Judgments on the Nations

Thus says the Lord: ‘For three transgressions of Gaza, and for four, I will not revoke the punishment, because they carried into exile a whole people to deliver them up to Edom’” (1:6).

- Amos 1:2-2:3

Amos’ book begins with several oracles of judgment against nations that were geographically close to ancient Israel. These nations were guilty of heinous acts that so violated the moral law of God that they deserved His wrath.

Several nations listed were guilty of the same types of sins. For example, the Philistines and the residents of Tyre both delivered “a whole people to Edom” (Amos 1:6, 9). The Philistines of Gaza, Ashdod, Ashkelon, and Ekron lived west of Judah near the Mediterranean Sea and were ancient enemies of God’s people. Tyre was situated immediately west of the territory in the northern kingdom of Israel that would eventually be called Galilee. Taking “a whole people to Edom” refers to these foreigners invading the Promised Land, kidnapping Israelites, and selling them into slavery. As kidnapping is a capital crime according to God’s law (Ex. 21:16), the Lord condemned these peoples.

Judgment for these cities and peoples, said Amos, would be the devouring of their strongholds and fire on their walls (Amos 1:6–10), allusions to the siege and conquest of cities. In fact, Amos’ words came true for Philistia about twenty years after he preached this oracle when Tiglath-pileser III of Assyria conquered the region in 734 BC. King Hezekiah of Judah pushed back the armies of Gaza after that (2 Kings 18:1–8). As for Tyre, the city suffered repeated invasions, and thousands of its residents were carried into slavery near the end of the fourth century BC when Alexander the Great invaded.

Amos condemned the Ammonites for ripping “open pregnant women in Gilead, that they might enlarge their border” (Amos 1:13). To expand their economic and political power, the Ammonites slaughtered Gilead’s residents, even its pregnant women and their unborn children. While awful enough, this crime was compounded by the Ammonites’ familial relation to Israel through Lot, Abraham’s nephew (Gen. 19:30–38).

How little things have changed after nearly three thousand years. Today, abortionists help millions of pregnant women and their relatives slaughter their unborn children, mostly for convenience or to not “burden” the family finances or otherwise make it harder to enjoy a certain lifestyle. Politicians court the donations and votes of the pro-abortion crowd to maintain their power, filling their campaign coffers with blood money. Such acts manifest and invite the wrath of God (Rom. 1:18–32).

Coram Deo

Unlike the ancient Ammonites, the pro-abortion people in the modern West do not advocate killing pregnant women (though women die every year from allegedly “safe” abortions). Still, because pro-abortion people advocate murdering unborn people made in God’s image, they are guilty of great evil and ask for the end of their nation, for the Lord will not forever abide countries who tolerate such evil. May we all work to end the scourge of abortion on demand.

Passages for Further Study

Exodus 21:22–25
2 Kings 15:13–22
Colossians 3:5–6
Revelation 6:12–17

Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you do not make more than 500 physical copies. For web posting, a link to this document on our website is preferred (where applicable). If no such link exists, simply link to www.ligonier.org.

Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: From Ligonier Ministries, the teaching fellowship of R.C. Sproul. All rights reserved. Website: www.ligonier.org | Phone: 1-800-435-4343