Amos 3:9-4:5 Punishment For Israel’s Sins.
As per a lawsuit, witnesses are called to testify, both nations as well as heaven and earth or creation (v. 9), and there is an introductory statement of the case-“‘they do not know to do right,’ says the LORD, ‘Who store up violence and robbery in their palaces’” (v. 10 Cf. Ps. 14:4; Jer. 4:22; Amos 5:7; 6:12). What follows is then the indictment. Where once the LORD defended them and gave them victories, now their enemies will defeat them all the way up to their palaces, and send them into exile. This would include ‘Bethel’, the house of the LORD, as well as all of their own houses (vv. 11-15 Cf. 4:4; I Kgs. 22:39; Hos. 10:5-8, 14-15). The prophet actually calls the women of Israel, who sat back in luxury, cows “who oppress the poor, who crush the needy,” and said to their husbands, “Bring wine, let us drink” (v. 1 Cf. 2:6; Prov. 23:20)!
To swear by His holiness was oath that could not be more final (Cf. Heb. 6:13-14). Those who turned their noses up at the poor will be drawn away as with fishhooks (v. 2 Cf. Ps. 89:35; Jer. 16:16; Ezek. 29:4; Hab. 1:15), taken through broken walls and cast into Harmon (v. 3 Cf. Ezek. 12:5). “The Assyrians frequently led prisoners by ropes attached to rings or hooks in their noses or lips” (NGSB. p.1399). Bethal and Gilgal go to the very heart of covenant renewal in the nation. “Bethel was a sanctuary during the period of the judges, and Samuel judged both there and at Gilgal (I Sam. 7:16). They were also centres of syncretistic worship during the period of the divided kingdom (5:5)” (Ibid. p.1399). However, religious activity, including their peace and freewill offerings, could not mask their rebellion against the law of the LORD, and their lack of repentance (Cf. Lev. 7:13; 22:18; Dt. 12:6).