Condemning for National Wrongs

KEY VERSE: “You only have I known of all the families of the earth: therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.” —Amos 3:2

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: Amos 2:4-8; 3:1, 2

THE EXPERIENCES OF Israel are unique among all the nations of the world because of its special relationship with God. This is the nation for which God blessed and fought—the nation that received miraculous deliverance time and time again. But with this special relationship came special responsibilities to live up to their covenant with the Lord—responsibilities to their Creator, and to each other as a community of faith. It was this second responsibility that the prophet Amos referred to when he proclaimed to Israel the words of our Key Verse.

As members of the human family, mankind, as well as nations, are accountable to their Creator. All are required to live by his laws of righteousness, or bear the punishment resulting from disobedience to them. Amos pronounced punishment upon Damascus, Gaza, Tyrus, Edom, Ammon, and Moab for various transgressions against God’s ways. (Amos 1:3-15; 2:1-3) Israel, despite its special relationship to God, despite being chosen by God from among all the nations of the world, was not exempt from similar required obedience.

In pronouncing punishment upon Judah and Israel, Amos reminds the Jews of their exodus experience, their defining experience as a nation: “I brought you up from the land of Egypt, and led you forty years through the wilderness, to possess the land of the Amorite. And I raised up of your sons for prophets, and of your young men for Nazarites. Is it not even thus, O ye children of Israel? saith the Lord.”—Amos 2:10,11

Amos reminded the people of Israel that they shared this common experience, that they were connected by it as a community. The special blessings they received from the Creator demanded special responsibility both to God and to each other. They, among all the nations of the earth, should always have honored the traditions of their nation. They, among all the nations of the earth, should have honored all within their community from the most prominent to the very least prominent—from the wealthiest to the poorest. They, among all the nations of the earth, should have cared for all within their community just as the Lord had delivered all from the bondage of Egypt. But they forgot their responsibilities, and therefore received punishments for their disloyalty.

Today, those who aspire to become part of antitypical Israel can learn an important lesson from the experiences of typical Israel. Just as natural Israel was chosen by God, spiritual Israel is also specially called by God. As Jesus explained: “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him.” (John 6:44) And just as the nation of Israel became bound by their common experiences, spiritual Israel becomes bonded together with their brothers and sisters in Christ in a new shared community—the body of Christ. And along with this special bond come unique responsibilities to each other.

The Apostle Paul stresses this fact in I Corinthians 12, where he speaks of many members making up the body of Christ. Just as the nation of Israel had a duty to take extra care for each other, we are told of our duty to care for fellow body members because God has placed each one in the body as it has pleased him. (vs. 18) As Paul tells us, “There should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.”—vss. 25-27

Are we caring for our brethren as the Lord has directed? Have we learned from the errors of typical Israel? ‘Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.”—I John 4:11,12

Dawn Bible Students Association
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