Jeroboam II was the fourth king of the Jehu dynasty, which ruled Israel for over 80 years. This was an era of unprecedented stability in the Northern Kingdom, and Jeroboam reaped the benefits of stable successions and instability in his neighbors – most notably Assyria. 2 Kings 14 tells us that under Jeroboam Israel’s territory was expanded to it greatest extent since the kingdom split.
But the author of Kings whittles the longest and most prosperous reign in Israel’s three-century story down to just seven sentences. The LORD saved Israel through him, he recovered Damascus and Hamath for Judah, and he …did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. He did not depart from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel to sin. The prophets who were sent to Jeroboam receive much more airplay than the king himself.
And this prophet’s charge reaches a climax in chapters 5 through 7. The word “justice” appears four times in general terms: establish it at the gate, let it roll down like waters. And what does this look like? Amos is very specific: “…you trample on the poor and you exact taxes of grain from him, you have built houses of hewn stone, but you shall not dwell in them; you have planted pleasant vineyards, but you shall not drink their wine… Woe to those who lie on beds of ivory and stretch themselves out on their couches, and eat lambs from the flock and calves from the midst of the stall… who afflict the righteous, who take a bribe, and turn aside the needy in the gate..”
There is a transition in chapter 7, folding around a confrontation with one of Jeroboam’s priests. Given Amos’s heritage in Judah, he would naturally have been viewed with suspicion in Samaria. His response is faithful and powerful, evident of His respect for the LORD himself, who touches the earth and it melts, who builds His upper chambers in the heavens… who calls for the waters of the sea and pours them out upon the surface of the earth. By His command He will “shake the house of Israel as one shakes a sieve…”
Our verse for this week is Philippians 4:13: I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
Amos 5 through 9. Now let’s read it!
I can do all things through him who strengthens me.