Jehovah’s Judgment Will Come Against the Wicked
“Get ready to meet your God.”—AMOS 4:12.
1, 2. Why can we be confident that God will end wickedness?
WILL Jehovah ever put an end to wickedness and suffering on this earth? At the beginning of the 21st century, that question looms larger than ever. It seems that everywhere we turn, we see evidence of man’s inhumanity to man. How we long for a world free of violence, terrorism, and corruption!
2 The good news is that we can have complete confidence that Jehovah will end wickedness. God’s qualities make it certain that he will take action against the wicked. Jehovah is righteous and just. At Psalm 33:5, his Word tells us: “He is a lover of righteousness and justice.” Another psalm says: “Anyone loving violence [Jehovah’s] soul certainly hates.” (Psalm 11:5) Surely, Jehovah, the all-powerful God, who loves righteousness and justice, will not forever tolerate what he hates.
3. What will be emphasized in a further consideration of the prophecy of Amos?
3 Consider another reason why we can be sure that Jehovah will remove wickedness. The record of his past dealings guarantees this. Striking examples of Jehovah’s pattern of dealing with wicked ones are found in the Bible book of Amos. A further consideration of the prophecy of Amos will emphasize three things about divine judgment. First, it is always deserved. Second, it is inescapable. And third, it is selective, for Jehovah executes judgment upon evildoers but extends mercy to repentant and rightly disposed individuals.—Romans 9:17-26.
Divine Judgment Always Deserved
4. Where did Jehovah send Amos, and for what purpose?
4 In the days of Amos, the Israelites were already split into two kingdoms. One was the southern two-tribe kingdom of Judah. The other was the northern ten-tribe kingdom of Israel. Jehovah commissioned Amos to serve as a prophet, sending him from his hometown in Judah to Israel. There Amos would be used by God to proclaim divine judgment.
5. Against what nations did Amos first prophesy, and what was one reason why they deserved adverse divine judgment?
5 Amos did not begin his work by pronouncing Jehovah’s judgment against the wayward northern kingdom of Israel. Rather, he began by declaring adverse divine judgment against six nearby nations. These nations were Syria, Philistia, Tyre, Edom, Ammon, and Moab. But did they really deserve to experience God’s adverse judgment? They definitely did. For one thing, they were hard-set enemies of Jehovah’s people.
6. Why was God going to bring calamity upon Syria, Philistia, and Tyre?
6 For example, Jehovah condemned the Syrians “on account of their threshing Gilead.” (Amos 1:3) The Syrians took territory away from Gilead—a region of Israel east of the Jordan River—and inflicted serious injury on God’s people there. What about Philistia and Tyre? The Philistines were guilty of taking Israelite exiles, or captives, and selling them to the Edomites, and some Israelites came into the hands of Tyrian slave traders. (Amos 1:6, 9) Imagine that—selling God’s people into slavery! It is no surprise that Jehovah was going to bring calamity upon Syria, Philistia, and Tyre.
7. What did Edom, Ammon, and Moab have in common with Israel, but how did they treat the Israelites?
7 Edom, Ammon, and Moab had something in common with Israel and with one another. All three nations were related to the Israelites. The Edomites descended from Abraham through Jacob’s twin brother, Esau. In a sense, therefore, they were Israel’s brothers. The Ammonites and the Moabites were descendants of Abraham’s nephew Lot. But did Edom, Ammon, and Moab treat their Israelite relatives in a brotherly manner? Far from it! Edom mercilessly used the sword against “his own brother,” and the Ammonites were sadistic in their treatment of Israelite captives. (Amos 1:11, 13) Although Amos does not directly mention Moab’s mistreatment of God’s people, the Moabites had a long record of opposing Israel. The punishment for those three kindred nations would be severe. Jehovah would send a fiery destruction upon them.
Divine Judgment Is Inescapable
8. Why were God’s judgments against the six nations near Israel inescapable?
8 Without question, the six nations addressed early in the prophecy of Amos deserved adverse divine judgment. Moreover, there was no way for them to escape it. From Amos chapter 1, verse 3, through chapter 2, verse 1 Am 1:3–2:1, Jehovah says six times: “I shall not turn it back.” True to his word, he did not turn his hand back from against those nations. Recorded history proves that each of them later suffered calamity. Why, at least four of them—Philistia, Moab, Ammon, and Edom—eventually ceased to exist!
