The third nation condemned for its wickedness by the prophet Amos is Tyre. This nation was quite far to the northwest from the land of Israel.
The reason for the condemnation of Tyre seems to be virtually the same as that of Philistia. Both dealt in the slave trade. Tyre’s sin is not as grievous as Philistia’s because nothing is said concerning the capture of slaves, but only their sale of slaves to Edom. The slave market was not confined to one nation. Various nations made themselves guilty of this practice.
However, it is not only the slave trade which has occasioned the prophet’s condemnation of Tyre. That nation is also guilty of not remembering the brotherly covenant. This does not mean that Israel had made a covenant with Tyre. God’s people were constantly warned not to enter into covenants or alliances with the heathen. Had such a covenant of brotherliness been broken, the prophet would have rejoiced.
The covenant to which reference is made is no doubt the covenant made between Solomon and Hiram the king of Tyre (I Kings 5). This was a covenant of trade. Hiram calls Solomon “my brother” (I Kings 9:13). This was a brotherly covenant. The best relations had existed also between David and Hiram. This is now the sin of Tyre that they have not re· membered this brotherly covenant. Agreements are forgotten. They are become meaningless. This overturns the good-will relationship among nations. Confidence is destroyed. If such covenants are conveniently forgotten, there will be no honor among nations.
God is interested in the pacts between nations. He is very much concerned about the business dealings among men. Tyre is quite a distance from Samaria, but Jehovah’s roar is now heard distinctly even in Israel. The evils mentioned before were abominations also in the eyes of the Israelites. But God will destroy even a nation which does not honor business commitments. That touches Israel. Israel’s commerce and industry arc flourishing. Is it not enough that Israel brings sacrifices, pays its tithes, and sings David’s Psalms? Will God also look sharply at their business ethics? He will and still does. Tyre will be destroyed because it remembered not the brotherly covenant. Nations and individuals are destroyed not only because of atheism or immorality, but also because of corruption in business! The God of Amos, the God of the Bible, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, is a God who requires justice, also in the economic world.
The next nation to which the prophet turns his attention is Edom. This land was situated southeast of Israel. The Edomites are the descendants of Esau. There was a close historical tie to Edom. Esau and Jacob were brothers twin brothers. Israel is the people of promise—Esau is condemned. Although Israel was more closely related to Edom than to the previously mentioned nations, the enmity was greater.
There is really no specific sin mentioned for which Edom will be destroyed. It is rather an attitude. There had been enmity from the beginning. Jacob and Esau were twins—but there all similarity ceased. They did not look alike. They didn’t have the same interests. Most important of all, one was a believer and the other an unbeliever. Jacob fled from home because he feared Esau. He was afraid when he met Esau on his return at the Jabbok. Edom refused to give Israel permission to travel through its land when Israel was approaching Canaan. That pursuit with the sword went on through the ages.
Edom never showed pity. Esau was a rough and calloused individual and his descendants had the same trait. There was no feeling for their blood-relationship to Israel. Those who stand in the closest relationship toward each other often show the least pity.
Edom’s anger “tears,” rages, perpetually and he kept his wrath forever. There is no forgiving spirit. Jacob had not always dealt in a brotherly manner with Esau. He had much to confess. But is there no forgiving spirit even among brethren? Not with Esau. His anger “tears” (ch. 1:11) and he keeps his wrath. He does not only fall into sin, he lives in sin. This anger and wrath produces the sword wherewith he pursues his brother. It is the root of murder!
The attitude displayed by Edom toward Israel has seemingly stirred the emotions of the prophet. Philistia and Tyre were guilty of delivering slaves to Edom. Edom had made itself guilty of slave traffic. However, the prophet does not even mention this evil when he speaks of Edom directly. Although that slave traffic will not go unpunished, the attitude of hatred which Edom had shown to Israel is even more grievous. It is the attitude which is capable of committing virtually every sin, There was no penitence. Esau was grieved when he did not receive the blessing of his father (Heb. 12:17), but it was not genuine penitence. His descendants had that same impenitent spirit. God’s wrath is kindled against hatred of brethren. His wrath is kindled against the unforgiving spirit. Impenitence removes the possibility of salvation!
Because of the attitude of Edom the fires will rage there too. The punishment of this attitude of hatred is the same as the punishment of the overt evils committed by the other nations named earlier.
The whole prophecy is directed toward Israel. Let them be warned! God does not only punish corrupt business practices in Tyre and ungodly attitudes in Edom; he punishes such things wherever they are found. These things are written for the benefit of the church of all ages. God’s anger burns against these evils. He will roar from Zion and utter his voice from Jerusalem. That roar, that warning, must be sounded by the church. There God dwells. The voice of the church, the voice of the living God. must be raised against the evils of our day…or we shall likewise perish.
Questions for discussion:
1. Can a Christian be in business today? Are there difficulties, and, if so, what are these difficulties?
2. Is fair business dealing regarded as important as true confession? Is it as important?
3. Is it sin for nations to break treaties?
4. Is it always a sin for an individual not to meet his financial commitments?
5. Should the church speak out more freely against social evils? If she does will this make her gospel a “social gospel”?
6. How long may we be angry with a brother?
7. Do we ever truly forgive? Is it possible to forgive and forget?