, approaching this holy God “with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith,” precisely because our consciences have been purged.
(2) Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess (Heb. 10:23). What Christ has accomplished on the cross is the fulfillment of the Old Testament models and predictions, but the climax of what it inaugurates is still future. Our ultimate vindication and transformation lie ahead. But this hope is as certain as the triumph of Christ was effective, “for he who promised is faithful” (Heb. 10:23).
(3) Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds (Heb. 10:24). We do not seek the consummation as spiritual lone rangers; Christians live now in the community of the church and will live then in the community of the heavenly city.
(4) Negatively, let us not give up meeting together (Heb. 10:25). Just because some fall into withdrawal patterns is no reason why we should, if we truly grasp the greatness of the salvation in which we are participating and the glory yet to be revealed.
(5) Comprehensively, let us encourage one another—indeed, more and more “as you see the Day approaching” (Heb. 10:25). Everyone will grow weary from time to time, or lapse into unrest or self-focus. If all believers pledge themselves to encourage one another in the gospel and all it grants and promises, there will be far fewer individual failures, against which the author warns in the remaining verses of the chapter.
5:1 The sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel (for he was the firstborn, but because he defiled his father's couch, his birthright was given to the sons of Joseph the son of Israel, so that he could not be enrolled as the oldest son; 2 though Judah became strong among his brothers and a chief came from him, yet the birthright belonged to Joseph), 3 the sons of Reuben, the firstborn of Israel: Hanoch, Pallu, Hezron, and Carmi. 4 The sons of Joel: Shemaiah his son, Gog his son, Shimei his son, 5 Micah his son, Reaiah his son, Baal his son, 6 Beerah his son, whom Tiglath-pileser1 king of Assyria carried away into exile; he was a chief of the Reubenites. 7 And his kinsmen by their clans, when the genealogy of their generations was recorded: the chief, Jeiel, and Zechariah, 8 and Bela the son of Azaz, son of Shema, son of Joel, who lived in Aroer, as far as Nebo and Baal-meon. 9 He also lived to the east as far as the entrance of the desert this side of the Euphrates, because their livestock had multiplied in the land of Gilead. 10 And in the days of Saul they waged war against the Hagrites, who fell into their hand. And they lived in their tents throughout all the region east of Gilead.
11 The sons of Gad lived over against them in the land of Bashan as far as Salecah: 12 Joel the chief, Shapham the second, Janai, and Shaphat in Bashan. 13 And their kinsmen according to their fathers' houses: Michael, Meshullam, Sheba, Jorai, Jacan, Zia and Eber, seven. 14 These were the sons of Abihail the son of Huri, son of Jaroah, son of Gilead, son of Michael, son of Jeshishai, son of Jahdo, son of Buz. 15 Ahi the son of Abdiel, son of Guni, was chief in their fathers' houses, 16 and they lived in Gilead, in Bashan and in its towns, and in all the pasturelands of Sharon to their limits. 17 All of these were recorded in genealogies in the days of Jotham king of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam king of Israel.
18 The Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh had valiant men who carried shield and sword, and drew the bow, expert in war, 44,760, able to go to war. 19 They waged war against the Hagrites, Jetur, Naphish, and Nodab. 20 And when they prevailed2 over them, the Hagrites and all who were with them were given into their hands, for they cried out to God in the battle, and he granted their urgent plea because they trusted in him. 21 They carried off their livestock: 50,000 of their camels, 250,000 sheep, 2,000 donkeys, and 100,000 men alive. 22 For many fell, because the war was of God. And they lived in their place until the exile.