9. What did the inhabitants of Judah deserve, and why?
9 The prophecy of Amos next focused attention on a seventh nation—his home territory of Judah. His listeners in the northern kingdom of Israel may have been surprised to hear Amos proclaim judgment against the kingdom of Judah. Why did the inhabitants of Judah deserve adverse judgment? “On account of their rejecting the law of Jehovah,” says Amos 2:4. Jehovah did not take lightly such willful disregard for his Law. According to Amos 2:5, he foretold: “I will send a fire into Judah, and it must devour the dwelling towers of Jerusalem.”
10. Why could Judah not escape woe?
10 Unfaithful Judah could not escape the coming woe. For the seventh time, Jehovah said: “I shall not turn it back.” (Amos 2:4) Judah received the foretold punishment when she was desolated by the Babylonians in 607 B.C.E. Once again we see that for the wicked, there is no escaping divine judgment.
11-13. Amos prophesied primarily against what nation, and what forms of oppression existed there?
11 The prophet Amos had just declared Jehovah’s judgment on seven nations. Anyone who thought that he had completed his prophesying, however, was mistaken. Amos was far from finished! He had been commissioned primarily to declare a scathing judgment message against the northern kingdom of Israel. And Israel deserved adverse divine judgment because the moral and spiritual decay of the nation was deplorable.
12 The prophesying of Amos exposed the oppression that had become common in the kingdom of Israel. In this regard, Amos 2:6, 7 reads: “This is what Jehovah has said, ‘On account of three revolts of Israel, and on account of four, I shall not turn it back, on account of their selling someone righteous for mere silver, and someone poor for the price of a pair of sandals. They are panting for the dust of the earth on the head of lowly persons; and the way of meek people they turn aside.’”
13 Righteous ones were being sold “for mere silver,” possibly meaning that judges who accepted silver as a bribe were sentencing the innocent. Creditors were selling the poor into slavery for the price of “a pair of sandals,” perhaps for some minor debt. Heartless men ‘panted,’ or eagerly sought, to bring “lowly persons” down to such a state that these poor ones would throw dust on their own heads as a sign of distress, mourning, or humiliation. Corruption was so rampant that “meek people” could not hope to find any justice.
14. Who were being mistreated in the ten-tribe kingdom of Israel?
14 Notice who were being mistreated. They were the righteous, poor, lowly, and meek inhabitants of the land. Jehovah’s Law covenant with the Israelites demanded that compassion be shown to the vulnerable and needy. For such individuals in the domain of the ten-tribe kingdom of Israel, however, conditions could not have been worse.
“Get Ready to Meet Your God”
15, 16. (a) Why were the Israelites warned: “Get ready to meet your God”? (b) How does Amos 9:1, 2 show that the wicked could not evade the execution of divine judgment? (c) What happened to the ten-tribe kingdom of Israel in 740 B.C.E.?
15 Since immorality and other sins were rampant in Israel, it was with good reason that the prophet Amos warned the rebellious nation: “Get ready to meet your God.” (Amos 4:12) Unfaithful Israel could not escape the approaching execution of divine judgment because for the eighth time, Jehovah declared: “I shall not turn it back.” (Amos 2:6) Regarding wicked ones who might try to hide, God said: “No one fleeing of them will make good his flight, and no one escaping of them will make his getaway. If they dig down into Sheol, from there my own hand will take them; and if they go up to the heavens, from there I shall bring them down.”—Amos 9:1, 2.
16 The wicked could not evade the execution of Jehovah’s judgment upon them by digging “down into Sheol,” figuratively denoting attempts to hide in the lowest parts of the earth. Neither could they escape divine judgment by going “up to the heavens,” that is, trying to find refuge on high mountains. Jehovah’s warning was clear: There is no hiding place beyond his reach. Divine justice required that the kingdom of Israel be called to account for its wicked deeds. And that time did come. In 740 B.C.E.—about 60 years after Amos recorded his prophecy—the kingdom of Israel fell to the conquering Assyrians.
Divine Judgment Is Selective
17, 18. What does Amos chapter 9 reveal about God’s mercy?
17 The prophecy of Amos has helped us to see that divine judgment is always deserved and is inescapable. But the book of Amos also indicates that Jehovah’s judgment is selective. God can find the wicked and execute judgment upon them wherever they hide. He can also find repentant and upright ones—those to whom he chooses to extend mercy. This is beautifully highlighted in the final chapter of the book of Amos.
