In Amos 2:6–16 the prophet, having boxed the compass with descriptions of God’s judgment on surrounding nations, turns to the sins of God’s covenant people, Israel. The poor are oppressed by the wealthy, even trampled into the dirt. Immorality is rampant (and even the immorality is oppressive).
“In the final analysis, the Lord God asks us to be merciful not for the sake of the poor but for His own sake. . . . By being merciful, God’s people are to celebrate the virtues of their merciful Father. They are to manifest His image.” (Herman Veldkamp, The Farmer from Tekoa, p. 70).
Israel sins in its relationship with the LORD. The LORD recounts his mercy to his people. He is faithful to his covenant promises. The Amorites, the inhabitants of the land before Israel, are destroyed, despite their gigantic size (echoes of the warnings of 10 of the spies). See Numbers 21:21ff; Joshua 10. Notice among the mercies is the LORD leading his people in the wilderness for 40 years. We think of that time as judgment (and in a sense it was). But it was also a blessing. The LORD was leading them for that time so that they could inherit the promised land. Recognize that God may be leading you through difficult, trying, seemingly punishing times in order to prepare you for receiving additional blessing. But the climax of their sin is simply that command the prophets to be silent. Israel treated those who were set apart to God as profane, as ordinary. The distinctiveness of the prophet is that he speaks God’s Word. But he is silenced. The relationship between God and his people is broken, the voice of the LORD is silenced.
Membership in God’s covenant people does not spare you from judgement if you live in rebellion, whether it is open defiance of God or a quiet pushing him into the background. Take God’s coming judgment seriously. No one is powerful enough (the hero described as warrior), no one is swift enough, to escape God’s judgment. “That day” is the Day of the LORD. Be thankful for the LORD’s vindication. Note that even the crushing cart is groaning with the harvested grain. The harvest will ultimately prove to be abundantly fruitful, Amos 9. “That day” is the Day of the LORD, a day of judgement, but also of salvation.
[The Wednesday evening Bible Study at Trinity Presbyterian Church focuses on Amos 2.]