on Amos 3 :3
Can two walk together - While ye loved and served me, I dwelt in you and walked among you. Now ye are become alienated from me, your nature and mine are totally opposite. I am holy, ye are unholy. We are no longer agreed, and can no longer walk together. I can no longer hold communion with you. I must cast you out. The similes in this and the three following verses are all chosen to express the same thing, viz., that no calamities or judgments can fall upon any people but by the express will of God, on account of their iniquities; and that whatever his prophets have foretold, they have done it by direct revelation from their Maker; and that God has the highest and most cogent reason for inflicting the threatened calamities. This correctness of the prophets' predictions shows that they and I are in communion.
on Amos 3 :3
Sacred parables or enigmas must have many meanings. They are cast on the mind, to quicken it and rouse it by their very mystery. They are taken from objects which in different lights, represent different things, and so suggest them. This series of brief parables have, all of them, this in common, that each thing spoken of is alternately cause and effect, and where the one is found, 'there' must be the other. From the effect you can certainly infer the cause, without which it could not be, and from the cause you may be sure of the effect. Then, further, all the images are of terror and peril to the objects spoken of. The prophet impresses upon their minds both aspects of these things; "evil will not befall, unless it has been prepared;" "signs of evil will not shew themselves, unless the evil be at hand." "The bird will not fall without the snare; if the snare rises and so shews itself, the bird is as good as taken. As surely then (the prophet would say) as the roaring of the lion, the rising of the snare, the alarm of the trumpet, betokens imminent peril, so surely does the warning Voice of God. 'The lion hath roared; who will not fear?' Again, as surely as these are the effects of their causes, so surely is all infliction sent by Him who alone has power over all things, and is the cause of all. 'Shall there be evil in a city, and the Lord hath not done it? Again, as these tokens are given before the evil comes, and the God of nature and of grace has made it a law in nature, that what is fearful should give signs of coming evil, so has He made it a law of His own dealing, not to inflict evil, without having fore-announced it.
'Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but He reveleth His secret unto His servants the prophets.' As nothing else is by chance, nor happens without cause, much less the acts of God. The lion or young lion when they roar, the bird when it falls to the ground, the snare when it rises, the trumpet's sound, all have their cause and ground: shall not then much more the acts and works of God? Shall evil happen in the city, and have no ground in the Cause of all causes, God in His righteous judgments? As there is fear, whenever there are tokens and causes of fear, so fear ye now and watch, lest the fear overtake you and it be too late. The first words then,
Can (will) two walk together, except they be agreed? - are at once a general rule for all which follows, and have different bearings according to those its several aspects. And, before all these, it is an appeal at once to the conscience which feels itself parted from its God; "so neither will God be with thee, unless thou art agreed and of one mind with God. Think not to have God with thee, unless thou art with God;" as He saith, 'I will not go up in the midst of thee, for thou art a stiff-necked people, lest I consume thee in the way' Exodus 33:3; and, 'if ye walk contrary unto Me, then will I also walk contrary unto you, and will punish you yet seven times for your sins' Leviticus 26:23, Leviticus 26:4. And on the other hand, 'They shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy' Revelation 3:4. Lap.: "God cannot be agreed with the sinner who justifies himself. Rup.: "God who rebuketh, and Israel who is rebuked, are two. God saith, We are not agreed, in that Israel, when rebuked, heareth not Me, God, rebuking. Herein we are not agreed, that I rebuke, Israel justifieth himself. Lo, for so many years since Jeroboam made the golden calves, have I sent prophets, and none agreeth, for no one king departed from the sin of Jeroboam. So then I came Myself, God made man, rebuking and reproving: but 'ye are they which justify yourselves before men' Luke 16:15, and, being sick, ye say to the Physician, we need Thee not." Augustine in Psalm 75:1-10 Lap.: "So long as thou confessest not thy sins, thou art in a manner litigating with God. For what displeaseth Him, thou praisest. Be at one with God. Let what displeaseth Him, displease thee. Thy past evil life displeaseth Him. If it please thee, thou art disjoined from Him; if it displease thee, by confessing thy sins, thou art joined to Him." So He awakens and prepares the soul for the following words of awe.
In connection with what follows, the words are also the prophet's defense of his Mission. Israel "said to the prophets, prophesy not" (see the notes on Amos 2:12), or, "The Lord our God hath not sent thee" Jeremiah 43:2, because, while it disobeyed God, the prophets must "speak concernig it not good, but evil." Amos prepares the way for his answer; ye yourselves admit, that "two will" not "walk together, unless they be agreed." The seen and the unseen, the words of the prophets and the dealings of God, would not meet together, unless the prophets were of one mind with God, unless God had admitted them into His counsels, and "were agreed" with them, so that their words should precede His deeds, His deeds confirm His words by them.
on Amos 3 :3