Amos 2

1Thus says the LORD:

“For three transgressions of Moab,

and for four, I will not revoke the punishment,

because he burned to lime

the bones of the king of Edom.

2So I will send a fire upon Moab,

and it shall devour the strongholds of Kerioth,

and Moab shall die amid uproar,

amid shouting and the sound of the trumpet;

3 I will cut off the ruler from its midst,

and will kill all its princes with him,”

says the LORD.

4Thus says the LORD:

“For three transgressions of Judah,

and for four, I will not revoke the punishment,

because they have rejected the law of the LORD,

and have not kept his statutes,

but their lies have led them astray,

those after which their fathers walked.

5So I will send a fire upon Judah,

and it shall devour the strongholds of Jerusalem.”

6Thus says the LORD:

“For three transgressions of Israel,

and for four, I will not revoke the punishment,

because they sell the righteous for silver,

and the needy for a pair of sandals—

Some of the sins for which God punishes nations are truly barbaric. The first one mentioned in chapter 2, for instance, speaks of burning a king’s bones to lime. There is religious significance to that but the action itself is an indication of great hatred and cruelty.

Some of the other sins against which God levies judgement, however, do not seem that bad to 21st century sensibilities. Judah is judged because they reject the Law of God and tell lies. We would side with God as He punishes cruelty and yet we would find God to be a harsh taskmaster for punishing Judah for its seeming small sins of lying. This is because we do the same all the time. If not obeying all the law is punishable by death then there is no hope for anyone and so we say that God is cruel.

Some of the sins God takes action against are sins that we commit but may not recognize that we do. In 2:6 God charges the people with selling the righteous for silver and the needy for a pair of sandals. To live in comfort at the expense of the poor is a great evil. Does this count globally? Do we commit this sin when we support policies that help keep the poor in their place or buy products because they are cheaper and the reason they are cheaper is because the products are made in sweat shops for poverty wages?

In 2:9 God reminds them that the things they have they have because He defeated their enemies and established them in the land. To live in such a way that we do not acknowledge God for the things we have is to put ourselves under His judgement. To fail to recognize God as the Source of all our good is evil that demands justice. But we do not think so. We think such sins are not sins at all. But ingratitude is one of the greatest sins there can be. It is the sin of godlessness. It is the sin of independence. It is that which takes the credit to itself when it is God who deserves it. This is idolatry and that is the worst sin of all.

Dressing up sin in respectable garb does not alter its abhorrence to God. Elevating some sins to be horrible while making our own to be small is a great sin in and of itself. Great sin demands severe justice and that is precisely what all our sins are due.

We stand under the judgement of God and our only hope is Jesus Christ. We deserve to die – He died. We deserve to be forsaken by God – He was forsaken by God. We deserve to suffer for our sins – He suffered for our sins. What He did on the cross is our only means of salvation. We must see the work of Christ in everything for us. We will never properly value the greatness of what Jesus has done if we count our sins as small. But if we understand that Jesus on the cross is taking the punishment that our sins deserve then we will worship Him for the great mercy that the cross demonstrates.

Don’t minimize your sins to make yourself look less offensive. Measure them by what it took to save you from them – the death of the eternal Son of God. It will help you live for His glory in everything and that is why we are all here in the first place.