18 According to Amos chapter 9, verse 8, Jehovah said: “I shall not completely annihilate the house of Jacob.” As noted in Am 9 verses 13 to 15, Jehovah promised that he would “gather back the captive ones” of his people. They would be shown mercy and would enjoy security and prosperity. “The plowman will actually overtake the harvester,” Jehovah promised. Imagine that—a harvest so abundant that some of it would not yet be gathered in when the next time for plowing and sowing seed came around!
19. What happened to a remnant from Israel and Judah?
19 It can be said that Jehovah’s judgment against wicked ones in both Judah and Israel was selective in that repentant and rightly disposed ones were shown mercy. In fulfillment of the restoration prophecy recorded in Amos chapter 9, a repentant remnant of Israel and Judah returned from Babylonian captivity in 537 B.C.E. Back in their beloved homeland, they restored pure worship. In security, they also rebuilt their houses and planted vineyards and gardens.
Jehovah’s Adverse Judgment Will Come!
20. Of what should our consideration of the judgment messages declared by Amos assure us?
20 Our consideration of the divine judgment messages proclaimed by Amos should assure us that Jehovah will put an end to wickedness in our day. Why can we believe this? First, these examples of God’s past dealings with the wicked indicate how he will act in our day. Second, the execution of divine judgment upon the apostate kingdom of Israel makes it certain that God will bring destruction upon Christendom, the most reprehensible part of “Babylon the Great,” the world empire of false religion.—Revelation 18:2.
21. Why does Christendom deserve God’s adverse judgment?
21 There is no question that Christendom deserves adverse divine judgment. Her deplorable religious and moral conditions speak for themselves. Jehovah’s judgment against Christendom—and the rest of Satan’s world—is deserved. It is also inescapable, for when it is time to execute judgment, the words of Amos chapter 9, verse 1, will apply: “No one fleeing of them will make good his flight, and no one escaping of them will make his getaway.” Yes, no matter where the wicked may hide, Jehovah will find them.
22. What points regarding divine judgment are made clear at 2 Thessalonians 1:6-8?
22 Divine judgment is always deserved, inescapable, and selective. This can be seen from the apostle Paul’s words: “It is righteous on God’s part to repay tribulation to those who make tribulation for you, but, to you who suffer tribulation, relief along with us at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with his powerful angels in a flaming fire, as he brings vengeance upon those who do not know God and those who do not obey the good news about our Lord Jesus.” (2 Thessalonians 1:6-8) “It is righteous on God’s part” to repay those who deserve adverse judgment for bringing tribulation upon his anointed ones. That judgment will be inescapable, for the wicked will not survive ‘the revelation of Jesus with his powerful angels in a flaming fire.’ Divine judgment will also be selective in that Jesus will bring vengeance “upon those who do not know God and those who do not obey the good news.” And the execution of divine judgment will bring comfort to godly ones who suffer tribulation.
Hope for the Upright
23. What hope and comfort can be drawn from the book of Amos?
23 The prophecy of Amos contains a wonderful message of hope and comfort for rightly disposed individuals. As foretold in the book of Amos, Jehovah did not completely annihilate his people of ancient times. He eventually gathered back the captive ones of Israel and Judah, returning them to their homeland and blessing them with abundant security and prosperity. What does this mean for our day? It makes us certain that during the execution of divine judgment, Jehovah will find the wicked wherever they hide and will locate individuals he considers deserving of his mercy, no matter where they may live on this earth.
24. In what ways have Jehovah’s modern-day servants been blessed?
24 While we await the time for Jehovah’s judgment to come against the wicked, what is our experience as his faithful servants? Why, Jehovah is blessing us with overflowing spiritual prosperity! We enjoy a way of worship that is free of the lies and distortions that have resulted from Christendom’s false teachings. Jehovah has also blessed us with spiritual food in abundance. Remember, though, that with these rich blessings from Jehovah comes a great responsibility. God expects us to warn others about the coming judgment. We desire to do all we can to find those who are “rightly disposed for everlasting life.” (Acts 13:48) Yes, we desire to help as many as possible to share in the spiritual prosperity that we now enjoy. And we want them to survive the approaching execution of divine judgment upon the wicked. Of course, to share in these blessings, we must have the proper heart condition. As we will see in the next article, this too is highlighted in the prophecy of Amos.
How Would You Answer?
• How does the prophecy of Amos show that Jehovah’s adverse judgments are always deserved?
• What proof does Amos provide to show that divine judgment is inescapable?
• How does the book of Amos show that the execution of God’s judgment is selective?
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The kingdom of Israel did not escape divine judgment
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In 537 B.C.E., a remnant of Israel and Judah returned from Babylonian captivity