Behold, I am pressed under you, as a cart is pressed that is full of sheaves. — Amos 2:13
One year, I was with my grandparents at harvest time. My grandfather, a very tall, hard-working individual, set out with his sons to harvest corn. This time he took my brother and me, too. However, we were told that we were expected to work and not distract the men from working. We assured our grandfather that we would comply.
With a sickle in his hand, Grandfather proceeded to cut the corn stalks with speed and precision. My uncles raced between themselves to see who could cut the fastest! My brother and I had to figure out how to use a sickle without hurting ourselves, and we enjoyed trying. Most of all, we enjoyed watching the progress and productivity of our grandfather and uncles.
Before long the sheaves of corn were stacked, forming a tent-like structure. My brother and I were quick to try to spread the stalks apart enough so we could go in the “tent” and play. Our fun lasted until the stacks were packed onto a cart. One of my most vivid memories is how my uncles tried to get as many sheaves on the cart as possible. They would load it up so high that I thought for sure it would fall and they would have to start all over. But it never did! They knew how to secure it well.
When I read the focus verse, where the Lord speaks of being pressed by the Children of Israel as a cart that is pressed full of sheaves, images of those carts carrying sheaves of corn loaded way above what seemed reasonable came to mind. There was no more room; but my uncles kept piling the sheaves higher. What an illustration of how the people of Isaiah’s time kept “piling” their disobedience higher and higher!
The Lord is patient with us, but our disobedience is displeasing to Him. He is long-suffering and often waits for us to obey Him. He desires only the best for us, but if we continually disregard His love, there will come a time when it will be too late, and judgment will fall. However, obedience comes easily when our hearts are set on pleasing God. We can do that, beginning today. Tomorrow may be too late. Right now, God is our loving Father, but if we disregard His love, tomorrow He may be our Judge.
The first three verses of chapter 2 cover the judgment pronounced on Moab as well as upon Judah and Israel. The Moabites were enemies of God’s people, and had succeeded in getting Israel to worship Baal. A people known for their atrocities, they descended from an incestuous relationship between Lot and his oldest daughter (Genesis 19:30-38). God was angry with Moab because they “burned the bones of the king of Edom into lime.” Although the Bible did not tell all the details of this particular event, it illustrated how intensely wicked the Moabites were. Apparently, the kings of Judah and Israel joined together with the king of Idumea to destroy Moab. In an effort to save his city, the king of Moab took several hundred men in an attempt to capture the king of Edom. In an effort to gain favor with his god, the Moabite king sacrificed his own son as a burnt offering. (See 2 Kings 3:27). God was displeased with such a display of rage and abuse of the human body, and He promised to devour the palaces of Kirioth, which was one of the main cities of Moab.
Next, God pronounced judgment on Judah, the Southern Kingdom, which was made up of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin. Judah despised the Law of the Lord. Its punishment was not for barbarous abuse of a dead body, but for idolatry. The people of Judah gave honor to idols rather than to God, and they believed their own lies. This caused them to err and depart from God’s ways, as their fathers had done. Instead of learning from the mistakes of their fathers, they followed in the same pattern. Therefore, God promised to send fire on Judah and destroy Jerusalem.
Beginning with verse 6, the prophet proclaimed that God was also angry with Israel for dealing unjustly with those who came to them for justice. They took bribes and sold the righteous men for silver. The scale of justice was tipped by the weight of the bribes taken. They made prey of the poor people who suffered sorrow, and they continued to do injury to others. They served other gods and mocked God by offering sacrifices of the bribes they received. Incest was also prevalent.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
II. The announcement of judgment upon the nations
A. Judgment upon the surrounding nations
6. The judgment of Moab (2:1-3)
a. The reason (2:1)
b. The judgment (2:2-3)
B. Judgment upon God’s people (2:4-16)
1. The judgment of Judah (2:4-5)
a. The reason (2:4)
b. The judgment (2:5)
2. The judgment of Israel (2:6-16)
a. The reason (2:6-12)
(1) Present sinfulness (2:6-8)
(2) Past negligence (2:9-12)
b. The judgment (2:13-16)
We can learn from the Bible what pleases God, and follow that through in our lives. If we do that, we will never have to fear the judgment of God.