23 The members of the half-tribe of Manasseh lived in the land. They were very numerous from Bashan to Baal-hermon, Senir, and Mount Hermon. 24 These were the heads of their fathers' houses: Epher,3 Ishi, Eliel, Azriel, Jeremiah, Hodaviah, and Jahdiel, mighty warriors, famous men, heads of their fathers' houses. 25 But they broke faith with the God of their fathers, and whored after the gods of the peoples of the land, whom God had destroyed before them. 26 So the God of Israel stirred up the spirit of Pul king of Assyria, the spirit of Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria, and he took them into exile, namely, the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh, and brought them to Halah, Habor, Hara, and the river Gozan, to this day.4
6:1 The sons of Levi: Gershon, Kohath, and Merari. 2 The sons of Kohath: Amram, Izhar, Hebron, and Uzziel. 3 The children of Amram: Aaron, Moses, and Miriam. The sons of Aaron: Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar. 4 Eleazar fathered Phinehas, Phinehas fathered Abishua, 5 Abishua fathered Bukki, Bukki fathered Uzzi, 6 Uzzi fathered Zerahiah, Zerahiah fathered Meraioth, 7 Meraioth fathered Amariah, Amariah fathered Ahitub, 8 Ahitub fathered Zadok, Zadok fathered Ahimaaz, 9 Ahimaaz fathered Azariah, Azariah fathered Johanan, 10 and Johanan fathered Azariah (it was he who served as priest in the house that Solomon built in Jerusalem). 11 Azariah fathered Amariah, Amariah fathered Ahitub, 12 Ahitub fathered Zadok, Zadok fathered Shallum, 13 Shallum fathered Hilkiah, Hilkiah fathered Azariah, 14 Azariah fathered Seraiah, Seraiah fathered Jehozadak; 15 and Jehozadak went into exile when the LORD sent Judah and Jerusalem into exile by the hand of Nebuchadnezzar.
16 5 The sons of Levi: Gershom, Kohath, and Merari. 17 And these are the names of the sons of Gershom: Libni and Shimei. 18 The sons of Kohath: Amram, Izhar, Hebron and Uzziel. 19 The sons of Merari: Mahli and Mushi. These are the clans of the Levites according to their fathers. 20 Of Gershom: Libni his son, Jahath his son, Zimmah his son, 21 Joah his son, Iddo his son, Zerah his son, Jeatherai his son. 22 The sons of Kohath: Amminadab his son, Korah his son, Assir his son, 23 Elkanah his son, Ebiasaph his son, Assir his son, 24 Tahath his son, Uriel his son, Uzziah his son, and Shaul his son. 25 The sons of Elkanah: Amasai and Ahimoth, 26 Elkanah his son, Zophai his son, Nahath his son, 27 Eliab his son, Jeroham his son, Elkanah his son. 28 The sons of Samuel: Joel6 his firstborn, the second Abijah.7 29 The sons of Merari: Mahli, Libni his son, Shimei his son, Uzzah his son, 30 Shimea his son, Haggiah his son, and Asaiah his son.
31 These are the men whom David put in charge of the service of song in the house of the LORD after the ark rested there. 32 They ministered with song before the tabernacle of the tent of meeting until Solomon built the house of the LORD in Jerusalem, and they performed their service according to their order. 33 These are the men who served and their sons. Of the sons of the Kohathites: Heman the singer the son of Joel, son of Samuel, 34 son of Elkanah, son of Jeroham, son of Eliel, son of Toah, 35 son of Zuph, son of Elkanah, son of Mahath, son of Amasai, 36 son of Elkanah, son of Joel, son of Azariah, son of Zephaniah, 37 son of Tahath, son of Assir, son of Ebiasaph, son of Korah, 38 son of Izhar, son of Kohath, son of Levi, son of Israel; 39 and his brother Asaph, who stood on his right hand, namely, Asaph the son of Berechiah, son of Shimea, 40 son of Michael, son of Baaseiah, son of Malchijah, 41 son of Ethni, son of Zerah, son of Adaiah, 42 son of Ethan, son of Zimmah, son of Shimei, 43 son of Jahath, son of Gershom, son of Levi. 44 On the left hand were their brothers, the sons of Merari: Ethan the son of Kishi, son of Abdi, son of Malluch, 45 son of Hashabiah, son of Amaziah, son of Hilkiah, 46 son of Amzi, son of Bani, son of Shemer, 47 son of Mahli, son of Mushi, son of Merari, son of Levi. 48 And their brothers the Levites were appointed for all the service of the tabernacle of the house of God.
49 But Aaron and his sons made offerings on the altar of burnt offering and on the altar of incense for all the work of the Most Holy Place, and to make atonement for Israel, according to all that Moses the servant of God had commanded. 50 These are the sons of Aaron: Eleazar his son, Phinehas his son, Abishua his son, 51 Bukki his son, Uzzi his son, Zerahiah his son, 52 Meraioth his son, Amariah his son, Ahitub his son, 53 Zadok his son, Ahimaaz his son.
