on Amos 3 :14
In the day that I shall visit - When Josiah made a reformation in the land he destroyed idolatry, pulled down the temples and altars that had been consecrated to idol worship, and even burnt the bones of the priests of Baal and the golden calves upon their own altars. See 2 Kings 23:15, 2 Kings 23:16, etc.
on Amos 3 :14
In the day that I shall visit the transgression of Israel upon, him, I will also visit (upon) the altars of Bethel - Israel then hoped that its false worship of "nature" would avail it. God says, contrariwise, that when He should punish, all their false worship, so far from helping them, should itself be the manifest object of His displeasure. Again God attests, at once, His long-suffering and His final retribution. Still had He foreborne to punish, "being slow to anger and of great goodness;" but when that day, fixed by the divine Wisdom, should come, wherein He should vindicate His own holiness, by enduring the sin no longer, then He would "visit their transgressions," that is, all of them, old and new, forgotten by man or remembered, "upon them." Scripture speaks of "visiting offences upon" because, in God's Providence, the sin returns upon a man's own head. It is not only the cause of his being punished, but it becomes part of his punishment.
The memory of a man's sins will be part of his eternal suffering. Even in this life, "remorse," as distinct from repentance, is the "gnawing" of a man's own conscience for the folly of his sin. Then also God would visit upon the false worship. It is thought that God visits less speedily even grave sins against Himself, (so that man does not appeal falsely to Him and make Him, in a way, a partner of his offence,) than sins against His own creature, man. It may be that, All-Merciful as He is, He bears the rather with sins, involving corruption of the truth as to Himself, so long as they are done in ignorance, on account of the ignorant worship Acts 17:23, Acts 17:30; Acts 14:16 of Himself, or the fragments of truth which they contain, until the evil in them have its full sway in moral guilt Romans 1. Montanus: "Wonderful is the patience of God in enduring all those crimes and injuries which pertain directly to Himself; wonderful His waiting for repentance. But the deeds of guilt which violate human society, faith, and justice, hasten judgment and punishment, and, as it were, with a most effectual cry call upon the Divine Mind to punish, as it is written, "The voices of thy brother's blood crieth unto Me from the ground, And now cursed art thou, ..." Genesis 4:10-11.
If then upon that very grave guilt against God Himself there be accumulated these other sins, this so increases the load, that God casts it out. However long then Israel with impunity, given itself to that vain, alien worship, this evinced the patience, not the approval, of God. Now, when they are to be punished for the fourth transgresston, they will be punished for the first, second and third, and so, most grievously; when brought to punishment for their other sins, they should suffer for their other guilt of impiety and superstition."
And the horns of the altar - This was the one great "altar" 1 Kings 12:32-33; 1 Kings 13:1-5 for burnt-offerings, set up by Jeroboam, in imitation of that of God at Jerusalem, whose doom was pronounccd in the act of its would-be consecration. He had copied faithfully outward form. At each corner, where the two sides met in one, rose the "horn," or pillar, a cubit high , there to sacrifice victims, Psalm 118:27, there to place the blood of atonement Exodus 29:12. So far from atoning, they themselves were "the" unatoned "sin" of "Jeroboam whereby 2 Kings 17:21 he drove Israel from following the Lord, and made them sin a great sin. These were to be cut off; hewn down, with violence. A century and a half had passed, since the man of God had pronounced its sentence. They still stood. The day was not yet come; Josiah was still unborn; yet Amos, as peremptorily, renews the sentence. In rejecting these, whereon the atonement was made, God pronounced them out of covenant with Himself. Heresy makes itself as like as it can to the truth, but is thereby the more deceiving, not the less deadly. Amos mentions the altars of Bethel, as well as the altar. Jeroboam made but one altar, keeping as close as he could to the divine ritual. But false worship and heresy ever hold their course, developing themselves. They never stand still where they began, but spread, like a cancer 2 Timothy 2:17. It is a test of heresy, like leprosy, that it spreads abroad Leviticus 13, preying on what at first seemed sound. The oneness of the altar had relation to the Unity of God. In Samaria, they worshiped, they know not what John 4:22, not God, but some portion of His manifold operations. The many altars, forbidden as they were, were more in harmony with the religion of Jeroboam, even because they were against God's law. Heresy develops, becoming more consistent, by having less of truth.
on Amos 3 :14
3:14 Of Israel - The many and great transgressions of the ten tribes.