Reading the beginning of Amos today showed me another “New Testament” concept that was really in full force in the Old Testament, giving more credence to the unchanging nature of God.
Amos was written during the divided kingdom, and was addressed to the northern kingdom of Israel (the southern kingdom was referred to as Judah). The first two chapters of Amos contain 8 announcements of judgement on different nations. Each one starts with “Thus says the LORD: ‘For three transgressions of [Enter nation here], and for four, I will not revoke the punishment, ‘” but then proceeds to only list one or two sins. The fact that each list gets cut off leaves the reader waiting to hear about another city that’s really gonna get it. Finally (so a Jewish reader would believe), we get to number 7, and the prophet Amos names Judah. The heart of Israel would leap inside them as they find out that this whole long section is building up to the judgement of Judah, their enemy. However, their list is also cut short. The 8th and final nation that Amos points to is Israel, giving a full list of 4 sins, as well as a hefty section on judgement.
All that is not the point of this post, but shows the main reason all these judgments were announced. Israel is painted as the worst offender, worse off than the pagan nations around them, and more deserving of judgement. However, in addition to this message, we get a glimpse of God’s character and desires.
Amos 1 and 2 is one of a handful of passages that shows God’s workings in other nations. Israel was God’s chosen people to be sure, but chosen for what? Through the covenant He made with Abraham, we can see that God’s purpose for Israel was to bring the entire world to Himself. They would be the example through whom the world could learn about God (unfortunately, as a result of Israel’s constant rebellion, they were only a bad example not to follow throughout most of the Old Testament). This passage shows that during all His workings with Israel, He was still at work in other nations, and held them accountable for their own actions, even when it had nothing to do with His chosen people.
In the New Testament we read that God loves the Gentiles, and Peter is called to minister to them. Since it’s so obvious here, and not so much in the Old Testament, we get the idea that God didn’t care about the Gentiles back then. Well, God is unchanging, and has always loved and pursued a relationship with the entire world, hoping to bring them all to Himself.