54 These are their dwelling places according to their settlements within their borders: to the sons of Aaron of the clans of Kohathites, for theirs was the first lot, 55 to them they gave Hebron in the land of Judah and its surrounding pasturelands, 56 but the fields of the city and its villages they gave to Caleb the son of Jephunneh. 57 To the sons of Aaron they gave the cities of refuge: Hebron, Libnah with its pasturelands, Jattir, Eshtemoa with its pasturelands, 58 Hilen with its pasturelands, Debir with its pasturelands, 59 Ashan with its pasturelands, and Beth-shemesh with its pasturelands; 60 and from the tribe of Benjamin, Gibeon,8 Geba with its pasturelands, Alemeth with its pasturelands, and Anathoth with its pasturelands. All their cities throughout their clans were thirteen.
61 To the rest of the Kohathites were given by lot out of the clan of the tribe, out of the half-tribe, the half of Manasseh, ten cities. 62 To the Gershomites according to their clans were allotted thirteen cities out of the tribes of Issachar, Asher, Naphtali and Manasseh in Bashan. 63 To the Merarites according to their clans were allotted twelve cities out of the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and Zebulun. 64 So the people of Israel gave the Levites the cities with their pasturelands. 65 They gave by lot out of the tribes of Judah, Simeon, and Benjamin these cities that are mentioned by name.
66 And some of the clans of the sons of Kohath had cities of their territory out of the tribe of Ephraim. 67 They were given the cities of refuge: Shechem with its pasturelands in the hill country of Ephraim, Gezer with its pasturelands, 68 Jokmeam with its pasturelands, Beth-horon with its pasturelands, 69 Aijalon with its pasturelands, Gath-rimmon with its pasturelands, 70 and out of the half-tribe of Manasseh, Aner with its pasturelands, and Bileam with its pasturelands, for the rest of the clans of the Kohathites.
71 To the Gershomites were given out of the clan of the half-tribe of Manasseh: Golan in Bashan with its pasturelands and Ashtaroth with its pasturelands; 72 and out of the tribe of Issachar: Kedesh with its pasturelands, Daberath with its pasturelands, 73 Ramoth with its pasturelands, and Anem with its pasturelands; 74 out of the tribe of Asher: Mashal with its pasturelands, Abdon with its pasturelands, 75 Hukok with its pasturelands, and Rehob with its pasturelands; 76 and out of the tribe of Naphtali: Kedesh in Galilee with its pasturelands, Hammon with its pasturelands, and Kiriathaim with its pasturelands. 77 To the rest of the Merarites were allotted out of the tribe of Zebulun: Rimmono with its pasturelands, Tabor with its pasturelands, 78 and beyond the Jordan at Jericho, on the east side of the Jordan, out of the tribe of Reuben: Bezer in the wilderness with its pasturelands, Jahzah with its pasturelands, 79 Kedemoth with its pasturelands, and Mephaath with its pasturelands; 80 and out of the tribe of Gad: Ramoth in Gilead with its pasturelands, Mahanaim with its pasturelands, 81 Heshbon with its pasturelands, and Jazer with its pasturelands.
10:1 For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. 2 Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sins? 3 But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. 4 For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.
5 Consequently, when Christ1 came into the world, he said,
“Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired,
but a body have you prepared for me;
6 in burnt offerings and sin offerings
you have taken no pleasure.
7 Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God,
as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.’”
8 When he said above, “You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings” (these are offered according to the law), 9 then he added, “Behold, I have come to do your will.” He does away with the first in order to establish the second. 10 And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
11 And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when Christ2 had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. 14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.
15 And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying,
16 “This is the covenant that I will make with them
after those days, declares the Lord:
I will put my laws on their hearts,
and write them on their minds,”
17 then he adds,
“I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”
18 Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.
19 Therefore, brothers,3 since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
26 For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. 28 Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. 29 How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
32 But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, 33 sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. 34 For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one. 35 Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. 36 For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. 37 For,
“Yet a little while,
and the coming one will come and will not delay;
38 but my righteous one shall live by faith,
and if he shrinks back,
my soul has no pleasure in him.”
