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Chapter 4

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Israel Has Not Returned To God (ch. 4:1 - 13)                


Bashan was a well watered area east of the Jordan River and the Sea of Galilee.   It was part of the land that was given to Manasseh.  It was good for grazing cattle because of the abundance of good pasture land.  Thus the reference to "cows" in verse 1.


Note also the word "women" in verse 1.  The word "women" is linked to the word "cow".  You might note that chapter 3 of Amos was devoted to men, but chapter 4 is devoted to women.  Women are referred to as cows.  That may not sound very nice, but God is upset with the women just as much as He is upset with the men.


Even the women in the northern kingdom oppress the poor and needy as verse 1 states.  So, you can see, the oppression of the poor was not simply done by the leaders of the northern kingdom of Israel, and not just by the men.  The women participated in unjust activity as well.  This was a real social sin.  It was not an isolated sin.  It penetrated all of society, and I would suggest that the western world today is well on its' way to the same sin.  This sin was based on affluence.  The northern kingdom was very wealthy.  Much of it was gained through unjust measure towards the poor.  The wealthier the kingdom got, the more wealth they wanted and the more unjust things they did to get the wealth.


Also in verse 1 the women say to their husbands, "bring us some drinks".  This suggests that women were demanding, and their demand was for luxury, relaxation, a even more wealth that they already had.  They simply demanded the good life from their husbands.  This demanding attitude suggests to me a mentality of "entitlement" that seems to be spreading across the world of young women today who idolize women pop and movie stars who have it all and expect it all from life. 


Verses 2 and 3 tells us that God tells the women of the northern kingdom that they will be dragged away with hooks from their land.  The same terminology is used in Ezekiel 38 when God drags Gog from the north down to attack Israel at the end of this age.  God tells the women that they will be cast out of the land towards Harmon.


When it comes to hooks, as mentioned here, the Assyrians literally used hooks when capturing their enemy.  They would put hooks in the noses of people and drag them away.  So we see how exact the prophecies of God are.  They are more exact than what we might think at first glance.  Many of us don't take the Bible as literal as we should,  which is to our detriment.   


Just where Harmon is, is uncertain.  Many Bible scholars actually think this is another name for the Mount Hermon (with and "e", not an "a") range of mountains.  That makes geographical sense because the Mount Hermon range of mountains is in the northern part of the northern kingdom, where they would have been dragged to by God.


This prophecy was fulfilled when Assyria, who would have come from the direction of Mount Hermon , or Harmon, attack the northern kingdom, and dragged them away.  The prophecy is precise and its fulfillment happened as stated.  The Assyrians literally took the Jews out of their land. 


Mount Hermon throughout history has always been a place of worship to false gods.  Israel's passage through Hermon as they are dragged out is therefore relevant because they are passing through territory devoted to the gods they turn to.


In verse 4 God is being sarcastic.  Can God really be sarcastic?  Apparently so.   He tells the women to go to Bethel and Gilgal and sin.  Both Bethel and Gilgal are prominent and religious cities for Israel.  God is seen here with His hands raised, so to speak, and telling the women of the northern kingdom to just go and sin in the holy places as much as they want.  God is totally fed up and is handing these people over to their sin as Paul says God does in Romans 1.


Verse 5 continues with this tone of sarcasm.  The Lord mentions a number of things that Israel was supposed to do in accordance with the Law of Moses, but was to do them out of pure motives.  Israel was still doing these  things but strictly from routine and tradition, and, all along worshipping other gods as well.  God was not happy with the northern kingdom, which included the women.


From verses 6 to 11 God reminds the women of Israel how He punished Israel in the past with all sorts of tragedies, but they did not repent. 


One warning to repent is seen in verse 7.  God withheld rain on some fields while causing rain on other fields.  This reminds me of problems we are having with our weather today.  It's not mother nature behind our current weather problems, it's the Lord.  These problems are meant to be a warning of worse days ahead.  As the text states here, these problems are also meant to cause us to repent, but, as in the days of Amos, we are not repenting today, as Israel did not repent back then


Verse 8 gives us another warning.  The lack of good water caused people to "stagger" from town to town looking for water.  Today, as I write these words, I hear on the news that people are doing the same right now in Africa .  They are experiencing a famine that the United Nations says is the worst in human history.  Literally, woman women stagger for a four hour one way trip just to find water for their family.  As in the warning with the rain in verse 7, Israel still does not repent.  I would suggest that few, and no national leaders, even think that this present famine in Africa is a call to repent.  


Verse 9 continues in the same vein, as well as verse 10.  The one thing to note in verse 10 is that God judged Israel with these warnings in the same way He judged Egypt prior to Israel's flight from Egypt.  God is just and sin will be accounted for, no matter who commits the sin, whether His people or the pagan.  God judges His people just as severely as He does the pagan.   We see this also in verse 11 where God compares Israel to Sodom and Gomorrah.  God did not treat His own called out people any differently than those in Sodom and Gomorrah. There is certainly a lesson to be learned here.   


Verse 12 begins with the word "therefore".  As is often noted.  When you see the word "therefore" at the beginning of a sentence, you need to know why it is there for.  In this case the word "therefore" begins verse 12 because of Israel's refusal to repent.  Therefore, Israel will "meet their God', but we will see that this meeting is not a meeting of joy and celebration.  It is a meeting of judgment and punishment.


We see God's creation in verse 13.  It is God who is behind what we call nature.  There is no such thing as "mother nature".  A Christian should never use that term.  Mother nature isn't in charge of nature.  God is.


The chapter ends with "the Lord God Almighty" is His name.  Or in Hebrew, Yahweh Elohim" is the name of our God.


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