on Amos 2 :4
For three transgressions of Judah - We may take the three and four here to any latitude; for this people lived in continual hostility to their God, from the days of David to the time of Uzziah, under whom Amos prophesied. Their iniquities are summed up under three general heads:
1. They despised, or rejected the law of the Lord.
2. They kept not his statutes.
3. They followed lies, were idolaters, and followed false prophets rather than those sent by Jehovah.
on Amos 2 :4
For three transgressions of Judah etc. - Rup.: "Here too there is no difference of Jew and Gentile. The word of God, a just judge, spareth no man's person. whom sin joins in one, the sentence of the Judge disjoins not in punishment" Romans 2:12. "As many as have sinned without law, shall also perish without law, and as many as have signed in the law, shall be judged by the law." Jerome: "Those other nations, Damascus and the rest, he upbraids not for having cast away the law of God, and despised His commandments, for they had not the written law, but that of nature only. So then of them he says, that "they corrupted all their compassions" - and the like. But Judah, who, at that time, had the worship of God and the temple and its rites, and had received the law and commandments and judgments and precepts and testimonies, is rebuked and convicted by the Lord, for that it had "cast aside His law and not kept His commandments;" wherefore it should be punished as it deserved.
And since they rejected and despised these, then, in course, "their lies deceived them," that is, their idols; "lies" on their part who made them and worshiped them for the true God, and "lies" and lying to them, as deceiving their hopes. "For an idol is nothing in the world" 1 Corinthians 8:4, as neither are all the vanities in the world whereof people make idols, but they deceive by a vain show, as though they were something. Jerome: "They would not have been deceived by their idols, unless they had first rejected the law of the Lord and not done His commandments." They had sinned with a high hand: "despising" and so rejecting the law of God; and so He despised and rejected them, leaving them to be deceived by the lies which they themselves had chosen. So it ever is with man. Man must either "love God's law and hate and abhor lies" Psalm 119:163, or he will despise God's law and cleave to lies.
He first in act "despises" God's law, (and whoso does not keep it, despises it,) and then he must needs be deceived by some idol of his own, which becomes his God. He first chooses willfully his own "lie," that is, whatever he chooses out of God, and then his own "lie" deceives him. So, morally, liars at last believe themselves. So, whatever false maxim anyone has adopted against his conscience, whether in belief or practice, to justify what he wills against the will of God, or to explain away what God reveals and he mislikes, stifling and lying to his conscience, in the end deceives his conscience, and at the last, a man believes that to be true, which, before he had lied to his conscience, he knew to be false. The prophet uses a bold word in speaking of man's dealings with his God, "despises." Man carries on the serpent's first fraud, "Hath God indeed said?" Man would not willingly own, that he is directly at variance with the Mind of God. Man, in his powerlessness, at war with Omnipotence, and, in his limited knowledge, with Omniscience! It were too silly, as well as too terrible.
So he smoothes it over to himself, "lying" to himself. "God's word must not be taken so precisely;" "God cannot have meant;" "the Author of nature would not have created us so, if He had meant;" and all the other excuses, by which he would evade owning to himself that he is directly rejecting the Mind of God and trampling it under foot. Scripture draws off the veil. Judah had the law of God, and did not keep it; then, he "despised" it. On the one side was God's will, His Eternal Wisdom, His counsel for man for good; on the other, what debasements! On the one side were God's awful threats, on the other, His exceeding promises. Yet man chose whatever he willed, lying to himself, and acting as though God had never threatened or promised or spoken. This ignoring of God's known Will and law and revelation is to despise them, "as effectually as to curse God to His face" Job 2:5. This rejection of God was hereeditary.
Their lies were those "after which their fathers walked," in Egypt and from Egypt onward, in the wilderness (see the note at Amos 5:25-26) , "making the image of the calf of Egypt and worshiping Baalpeor and Ashtoreth and Baalim." Evil acquires a sort of authority by time. People become inured to evils, to which they have been used. False maxims, undisputed, are thought indisputable. They are in possession; and "possession" is held a good title. The popular error of one generation becomes the axiom of the next. The descent "of the image of the great goddess Diana from Jupiter" or of the Coran, becomes a "thing" which cannot be spoken against" Acts 19:35-36. The "lies after which the fathers walked" deceive the children. The children canonize the errors of their fathers." Human opinon is as dogmatic as revelation. The second generation of error demands as implicit submission as God's truth.
The transmission of error against himself, God says, aggravates its evil, does not excuse it Nehemiah 5:5. "Judah is the Church. In her the prophet reproves whosoever, worshiping his own vices and sins, cometh to have that as a god by which he is overcome; as Peter saith, "Whereby a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage" 2 Peter 2:19. The covetous worshipeth mammon; the glutton, his belly Philippians 3:19; the impure, Baalpeor; she who, "living in pleasure, is dead while she liveth" 1 Timothy 5:6, the pleasure in which she liveth." Of such idols the world is full. Every fair form, every idle imagination, everything which gratifies self-love, passion, pride, vanity, intellect, sense, each the most refined or the most debased, is such a "lie," so soon as man loves and regards it more than his God.
on Amos 2 :4
2:4 Lies - Idols. To err - Their idolatry blinded them, partly from the natural tendency of this sin, and partly from the just judgment of God. After which - Idols. Walked - Successively, one generation after another.