39 But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.
4:1 “Hear this word, you cows of Bashan,
who are on the mountain of Samaria,
who oppress the poor, who crush the needy,
who say to your husbands, ‘Bring, that we may drink!’
2 The Lord GOD has sworn by his holiness
that, behold, the days are coming upon you,
when they shall take you away with hooks,
even the last of you with fishhooks.
3 And you shall go out through the breaches,
each one straight ahead;
and you shall be cast out into Harmon,”
declares the LORD.
4 “Come to Bethel, and transgress;
to Gilgal, and multiply transgression;
bring your sacrifices every morning,
your tithes every three days;
5 offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving of that which is leavened,
and proclaim freewill offerings, publish them;
for so you love to do, O people of Israel!”
declares the Lord GOD.
6 “I gave you cleanness of teeth in all your cities,
and lack of bread in all your places,
yet you did not return to me,”
declares the LORD.
7 “I also withheld the rain from you
when there were yet three months to the harvest;
I would send rain on one city,
and send no rain on another city;
one field would have rain,
and the field on which it did not rain would wither;
8 so two or three cities would wander to another city
to drink water, and would not be satisfied;
yet you did not return to me,”
declares the LORD.
9 “I struck you with blight and mildew;
your many gardens and your vineyards,
your fig trees and your olive trees the locust devoured;
yet you did not return to me,”
declares the LORD.
10 “I sent among you a pestilence after the manner of Egypt;
I killed your young men with the sword,
and carried away your horses,1
and I made the stench of your camp go up into your nostrils;
yet you did not return to me,”
declares the LORD.
11 “I overthrew some of you,
as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah,
and you were as a brand2 plucked out of the burning;
yet you did not return to me,”
declares the LORD.
12 “Therefore thus I will do to you, O Israel;
because I will do this to you,
prepare to meet your God, O Israel!”
13 For behold, he who forms the mountains and creates the wind,
and declares to man what is his thought,
who makes the morning darkness,
and treads on the heights of the earth—
the LORD, the God of hosts, is his name!
148:1 Praise the LORD!
Praise the LORD from the heavens;
praise him in the heights!
2 Praise him, all his angels;
praise him, all his hosts!
3 Praise him, sun and moon,
praise him, all you shining stars!
4 Praise him, you highest heavens,
and you waters above the heavens!
5 Let them praise the name of the LORD!
For he commanded and they were created.
6 And he established them forever and ever;
he gave a decree, and it shall not pass away.1
7 Praise the LORD from the earth,
you great sea creatures and all deeps,
8 fire and hail, snow and mist,
stormy wind fulfilling his word!
9 Mountains and all hills,
fruit trees and all cedars!
10 Beasts and all livestock,
creeping things and flying birds!
11 Kings of the earth and all peoples,
princes and all rulers of the earth!
12 Young men and maidens together,
old men and children!
13 Let them praise the name of the LORD,
for his name alone is exalted;
his majesty is above earth and heaven.
14 He has raised up a horn for his people,
praise for all his saints,
for the people of Israel who are near to him.
Praise the LORD!
149:1 Praise the LORD!
Sing to the LORD a new song,
his praise in the assembly of the godly!
2 Let Israel be glad in his Maker;
let the children of Zion rejoice in their King!
3 Let them praise his name with dancing,
making melody to him with tambourine and lyre!
4 For the LORD takes pleasure in his people;
he adorns the humble with salvation.
5 Let the godly exult in glory;
let them sing for joy on their beds.
6 Let the high praises of God be in their throats
and two-edged swords in their hands,
7 to execute vengeance on the nations
and punishments on the peoples,
8 to bind their kings with chains
and their nobles with fetters of iron,
9 to execute on them the judgment written!
This is honor for all his godly ones.
Praise the LORD!
150:1 Praise the LORD!
Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens!2
2 Praise him for his mighty deeds;
praise him according to his excellent greatness!
3 Praise him with trumpet sound;
praise him with lute and harp!
4 Praise him with tambourine and dance;
praise him with strings and pipe!
5 Praise him with sounding cymbals;
praise him with loud clashing cymbals!
6 Let everything that has breath praise the LORD!
Praise the LORD!