|Faith Strengthened||Chapter 32||Part 1|
Amos 5:2, "The virgin of Israel is fallen: she shall no more rise; she is forsaken upon her land; there are none to raise her up." From this verse it has been argued, that the downfall of Israel is determined for ever, that our captivity will never terminate, and that we have no chance of redemption.
Refutation.—It appears from other words of the same prophet that this prediction does not relate to the perpetual condemnation of Israel; for he says, at the close of his book (chapter 9:14, 15), "And I will bring back the captivity of my people Israel, and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them, and they shall plant vineyards and drink the wine thereof, and they shall also make gardens and gather fruit of them. And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be rooted out of their land which I have given them, saith the Lord thy God." Since a contradiction in the prophetic promises cannot be admitted, the above passages can only be explained in the following manner. The prophet, after having related the evils which await Israel on account of their iniquitous conduct, reproaches them in chapter 4, of the same book, five successive times, "And ye have not returned unto me saith the Lord."
He continues, in the same chapter, verse 12, "Thus I will do unto thee, O Israel! And because I will do this unto thee, prepare to meet thy God, O Israel!" Which implies penitence and good deeds; for them He will do good unto thee and change thy sufferings into happiness, for He is thy God who dispenses evil and good according to your doings." In order to represent Him to the mind as the universal Disposer of Events, the prophet goes on to say (Ibid. 4:13), "For lo! He that formeth the mountains, and createth the wind, and declareth His purposes unto man, that changes the morning into darkness, and treadeth upon the high places of the earth, the Lord, the God of Hosts, is His name." As Creator of the world He is cognizant of everything, He is the Maintainer and Supporter of all things, the most distant events He inspects clearly: and He, through His prophets, acquaints man with His designs. As He makes light and darkness alternate for the benefit of His creatures, He makes also the good and the evil to effect His will among the children of men. Thus He is to be worshipped under the name of the God of Hosts as the God of the whole Universe. Thus He does, as Supreme Judge, dispose us to submit to His decrees; and although we may occasionally suffer in consequence of our errors and failings, we still feel that His protection extends over us in strict accordance with His goodness. This idea is conveyed by the whole tenor of the fourth chapter of the book of Amos, and forms an appropriate introduction to chapter 5, which begins thus, "Hear ye the word which I take up against you, even a lamentation, O house of Israel! The virgin of Israel is fallen; she shall no more rise," etc. He speaks here of the virgin of Israel and announces that the physical energies of the people are exhausted by the tyranny of strangers and by the loss of those sent into exile; their own kings and rulers had no longer power to effect the repentance required, and therefore a Divine intervention was necessary to accomplish their restoration. The prophet therefore, ibid. verse 3, brings the sad message,—"For thus saith the Lord, The city that went out by a thousand shall leave a hundred, and that which went forth by a hundred shall leave ten to the house of Israel." According to the prophet, the calamities contingent on the fall of Israel would be fearful, for they would be cast down by the sword, or decimated by famine and pestilence, and only a small portion would be spared for the captivity. Against such national prostration the prophet points out the sole remedy, consisting in sincere repentance. The terrifying announcement of Israel’s destruction is, therefore, entirely mitigated by the Divine counsel, Amos 5:4, "Thus saith the Lord unto Israel, Seek ye me, and ye shall live." It is well understood that the term to seek, means to become penitent. Isaiah, in 55:6-7, uses a similar expression, "Seek ye the Lord, while he is yet to be found." He explains there his admonition by saying, "The wicked man shall leave his way, and the iniquitous man his thoughts, and return unto the Lord, and He will have compassion on him." This shows that the prophet Amos has not predicted the irretrievable ruin of Israel, but that it may hope to obtain, through penitence, its restoration and revival, as a nation.